The Great Tanzania Migration Photo Itinerary
Day 1: Arusha, Tanzania
Arrive in Arusha and transfer to our lodge in the rolling foothills of Mount Meru. Photograph flowers in the beautifully landscaped gardens that offer a relaxing respite after our long
Days 2–4: East-Central Serengeti Plains
The legendary Serengeti derives its name from a Maasai word meaning “endless plains.” We fly to Serengeti National Park, where vistas of golden savannas stretching to the horizon beneath a bowl of deep blue sky provide an iconic image of Africa. Meeting our safari vehicles and drivers, we set out on our first wildlife drive. Everyone has a side seat and plenty of room in our vehicles to take total advantage of the photography possibilities. Our destination is Ehlane Plains, a remote sector of the Serengeti that has previously been off-limits to visitors for two decades. Surveying open grasslands and kopjes, the camp offers fabulous wildlife photography in diverse habitats, with top subjects being the abundant feline predators that live and hunt in this area. In fact, ehlane means "wilderness" in Zulu.
Ehlane Plains provides exceptional seclusion: guests are virtually alone on the vast landscape. Our isolated location ensures that we experience our natural setting, rather than tourist crowds. Evoking the classic safari atmosphere of an earlier age, our camp has just eight spacious canvas tents that offer surprising comfort in this remote setting. Under the shade of giant acacia trees, we get 360-degree views of wildlife traversing savanna and the river, with its perennial vegetation and dense green reed beds that attract birds and smaller animal species. Capture a broad spectrum of photos on wildlife drives or on a walking safari with one of the resident specialist guides.
Days 5-7: Southern Serengeti—Nat Hab's Private Mobile Camp
With cameras at the ready, we depart for the southern Serengeti via a wildlife drive en route. The days of heavy canvas hunting camps set for the likes of Roosevelt and Hemingway were nearly over until photographic safaris gained popularity. Nat Hab's private mobile camp exudes the ambience of old, with silver-service dinners presented on white linen by candlelight. While home to a profusion of wildlife year-round, there is nothing like the Serengeti during the phenomenon of the Great Migration. We spend unhurried days amid the sea of mammals, following them in open 4x4 vehicles that offer superb photography access.
The vast herds of wildebeest trek annually from Kenya’s Maasai Mara to the southern Serengeti in search of new grass during the short rains, then back again. The wildebeest migrate with thousands of zebra, whose superior vision and hearing serve as an early warning system for predators. We are in the region just as the three-week birthing season is typically beginning, when the herds are mostly stationary. We'll hope to get photos of infants (though timing on the calf drop is weather-dependent) as well as prey interactions. Predators seek out the most vulnerable members of the herds, and we may behold a lion taking down a sick wildebeest or a cheetah overtaking a newborn. Leopard, hyena and jackal also prey on the migrating herds while vultures hang in the air, waiting to feast on carrion. While the spectacle is at times grim, the primal drama is a wonder to behold.
Day 8: Arusha or Ngorongoro Extension / Depart
Today our photo safari concludes, and we depart with a phenomenal slate of memories captured in the images we have collected during the past week. After breakfast in camp, fly to Arusha where a day room awaits, before a transfer this evening to Kilimanjaro Airport for overnight international departures. Guests continuing on our Ngorongoro Crater extension will say farewell to their fellow travelers in the Serengeti, where they will remain in pursuit of more remarkable wildlife photography adventures.
Physical Rating: Easy to Moderate
To participate in this trip, you must be able to walk unassisted at a steady pace for at least one mile over uneven terrain, climb steps to get into and out of our raised safari vehicles, and be able to tolerate daily outdoor excursions that may last 4-5 hours or even a full day at a time, sometimes in hot, windy and/or dusty conditions. Wildlife drives pose a particular type of physical demand on the body, as they require long hours of sitting and take place over terrain that is often very rough and bumpy, including dirt roads with many ruts and potholes. Travelers with back or neck problems, or other health issues that could be exacerbated by such conditions, should take this into consideration. While any walking safaris are considered optional, travelers must be able to walk unassisted to and from the vehicle to our camp accommodations, sometimes walking over uneven ground or on boardwalks. Days spent on safari are often long, as mornings typically start before daybreak and evening meals are served after sundown. Safari accommodations and vehicles are not climate-controlled and, depending on the season, temperatures can range from quite cold to extremely hot, so it is critical that travelers come prepared.