Ndutu Area Serengeti Tanzania – Ngorongoro crater- Great Wildebeest migration – Calving season
Ndutu Area Serengeti Tanzania – Consisting mainly of sweeping grasslands, the Ndutu area in the northern part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area joins the Serengeti. As such, it forms part of the annual migratory route of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra, antelope and their predators who come to graze and calve between November and March, depending on the rains. The forests around Lake Ndutu and small koppies are also home to prolific resident wildlife.
The Ndutu area forms the north-western part of the Ngorongoro Conservation area, which covers an area of just over 8,000 km² and includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the Olduvai Gorge, forests, mountains and the vast plains of Ndutu stretching unfenced to Serengeti.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is famous not only for its beauty and wildlife but also for allowing human habitation. The local Maasai tribe still live on subsistence farming within the area. It is not unusual to see a Maasai herdsman with his cows heading over sweeping grasslands dotted with wildebeest and zebra.
Animals of Ndutu Area Serengeti Tanzania.
From December to May, depending on the rains, the plains of Ndutu are populated by huge herds of wildebeest, zebra and antelope as they settle on the fertile grasslands to calve. As is to be expected of nature, the predators come in droves too, feasting on the vulnerable young. It’s a smorgasbord of wildlife and the natural circle of life.
During the dry season, the plains empty out as the herds move off in search of better water and grazing. There is plenty of resident game though that don’t follow the migration, including giraffe, elephant, hyena and antelope which tend to concentrate around the waterholes. All six cat species can be found in the area throughout the year; lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, serval and African wildcat.
Things to see and do in the Ndutu area
- Game drives, especially spectacular when the herds of the Great Migration are on the plains
- Visit the fascinating archaeological site at Olduvai Gorge
- Hot air balloon flight over the plains
- Walk with Masaai guides and learn about local culture and traditions
- Bird watching
Ndutu wildebeest Migration safaris offered by Great Adventure Safaris
Best time to visit ” Dry or Wet Season”
There is no ‘bad’ time to visit the Ndutu area, as there is an abundance of resident game that don’t follow the migration route.
If seeing the Great Migration is top of your bucket list, please remember that the movement of the animals is unpredictable and highly dependent on the rains. There is a pattern as to where they move and, based on previous years, an estimate can be made of when they’ll be where. The big herds usually arrive on the plains of Ndutu around November and December and move off around April and May.
Speak to our consultants about the best time to go, and where to go, in order to increase your chances of catching it.
Do remember that there is always plenty to see, even if you miss the migration!
By car – Ndutu is about 280 km from Arusha by road. The trip takes about six hours through beautiful countryside and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
By air – There are several airstrips in the area; Ndutu, Seronera and Kusini. Flight time from Arusha to Ndutu Airstrip is just under an hour and daily scheduled flights are available during high season. Charter flights are also available. Arusha is served by two airports; Arusha domestic airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport with daily flights from local, African and international airlines.
Most visitors enter the Serengeti from here, coming from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This is the most easily accessible area of the Park, and it is here that the best sightings take place.
The Park is named after the boundless grasslands extending from South of Seronera to Olduvai and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area: in the Masai language “siringet” means “endless grasslands”.
About 3 million years ago, during a huge eruption, this area ended up completely covered in a rain of volcanic ashes, thus forming a hard layer that still makes it impossible for plants to take root. However, it has fostered the growth of herbaceous plants rich in nutrients thanks to the mineral salts contained in the soil.
On one hand, after the rains of November and December, the grasslands turn green and the low grass growing here is mild. On the other, these low grasslands dry very easily during the dry season because there are no permanent water sources in this section of the Park.
Shrubs and trees are rare and especially concentrated in the surroundings of the Kopjes.
The rocks and plant life of the Kopjes offer shelter and food to antelopes, hyraxes and also felines. Grasslands, instead, are the habitat of Thomson and Grant gazelles, cheetahs’ favourite preys.
Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek are located to the far South of the Serengeti National Park, on the border with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. They are two seasonal salty lakes, serving as a water reserve for the herds of wildebeests and zebras when they rest in the area from January to May.
The lakes are bordered by forested areas, particularly dense in beautiful Acacias, and grasslands.
Between December and May the Migration comes here. This period coincides with the moment of birth of the cubs. Witnessing it is an unmatched emotion, especially given the great presence of predators taking advantage of the situation to snatch the new-borns and eat them.
The low grasslands also attract a great number of Thomson gazelles, followed by cheetahs, coming from Central Serengeti.
It is easy to catch sight of lions, both the resident packs and those that move here in this period for the herbivorous.
Other animals that can be spotted are: elands, leopards, giraffes, elephants, caracals, hyenas and jackals.
This is the best time to visit the area because of the high concentration of animals and the amazing sightings.
Ndutu and Masek are a good base to start visiting the South of the Park. From here, it is possible to reach many areas in the South or East of the Serengeti, such as Olduvai, Gol, Naabi and Lagarja, but also the not so popular Hidden Valley, Soito Ngum Kopjes or the Kakesio Plains.
Olduvai is a very important place for the history of humanity and it confirms the fact that humankind originates from Africa.
The digging area cannot be visited because some works carried on by archaeologists are still in progress. However, being able to see with their own very eyes the valley were our species originated millions of years ago certainly creates a strong emotion in people. Moreover, it is possible to visit the museum that collects many remains found in the area.
In the dry season, the Migration is not around here and the landscape is dry and dusty, the reserves of water dry out and, therefore, many animals move away. In spite of this, it remains a fascinating area and some animals live here all year round, particularly in the forested zone close to Ndutu area Serengeti.