Serengeti & Maasai Mara

Serengeti & Maasai Mara
Wild open plains that feel like they go on forever, game everywhere, dazzling light and huge herds. The Serengeti is in Tanzania, the Mara in Kenya - but the two million wildebeest & zebra dont know this and they just follow the rains, move freely over the border. Outside the migration, you'll see more diversity of species & pay lower rates. Camps are either on public reserves or private conservancies - beware of crowds of vehicles in the former.  Hot air balloon rides can be booked from most camps. Almost every camp is tented, but vary dramatically in levels of luxury. Tanzania/Kenya.
Best time: The migration loosely follows this pattern: December - March grazing in southern Serengeti; avoid very wet April; May - June in northern Serengeti; July - August for the big crossings over the Mara River; September - November grazing in the Maasai Mara.
Access: Charter flight from Arusha (45 mins), Kilimanjaro (1 hr) or Nairobi (1 hr).

I recommend these camps

&Beyond Serengeti under Canvas (9 tents-en-suite) Unexpected delight to feel immersed in the migration (it moves to follow the wildlife 5x each year) in tents with bucket showers – but with private butler, crystal and silverware. Guests adore it. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Member of &Beyond. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Angama Mara (15+15 tents-en-suite) Bold uncluttered decor at this extraordinary location; tents with big glass fronts maximise views from “Out of Africa”. Attention to detail as you’d expect from safari family the Fitzgeralds. On the escarpment you can do nature walks and picnics, game viewing is on the valley floor which is a bumpy drive away. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of Classic Portfolio. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Faru Faru (9 tents-en-suite) A sexy camp with a Zanzibari theme. Suites are dramatically glass fronted, minimalist contemporary with outside sala; the main lodge is more traditional with sand, rock, and thatch. Serengeti Grumeti Private Reserves, Tanzania. Member of Singita. $$$$$. Read more.
Mara Plains (7 tents-en-suite) Gorgeous camp founded by photographers Dereck & Beverley Joubert on a private conservancy away from the crowds. Vast tented suites are very lux but understated. Mara Conservancies, Kenya. Member of Great Plains Conservation. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Mwiba (10 tents-en-suite) Magnificent camp in warm copper colours with electronic sliding windows & other indulgences. Protects a vast reserve far from crowds, game isn’t that great. Spa treatments, cultural interactions and sleep-outs. Private vehicle. Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, Tanzania. Member of Classic Portfolio. $$$$$.
Namiri Plains (8 tents-en-suite) Sweeping savannah views, far from other camps ensures privacy, huge numbers of big cats. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Member of Asilia. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Ngare Serian (4 tents-en-suite) Serian’s poshest camp is accessed via footbridge over the Mara River – intimate and beautifully furnished in pale fabrics and dark wood. Close to Serian Original, book ahead to sleep out in The Nest! Mara Conservancies, Kenya. Member of Alex Walker's Serian. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Serian’s Serengeti North & Lamai (8 tents-en-suite) Characterful mobile camps with nice little comforts, open June-Nov. Close to a wildebeest crossing point, so you get there before the crowds. Alex lives at Lamai. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Member of Alex Walker's Serian. $$$$$.
Singita Explore (6 tents-en-suite) Singita’s simplest camp, but with all their thoughtful small touches it’s a charming, intimate, close-to-nature experience – you’ll probably have exclusive use, which is magical. Serengeti Grumeti Private Reserves, Tanzania. Member of Singita. Private villa. $$$$$. Read more.
Singita Sabora (9 tents-en-suite) It is situated on the Serengeti plains, so the animals move through the camp, which is 1920s inspired, all cut crystal and Hemingway in a very grand way. The tents are luxuriously lined with deep curtains, and have aircon. Serengeti Grumeti Private Reserves, Tanzania. Member of Singita. $$$$$. Read more.
Singita Sasakwa (22 suites) You’re looking out over Africa rather than immersed in it – the views are staggering, and it’s a grand manor house, with libraries, gym, cellar, tennis courts and fine dining. Amongst the best camps in Africa. Serengeti Grumeti Private Reserves, Tanzania. Member of Singita. Child friendly. $$$$$. Read more.
Singita Serengeti House (4 suites) Excusive use villa with elegant interiors, feels like a home, view over the plains, own landrover and chef making homely meals as you wish; close to Sasakwa but very private. Serengeti Grumeti Private Reserves, Tanzania. Member of Singita. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
&Beyond Grumeti Serengeti Tented (10 tents-en-suite) During migration you’re close to a prime wildebeest river-crossing viewpoint. Good resident game too, fairly rustic camp but with all the andBeyond little luxuries. Overlooks hippo pool. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Member of &Beyond. Child friendly. $$$$$.
&Beyond Kichwa Tembo (40 tents-en-suite) Large family style camp right in the path of the migration; central areas double story under thatch, tents face out onto the plains. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of &Beyond. Child friendly. $$$$.
&Beyond Klein’s (10 suites) Elevated position gives wonderful views; old school camp – deep couches in charming thatched cottages. Kids programme. Visits to local community. Mara Conservancies, Tanzania. Member of &Beyond. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Bateleur (9+9 tents-en-suite) Two intimate camps in the forests looking out onto the savanna, tented rooms but butler service, silverware and other lux touches. Due for an upgrade in 2018. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of &Beyond. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Cottar’s 1920s Safari (10 tents-en-suite) It’s hard to go wrong with a family who’ve been doing safari since the 1920s – top guides, generous tents in vintage style, healthy fine dining. Bordering both Mara & Serengeti. Mara Conservancies, Kenya. Member of Classic Safari Africa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Cottar’s Bush Villa (5 suites) Close to sister camp Cottars 1920s but with a more modern feel and your dedicated entourage of staff. Up on a hill with great views, especially from the dramatic lap pool. Mara Conservancies, Kenya. Member of Classic Safari Africa. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Dunia (8 tents-en-suite) Simple but stylish, the migration passes right through here twice a year, but good viewing year round. Serengeti National Park, Kenya. Member of Asilia. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Elephant Pepper (10 tents-en-suite) Remote location on a private conservancy so you won’t get the crowds; Italian cuisine and rustic but very comfortable tents. Mara North Conservancy, Kenya. Member of Elewana. Child friendly. $$$$.
