Northward Migration Safari
July 9 - 24, 2019
Discover Serengeti’s Great Migration, drive through vast herds as they search for fresh grass with predators in hot pursuit. At this time of year, “The Great Migration” is in action in Tanzania's northern Serengeti where vast herds of wildebeest and zebra head north and cross the Mara River. Predators, like lion and cheetah, follow the migration through the plains in search of food. We’ll explore ancient granite outcroppings in the Serengeti that often harbor predators on the lookout for prey. Ndutu in the southern Serengeti, Doug and Gail’s favorite place on the planet, is less-traveled during this season and is home to rare small mammals, such as honey badger, bat-eared fox, side-striped jackal, and serval. We also visit Olduvai Gorge where the Leakeys found the famous hominid fossils. We will spend two days within Ngorongoro Crater, an amazing landscape that holds both fresh and alkaline lakes where lion prides, hyena clans, and jackal families carry on their daily interactions. The grand finale features Tarangire National Park, home to an elephant paradise among enormous baobab trees.
• Find yourself in the midst of the famous “Great Migration” in the Serengeti, surrounded by herds of wildebeest, gazelle, and zebras.
• Experience heart-pumping action as cheetah chase down Thomson’s gazelles.
• Gaze at the diversity of large mammals within Ngorongoro Crater, including the endangered black rhino.
• Watch and photograph elephants dwarfed by towering baobabs in Tarangire National Park.
Itinerary Updated: October 2017
FAQ Print Trip Safari Options
|Jul 9||Travel to Arusha, Tanzania.|
|Jul 10||Arrive in Arusha.||Lake Duluti Lodge, Arusha|
|Jul 11 - 12||Fly to the northern Serengeti. Game drives to Mara River and famous ungulate herds in the northern Serengeti.||Asilia Sayari Camp||B, L, D|
|Jul 13||Follow Serengeti waterways down to the Lobo Kopjes and see the wildlife that dwells among the granite outcroppings.||Lobo Wildlife Lodge||B, L, D|
|Jul 14 - 15||Game drives to Seronera River and the central Serengeti. Look out for leopards, lions, and gazelles.||Serengeti Sopa Lodge||B, L, D|
|Jul 16 - 18||Ndutu on the southern Serengeti Plains, our best location for following cheetahs.||Ndutu Safari Lodge||B, L, D|
|Jul 19 - 20||Game drive to the famous Olduvai Gorge and descend into Ngorongoro Crater.||Ngorongoro Serena Lodge||B, L, D|
|Jul 21 - 22||Drive to Tarangire National Park, a haven for elephants. Also seek brilliant lilac-breasted rollers and bee-eaters.||Tarangire Sopa Lodge||B, L, D|
|Jul 23||Fly homeward from Arusha or continue on to our Botswana and Zambia safari.||Kia Lodge, Arusha (dayrooms only)||B, L|
|Jul 24||Arrive home.|
Our Trip Leaders
Gail is a naturalist of the best kind–self-taught through a lifetime in the field fueled by a deep passion for wildlife. Her attention to tour details and individual desires ensures that each Cheesemans’ traveler has the experience of their dreams. Gail has a true spirit for conservation that drives her actions on many issues, both local and worldwide. Together, Gail and Doug make a team of remarkable ecologists who seek to inspire others to enjoy and conserve the Earth’s wild landscapes.
Doug leverages his expertise gained during 35 years of teaching ecology and zoology at De Anza College to offer travelers a unique learning experience in wildlife-rich regions of the world. Doug and Gail have led over 70 safaris to Africa, especially to Tanzania and Kenya, since 1978. They also led many tours to all corners of the globe including the Antarctic, South America, Australia, and Asia. A love of photographing wildlife behavior and giving college-level lectures to interested groups adds to his accomplishments.
Emmanuel has great knowledge of the terrain and wildlife of Tanzania that is matched by a great sense of humor and contagious chuckle. He was a driver/naturalist for Ngorongoro in the 1980’s when Doug and Gail met him. His father was head chef at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, giving him a wonderful opportunity to learn about its special wildlife while growing up.
