Capt. Sammy B Sandhu captured a large herd of the wildebeest migration from the bird's eye heading towards the Naabi Hill in the Southern Serengeti.
Naabi Hill towers above the short grass plains of the Serengeti. Other than a hot air balloon safari, the viewpoint from the top of Naabi Hill offers the best views of the plains. This acacia covered hill functions as the Serengeti's park gate and shelters antelope, elephant and giraffe. It's also home base for the Naabi lion pride and den site for cheetahs.
During the green season, Naabi Hill is the epicenter of the great migration and the surrounding plains can be choked black with wildebeest.
When people say “Ngorongoro Conservation Area,” what most human brain automatically pictures is the world-renowned Ngorongoro Crater. And we really can’t blame you for that. Ngorongoro Crater, the Garden of Eden of Africa, has a glorious landscape that’s teeming with about 25,000 animals including ungulates, four of the Big Five and other large mammals.
It is also one of the best places to spot critically endangered animals like black rhinos, golden cats and wild hunting dogs. Home to one of the densest known population of Masai lions, Ngorongoro Crater guarantees an action-packed, heart-pounding game.
In fact, it also supports the largest animal migration on earth, the Great Migration. You see, the Ngorongoro Crater area and Ndutu area are settings of the wildebeest calving season. During this time, you will be able to witness thousands of baby wildebeests being born and a plethora of opportunistic predators on stealth and killing modes. The splendor of this world wonder makes people say this is like “mini Africa in a bowl.” As one traveler would put it, “Imagine a bowl of an incredible landscape filled with just about every African animal you can think of.”
The best camps for the calving season lie in the Ndutu area, south of the Serengeti. Many are semi-permanent tented camps set up each year in the path of the migration, enabling you to leave camp on early morning drives and head straight into the action. Your accommodation usually takes the form of a large, walk-in tented suite with large bed, outside seating area and a private bathroom.
We suggest three nights in the Ndutu area and two nights in another destination to complement the migration experience. Perhaps a camp in the Central Serengeti, home to excellent resident wildlife, or – since Ndutu forms part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area – a lodge at the nearby Ngorongoro Crater, home to Africa’s most reliable Big 5 game viewing.
Horizons covered in black from the 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras that traveled over 800 kilometres to this spot in the southern Serengeti to graze on green grasses and birth their young. No photo or video can capture the largest overland migration in the world.
Molly witnessed a mom cheetah teaching her three cubs some hunting kills, with hyenas circling and vultures waiting in-line.
The hunting life for a young cheetah begins early and involves much more than developing the incredible sprints - up to 60 miles per hour. Almost as soon as they can walk, cheetah cubs race around, slap and knock each other down, and stalk and nip their siblings.
Once the cubs get a little older between eight months and a year - the mom releases about a third of the prey she catch, and the cubs at least occasionally kill the animals on their own. Rapid progress at this point is important. Two months after their mother becomes pregnant again, when the cubs are between a year and 18 months old, they will be forced to fend for themselves.
This is the peak of calving season. The herds move around the area following localised rainfall and are often stretched from an area called Maswa in the west to Gol in the east. It’s a vast area but historically the heart of this area - Kusini and Ndutu – has had good rain and historically focuses the herds. These two areas also host reliably brilliant general games throughout the month, including all the cats.
Sammy B Sandhu captured the herds crossing Miracle Experience Balloon Safaris base in the Ndutu area heading towards the Lake Ndutu!
January sees the herds starting to settle into the short grass plains around Lake Ndutu, just south of the border with the national park itself. This immense region of short-grass plains is classic Serengeti, with vast open skies and endless savanna stretching as far as the eye can see. January is often the start of calving with the fertile soil and nutrient-rich grasses here providing the perfect start to new life… and in return draw in the predators!
The best game viewing at this time of year stretches across much of the southern Serengeti and northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area – from Maswa to Gol, as far south as Kakesio, and as far north as the Moru Kopjes. Localised rainfall drives their movement. This is also the location of the highest concentrations of predators in Africa at any time of year!
Summary – Excellent cat viewing (especially cheetah!) and large herds of the Great Migration spread across the entirety of the southern Serengeti and northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area. January is also a slightly quieter travel period than February or Christmas. A peak calving month.
With the heavy rains and thunderstorms, the pilot and guests had a beautiful flight, with light winds, amazing cloudy skies, and a beautiful sunrise. The pilot slowly moved to the south at a low level towards the southwest flying over tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebras.
