Guided by Jim Heck
March 28 to April 6, 2020$9,900
Read a personal letter from safari guide Jim Heck addressed to you.
The great wildebeest migration is the last greatest wildlife spectacle on earth. Approximately 2 million animals move across the Ngorongoro/Serengeti/Maasai Mara ecosystems in search of better grass. The herds often stampede, running 4 to 5 abreast in files sometimes ten miles long. But in this area the size of northern New Jersey, where they will be on any given day is a hazardous guess. So this safari covers an enormous portion of the area with enough time at various spots to find and enjoy this amazing sight.
With the onset of the rains the East African veld is the most beautiful of the year. The forests are lush green and wild flowers cover the grasslands. It’s cooler and less dusty. There’s no question this is the best time to go.
Jim’s safaris explore the most dramatic and exciting animal events you can imagine, but he also does much more. He has a passion for early man, so you’ll spend time at the Olduvai prehistoric site, and he knows a tremendous amount about the history, culture, languages and current politics of East Africa. Come for the greatest animal spectacle on earth to be sure, but you’ll return home with an a much greater appreciation of this incredible and fascinating part of the world!
The world’s greatest wildlife spectacle safari begins with two nights at a lovely resort in the Great Rift Valley highlands. This gives Jim access to Lake Manyara National Park, then after these very comfortable two nights at this luxurious property, the intense and dramatic game viewing continues right through to the end! And the end couldn’t be better: East Africa’s most famous, super luxurious lodge, Crater Lodge, overlooking what ABC News described as the 8th Wonder of the World, Ngorongoro Crater.
This tour offers three options for the length of your tour. Jump right into the Tanzania adventure . . . or start with a pretour in Kenya – a perfect compliment and so much different to the Great Migration Safari in Tanzania! In Kenya you’ll visit the Aberdare Mountains with its extraordinarily beautiful game like the bongo and mountain reedbuck, along with the very rare reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra that can only be found in Kenya. You can also option to shake off your jetlag with a rest-up in Nairobi.
|Nairobi Rest-Up||March 22 to 24||$ 780||$ 920|
|Kenya Safari||March 24 to 28||$ 3,900||$ 4,510|
|Tanzania Great Migration||March 28 to April 6||$ 9,900||$ 10,400|
Participants coming only for the Tanzania section of the safari will be assisted in every way from the moment of their arrival into Kilimanjaro airport. If overnight accommodation is required, EWT will take care of that for you as well. Kenyan participants fly seamless into the Great Rift on the day they depart Samburu.
This will be Jim’s 44th consecutive year of guiding a Great Migration Safari in Tanzania. No one has his length of experience or vibrancy of knowledge. The nearly half million readers of his AfricaAnswerman blog, the awards to his novel and other writings, and his unique credentials (including being made one of the few non-native honorary Maasai elders by the Kenyan community) assures you of a safari experience second to none.
According to Jim this safari gives you the best chance of the entire year of seeing the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth, the great migration. This is when more than two million animals congregate on the great southern grassland plains of the Serengeti. Of course the migration goes on throughout the year, but at this time of the year the herds are calving and usually most concentrated.
This is also Jim’s favorite time of the year. The veld is blossoming with spectacular wild flowers and lush nutrient grasses. Predation by hyaena and lion becomes intense and the drama over hundreds of miles of veld is incredible.
For many years Jim has nicknamed this safari “The Most Animals Ever,” and while nothing can ever be guaranteed in the wild, there’s a wonderful chance this will prove true again, as it has from year to year in Jim’s long 44 years of guiding!
|Price||Single Supplement||under 12||12-16||local air|
The prices include:
** Jim Heck guiding the safari from start to finish;
** Guaranteed window seating in Landrovers & Landcruisers with pop-top roofs;
** Professionally-trained, English-speaking driver/guides with each vehicle;
** Meals as detailed in brackets following each day's description below;
** All park entrance fees, VAT and other government taxes;
** Comprehensive pre-trip material.
Additional expenses not included:
- Meals not included;
- Some beverages;
- All international, regional and local scheduled flights;
- Requisite visas and other travel preparations like inoculations;
- Tipping (Jim Heck does not accept tips).
