Great Migration, July 2022    (13 Days)


Guided by Jim Heck, Hosted by Liz Heck

June 30 – July 12, 2022

$14,660

 

EWT’s East African Safari led by the famous guide, Jim Heck, captures everything dramatic and spectacular about Kenya and Tanzania. From the great migration of nearly three million herbivores at their northern-most point in the Mara, to the great cats and unmatched scenery of Ngorongoro Crater, to the rare and beautiful animals of Kenya’s far north, this relatively short safari experiences it all!

Two of Africa’s most famous game parks are included in Tanzania plus Olduvai Gorge with very remote off-roading over the endless Lemuta Plains. Lake Manyara National Park will also be visited by those who arrive early.

The incredibly spectacular and so contrasting parks of Samburu and The Mara are featured in Kenya along with cultural and historical touring in Nairobi, East Africa’s most important city.

Each area has something special and unique so that at the end of the trip you’ll have an incredibly balanced and far-reaching experience of this so precious part of the world.

 

Few people know Africa as well as Jim Heck. For more than 45 years he has worked, lived and guided in Africa. His popular blog, Africa-Answerman, includes investigative journalism of some of Africa’s most critical news stories as well as anecdotes and features of daily African life. His award‑winning novel, Chasm Gorge, will soon be followed by a second one, Kidnapped in Nigeria. His companies have organized safaris into Africa for more than 10,000 visitors including most of the country’s major zoos and conservation organizations. And in 2016 he became the first American to be named an honorary senior elder by Kenya’s Maasai tribe.

Jim was the first westerner allowed to leave Addis after the Red Terror; had canoes overturned among crocs and hippos on the Zambezi; been charged by an elephant that he hit with a plate of waldorf salad; lost in the jungles of Cameroun; marooned in the Ituri Forest and rescued by Rhodesian sanction busters; and was among the few outsiders to travel through Uganda during the time of Idi Amin. Jim has never lost a client or fired a gun.

There’s no better safari and no better guide to take you there!

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Dates & Pricing

Details

*Contact EWT for the best international air fares and for recommendations on how to use your frequent flyer miles.

Day 1: ARUSHA

Thursday, June 30, 2022

In most cases you depart home the day before you arrive Kilimanjaro airport in northern Tanzania. The most popular route is Kenya’s Airways nonstop from JFK at 1:15p which arrives Nairobi at 10:30a the next morning followed by a quick 40-minute commuter flight to Kilimanjaro. Good alternatives are available through Amsterdam, Paris or Zurich that arrive Kilimanjaro in the evening. EWT will assist you with your flights and as a fully licensed IATA agent can issue your airline tickets.

Whenever you arrive in Kilimanjaro airport in northern Tanzania you’ll be personally met and privately transferred the hour’s drive into Arusha, northern Tanzania’s most important city. Jim’s pick for your overnight is the city’s legendary hotel, originally built as the “Arusha Hotel,” the first in the city at the turn of the last century. Enjoy its old bar, several shops and large pool as you wind down from the flights. Overnight at the Four Points by Sheraton.

Or, if you’d like to really wind down from your long flights to Tanzania and be completely refreshed from jetlag (Tanzania is 8 hours ahead of New York), we suggest you come a few days early and relax at Tanzania’s finest mountain retreat.

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Day 2: SERENGETI

Friday, July 1

You’ll be transferred after breakfast through bustling Arusha town to its local airport for a small aircraft flight into the Serengeti. The flight drops down on the cliff of the Great Rift Valley adjacent Lake Manyara National Park to pick up those who arrived early. The beautiful route continues directly over the great Ngorongoro Crater National Park before landing on a grass strip in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area's southwest lakes district of Tanzania’s most famous park, the Serengeti. Jim’s vehicles and drivers will be waiting to drive you the few minutes to the nearby lodge. After check-in and lunch you’ll enjoy your first game drive in the area of Lakes Masek and Ndutu.

The vast Serengeti-Mara ecosystem stretches from this southern-most area in Tanzania north across the border into Kenya. The trip ends in Kenya’s Mara, because at this time of the year that’s where the migratory herds are normally found. June marks the beginning of the dry season, but Kenya’s Mara has rain almost year-round and that’s the reason the herds have moved there.

The Ndutu area will likely be dry and dusty. But the lakes draw the animals that remain in the area and this is normally a heyday for the cats! We’ll expect some dramatic feline encounters!

Dinner and overnight at Ndutu Lodge.

