The north of Tanzania is home to some of the best wildlife viewing places in the world. From the famous Ngorongoro Crater to the elephant paradise of Tarangire, the possibilities are endless. There is however one National Park that rightly steals the headlines: The Serengeti.
Home to the Great Wildebeest Migration, an abundance of big cats and a plethora of other flora and fauna, it is no wonder the Serengeti is on many people’s bucket lists. With endless grassy plains that are studded with rocky outcrops, it is not only a photographer’s dream, but it epitomises an East African safari.
Whilst the Serengeti is known for its mobile camps that move throughout the year with the migration, there are a handful of beautiful lodges that are permanent and do not move with the wildebeest. Instead, they occupy areas that have excellent game viewing year-round and during certain months the migration arrives on their doorsteps. Since they are permanent, most lodges have facilities like swimming pools and spas which help occupy friends and families alike in the hours in between game drives.
Lamai is Nomad’s flagship property, nestled into a kopje in the Kogatende region of the Serengeti, the camp not only offers stunning views across the northern plains, but is also a hope, skip and a jump away from the renowned Mara River.
The eight rooms here all have their own private verandas and en-suite bathrooms. The camp continues Nomad’s essence of simplistic luxury, you can be sure your every need will be catered for through warm and friendly hospitality and every amenity you could wish for is provided.
Although the resident game is great all year round in the Northern reaches of Kogatende, the time of year to be here is from late July through to the end of October. This is when around 1.5 million wildebeest make their journeys across the Mara River. Attempting to avoid the lurking crocodiles and the predators waiting in ambush on the banks, it is a remarkable spectacle to behold.
Asilia’s Sayari and Namiri
Mirroring Nomad Lamai, Asilia’s Sayari is located in the Kogatende region of the Serengeti and is perfect for the months when the migration reaches the Northern reaches of the park. Although slightly larger in size with 15 spacious and open rooms, the permanent camp is stylish and luxurious.
In the Eastern Plains of the Serengeti, there are very few camps, yet Asilia have a lodge called Namiri located here. An hour away from any other camp, any sighting you have will be all to yourself. And you will have some excellent sightings here!
For years, this area of the Serengeti was closed to tourists and used for predator research. Now recently opened, you can enjoy some of the most intimate and exclusive predator sightings in Africa. Photography is a dream here and after game drive, arriving back to camp is certainly no ordeal. With open and beautiful rooms that overlook the endless plains and fantastic hospitality and service, this provides the perfect lodge to combine with any migration camp.
In the far North Eastern region of the Serengeti is a private concession run solely by &Beyond. Situated here is Klein’s Camp. Whilst the migration tends to pass through sporadically from October through to December, visiting Klein’s allows more freedom in activities that are not allowed in the National Park.
Night drives are a favourite here as you try and spot the nocturnal creatures and see what they get up to after dark. There is also the added freedom of being able to off-road which allows you to follow the wildlife through its natural environment giving the best photographic opportunities.
The camp itself comprises of ten luxurious cottages with one specifically made for families which has an inter-leading walkway. Set amongst the ragged Kuka Hills, the views into the valley are stunning no matter where in the camp you are. As with all &Beyond properties, the guiding and hospitality is some of the best in the business and the private concession ensures a private and intimate safari experience.
Singita – Sasakwa
Set within a 350,000-acre private concession, Singita have multiple properties within their own private part of the Serengeti. Located on the Western Border of the National Park, Singita boast some of the best guiding and most luxurious permanent lodges in Africa. Like &Beyond’s private concession, at Singita you can off-road and night drive, but it is in June when the migration arrives here.
As the herds make their way from the Southern Ndutu Plains up to Kogatende, some of the herds go via Seronera whilst some venture West into the Grumeti region. As they pass through the area, they tackle obstacles like the Grumeti River in their search for greener pastures.
Sasakwa is arguably Singita’s most luxurious lodge in the Grumeti region. Built in the style of an old Edwardian Manor House, the recently refurbished Sasakwa is like a home away from home, whilst providing anything and everything you could wish for. The private concession ensures you a private and intimate safari away from the crowds in the National Park during peak the peak seasons.
The area has also become a very successful established conservation area for the critically endangered black rhino. In the last year a number have been relocated to the area, with a calf being born. Under heavy twenty-four-hour surveillance, these rhinos are extremely well protected and with plans to reintroduce more of these beautiful creatures, it is hopeful that this will become an area to help re-establish a population that was on the brink of extinction not long ago.
Whilst permanent lodges in the Serengeti generally come at a much higher cost than a migration camp, it can’t be overlooked that there are some great value permanent lodges available.
Kiota Camp in the central Seronera region and is a fantastic option for those on a stricter budget, but still want to experience what a permanent camp is like. The canvas rooms are all very spacious and captures the true essence of safari with bucket shows and an en-suite.
The camp is situated on a grassy hill that overlooks a beautiful valley where the migration directly passes through during the end of May. The migration tends to arrive in Seronera in April and passes through until the end of May, and although this is considered low season, the game viewing is spectacular and is certainly worth the risk of a shower or two of rain! Any time spent in the Seronera region is certainly not a waste though, the area has a very high density of lions and leopards as well as great woodland pockets for buffalo and elephants, providing some great photo opportunities.
Marc Harris is Managing Director of Tanzania Odyssey. Tanzania Odyssey is a leading tour operator that has specialised in Tanzania since 1998.