The Great Wildebeest Migration was surrounding the balloon as they went down to the lower level. Not only did they witness the great migration, but they also saw hyenas, Thompson gazelle's, Grant gazelle's, jackals, and a Kori bustard.
By visiting later in the month, you will also have the best chance of catching the big herds, as by this time the majority will definitely be fully into calving season creating spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities.
Ndutu is in the Ngorongoro Conservation area which means rich, nutrient soils for the young calves to give them the best start in life. By mid-January, calving season is in full swing and more than 8,000 calves are born daily. Aside from the sheer volume of grazers in the area which is phenomenal to see in itself, the young calves also attract an immense number of predators. In fact, from January to February, the Ndutu plains has the biggest concentration of predators anywhere on the planet, which only means one thing; seriously explosive predator action.
Safari guide Filbert Mbise captured the great herds roaming in the Ndutu area spread out across the marsh area moving into the open plains of the southern Ndutu.
- Image by Filbert Mbise
- Image by Filbert Mbise
- Image by Filbert Mbise
- Image by Filbert Mbise
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Our walking safari camp is part of the Wayo Africa Walking Safari experience. It is truly one-of-a-kind and is the highlight of many people's safaris. The aim of our camp is to access remote areas in the easiest manner possible while maintaining high levels of comfort. Our camp is designed to fit on a small trailer that can easily be towed in to the bush, allowing for movement as the animals move.
Tents are 3-man dome style tents that are easy to set-up with plenty of floor space for two people. It is great for a good nights rest in a really remote area. Sleeping is on comfy 4-inch mattresses on the ground and the bedding is cotton covered duvets and cotton sheets.
When Sayari Camp opened in 2005 it blazed a trail in Tanzania, allowing safari travellers to access one of the most dramatic and under-explored corners of the northern Serengeti. Today, this upmarket Serengeti lodge is one of the finest in Africa, offering luxurious lodgings in some of the best Big Five countries on the continent.
The remote and starkly beautiful landscape forms the inspiration for Sayari, with the turret-shaped roofs on each of the 15 expansive tented suites mirroring the iconic Turner Hill to the north. Indoors, rich mahogany floors and delicate tones of sand, stone and acacia reflect the views washing in through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
En-suite bathrooms, with spacious showers and egg-shaped baths large enough for two, offer similarly impressive Serengeti views. Fine linens and safari-chic décor offset the wilderness that lies just beyond the canvas walls, with king-size beds and private verandas to complete the world-class experience.
Like the herds of antelope that have made the Serengeti the most famous wilderness region on earth, Kimondo is a traveller. As the seasons wax and wane so this migration camp crafted of wood and canvas follows the herds on their never-ending journey across the grasslands of East Africa.
From July to October home for Kimondo is near the sinuous Mara River on the famous Lamai Wedge, where massive herds brave the jaws of hungry Nile crocodiles. As winter eases and summer warms the land, the herds move south to calve in the lush grasslands of the southern Serengeti. As the herds move, so does Kimondo, to ensure you’re never far from the heart of the migration.
But unlike the thundering wildebeest, Kimondo – like its sought-after sister-camp Olakira – leaves no footprint behind. Entirely solar-powered, it’s a migration camp that touches the earth lightly while providing authentic luxury on the Serengeti plains. With just eight comfortable tents Kimondo offers an intimate safari experience; a sumptuous taste of how the early explorers discovered the wonders of East Africa.
From rich hand-woven rugs to burnished copper lanterns a sultry mix of Moroccan exoticism and East African safari romance resonates at Kimondo, where king-size cast-iron beds rest under canvas ceilings as the rustle of the savannah lulls you to sleep. Or leave sleep for a while and linger at the fireside, swopping tales of your day in Africa as the embers crackle up towards the Milky Way. Kimondo translates as ‘shooting star’ and in Tanzania’s crystal-clear skies you’ll be sure to see more than a few.
Lamai Serengeti sits tucked amongst the rocks of Kogakuria Kopje with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, only a few miles from where the wildebeest cross the Mara River. For roughly a quarter of the year, between late July and October, this is where you'll find the migration. Right here, on our doorstep! For the rest of the year, it is wild Serengeti with all the resident game of the Masai Mara but without the people.
Each of the rooms is designed to fit into the complex geometry of the kopje and to make the most of this sensational location, its views and its natural space and light. The rooms are a blend of canvas, plaster and natural poles.