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Day 3: SERENGETI

Saturday, July 2

The normal routine on safari is to go out before dawn to catch what’s left of the night-time action. Nearly 80% of all cat predation is in the night, and while it might be difficult to see an actual take-down, the predators generally stay around the kill for a few days as the hyaenas and jackals try to inch their way in. The early morning game drive returns to the lodge for a big, late breakfast and you relax at the lodge through lunch until the mid-afternoon game drive.

But Jim often breaks the routine depending upon the intel brought to the lodge by other drivers and guides, so sometimes the safari heads out all day with a picnic.

Afternoon drives in the Ndutu area include the “big” and “little” swamps where many transitory elephant are found. It’s also a great area for giraffe, hartebeest and many of East Africa’s beautiful birds.

Dinner and overnight at Ndutu Lodge.

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Day 4: NGORONGORO

Sunday, July 3

There’s a lot more to East Africa than animals. Today Jim takes you where few others go, because it’s off-road for most of the day and there are few tracks to guide newcomers. These great Lemuta Plains east of Ndutu will be filled with tens of  thousands of Thomson’s gazelle, one of the few animals that can tolerate the dry and dust of the great southern plains. Jim uses the day to tell you about the Maasai who still use these lands for the cattle wanderings. The scenery is exceptional, and Jim sets a picnic lunch on one of the ancient granite kopjes, or rocky outcrops, that are from the beginning of time. You’ll enjoy your picnic while looking over literally hundreds of square miles of beautiful veld.

Later in the afternoon the safari passes by several Shifting Sands, sacred and mysterious large hills that move across the Serengeti with time. Jim then leads the safari into Olduvai Gorge, one of his favorite places, and gives a short lecture at the site where the famous “nutcracker” man, Zinjanthropus australopithecus, was found by Mary Leakey in 1959. From there the safari climbs out of the gorge and Jim guides you through the great little museum.

As the day ends you come upon one of the greatest sites on earth, Ngorongoro Crater. Arrive at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge for dinner and overnight.

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Day 5: NGORONGORO

Monday, July 4

The beauty, geology and Maasai history of Ngorongoro Crater combine to make it one of the most important stops on safari and the reason it is the single-most visited attraction in Tanzania. During the dry season, however, most of its animals have migrated north. This still leaves quite a few residents and all the cats which don’t migrate. Ngorongoro has the highest density of lion of any national park in Africa.

Staying on the north side of the crater lets Jim get you down into the crater national park virtually before anyone else, and this dawn game drive is usually very exciting. You’ll enjoy a picnic breakfast beside a lake often filled with hippos and flamingoes.

Return to the lodge for a late lunch and relaxing afternoon and for those eager to do so, a modestly challenging hike up Olmoti Volcano in Maasailand is available.

Meals and overnight at Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge.

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Day 6: NAIROBI

Tuesday, July 5

The safari travels from Tanzania to Kenya, today. After breakfast drive around the crater rim and through the farming country of Karatu to the edge of the Great Rift Valley. Fly aboard small aircraft to Kilimanjaro airport and then to Kenya’s small Wilson airport, arriving in mid-afternoon. The flight skims the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain! Weather-permitting there should be beautiful views of its normally snow-capped peaks. Transfer to the very beautiful and comfortable Hemingway’s in the posh suburb of Karen. Dinner is independent and there are a variety of restaurants in the area.

Overnight at the Hemingways Nairobi Resort.

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Day 7: NAIROBI

Wednesday, July 6

The history of Nairobi and Kenya is one of the great classic colonial stories of Africa, and Jim has ample material as he takes you on a walking tour of central Nairobi this morning. You’ll visit the National Museum, the Memorial of the great Nairobi bombing of 1999, Parliament, the Square of Churches and ending with lunch at the old Stanley bar. The afternoon can be spent visiting the Karen Blixen Museum, the Giraffe Centre and Kazuri Beads. The attractions are endless, and Jim will have discussed your interests before scheming out an intense, inspiring day.

Overnight at the Hemingways Nairobi Resort.

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Day 8: SAMBURU

Thursday, July 7

Travel back to Wilson airport for the morning flight into Kenya’s great arid Northern Frontier, the Samburu National Park. Here you’ll find remarkable scenery totally unlike the great plains, more akin to the expansive Mohajve deserts of America’s southwest. Equally unique will be the animals, including the world’s most beautiful giraffe, the reticulated, the very rare Grevy’s zebra, and unusual animals like the Beisa oryx and gerenuk that are particularly adapted to dry conditions. The flight itself is awesome! The small aircraft flies over many of Kenya’s finest tea and pineapple plantations before skirting the great glaciers of Mt. Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain. On arrival in the early afternoon, the group is met by local drivers and vehicles of the Samburu-tribe owned Kalama Reserve and taken to the exclusive cliff-top lodge for lunch. In the afternoon activities begin. There are only eight villas for the entire 55,000-acre reserve. Samburu guides take us on walks, visits to area villages and game drives. A lovely sundowner on the veld is prepared for the first evening.

