Combining the Northern Serengeti with the Masai Mara literally gives you the best of both worlds. The combination allows you to witness the Great Migration from two different perspectives and also maximises your opportunity to spend time with the migratory herds.
This was the first year that we have offered this exciting combo and my word it did not disappoint.
The tour started with an overnight in Kilimanjaro (it will be Arusha in 2022) where we enjoyed a dinner to discuss the plans for the coming days and what to expect during the course of the safari.
The first part of the safari involved 2 nights in Tarangire National park, an easy 4 hour drive from Arusha which takes you through the hustle and bustle of Arusha, then through some local villages and eventually into the park.
Tarangire National Park is definitely one of the most underrated parks in Tanzania and produces some fantastic game viewing especially during the dry season. The Park is known for the huge Elephants and Buffalo herds that can be seen, as well as massive Baobab trees which makes for breathtaking scenery and photographic opportunities.
With us only having 2 nights in Tarangire, we spent full days in the park to maximise the experience and photographic opportunities of which we were greatly rewarded as we had multiple good Elephant and Buffalo sightings, great general game viewing and even a Leopard in a Baobab!!
From Tarangire we boarded a chartered flight into Kogatende airstrip in the Northern Serengeti (about an hour's flight) for the next 6 nights of our safari. Generally July/August is when the migration peaks around the Mara River and when the famous river crossings happen, and this was no doubt one of our focusses during our time in the Northern Serengeti.
Unfortunately for us, there weren't massive herds along the river, with the majority having reached the sand river already, making their way into the Masai Mara, but the predator viewing was unlike anything we could have ever wished for. Personally I can't remember when was the last time that I've seen so many baby predators in one area. On our first afternoon we were treated to as good a Leopard sighting as you could hope for as a Female Leopard and her sub adult cub entertained us the entire afternoon, climbing on the rocky outcrops, in trees, jumping and playing around... It was the perfect start to our 6 nights!
During our first full day out we discovered a pride of Lions with two sets of litters, one set were about a couple of months old, while the second litter were much smaller and probably around 6-8 weeks old. What made this even better was that the pride was only about 15 minutes from our camp which meant that we could spend a great amount of time with them in good light. We were totally spoilt and enjoyed numerous great sightings of the cubs playing, the adults feeding and even had 3 big males joining the pride on a few occasions.
Having options on safari is every Guide's dream and just when we thought that we had all the bases covered, we came across another Female Leopard with two tiny cubs (around 6-8 weeks old) on a rocky outcrop! I looked on in total disbelief at what was unfolding in front of us as these two cubs looked at us with their big blue eyes, providing us with endless entertainment. How lucky are we to have three different sightings that we could return to at any stage with a high possibility of finding the individuals!
With the migratory herds now clearly having moved towards the Masai Mara, we decided to focus on and maximise our time with predators of which, like I already mentioned we had more than enough to choose from and enjoyed some spectacular sightings and photographic opportunities.
The huge advantage of combining the Northern Serengeti with the Masai Mara is that being on both sides of the Mara river, you give yourself the best opportunity to view the herds. The Masai Mara proved to be where the herds were this time...
After an incredible 6 nights in the Northern Serengeti it was time to move to the Masai Mara for 6 nights at the Wild Eye Mara Camp.
With some airstrips not currently operational we had to connect on a few flights via Wilson Airport which meant that we only landed at Serena Airstrip around 17:00. Our timing could not have been any better, as we drove straight down toward Miti Moja crossing point where a herd of Wildebeest were just about to cross the river (almost as if it was a welcoming committee). Our patience did not have to be tested at all as about 15 minutes later we had our first crossing for the week, and a pretty impressive one at that.
The week in the Mara simply snowballed from then on with almost everyday providing at least one crossing, with us finishing on about 15 crossings for the week!! In between all the river chaos that was going around, our "baby luck" simply continued with us discovering a Lion cub in the south, and once again two Leopard cubs at Maji Chafu drainage line not far from camp.
The Mara is known for producing fantastic game viewing, especially when it comes to predators and this week was no different with the exception being Cheetahs. We did eventually have one Cheetah sighting as he showed some interest in a herd of Wildebeest, who by now, had simply flooded the plains in a sea of black, almost representing ants from a distance.
There simply were just too many highlights during the week, but the crossings that we witnessed were most definitely right up there as almost every single one was significant and filled with dust and adrenaline.
Combining the Northern Serengeti with the Masai Mara is a fantastic combo which offers loads of photographic opportunities and unbelievable experiences.
I cannot wait to do this combo again next year!