Late October 2011 – An ‘off season’ Serengeti migration adventure

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Late October and early November have always been regarded as the safari ‘off season’. It is a time of uncertainty as the rains each year are variable.  Planning a longer trip is the best way at this wonderful time of year. We started in Tarangire and caught the dry season’s ending then wandered the Serengeti from its Southern Plains near Olduvai to Loliondo and then onto the Northern Mara River to catch the wildebeest as they headed south. We continued down this ecosystem’s ‘spine’ to Seronera, Moru Kopjes, past Kusini camp and to Ndutu, crossing the plains again.  To finish we headed to Eyasi via Endulen descending the Rift on one of Northern Tanzania’s most dramatic gravel tracks.

Tarangire was dry

These 15 days out and about gave us an unrivalled overview. We had dust, mud, winds and tropical storms.  We crossed recently flooded river valleys and then over desiccated and rugged landscapes where no rain had fallen for 8 long months, only to once again enter a green and verdant wilderness another 20 kilometers along our route.

We watched a pride of 13 one moring in Tarangire Tarangire's resident tawny eagles were well fed

Tarangire was dry with a few green patches from early rain showers. Lake Eyasi, at the end of our safari, was just coming out of a prolonged drought.  Conditions in-between were varied and each time we moved location we were unsure of the conditions ahead.  This made everything unpredictable. How wonderful!

A Tarangire one eyed leopard   Cheetah cubs playing at Ndutu

Over the three days we drove from the Mara River to Ndutu migrating herds were with us all the way. These migrations scenes were some of the most extra ordinary I have ever seen. We drove hundreds of Kilometers between these locations. Wildlife all the way!

We experienced many crossing at the Mara river

We varied our activities and our levels of comfort throughout this safari. From Oliver’s Camp in Tarangire, to fly camping on a 3 day walking safari in Loliondo. Then to Olakira Camp on the Mara River to Dunia Camp at Moru Kopjes to Ndutu Lodge and some plains and escarpment hiking on our way to Kisima Negeda camp at Eyasi. Each and every day was memorable and the unexpected was happening all the time.

Hiking to our next campsite in Loliondo

We took the risk of exploring in the ‘off season’ and we were rewarded 1000 fold!

Loliondo view on the hike

The dry season wildlife concentrations in Tarangire were followed by ideal walking conditions in Loliondo then incredible river crossing scenes at the Mara River followed by 250 kilometers of migrating wildlife, with nearly 50 ma10al species and many hundreds of bird species enjoyed along the way. The 3 days of peace of Lake Eyasi was the perfect ending to our travels.

Lake Eyasi sunset can be stunning

Of the many experiences enjoyed a few dozen really do stand out.  On our 3 days hike in a remote part of Loliondo our ‘black msungu’ guest caused a stir with the Maasai. One wonderful morning at Ndutu we spent quality time with a cheetah mother and her cubs. But for sheer spectacle nothing quite prepares you for the dramatic Mara River crossings of hundreds of thousands of wildebeests. Oh and I mustn’t forget the Lake Eyasi sunsets.

A Maasai herder meets an Afro American for the first time        The Ndutu marsh areas were beautiful

We were exhausted just watching

If you are planning a safari in late October come for 14 days! You won’t regret it!