James has the most experience of all our guides in Tanzania and is considered the wizard of the safari scene. Once, when we arrived at a flooded river with many cars queued and waiting to cross, James rerouted us to a little-known crossing that was not flooded and we were soon on our way. He is a very wise man and an inspiration to his daughter who recently earned her Master's degree in biology and manages one of the national parks in southern Tanzania. James is a warm and friendly person with lots of knowledge that he will share with you.
Maulidi, like many of our Tanzanian guides, has been working with us since the late 1980s. He is a true intellectual who spends hours studying nature, even learning the scientific names plus many interesting facts of the species you encounter. It seems that he has "eyes in the back of his head" because of his keen spotting abilities used to find hidden leopards and other wildlife. He knows all the bird songs, which he began learning as a boy growing up west of Tarangire National Park. He is a wonderful teacher and safari companion.
Steven has been guiding for us in Tanzania since the late 1980s. He is, to a great extent, self-educated and is even now taking exams to finish his degrees. He learned to speak English when he was in the Tanzanian Army. He often studies mammal, bird, and plant books and puts his extensive knowledge to work in the field to find the best wildlife action. Steven grew-up on fertile highlands near Ngorongoro Crater. He has a wonderfully warm personality, is a great leader, and highly respected among the safari guides in Tanzania.
Yuda grew up near the east side of Kilimanjaro near the Kenya border on land that is now part of Mkomazi National Park. He worked at a wildlife sanctuary before becoming a guide and is especially knowledgeable about animal behavior. Due to his long hours in the field observing wildlife, he understands their feeding, hunting, and other behaviors, especially the cats. Like all our Tanzanian guides, he is aware of the elements that make a good photo and will position the vehicle to achieve the best action in the best light.
A glimpse into our journey
Arrive in Arusha
Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport near Arusha, Tanzania by this evening. Upon arrival, clear customs and meet our host from Wildersun Safaris and drive about 50 minutes to our lodge.
To the Great Migration
Jul 11 - 12
We’ll start our day by heading to Arusha for a stop at the Wildersun Safaris office where you may exchange money for Tanzanian Shillings and store any unnecessary luggage. Then we’ll catch our flight from Arusha Airport to the northern Serengeti to meet our wonderful Tanzanian guides and game drive en route to our camp.
The behavior of every species is fascinating as they go about their daily survival strategies in the varied and rich Serengeti habitats that sustain them. The great ungulate herds will be scattered between the Serengeti Western Corridor and the Kenya border. By July they are concentrated along the Mara River.
On previous safaris, we have found vast herds of wildebeest and zebra congregating in this area before crossing to the Masai Mara in Kenya. It is a miracle that the Serengeti ecosystem still exists intact and it is thanks to two or three people with the foresight to take measures to save it, a true conservation success story illustrated in Kay Turner’s Serengeti Home. Doug calls the Serengeti the "glory of the Pleistocene" with so many species of mammals still surviving. We’ll see many mammals and birds in this very rich wildlife area.
Follow Serengeti waterways down to the Lobo Kopjes
Amid the grasslands, scan the protruding granite kopjes (pronounced “copies”) for predators watching their prey scattered on the plains below. They are also home to klipspringer – an antelope specialized for running on big rocks.
By late afternoon, we’ll arrive at our lodge, located atop one of the most beautiful kopjes in the Serengeti. The road through this huge kopje just below the lodge is an excellent place to look for big cats, to photograph klipspringer, and to seek out the resident Verreaux’s eagles specialized for hunting cliff dwelling hyrax. The view from the lodge over the plains is stupendous and walking among the huge granite boulders is like strolling through a cathedral.
