The Great Migration Calving Season Photo Safari

Join us for one of Serengeti’s greatest spectacles, the Great Migration Calving Season! Each year, when the rains kick in, the wildebeest herds wander to the nutritious short grasses of the Ndutu area in the Southern Serengeti ecosystem. More than 500 000 wildebeest calves are born in Ndutu between January and March, followed by baby zebras, impalas, and gazelles. The plains teeming with new life attract opportunistic lions, leopards, and the famous Ndutu cheetahs.

This is an extraordinary time in the bush, with vibrant green colors, wobbly calves, and action around every corner. Ndutu belongs to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCAA), which allows us to go offroad anytime, following the huge wildebeest herds and big cats hunting their prey.

During the calving season, Ndutu is every photographer’s dream destination. We still have one word of caution: it might rain some days. It’s part of the game here: the great migration follows rain patterns and needs fresh, nutritious grass to give birth and let the little ones grow.

This exclusive 8-day photography expedition showcases an extraordinary season in the cycle of life in the Serengeti. Photo opportunities are as endless as our unlimited game drives: you can opt to go out for the whole day or take early morning and late afternoon drives, allowing relaxing time in the luxurious camps in-between photo sessions.

When

Great Migration Calving Season Photo Expedition 2023: 4.-11.3.2023

February/March 2024: TBA

Group

Exclusive, small group safari: only 6-9 guests. Only 3 photographers in one Land Cruiser with their own wildlife guide and access to both sides of the vehicle at all times.

Route

Arusha  – Monduli Juu Masai Village Visit (day visit) – Ngorongoro Crater (NCAA) – Ndutu (NCAA)  – Seronera (Serengeti National Park) – Kilimanjaro International Airport

Price

US$7300 / per person sharing (with luxury accommodations)
Ask prices with mid-range accommodations

Safari Itinerary for the Great Migration Calving Season

On this Great Migration Calving Season Photo Safari, we’ll stay all days except the day of arrival inside the prestigious national parks of Tanzania! In Ngorongoro, we spend a night at the crater rim for panoramic sunrise and sunset pics over the crater – and an early morning game drive on the crater floor.

As always, you don’t have to be a photographer to join our safaris: we welcome all nature lovers who appreciate unlimited game drives, specialist guides, luxurious camps, and small group sizes. We can tailor daily schedules to the group’s liking, and you can also always opt for enjoying the camp’s surroundings and special DNA moments (do nothing at all).

8-Day Safari Itinerary: Ndutu, Ngorongoro, Serengeti

After arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) in Arusha, you’ll meet your expedition leaders, Piritta and Niina, and local wildlife guides. It’s just a 30-minute drive to the charming Rivertrees Country Inn, a lush oasis outside the safari capital of Arusha, where you can unwind after the flight.

Rivertrees is an old coffee estate in the foothills of Mt Meru, surrounded by a secluded forest and river: both monkeys and birds love the spot. Depending on your arrival time, you can laze by the swimming pool, indulge in a massage, or explore the paths meandering by the river to photograph resident wildlife.

Al-fresco lunch or candle-lit dinner at your own cost, depending on your arrival time (all other days on this safari are full-board, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner).

Accommodation: Rivertrees Country Inn (B&B)

After a sumptuous breakfast, we’ll hop in our luxurious safari-equipped Land Cruisers and take off towards a lesser-visited Maasai boma in the lush rainforest of Monduli Juu area 50 km northwest of Arusha. In the afternoon, we’ll enter Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCAA) to marvel at the timeless beauty of Ngorongoro Crater, the Seventh Wonder of the World.

Our drive from Arusha through Monduli Juu to Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the visual joys of the day, and we’ll have many exciting photo ops on the way. You will have your own row in the vehicle with plenty of room to move around, store your camera gear, and access both sides of the vehicle. We often stumble upon wildlife while transiting between two safari destinations – there’s never a dull moment!

First, we’ll linger through the safari capital of Arusha, taking in the bustle of the city and its colorful markets. Hopefully, we’ll also get great shots of Mount Meru and snow-capped Kilimanjaro, towering upon the cityscape.

