The vast game reserves of Tanzania and Kenya offer incredible opportunities to see wildlife – including the famous wildebeest migration. Seeing Africa’s “big five” is one of the top bucket-list things to do.

An adventure through Tanzania and Kenya is the best way to see prides of lions, herds of wildebeest and flamingos take flight over Lake Nakuru and to experience the culture of the Maasai people.

In Tanzania, the Ngorongoro Conserservation Area centres around Ngorongoro Crater which is rich in wildlife. The crater floor is the place to see animals like lions, Cape buffalo, impalas, Thompson gazelles, rhino, giraffes, golden and black-backed jackals, zebras, cheetahs, leopards and spotted hyenas.

The conservation area is also archeologically important. At Laetoli, west of Ngorongoro Crater, hominid footprints preserved 3.6-million-year-old volcanic rock represent some of the earliest signs of mankind in the world. Even more significant finds have been found some 100km to the north at Oldupai Gorge (originally misnamed Olduvai). Here the bones of four different kinds of hominids and stone tools have been uncovered and visitors can see the site where excavations are ongoing.

Continue north to the famous Serengeti National Park, also abundant in wildlife. The seemingly endless savannah plains are home to lions, cheetahs, hunting dogs, elephants, Cape buffalo, warthogs, hunting dogs and spotted hyenas. Visitors can also spend time at the hippo pools to see mother hippos and their calves in their water habitat.  

In neighbouring Kenya, the Maasai Mara Game Reserve encompasses the northern part of the Serengeti Plains and offers a chance to see the big five – lion, savannah elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and the endangered black rhino. The reserve is also the place to see giraffes and thundering herds of zebras and wildebeest.

Visit between June and August for a chance to see the great wildebeest migration when up to two million animals are on the move.

Between December and March, the wildebeest herds gather in the Ngorongoro Conservation Park. This is the calving season – a perfect time to see the newborn wildebeest calves.

During April and May, prompted by the onset of the rainy season, the herds start to move to greener pastures, but for tourists, the rains make it difficult to watch this migration. In fact, many of the camps close for the season.

In June, as the rain stops, the wildebeest and zebra start moving north and the Western Serengeti is the best place to watch the migration unfold.

By July, the herds reach the Grumeti River, which can get deep in parts if the rain has been good. It’s one of the hardest parts of the migration as the animals cross crocodile-infested waters.

By August, the surviving wildebeest reach Lamai Wedge and make a second dangerous crossing – the Mara River which is also filled with hungry crocodiles. Finally, they cross the border into Kenya’s Mara Triangle. From September to November, the Mara plains are filled with grazing herds.

The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is also a good place to visit and experience the culture of the Maasai people who have lived on these lands for thousands of years.

These rich countries are some of the best places to visit in the world for its unique wildlife and rich culture. 

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