To the Seronera River and the central Serengeti
Jul 14 - 15
We’ll head out in the field at dawn today to seek out leopards along waterways waiting for thirsty gazelles. During our time in the enormous Serengeti National Park, we will focus on areas where conditions are right for the best wildlife action, concentrating on finding cheetahs hunting and leopards resting in the yellow-barked acacia trees along the Seronera River. We’ll drive along marshy areas where lions like to lie in ambush and we’ll stop for the great variety of mammals and waterbirds that come to drink.
Ndutu on the Serengeti Plains
Jul 16 - 18
En route to Ndutu (on the Ngorongoro Conservation Area side of the vast Serengeti ecosystem), we’ll watch for mammals and birds resident both in the highlands and on the plains. We may find spotted hyenas, golden and silver-backed jackals, kori bustards, and gazelles. During this time of year in the dry season, it is definitely off the beaten track, but Ndutu is fantastic year round. It is one place where we have a good chance of seeing rare, small mammals, such as honey badger (ratel), serval, African wild cat, and side-striped jackal. Many Fischer's lovebirds, doves, and other species of birds come in near the lodge to roost and drink. Sunsets are wonderful at Ndutu, located on the shores of alkaline Lake Legaja. The night sounds at Ndutu are intriguing, a true feeling of the "bush" in East Africa.
We’ll head for the plains at dawn, taking food to go for a delicious breakfast later in the morning on the Serengeti Plains. We’ll search for bat-eared fox and cheetah out hunting as the mornings are very cool at this season and nocturnal mammals are sometimes still about. This is an excellent area for cheetah, which feed mainly on gazelles and hares. Steenbok (steinbuck), gray-breasted francolin, and chestnut-banded plover are some of the specialties of the Ndutu area.
Olduvai Gorge and Ngorongoro Crater
Jul 19 - 20
The route today, to the rim of Ngorongoro Crater, will take us through excellent wildlife habitats. Before ascending into highland forests, we’ll turnoff to Olduvai Gorge on the eastern boundary of the Serengeti Ecological Unit. Here Louis and Mary Leakey found the hominid remains "Zinjanthropus”/Australopithecus boisei, Homo habilis, and Homo erectus, plus many other fossils exhibited in the museum at Olduvai. Descend into the gorge and visit “Bed I” where Mary Leakey found "Zinjanthropus." If you search the adjacent wash, you may find some fossil fragments. A new Masai cultural boma has been established at Olduvai where we can experience the traditional way of life of these pastoral people.
After Olduvai in the arid rain shadow of the highlands, we ascend up through the acacia woodlands and into the forest surrounding the crater rim. From the top of the crater, you can peer down the 2,000-foot drop. This view from above gives a fantastic overview of the crater, also visible from our lodge, which is situated on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater at approximately 7,500 feet.
For our full day in the Crater, we’ll make our descent into one of the great wonders of the natural world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is almost a perfect caldera of ten to eleven miles across, covers 110 square miles, and contains woodlands, grasslands, marsh, and fresh and alkaline lakes, providing habitat to about 25,000 large mammals. Black rhinos are regularly seen here, especially near the acacia woodlands in the marshy plains. The water bodies in the crater also support hippos, water birds, and land birds. Ngorongoro Crater is a stunning ecosystem to explore.
Tarangire National Park
Jul 21 - 22
We’ll descend into the crater for our second dramatic morning, then drive to Tarangire National Park, arriving in time for a late afternoon game drive. Tarangire National Park is home to several species not found in the parks to the north. There is a chance of seeing African wild dogs (painted wolves), as they comprise a resident pack sometimes encountered early in the morning or late in the afternoon. We could also see lesser kudu, which is not encountered elsewhere. Leopards do very well at Tarangire where they rest in the many huge Baobab and Umbrella Acacias during the day. Olive baboons, African elephants, the endemic ashy starlings, and several species of hornbills, kingfishers, and waxbills are abundant.
Arusha and homeward or join us on safari in Botswana and Zambia!