Visiting Maasai villages has become so popular that the cultural experiences nearby national parks aren’t authentic or rewarding for the photographers. Thus we’ll take you off the beaten path to the highlands of Monduli Juu to meet the Maasai. You can freely take photos of the Maasai as they show us around their homes, and the chief explains their pastoralist culture. The visit will end traditionally in the form of adumu, the world-famous jumping dance that translates into vibrant photos.

We’ll enjoy a packed, hot lunch at a scenic spot in the highlands of Monduli Juu. On a clear day, the views toward Mount Meru and the Rift Valley are gorgeous, and the birding is also excellent!

On our way to the Ngorongoro, as we pass Lake Manyara National Park, wildlife mingles with Maasai settlements. We can stop anytime and anywhere during the journey. You’ll have an option to visit an authentic craft market for some souvenir shopping and photos in the charming little town of Mto Wa Mbu.

We’ll enter Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCAA) in the afternoon. The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest unfolded and unbroken caldera – about 20 km across, 600 meters deep, and 300 sq km in total. It’s the 7th Wonder of the World, the Eden of Africa.

The afternoon is dedicated to landscape photography: we’ll visit the iconic viewpoints on the crater rim to capture the magic of Ngorongoro. It’s surprisingly easy to spot animals down on the crater floor: the shapes of buffalos, giraffes, and elephants are visible even without binoculars. We spend the late afternoon hours leisurely circling the caldera up in the hills, looking for wildlife and the best spots for landscape photos. We can stop for afternoon coffee and tea at the camp or picnic site at the crater rim.

Today’s haven is the luxurious Lion’s Paw Camp, located right at the Eastern rim of the Ngorongoro crater. Each of the 15 luxury tented suites in Lion’s Paw Camp overlooks the crater so that you can take in the views from the privacy of your own porch. We can continue photographing the crater from the camp during the sunset while trying to spot endangered rhinos and other wildlife with binoculars. The forest around the camp is also often visited by buffalos, wildebeest, and elusive leopards.

We’ll end the great day with a barbeque dinner under the stars, getting ready for tomorrow’s early morning drive inside the crater. The camp is conveniently located just 10 minutes from the crater descent road, so we’d recommend starting the next day with the first rays of the sun for the best sightings and less crowded game drive loops.

Accommodation: Karibu Camps – Lion’s Paw Camp (full board: BLD)

After an early breakfast, we will descend to the Ngorongoro Crater floor for a long game drive, taking in the otherworldly sceneries and splendid wildlife sightings. It’s possible to spot the whole “Big Five” (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino) today on our game drives in the Ngorongoro Crater floor and Ndutu area.

Exploring Ngorongoro Crater is among the best safari experiences in the world, and the surrounding inactive volcanos give a drastic backdrop to wildlife images. The crater was created two to three million years ago when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself. Ngorongoro is among Africa’s most fertile grazing grounds, attracting significant concentrations of wildlife from the hooves to the predators. Today’s primary goal is to find the endangered black rhinos, but we’ll probably have loads of epic sightings on the crater floor.

We’ll break the long game drive by enjoying a packed lunch by a hippo pool. If lucky, we might even see flamingos in the soda lakes.

In the afternoon, we will ascend back to the highlands and cross the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to Ndutu, where the great migration roams the nutritious short grass plains every January to March. The first part of our drive meanders by the scenic extinct volcanos and Maasai settlements, and we’ll stop for landscape and wildlife photos on the way.

On our way to the camp, we will have an adventurous afternoon game drive in Ndutu before arriving at the exclusive Siringit Migration Camp, our gorgeous home for the next two days. Although considered the southern part of the Serengeti ecosystem, technically, Ndutu is part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which allows us to go off-road anytime. This translates into the most fantastic game drive opportunities, as we can follow the big cats deep in the bush and drive in the middle of the vast herds of wildebeest and zebras.

Depending on each group’s wishes, energy levels, and the available wildlife sightings, we can either proceed straight to the camp for afternoon tea and then do a separate afternoon game drive. Or we can spend the whole afternoon searching for the wildlife and arrive at the camp for a sundowner and dinner.

