The Great Migrations
Travel to East Africa for an exceptional first-hand view of the world’s most massive land mammal migration. Witness a leg of the nearly 1,500-mile circuit as vast herds of wildebeest, buffalo, gazelle and zebra, all in search of food and water, stampede the grassy Serengeti plains in Tanzania, voyage through the riverine in the west, and culminate their long journey in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Photograph elephants and giraffes in the Serengeti, watch crocodiles lurk in the Mara River, and listen to the legendary wildebeest thunder across the plains. Venture to Ngorongoro Crater to admire cheetahs and lions or to Maasai Mara National Reserve to observe hyenas and over 470 species of birds in their awe-inspiring natural habitat.
If you would like to embark between December and April, this is the period to best observe the herds of wildebeest and zebra as they spread across the southern Serengeti into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. During this time, herds give birth, attracting lions and leopards on the prowl. The infamous 2,200-foot-deep Ngorongoro Crater is within the park, offering a lush habitat for more than 25,000 animals. Revel in the stunning beauty of the vivid pink flamingos at Lake Magadi, hike the Oldupai Gorge, and meet the Maasai to hear personal stories of how they have taken care of this land for centuries.
Once the rainy season ends and the plains dry out, this is a sign that the migration is about to begin. If you travel here between May and June, these herds travel to the western part of Tanzania, heading north to Kenya, encountering the treacherous Grumeti River crossing, along with Loinondo, Seronera, and Lobo.
July to November is traditionally known as the prime season for the Great Migration safari. During this time, the herds make it to Maasai Mara in Kenya to cross the Mara River. This highly sought-after experience is bound to impress you as you cheer the triumphant packs’ safe arrival on the other side. Once the wildebeest and other wildlife enter Maasai Mara National Reserve, it is time for them to rest up before they repeat their journey.
Great Migrations Safari Extensions
If time allows and you are craving even more from your African safari adventure, there are numerous options available to extend your trip, customizing it to your specific interests. One possibility is to head to the Great Rift Valley, west of the Serengeti in Tanzania. Take a guided tour in Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve to engage in unique cultural interactions with indigenous tribes. Capture marvelous views of Mount Kilimanjaro—consider hiking all the way to the top!
Another choice is to head south of Ngorongoro National Park to either Lake Manyara National Park or Tarangire National Park. Lake Manyara is home to plentiful elephants and stunning biodiversity. Tarangire National Park is punctuated with baobab trees, natural beauty and the ‘Big 5’ large game.
Gorilla trekking is one of the most humbling wildlife experiences you will ever have. Possibilities include excursions in ‘the Pearl of Africa,’ Uganda; mountainous Rwanda; or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the second-largest country in Africa. Observe these magnificent animals in their natural habitat for an unforgettable adventure. Limited tracking permits are issued each day so that the encounters are intimate and peaceful. E. Clarke Travel and our highly regarded tour partners can arrange your visit, acquire your permit, and send you off on an enchanting and thrilling forest expedition with exceptional amenities.
The Rwanda Experience
Hop off the plane at Kigali International Airport and head to Volcanoes National Park, where roughly half of the world’s remaining gorillas live. Expert trackers lead you through bamboo-covered hills, volcanic terrain, open grassland, and dense forest canopies until you suddenly find yourself just yards from these gentle giants. During this profound natural history trek, listen to the melodious calls of wild birds, watch rare golden monkeys swinging in the trees, and pass by elusive buffalo. What you see and do at Volcanoes National Park is well worth the energy it takes to make this adventure a reality!
The Uganda Experience
Getting to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park requires a little more effort than The Rwandan Experience. Either take a short plane ride from the Kampala Airport or tailor your itinerary to include two stunning national parks. Trek through Kibale National Park with your private tour guide on an inspirational journey to observe the largest primate habitat on the African continent. Known as the ‘primate capital of the world,’ watch over 1500 chimpanzees roam the evergreen tropical forest.
Next, head south to Queen Elizabeth National Park to spot tree-climbing lions or straddle the equator that runs directly through the park! Both national parks are day trips on their own. Finally, enter the breathtaking green forest of Bwindi and feel the anticipation of viewing the amazing creatures that roam this remarkable landscape. Here, experienced trackers lead you on an early morning hike into the woods and through mountain passages to come within feet of these magnificent gorillas to witness how they live their lives and tend to their families.
