Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa and home to two of Africa’s most talked-about reserves, the Serengeti and the Ngororongo Crater. More importantly, Tanzania is world-renowned for its annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra followed closely by their predators. This is one of the most dramatic wildlife spectacles on the planet. But it is equally famous for being home to Africa’s highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro, the Great Rift Valley, the legendary Spice Islands, and the rich Swahili culture.
Situated just below the equator between the great lakes of Africa and the Indian Ocean, Tanzania is a land of many faces and many cultures. “Jambo” is one of the very first words you will hear on entering Tanzania – this is Swahili for hello, welcome. The locals say it with such pride and enthusiasm that you will definitely feel their welcome and leave knowing at least one Swahili word. Jambo!
Tanzania’s main airport is Julius Nyere International Airport which is around 13km south of Dar es Salaam, their administrative and commercial capital city. But many visitors are able to fly directly into Kilimanjaro International Airport or Zanzibar International Airport from surrounding countries.
There are 120 tribes in Tanzania with Bantu languages and dialects spoken by 95% of the population. KiSwahili is the official and national language.
Reserves in Tanzania cover over 250 000sq km, in a total of 25% has been set aside for wildlife conservation.
Based on historical data and local knowledge, the migratory pattern has been submitted as follows (though it's not infallible):
January – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
- The herds move south from the northeast, towards the short-grass plains of the Ndutu and Ngorongoro areas.
February – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
- The herds remain in the far south to feed.
March - Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Last day of calving
- In Loliando and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the grass has nearly been consumed and the last calves are born. The herds begin preparing for the big move.
April – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The trek begins
- From the southern plains of the Serengeti, the herds set off on their journey up north through the areas of the Moru Kopjes and Seronera Valley.
May – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Mating and migration
- Massive herds move as a throng in columns of up to 40kms in length, up into the central region and towards the Western Corridor. Males do fierce battle for a mate.
June – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The great migration continues
- In the central and west Serengeti, the herds get ready for the most dangerous part of their journey.
July – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The river crossing
- Arguably the most exciting part of the migration. The herds frantically splash through the Grumeti River in the western Serengeti, trying to get to the other side without falling prey to opportunistic predators such as the Nile Crocodiles.
August – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
- The fortunate survivors recoup and graze in the northern Serengeti, before continuing into the far northwest.
September & October – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania / Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya
Welcome to Kenya
- The herds divide themselves into smaller groups, with half remaining in the far north of the Serengeti while the rest move into the Masai Mara. They travel fast and cover long distances in a single day, with more river crossing at the Mara and Talek.
November - Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya
Here comes the rain
- The short rains begin and the herds leave the stripped grasslands of the Masai Mara, returning to the now-green Serengeti via Loliondo.
December – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
- Its peaceful back home in the northeastern Serengeti, near Lake Ndutu, and in the south.
The rains fall and its almost time for calving – the circle of life turns once more.
KEY AREAS TO VISIT