Whenever you arrive Kilimanjaro airport in northern Tanzania you’ll be personally met and privately assisted with whatever transfers or other arrangements are required. Participants coming only for the Tanzania section of the safari will be assisted in every way from the moment of their arrival into Kilimanjaro airport. If overnight accommodation is required, EWT will take care of that for you as well.
Jim’s group from Kenya arrives Kilimanjaro airport early this afternoon and connects onto to 2:40p flight into the Great Rift Valley. The flight is scheduled to arrive the Manyara airstrip at 3:30p, and Jim’s Tanzanian vehicles will be there to transfer the group through lovely highland farming communities to Gibb's Farm for dinner and overnight.[d]
Dawn game drive in Lake Manyara National Park, an UNESCO biosphere for its incredibly rich number of species of plants and animals. Dawn is the most likely time to experience the gigantic Silvery White Hornbill, a dinosaur of a bird! Jim will guide you through Manyara’s thick forests right down to its lake shore. This is usually where Manyara’s millions of flamingoes are. They can’t be guaranteed, because unusual rains or little rain disturbs the chemistry of the lake in such a way that they will leave. Expect to see hippo, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and much more. This is the park famous for lions-in-the-trees. Jim’s staff will set out a beautiful picnic breakfast along the lake shore before leaving the park for a dramatic drive up the Great Rift Valley. At a view point overlooking the valley Jim will give you a brief geology lesson of the continent. Continue back to the farm for a late lunch and relaxing free afternoon with many options available. Meals and overnight at Gibb's Farm.[b-l-d]
Morning flight from Manyara right into the very center of the Serengeti. Jim’s vehicles which left you yesterday afternoon at Gibb’s will be waiting at the airstrip to immediately start the game viewing. This area known as Seronera is famous for its leopards and huge herds of zebra. Enormous amounts of game are drawn here year-round because of the Seronera River, one of the few rivers flowing through the Serengeti. This is lovely bush country, many grasslands interrupted by small forests and rolling riverine bush. Normally the great migration would not be here, but the migration’s whereabouts is determined very much by the seasonal rains, which are becoming less and less predictable. If it has been raining up here, then indeed the herds might be here! Jim has planned the itinerary to give you the absolute best chance of intersecting the great herds, so the specific route won’t be known in advance. You might this afternoon visit Seronera Valley with its ever present topi and waterbuck, or perhaps venture to the Maasai Kopjes where there’s always cheetah. Seronera is rich year-round with lion, and it’s very likely this afternoon you’ll encounter them. By the end of the day you’ll pull into a beautiful little camp set on a hill overlooking miles and miles of spectacular Serengeti. Join Jim by the camp fire at sunset to recount the day’s excitement. Meals and overnight at Kiota Camp.[b-l-d]
Jim continues showing you the many parts of the central Serengeti. This could include the great Grumeti River with its gargantuan crocodiles or the Soroi valley with its gorgeous little canyons and many klipspringers. Jim sometimes packs your picnic lunch and heads to the fabulous Moru Kopjes. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the Serengeti. The many giant boulders with their magical formations historically represented some of the most sacred parts of Maasailand, and Jim will explain to you the ancient cave paintings and “singing” rocks! (In 2019 as Jim was throwing rocks and shouting to make sure the caves were safe before letting the rest of the group join him, a mother lion appeared from within the cave with her cubs!) The area has great game, too, including some real success with reintroduced wild black rhino. You’ll get back to camp in time for the spectacular sunset! Meals and overnight at Kiota Camp.[b-l-d]