The DRC Experience
There are two locations in the Congo where one can venture to see gorillas in their natural environment. The first option is Virunga National Park, which shares parts of the Virunga Massif with Rwanda. Here there are eight gorilla families that expert trackers will help you discover. Once you arrive, spend quality time observing their intimate family encounters as they play, groom and eat. In Virunga National Park, study the biodiversity of fish and migratory birds at Lake Edward, bordering Uganda.
The second location is Kahuzi-Biega National Park, where Eastern lowland gorillas, the largest type of gorilla species, roam freely in the tropical forest in the eastern regions of the DRC. This hike is the most comfortable choice, especially in the dry months, as your journey is typically two hours or less. In between the two gorilla trek locations sits Nyiragongo Volcano, an active volcano that is home to the largest lava lake in the world. Imagine hiking to the top of Nyiragongo Volcano and looking down at churning hot lava! Consider this as a day trip during your Congo journey.
The Great Plains Conservation
The Great Plains Conservation, featuring diverse habitats, offers remote and intensely personalized camps—come for the adventure and leave feeling spoiled by the luxe amenities, secluded locations, suburb dining, and excellent guides for private game-viewing opportunities. Make a substantial contribution to the Great Plains conservation initiative by booking a stay at one of the deluxe camps that provides exclusive access to key national parks, reserves, wildlife areas, and natural wonders. To truly appreciate the continent’s natural national treasures, go bird watching, canoe waterways, join riding or walking safari tours, and photograph the iconic wildlife in Africa’s backyard.
Several of the most incredible wildlife destinations in the heart of Africa—Botswana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe—host spectacular camps that are part of the Great Plains Conservation, founded in 2006 with the goal to holistically preserve the wildlife, communities, and landscapes within these countries. The foundation’s goal is to protect wilderness areas, as well as restore damaged and threatened environments through low impact tourism, sustainably built camps, solar power, and greywater recycling systems.
Camps in Botswana
Choose between the floodplains in the Okavango Delta, the pristine wilderness area of the Selinda Spillway, or overlooking the stunning Zibadianja Lagoon in Zarafa Camp. These camps include unique safari experiences, up-close wild game encounters, motorboat excursions, and in-room massages. Hike through hundreds of thousands of acres in the wilderness of Northern Botswana, mingle with local tribal communities, and relax in traditional safari tents overlooking palm-fringed islands or raised villas over magical lagoons. With nine camps to choose from, all exceptional of their own accord, sleep peacefully knowing your stay is having a positive impact on Botswana!
Camps in Kenya
Three of Kenya’s conservation camps are nestled in Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Expedition Camp off the Mara Plains takes front stage for the Great Migration of wildebeest each year and is brimming with leopards, lions, and hippos. The Mara Plains Camp is hidden in the forest just off Ntiakitiak River, where you can take a hot air balloon ride high above the reserve or lounge under ornate canopies that pay tribute to Maasai and Swahili cultures. Mara Nyika Camp, nestled in a valley overlooking the Great Plains, offers the utmost in privacy—be pampered in the guest suites, take a 4×4 expedition into the plains, or simply relax and commune with your incredible natural surroundings. Every lodge room at the final camp, Ol Donyo Lodge in the Chyulu Hills, looks out ‘to the soul of East Africa,’ offering panoramic views of majestic Mount Kilimanjaro towering in the distance. Which one of these unique camp experiences is calling out to you?
Camp in Zimbabwe
The Great Plains Conservation offers three properties in Zambezi National Park, a region with impressive birdwatching, opportunities to observe herds of buffalo, and unique boating excursions down the Zambezi River. Each camp features walking safaris and access to game drives led by expert guides. Marvel at magnificent Victoria Falls while at Mpala Jena, one of the most environmentally innovative camps; rest in your tented villa at Mpala Jena Suite as elephants swim just outside your window; and listen to tales of Africa’s past around a campfire, enveloped by an awe-inspiring natural habitat. Sapi Explorers Camp, located in a sanctuary just outside Mana Pools National Park, fosters exploration of the Sapi Reserve, Mana Pools and Zambezi River by foot, as well as canoe, boat and land vehicles. A stay at any of these camps provides an incredible Zimbabwe safari experience.