If you are continuing on our Botswana and Zambia Safari immediately after this safari, depart for Kilimanjaro International Airport this evening or anytime tomorrow. The Botswana and Zambia safari, extending your African experience until August 11, is the perfect consecutive trip to this Tanzania safari. Or continue on to our Rwanda Mountain Gorillas extension.
Arrive home, depending on your flight schedule.
Discover Serengeti’s Great Migration, drive through vast herds as they search for fresh grass with predators in hot pursuit.
Cost & Payments
Costs (in US$)
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip cost, double occupancy||$13,500|
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement fee. Single rooms are subject to availability.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$500|
|Second Payment||September 1, 2018||$2,000|
|Final Payment||January 31, 2019||Remaining balance|
Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.
- All leaders, transport, park entry fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
- Accommodations for the nights of July 10 through July 22 and dayroom on July 23.
- Meals from breakfast on July 11 through lunch on July 23.
- Transfers from Kilimanjaro International Airport to your hotel on July 10, and transfers to your dayroom on July 23 (Kia Lodge has a complementary shuttle to the airport).
- Limited bottled beverages: Each lodge provides one free half-liter bottle of drinking water per person in your room daily, plus bottled beverages are available in each vehicle. Additional beverages must be purchased.
- Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
- Short Term AMREF Flying Doctors medical emergency evacuation insurance.
- All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $1,350– $2,000 from the USA to Tanzania, depending on origin, plus airfare from Arusha to the Serengeti.
- Gratuities – tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $22 to $25 per participant per day for July 10 to 23 with our guides (about $308 to $350 total per participant), which will be distributed among all the resident naturalists/drivers.
- Trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, and items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.
Daytime temperatures range from around 50°F (10°C) at night to 90°F (32°C). On foggy mornings at higher elevations, expect temperatures at the bottom of the range. This is the dry season before the “short rains” of November/December and after the “long rains” of mid-March through mid-June, but rain is still possible.
Dress in layers and be prepared for changing conditions.
Most days consist of early morning game drives in pop-top vehicles on bumpy roads and long hours in nature that require good energy levels. Most walking is optional and is around lodge grounds between game drives. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.
All airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) near Arusha, Tanzania, by the evening of July 10. For most, this means departing home on July 9. Depart from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) July 23 after 5 PM; you may prefer to stay overnight in Arusha (not included). If you are continuing on to our Botswana and Zambia companion safari, depart JRO anytime after 5 PM on July 23 and arrive in Maun, Botswana (MUB) before 2 PM on July 25. If continuing on our Rwanda extension, depart JRO and arrive in Nairobi. Most flights will connect through Johannesburg, South Africa.
Flight we book for you: Arusha Airport (ARK) to the northern Serengeti on July 11. The cost of this booking will be added to your final trip balance.
Which safari is right for me if I want to travel to Africa?
If this is your first African safari, we suggest taking both our Tanzania and Kenya tours to experience the quintessential African safari. The grassy Serengeti Plains of Tanzania and Kenya spread unbelievably from horizon to horizon and are often covered with migrating herds seeking fresh grass while being pursued by their predators. In northern Kenya, you will experience a more arid landscape populated by the specially adapted animals that live there. Animals are also generally more accustomed to vehicles so you can get quite close.
Our Botswana safari provides you with a unique immersion into wild Africa through carefree mobile camping that gives you an intimate 24/7 connection. The extensive waterways of the Okavango Delta spread on the dry, sandy landscape of Botswana and create quite the contrast to the grass-covered Serengeti Plains of Tanzania and Kenya. In Botswana, we find more animals suited to this dry watery environment such as hippos, elephants, and antelopes. It is possible to see the “big five” (African lion, African elephant, cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros) in all three countries.
What is the “Great Migration?”
The Great Serengeti Migration is the movement of vast herds of wildebeest, accompanied by large numbers of Burchell’s zebra and fewer numbers of Grant’s gazelle, Thompson’s gazelle, topi, kongoni (hartebeest), eland, and impala. Throughout the year the herds move in a circular, clock-wise pattern around the Serengeti, heading northward or southward, seeking new green grass. It is the world’s largest terrestrial mammal migration!
