Stay Longer, Stay Remoter: Exclusive Serengeti
In Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, the throngs of zebra and wildebeest that make up the Great Migration are typically accompanied by throngs of safariers. Want to avoid the crowds and still witness the Great Migration and fantastic game viewing? For an “Exclusive Serengeti” safari experience, take a look at these private reserves and concessions bordering and within the national park. All of them make for superb “Stay Longer, Stay Remoter” safaris!
Exclusive Serengeti – An Overview
The peak season of the Serengeti is from July to October, which corresponds with the river-crossings occurring in the park’s north. With so many Mobile Camps here (not to mention the year-round Permanent Tented Camps and Lodges) this time of year, it’s hard to conceive of the Serengeti as a “remote” destination.
However, this is not the case for the Serengeti as a whole. The Eastern Serengeti, Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, and Grumeti Reserve all offer an exclusive safari experience, especially when travelling from November to June.
For one, there’s excellent game-viewing at these places during these months. Also, activities here go beyond traditional game drives, making a “long” stay very worthwhile. In addition, there are very few lodges and mobile camps in all three areas.
Much of the Eastern Serengeti was a conservation area dedicated to cheetah research. But within the last decade, it’s now open to tourists. But unlike the Central and Northern Serengeti, there are only a handful of permanent camps and lodges here.
Thanks to the effort of those researchers, this area now boasts the highest concentration of cheetah in all of East Africa. And because the nearby Ngare Nanyuki River is a permanent freshwater source, there is a nice resident wildlife population. In particular, keep your eyes out for lion – they like to hang out atop the areas many granite kopjes!
AAC considers the Eastern Serengeti to be a superb year-round safari destination! But if you’re chasing the Great Migration, it’s here from April – June and November – January.
Where To Stay: Lemala Nanyukie
Lemala Nanyukie’s 15 luxury tents and are elevated above the ground on wooden platform. The spacious interiors include a lounge area, bath tub, indoor/outdoor showers and a private plunge pool. Enjoy pre-dinner drinks around the camp’s cozy firepit.
Available activities include a walking safari with a Maasai guide, day game drives, and a balloon safari.
Where To Stay: Namiri Plains
In Swahili, Namiri means “big cat,” and you’ll see plenty of them at this camp! After a recent, extensive renovation, Namiri Plains now features ten spacious tents (including one family tent) with indoor showers and outdoor bathtubs, a swimming pool, a new common area with plenty of cheetah-themed decor, and a spa!
Much of your activities will be based in Namiri Plains’ exclusive-use concession – that is, only guests at Namiri Plains can use it. And because it’s a concession, guests can go on walking safaris, an activity unavailable to guests staying at a camp elsewhere in the park. Along with day game drives, guests can also spend an evening with a resident cheetah researcher.
Mwiba Wildlife Reserve
The 51,000 acre Mwiba Wildlife Reserve offers the most exclusive safari to witness the Great Migration’s “calving season’”. After the short November rains, the herds move to the southern part of the Serengeti. The short grasses here are ideal for newborn wildebeest calves and zebra foals. Calving occurs January and February, which coincides with the best time to go to this reserve.
There are many lodges and mobile camps located in the Southern Serengeti from December to March – but that’s not the case at all for Mwiba. For one, only guests staying at a lodge or camp in Mwiba are allowed in the reserve. In addition, guests staying here are also entitled to an exclusive concession within the nearby Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Another unique aspect of Mwiba, compared to other game-viewing areas near and around the Southern Serengeti, is that there’s a greater diversity of habitats and therefore wildlife. Elephants frequent the riverbeds and forests of the reserve. And because of the forests, leopard are more commonly spot here than elsewhere in the Southern Serengeti. Lions and cheetahs are closely following the wildebeest herds and their newborns. And because its a private reserve, guests can drive off road!
Where To Stay: Mwiba Lodge
This intimate luxury lodge has only eight tented suites, each built overlooking a rocky gorge. Mwiba Lodge’s airy, spacious tents are built with floor-to-ceiling windows and have large bathrooms with copper accents. You can also split your time between the lodge’s expansive lounge, full-service spa and infinity pool.
Because it’s on a private reserve, guests staying at Mwiba Lodge can go on night game drives – a great way to see some unique nocturnal wildlife! Other activities include day game drives, walking safaris, visiting the Hadzabe bushmen, fly-camping and even a helicopter excursion. This is definitely a lodge worth a long stay!
Where To Stay: Legendary Songa Migrational Camp
As a migration camp, Legendary Songa Migrational Camp is based in the Northern Serengeti during the months of July to October. But for December to March, it’s located in Mwiba Wildlife Reserve – and unlike in the North, it’s the only mobile camp in the entire area! The camp is split into two, each half with 9 luxury tents (including one family tent) and its own lounge.
As a migratory camp, Legendary’s tents are erected on the ground and the bathrooms have bucket showers. But make no mistake: Legendary is one of the Serengeti’s most comfortable mobile camps! Day and night game drives, walking safaris and visits with the Datoga tribe are offered.
The Grumeti Reserve is located north of the Serengeti’s Western Corridor. Named after the Grumeti River, this 350,000 acre reserve has merely three lodges, one exclusive-use villa, and two migration camps. With such a small guest presence, Grumeti is one of the most exclusive reserves not just in Tanzania, but all of Africa.
As a private reserve, vehicles are allowed to drive off road, something that can’t be done in either the Northern Serengeti or the Western Corridor. When the Great Migration is here from May to early July, only guests staying at one of the reserve’s properties can watch as the great herds of wildebeests cross the Grumeti River.
Because of the Grumeti River, this reserve also offers superb year-round game-viewing. Notably, this private reserve boasts a burgeoning population of black rhino, a critically endangered species. After relocating nine black rhinos from South Africa in 2019, one of the mothers gave birth to calf – the first time this has occurred in the region in decades!
Where To Stay: Singita Sasakwa Lodge
Sitting atop a hill, Sasakwa Lodge has an awe-inspiring view of the Serengeti plains below. The lodge itself is awe-inspiring as well. Built in the grand style of an English manor home, the lodge comprises ten luxury cottages. All have air-conditioning, a lounge with a fireplace, and a heated infinity plunge pool.
There are also two tennis courts, a spa with a steam room and gym on site. In addition to day and night game drives, Sasakwa Lodge offers walking safaris and a chance to visit the reserve’s anti-poaching unit.