Siringit Migration Camp introduces us to the soul of the classical mobile safari in a five-star luxury way. The intimate camp has only 8 spacious luxury tents with all modern comforts, like hot water on demand and fast wifi throughout the camp. The star-lit dinners are fine dining in the wild.

Accommodation: Siringit Migration Camp (full-board: BLD)

Spending three nights in the gorgeous Siringit Migration Camp, surrounded by the great migration and the predators following the calving hooves, is an undisputable highlight of this photo safari.

Our four days out in the short-grass plains of Ndutu encapsulate the classic African safari: Ndutu is one of the last remaining frontiers in the Serengeti ecosystem where this kind of total immersion in the circle of life remains possible.

Because Ndutu allows off-roading, we are not limited to roads and can position the car near the action. We are entitled to drive in the middle of the enormous herds of 2 million wildebeest and 200 000 zebras and follow the hunting cats deep in the forests surrounding the plains of Ndutu. We can also browse the endless plains, searching for leopards in the umbrella acacia trees and cheetahs lying in the shadows of bushes or rocky outcrops. With our great trackers and naturalist guides, Ndutu delivers every time: it’s a photographer’s dream destination!

As always on our photo safaris, the daily schedules are flexible and can be tailored to your liking. You can opt for an early start and spend the whole day on game drives with a packed breakfast and lunch, only arriving at the camp after sunset if you wish.

As the camp is perfectly located near the action, we’d recommend early morning coffee and snacks before sunrise and a long morning drive, when you can return to the camp for a hot breakfast around 10 or 11 AM. Then, you can either rest for the hottest hours and enjoy a hot lunch in the camp before a long afternoon drive or take a packed lunch and stay in the bush until dinner time. Usually, early mornings and late afternoons offer both the best sightings and the beautiful golden light.

Still, our guides and cars are available on-demand, and we can decide the daily schedules on the spot based on available sightings and the location of the great migration. You can also opt for a sunrise balloon safari above the migrating herds at a separate fee (US$599 per person sharing).

Accommodation: Siringit Migration Camp (full-board: BLD)

On our last day in Ndutu, we can still be out on game drives until the afternoon, when we’ll start a long game drive towards the next destination: Seronera in the middle of Serengeti National Park.

We can decide the daily schedule depending on the available sightings and the location of the herds, together with your personal preferences. Usually, we’d recommend grabbing coffee and snacks before sunrise and a long morning drive followed by a hot breakfast in the camp. Then, we can take a packed lunch with us to explore Ndutu to the fullest, as it’s our last day here. You still have great chances to chase the missing frames until the afternoon, and we can break the driving at a scenic spot by the shore of one of the Ndutu’s lakes for a picnic lunch.

In the afternoon, we’ll enter Serengeti National Park. The whole way from Ndutu to our next camp in Seronera, north of the Ndutu area, is inside Serengeti National Park, so it’s not transit, but an enjoyable game drive through beautiful, game-rich open plains.

We’ll arrive at Serengeti Sametu Camp for dinner and will call this boutique tented camp our home for the next two nights. Seronera is the most popular area in Serengeti for a great reason: the abundant big cat population. Thus, the Central Serengeti gets busy, and many camps are cramped together, destroying the authentic bush feel. We have purposefully selected a camp that’s secluded yet perfectly located to explore the surrounding endless plains. Like Siringit, Sametu is also unfenced so that the animals can roam freely through the camp, and you can listen to the music of the Serengeti through the canvas walls.

Accommodation: Karibu Camps – Serengeti Sametu Camp (full-board: BLD)

We’ll spend two days tracking the big cats of Seronera and getting to know the surrounding plains, rivers, and hills. Again, you can decide how you wish to spend your days and take full advantage of the unlimited game drives and photography guidance.

Serengeti means “endless plains” in Swahili, and Seronera lies at the heart of this iconic national park. Abundant resident wildlife and quintessential acacia-studded savanna make Seronera a fantastic year-round destination for photographers.