Which safari is best to see the “Great Migration?”
The exact timing of the migration is dependent on the seasonal rainfall that freshens the grass consumed by ungulates. Throughout the year the herds move in a circular pattern around the Serengeti, heading northward or southward, seeking new green grass. In January/February, wildlife is concentrated in the southern Serengeti short grass plains of Tanzania. In July/August, the famous Mara River crossings of wildebeest and zebra occur in the northern Serengeti ecosystem right on the border of Tanzania and Kenya. While the herbivores migrate through the Serengeti, they pass through the territories of many predators, such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas.
Why are the January/February and July/August itineraries different?
Our itineraries follow the concentration of the great ungulate herds during their migration through the Serengeti ecosystem.
In January/February, we spend almost twice the number of nights at Ndutu in the southern Serengeti in Tanzania. Here we can drive off-road, which provides ample opportunities for unique experiences. The cat population around Ndutu is one of the best in all the Serengeti with serval, African wild cat, cheetah, leopard, and lion.
In July/August, we focus on the Mara River near the Kenya border where much of the wildlife is concentrated.
What species are present in both seasons?
In both seasons we can see similar species (about 50 mammals and 250 bird species) but an additional 25 northern bird species migrate south in January/February. In July/August we have a better chance of seeing denning African wild dogs.
Do we see large herds in both seasons?
Yes, but the distribution is different. In January/February the wildlife is grazing on the short grass plains, often in lines or dispersed over the plains, only visiting water sources when needed. While in July/August, the wildlife is concentrated around water sources.
What is the difference in animal behaviors between both seasons?
In January/February, wildebeest are calving and other ungulates (such as zebra) are nursing young, and cheetah females with cubs are more visible as they follow the herd movements. In July/August, although not guaranteed, we have the best chance of seeing herds of zebra and wildebeest cross the Mara River while trying to avoid crocodiles.
What is the difference in climate between both seasons?
January/February is warmer since it’s the summer season in the southern hemisphere.
How much time do we spend in nature?
We spend maximum time in nature! We offer two game drives per day – early morning, and afternoon. We typically leave the lodge around dawn, come back for lunch (or have a picnic lunch), head back out an hour or so after lunch, and return for dinner (sometimes late). Be prepared for long days.
Can we walk around to see the wildlife?
For safety reasons, we are not permitted to leave the vehicles on safari drives, although we can walk around the lodge grounds.
What is Cheesemans’ background/history in East Africa tourism?
Doug and Gail have been leading safaris since 1978 and have known many of the local naturalists/guides since they were young adults. Not only do you have experts on wildlife behavior, but you also get a unique family-like experience from spending time with Doug, Gail, and the local guides.
We stay in top-notch lodges with private baths in close proximity to the parks/reserves and wildlife.
We travel in pop-top Land Cruisers with open shaded roof covers that provide 360° viewing and excellent photography opportunities. With only four participants in each seven-passenger vehicle, you’ll have more space for your gear and changing vantage points. Be prepared to experience bumpy, unpaved roads, and although our vehicles are comfortable, you will be jostled around.
- Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
- Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days, but giving you a more in-depth experience.
- Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, wildlife sightings, or road conditions.
- Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
- Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but understanding and accepting the risks, both medical and logistical, are important. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but due to the fact that we often travel to locations far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your tour deposit and signed reservation form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
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"We had so much room in each vehicle! I had a chance to notice how some of the other safari companies wedged a person into every available seat. I loved the space you thoughtfully provided each of us.
Karen Kean-Hines, 2016
"A perfect combination of world class accommodations and maximum field time with professional and experienced guides. The land cruisers were incredible - they handled every condition."
John Hawkins, 2016
"I tell friends and family that I doubt I could go with another company after spending a couple weeks with Doug and Gail. The attention to detail was perfect, the lodges were fantastic, the guides exceptional, and the pre-trip information was great."