Photograph and admire the wildlife of the Northern Serengeti during the height of the annual migration with expert tutelage from award-winning wildlife photographer Nick Garbutt.
The rolling plains of the Northern Serengeti in Tanzania are home to healthy permanent populations of wildlife, but the plains really come alive each year between July and October, when huge numbers of wildebeest, zebra, and a variety of antelopes pass through on their annual migration. Yet there is even more to see here, as the Northern Serengeti is home to one of the most iconic wildlife events in the world as the migration crosses the Mara River.
As the herds grow ever bigger, there comes a time when they must head for new pastures and, in order to reach their destination, the wildebeest, zebra and antelopes must cross the Mara River. This is a daunting and treacherous crossing, as not only do the steep banks of the river make it difficult, but large crocodiles lie in wait in the river, biding their time patiently before the annual feast. The herds mass along the bank, then wave after wave attempt the crossing, creating panic and frenzy in their own midst – a perfect scenario for wildlife photography!
Nick will be on hand throughout the trip to help you develop your skills, both in the field and back at the lodge in the evenings, when there will be workshopse and further tuition as required. The group size is small, so that Nick can work with everyone on an individual basis.
Day1: Fly to Kilimanjaro
Daytime flight from London to Kilimanjaro International Airport via Amsterdam. On arrival we transfer to our accommodation near the airport.
Accommodation: KIA Lodge, 1 night
Day2: Transfer to Tarangire
Transfer along the Trans Africa Highway to Tarangire National Park, a drive of around four hours. We should arrive for a late lunch, and in the late afternoon head out on a vehicle safari.
Accommodation: Tarangire Safari Lodge, 3-nights
Days3-4: Explore Tarangire National Park
We have morning and afternoon drives in Tarangire National Park over the course of the next two days, with plenty of time to explore the immediate vicinity and enjoy the spectacular baobab dominated bushland. Herds of elephants often congregate around the riverine areas and the bird watching here is also excellent. The early and late light in Tarangire is often compelling and provides ideal inspiration for wildlife photography.
Day5: Drive to Ngorongoro Crater
Today is an early start to ensure we have plenty of time to enjoy a morning drive in Tarangire and also to explore Ngorongoro Crater in the afternoon. We transfer by road to Ngorongoro (between three and four hours), and in the afternoon take an excursion into the Ngorongoro Crater to watch and photograph wildlife.
Leaving the lodge before sunrise, we will be at the crater gates when they open at 6am and descend for a full day of wildlife watching and photography. There are numerous tracks criss-crossing the Crater floor and during the course of our visits we will cover all the hot spots and renowned photographic locations. Exact movements will be dictated by the wildlife whereabouts at the time. A picnic breakfast and lunch will be taken in the crater and we will return to the lodge after 6pm.
Day7: Ngorongoro Crater & onto Ndutu
Once again, we spend the morning in the crater on a drive to watch and photograph wildlife, before continuing our journey out of the Ngorongoro Highlands to descend onto the Serengeti Plains. There will be an opportunity to stop at Olduvai Gorge and museum if wished. On arriving at our lodge, there should be enough time for a late afternoon drive around the area.
Days8-9: Explore Ngorongoro Conservation Area & Southern Serengeti
We have two full days to explore the acacia woodlands and open plains that make up the southern Serengeti ecosystem, allowing us to spend prolonged periods south of the border in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The density of carnivores in the area is very high, with no fewer than three well-established lion prides known in the Ndutu area alone. The open plains and acacia woodlands are also perhaps the best place in East Africa to see cheetah, and on most trips we encounter numerous individuals. Leopard are also seen in the woodland, and more recently a pack of Africa wild dogs returned to the area for the first time in nearly 20 years and is seen occasionally.
Day10: Drive to Northern Serengeti
After breakfast, we begin our all-day drive from Ndutu to the rolling plains of the Northern Serengeti. We watch and photograph wildlife along the way and also stop for a picnic lunch out in the bush. The journey today will take approximately seven to eight hours. Depending on our sightings today, we arrive at our tented camp by mid- to late-afternoon. In the Northern Serengeti, our tented camp is located in the heart of the wildlife activity, which allows us to maximise our time out in the field. The comfortable tents have en suite facilities with a bucket shower.
Accommodation: Kogatende Migration Camp, 7-nights
Days11-16: Explore the Northern Serengeti
We have six full days to explore the Northern Serengeti in search of its wildlife and photographic opportunities. We venture to the Mara River in the hope of witnessing a crossing and seeing the frenetic activity which these events create. The migration instinct is so strong that many animals die as they dive from the banks into the raging waters, to be taken by the jaws of massive Nile crocodiles that lie in wait.
During the peak of the migration in the Northern Serengeti, you can really get a sense of how abundant the wildlife can be here – there are few locations in the world, let alone Africa, that can boast such density of land mammals. All in all, these six days should be filled with endless opportunities for wildlife photography.
Day17: Return to Kilimanjaro & depart
This morning we enjoy a final morning of wildlife watching and photography in the Northern Serengeti. Later in the afternoon we take a chartered light aircraft flight back to Kilimanjaro, to connect with onward overnight flights back to the UK.
Day18: Arrive UK
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 18 daysfrom £11,195 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 17 daysfrom £10,630 pp
An award-winning photographer and author, with a background in zoology, Nick has forged a career by combining these skills with leading tours and lecturing.
Nick has written and photographed several critically acclaimed books, including: ‘100 Animals to See Before They Die’, ‘Mammals of Madagascar: A Complete Guide’, ‘Wild Borneo’, and ‘Chameleons’. He is a regular contributor to international magazines such as National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Africa Geographic and Geographical.
Nick has twice been a winner in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. In 2000, he won the prestigious Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife. His photographs appear widely in books, calendars and other publications worldwide. He is a Special Lecturer on the MSc course in the Wildlife Photography and Imaging at Nottingham University, where he studied.
Tarangire National Park is one of Africa’s best kept secrets. Dominated by the Tarangire River, the landscape is a rich mix of trees, grassland plains, swamps and rocky outcrops providing habitats for superb wildlife. There are vast herds of elephants and Cape buffalo here, and the area is also excellent for birds of prey.
Where: Northern Tanzania
Ideal for viewing: African elephant, fringe-eared oryx, kori bustard, warthog, wild dog
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Vehicle safaris
The Ngorongoro Crater is a natural amphitheatre and one of the most dramatic settings in Africa. Its swamps, forests and soda lake attract thousands of flamingos and other waterfowl, and the plains enclose the largest concentration of game – the predator prey balance is so precise that animals seldom leave.
Where: Crater Highlands Region
Ideal for viewing: black rhino, African elephant, greater flamingo, spotted hyena, lion
Excellent for: Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Vehicle safaris
The Serengeti supports Africa’s greatest concentration of plains game. Its ranges include wooded highland, grass plains, acacia savannah and rivers. With an estimated three million large animals, most of which take part in a seasonal migration, you can experience one of nature’s greatest wonders.
Where: Northern Tanzania
Ideal for viewing: Burchell’s zebra, cheetah, leopard, lion, white-bearded wildebeest
Excellent for: Walking safaris, Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Vehicle safaris
Situated in the south-eastern part of the Serengeti ecosystem, this lodge is shaded by majestic acacia trees, and surrounded by plants that attract a host of birds and mammals. Each of the 34 cottages, built of stone and other local materials, has a private verandah facing Lake Ndutu.
The only lodge on the eastern rim of Ngorongoro Crater, Sopa effectively has its own access road down into the crater. Themed around traditionally circular African houses with conical roofs, the lodge accommodates up to 190 guests and offers unparalleled views across the enormous caldera.