Dinner and overnight at Saruni Samburu.

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Day 9: SAMBURU

Friday, July 8

The lodge is less than five miles from the border of Samburu National Park where we travel for morning game viewing. Samburu is a strikingly beautiful wilderness in a Mohajve desert cut by the great Ewaso Nyiro. Huge palms rise from the banks and palmetto forests stretch out from the water’s edge. Elephant, impala, waterbuck and all the cats are here, along with the extremely rare animals that can’t be seen in Tanzania: the reticulated giraffe and the Grevy’s zebra – there are less than 3,000 left in the world. The Samburu guides cook a hot breakfast for us beside the river where you can scan the other embankment for large crocs. In the late morning the game drive continues, finally returning to the lodge for a late lunch. In the afternoon further activities in the vicinity of the lodge continue. Activities, meals and overnight at Saruni Samburu.

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Day 10: MARA

Saturday, July 9

After a final morning of game viewing the safari boards a quick flight from the Samburu National Park airstrip for the journey into the Maasai Mara, Kenya's finest game park. This spectacular journey flies over the Great Rift Lakes before gliding into the wonderland of the Mara. Scheduled to arrive right around noon, vehicles will be waiting to take the group into Jim's private camp which is beautifully situated on the banks of the great Mara River. After getting comfortable in your tent and enjoying a wonderful lunch, the game viewing begins in camp Landrovers.

Dinner and overnight at Governor's Private Camp on the Mara River.

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Day 11: MARA

Sunday, July 10

The Maasai Mara Reserve is Kenya's most famous game park and certainly its best, a relatively small 280 sq. miles of rolling grassland plains bisected by several large rivers, including the great Mara for which the park is named. The southern edge is contiguous with the Serengeti, making it actually the northernmost part of the greater Ngorongoro/Serengeti/Mara biosphere which is about 6,000 sq. miles of pristine wilderness. Tourists are not allowed to cross between the Serengeti and Mara parks, however, and because the ecosystems are similar, many safaris that include the Serengeti will not visit the Mara, and vice versa.

But as similar as the ecosystems may be, the rainfall patterns between this northern area and those to the south are quite different. The Mara is the wettest protected wilderness in East Africa. On average rainfall occurs almost every day of the year except in October and early November. It is exactly because of this that the game viewing is so good year-round, and this is also the reason that the Great Migration is normally found here from late June through mid-September.

Meals, game drives and other activities at Governor's Private Camp on the Mara River.

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Day 12: MARA

Monay, July 11

Most of the Mara is rolling grassland plains bisected by a half dozen large rivers, such as the great Mara. The 3 million herbivores involved in the Great Migration must cross these and some of Africa’s largest crocs wait in anticipation twice a year – for the journey north, and the return south.

At times the Mara River is littered with dead wildebeest and zebra, yet the herds must cross. The wildebeest force the race, following the retreating rains which grow the nutrient grasses which is their only food. Most herbivores including zebra will eat more than just grass. Not the wildebeest, so the 1½ million of them must continually search for new grass and if that means racing, swimming an jumping through 18-foot crocs, there’s no alternative.

Of course climate change can wreck havoc with these cycles. On the whole East Africa and all of the tropical world is becoming wetter. The dry seasons are shrinking; the wet seasons expanding into months never before seen. Ultimately the wildebeest might not have to leave the Serengeti to the south, but for the time being the last few years suggests the cycle continues.

This is the last greatest and largest migration of large animals on the planet. Jim will tell you the fascinating history of this migration’s long development into East Africa and man’s involvement with it. He’ll schedule game drives based on the intel of where large sections of the migration appear to be preparing to cross the rivers. Of course, the Mara is chock-a-block full with all the big game. It vies with Ngorongoro, for example, for the highest density of lion on earth.

So whatever your luck in actually seeing a river crossing, the game viewing is guaranteed to be among the best of the whole safari.

Meals, game drives and other activities at Governor's Private Camp on the Mara River.

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Day 13: NAIROBI

Tuesday, July 12

After breakfast game view to the airstrip for the flight back to Nairobi’s Wilson airport, scheduled to arrive around noon. You’ll be transferred back to the Hemingways Nairobi Resort for private rooms to prepare for your journey home. Most flights leave in the late evening from Nairobi, but the hotel is available for a complete overnight for those who don’t leave until tomorrow morning. Individual transfers are provided to take everyone separately if necessary back to the airport for the journey home.

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