This morning the safari moves through the central Serengeti to the southwest lakes region. A stop is made at the large Naabi Hill where Jim can lead you on a short hike for the most fabulous 360-degree views of the great plains! The southwest lakes is a relatively small area in the middle of the vast Serengeti, and it appears on the great grassland plains like a mole on someone’s smooth face: It looks out of place, but in fact has an incredibly strategic value for the great migration, and that’s why Jim brings you here. The two large lakes, Masek and Ndutu, are very shallow and mostly dry except in the rainy season, and so they’re an important watering station for the great herds. Arrive at the lodge for lunch and in the afternoon take your first game drive in this magical area. All around the lakes are thick acacia woodlands filled with leopards and lions, and this is one of the finest places in Africa to find cheetah. The change in habitat from the great surrounding grasslands gives rise to this great variety of wildlife. Normally at this time of the year, this where large sections of the great migration become sedentary. Calving normally begins at the end of February and in March nearly a quarter million wildebeest are born. It takes them 3-4 months to grow strong enough to start running, and the particularly good nutrient grasses of these specific southern Serengeti plains grow their best fodder. Meals and overnight at Ndutu Lodge.[b-l-d]
Hopefully by now the great herds have been found. Of course nothing in the wild can be guaranteed, and unusual rain patterns in particular can massively disrupt the migration. So today is entirely available for continuing the search if necessary! Ndutu is perfectly located for exploration of the great Kusini plains, or into the Kekesio Valley where in 2019 Jim found the migration together with wild dog! (Click here for Jim's blog about that day.) Meals and overnight at Ndutu Lodge.[b-l-d]
Leave Ndutu after breakfast for what many consider the most exciting drive of the safari into the remote southeastern lands of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. All civilization is left behind! No tracks or roads, today, it’s strictly off-roading! Spectacular scenery as you enter the Lemuta Plains, a domain of the few remaining traditional Maasai people. From time to time Jim is able to introduce you to these proud herders. Few guides or drivers are capable of navigating these remote and wondrous lands. Sometimes it’s wall-to-wall animals, including the hundreds of thousands of Thomson’s gazelle which don’t migrate. From time to time Jim spots a pond resting on the plains, and his vehicles slowly search it for the hyaena in wait. Lunch is taken atop one of the billion-year old kopjes, or rocky outcrops, that is the trademark of this ancient, fecund land. The views leave people breathless. After lunch Jim navigates to the sacred Maasai site of Shifting Sands, where a hill walks across the veld! Then it’s to one of Jim’s very favorite attractions, Olduvai Gorge, where so many precious finds of early man were found. He'll give you a short lecture and update you on the exciting current knowledge about early man before a bit of time to visit the museum. Afterwards the safari climbs the Ngorongoro escarpment and soon the dramatic lake and alter-crater come in view, and then . . . the massive crater itself! A few minutes later the safari pulls into the most prestigious, famous lodge in East Africa, Crater Lodge, for dinner and overnight.[b-l-d]
Dawn game drive in the amazing Ngorongoro Crater National Park. The 102 sq. mile crater is a volcanic caldera that is one of the most spectacular sites in the world, and the crater floor is dense with animals including Africa's greatest concentration of cats and its largest number of free-ranging black rhino. There’s a reason to get down early! (Click here to read of Jim’s incredible experience at dawn in 2019. And note this was only the first hour of the 4-hour game drive!) Enjoy a special picnic breakfast on the crater floor before returning to the lodge for a final free afternoon. Meals and overnight at Crater Lodge.[b-l-d]
After a final leisurely morning as you watch the sunrise over the crater from your private balcony, the safari begins the journey back. The drive to Arusha is interrupted for stops at famous curio places and Tanzanite dealers so that you can pick up all the last-minute gifts you might need. Arrive in Arusha town by mid-day with the afternoon free to get ready for your flights home. (Note that an entire overnight is available for you tonight, but many schedules depart late this evening. Your private transfer to the airport is available whenever you need it.) Overnight at the Four Points by Sheraton.[b-l]
Hotel checkout is at 10 a.m. Private transfers to the airport are available on demand.[b]