Seronera area is rich in lions, leopards, and cheetahs – often, you may spot all of them in one day of game drives. In the varied habitats of rivers, swamps, kopjes, and grasslands, we can also find elephants, hippos, crocodiles, buffalos, impala, topis, jackals, and even bat-eared foxes. The area nearby our camp has large numbers of big cats and is particularly famous for its cheetah population.

We recommend the same, field-tested formula: early morning coffee and snacks at the camp before a long morning game drive, then full breakfast and lunch in the camp followed by an afternoon drive, or grabbing a packed lunch and exploring the plains for the rest of the day.

On our last evening in Seronera, we’ll enjoy complimentary sundowners in the bush before returning to the camp for star-lit dinner and sharing the day’s stories around a campfire.

Accommodation: Karibu Camps – Sametu Camp (full-board: BLD)

On our last day in Serengeti, we can still be out in the bush until our afternoon flight back to Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Today, we recommend grabbing snacks and coffee before sunrise and taking a packed breakfast to maximize the lucrative morning hours on the game drive. We can then return to the camp for hot lunch and take a shorter afternoon game drive towards the Seronera airstrip, from where our flight leaves at 2.45 PM. We’ll arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport at 5 PM.

You can either catch an evening flight back home or add an extra night in Arusha or a relaxing beach holiday to your safari – we’d gladly make your wishes true.

The price of the photo safari expedition is US$7300 per person (sharing) with luxury accommodations listed here. Ask for the total price for the mid-range accommodation options.

The price includes all accommodation with full board, all national park and conservation fees, unlimited game drives in the national parks and other activities mentioned in the itinerary, services of the local, expert wildlife guides, and the services of two photography tour leaders, all road transfers while in Tanzania, a domestic flight from Serengeti (Seronera) to Kilimanjaro International Airport inclusive of one additional luggage (i.e., camera bag), and all other services mentioned in the detailed itinerary. The accommodation is based on two people sharing one room. A single supplement applies if you wish to book single rooms.

The prices are subject to change according to the possible yearly price changes of camps, lodges, and local government fees, i.e., National Park fees.

What is included:

  • All transfers upon arrival and departure to/from Kilimanjaro International Airport (Arusha)
  • Domestic flight from the Serengeti Seronera to Arusha/Kilimanjaro International Airport, inclusive of one additional luggage (i.e., camera bag)
  • Transportation on-trip by luxurious, safari-equipped 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser Game Viewers – maximum of 3 photographers per vehicle
  • Services of our expert wildlife guides and two photo safari leaders
  • All national park and concession fees
  • All accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals on a full-board basis as indicated in the itinerary (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) – with the exception of the day of arrival, which is on a B&B basis due to different flight schedules
  • Unlimited mineral water on game drives and road transfers
  • All daily activities, unlimited game drives, and excursions as indicated in the itinerary

What is not included:

  • International airfare to and from Kilimanjaro International Airport
  • Trip cancellation insurance and any other, personal travel insurance
  • Visas when applicable
  • Beverages at the lodges
  • Gratuities
  • Laundry
  • Additional accommodations and/or excursions and tour extensions before or after the scheduled Great Migration Calving Season Photo Safari

Booking & Information

Please email us below if you wish to book your space on our Great Migration Calving Season Photo Safari or receive a more detailed schedule and information. We’ll also gladly tell you more about our other planned photo safaris and different possible extension options for your photo expedition.

We are also organizing private safaris; ask for an offer. We are looking forward to sharing the magic of Africa with you!

Expeditions For Wildlife Conservation

We will donate a portion of our profit to a carefully selected wildlife conservation organizations. Your journey with us will also help to conserve our precious wildlife.

Meet Your Photo Guide

Piritta is a wildlife and conservation photographer who has spent several years in southern and eastern Africa, driving around and visiting even the remote corners of this great continent. She has years of experience in photography, and her love of Africa shows in her work. She always seeks to improve and loves sharing her expertise and knowledge about Africa and photography alike. You’ll find her portfolio of images here.