Encounter Mara (10 tents-en-suite) No fixed structures, minimalist zen décor, amongst trees on the edge of a plain. Mara Conservancies, Kenya. Member of Asilia. Child friendly. $$$$.
Kicheche Bush, Mara & Valley (6+8+6 tents-en-suite) Intimate camps with a relaxed feel but well run. Valley is the more luxurious. Mara Conservancies, Kenya. $$$$.
Kusini (12 tents-en-suite) The only permanent camp in the remote southern Serengeti. Spacious tents with decks, and because it’s on a rocky outcrop there are great views. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Member of Sanctuary. $$$$.
Little Governor’s (17 tents-en-suite) Approach by boat over the Mara River, simple tents overlook marsh popular with game year-round. Convenient for hot air balloon launches, but outside guests come past camp for that. Solar. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of Classic Safari Africa. Child friendly. $$$$.
Mahali Mzuri (12 tents-en-suite) Dramatic modern canvas roofs sweep over the 12 luxurious tents, with lots of space between each. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of Virgin Limited Edition. $$$$$.
Mara Expedition (5 tents-en-suite) Cosy camp which is simpler and more old fashioned than sister camp Mara Plains, but with Great Plains there are elegant comforts everywhere. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of Great Plains Conservation. Child friendly. $$$$.
Naibor (12 tents-en-suite) Three interlinked camps are fairly simple but Main and Little Naibor are more stylish than Wilderness. In the heart of the busy Mara, but on the quieter south side of the river. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. $$$$.
Nkorombo (5 tents-en-suite) Permanent camp in Serian’s mobile style, year round game but also 10 mins from a migration point so you can there before the crowds. Family suite. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of Alex Walker's Serian. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Nomadic (8 suites) Guiding tailored to only you as it’s exclusive use, from 2-8 tents, minimum 3 night stay. Simple but comfortable. Visits to Maasai communities. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of Asilia. $$$$.
Offbeat Mara (6 tents-en-suite) Unfussy but comfortable camp, nestled discreetly amongst trees. Resident pride of lions. Mara North Conservancy, Child friendly. $$$$.
Ol Seki Hemingways (10 tents-en-suite) Big verandas with bigger views, innovative tented design, family suites, on an exclusive conservancy Mara Conservancies, Kenya. Member of Asilia. Child friendly. $$$$.
Olonana (14 tents-en-suite) In the forest on the Mara River itself, spacious lined tents with 4 poster beds, mini spa. Recently refurbished. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of Sanctuary. Child friendly. $$$$.
Porini Lion (10 tents-en-suite) Down to earth, community and eco-conscious camp. Guided walks with Maasai warriors. Mara Conservancies, Kenya. Member of Porini. Child friendly. $$$.
Porini Mara (6 tents-en-suite) Small, simple camp run together with the local community; exclusive use of its conservancy, emphasis on eco-friendliness. Mara Conservancies, Kenya. Member of Porini. Child friendly. $$$.
Richards Forest/River (7 tents-en-suite) In a quiet area of the Mara, with quietly elegant decor – unfussy, nicely casual – roll up the flaps for views of the plain all around. Like me, they like walking. High-end food. Solar powered. Mara Conservancies, Kenya. $$$$.
Sala’s (7 tents-en-suite) Recently refurbed with private plunge pools, comfortably furnished camp in a corner of the reserve away from crowds, looking into Tanzania. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of Classic Portfolio. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Sanctuary Serengeti Migration (10 tents-en-suite) Moves between 3 locations, following the migration. Pared down but stylish accommodation. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Member of Sanctuary. $$$$.
Sand River Masai Mara (16 tents-en-suite) Good location inside the Maasai Mara on a river, large and elegantly furnished tents. Maasai Mara Nature Reserve, Kenya. Member of Elewana. Child friendly. $$$$.
Sayari (15 tents-en-suite) Well located near migration crossing points, grand tents with contemporary décor and big bathtubs. Serengeti National Park, Kenya. Member of Asilia. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Serengeti Migration (Elewana) (20 tents-en-suite) Elevated tents have wraparound decks, richly furnished, snug between the rocky outcrops next to the Grumeti River. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Member of Elewana. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Serengeti Pioneer (12 tents-en-suite) 1930s styled lux tents in the heart of the Serengeti. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Member of Elewana. $$$$$.
Serian Original (6 tents-en-suite) Over the river from Ngare Serian looking towards the escarpment, quite grand but unpretentious. In the conservancy so walking and night drives – and book ahead to request The Nest for an exciting night out. Mara Conservancies, Kenya. Member of Alex Walker's Serian. Child friendly. $$$$$.
Serian’s Serengeti South & Kusini (6 tents-en-suite) The same Serian mobile camps move south from Dec-April for calving season, 2.5 hours drive apart. Beautiful escarpments to the south – do a fly camp for the night. Great predators at Kusini. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Member of Alex Walker's Serian. $$$$$.
Singita Mara River (8 tents-en-suite) Far north of the other Singita camps, where the Serengeti meets the Masai Mara at the Mara River. Contemporary bohemian style, Singita lux. Solar powered. Serengeti National Park Lamai Triangle, Tanzania. Member of Singita. $$$$$.
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