Serengeti Migration Ride
The name ‘Serengeti’ comes from the Maasai language and translates as “The land that runs forever”. This ride across the Serengeti Plains is timed to coincide with the annual wildebeest migration. The difference with this experience is that you have the herds to yourself: just horses and riders, far from any cars and clicking cameras.
Please note that riding with game has the potential to get quite sporty, so this ride is for intermediate / good riders only. We are there to follow the migration, and each season is different, so the precise itinerary is subject to change due to movement of game and weather conditions.
Serengeti Migration Ride
Day 1: Arrive Kilimanjaro International Airport
We’ll meet you upon arrival in Tanzania at Kili International airport, which is within view of the great mountain, and drive you the short distance to the farm (30 mins). The farm has two polo lawns, and is a comfortable, permanent camp beside the polo ground. Mt Meru is always in view, Kilimanjaro is slightly further away and in view when the haze has evaporated. Meet the rest of the group (max 10 riders) and dinner is served in the polo clubhouse.
Day 2: fly to Ndutu airstrip, Serengeti.
An early start to catch a morning charter which is a real treat! The flight goes across the grasslands (heading west) to bisect the Rift Valley escarpment, which runs north/south, at the point where the massive Ngorongoro Crater emerges. The crater’s rim is at 7,000’ and if weather conditions allow you should get an eagle’s eye-view into this simply stunning wildlife conservation area. The airstrip is not many miles beyond the crater, to the NW, close to Lake Ndutu.
Technically speaking, this area is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which adjoins Serengeti National Park. As far as wildlife is concerned, this is all one massive, unfenced grazing opportunity!
From the airstrip we drive for about 3 hrs, completing the Serengeti National Park registration formalities (included) on the way. Continue NW through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), passing rocky outcrops known as “kopjes” which are favoured haunts for big cats. There are a couple of river courses (probably dry in this season) and then onto the Serengeti’s famous ‘short grass plains’ which are prime grazing for migrating wildebeest during the early months of the year. With luck, and always depending on the weather, the plains may be thick with wildebeest which arrive in their thousands after the rains to make the most of the fresh grass. This area is a favoured calving ground for wildebeest: it’s one of the mysteries of the natural world that female wildebeest are able to delay calving till the rains fall, which promotes the season’s fresh grass growth. This is a crucial time for the young to build their strength in preparation for the long march north to Kenya’s Maasai Mara.
Our first camp is just outside the NCA in the shade of a flat-topped acacia. Meet the team of support staff, settle into your tents and a welcome lunch is served al fresco in the shade.
In the afternoon meet the horses and their grooms all of whom will have made the journey from Arusha a couple of days earlier. There should be time for a gentle evening ride to try out your horse and get used to the tack. Return to camp at sun set for hot showers, drinks by the campfire and your first bush dinner.
Day 3: the first full day riding.
Tea or coffee will appear at your tent flap promptly at 07:00, followed by breakfast when you’re ready with an aim to be in the saddle by 08:00. Depending on the weather and movement of game, you might ride out for a long morning, returning to camp for lunch; followed by a second ride in the afternoon. Or we might opt for a game drive in the late afternoon – or you might head out for a full day ride, meeting the back-up team for lunch out in the bush. Either way you should have a good chance of seeing the gathering herds of wildebeest. The area is also renowned for giraffe, plains zebra (known as Burchell’s zebra) and which are quite distinct from the other two zebra species (Mountain zeb’s – Namibia area; and Grevey’s zeb’ which comes from the Ethiopia area). Where there are grazers there are of course predators, so hyena and jackal are just about guaranteed, and maybe some big cats, but probably not lion in this area because we are in traditional Maasai grazing area: the Maasai and lions have a ‘particular’ relationship and lions tend to avoid close proximity to Maasai and their herds. Dinner and night in camp.
Day 4: riding on!
Wake to greet the dawn chorus … early, but it is the best time of the day! This morning you need to pack and leave your gear ship-shape. Breakfast, then mount up. This morning’s trail is pristine bush, rarely visited, even by horses. There will probably be Maasai herdsmen and small manyattas along the way. The nomadic Maasai live off the land as they have for generations. After about 4 hours riding we’ll rendez-vous with the back-up crew for an al fresco lunch in the bush and rest from the heat of the day. In the afternoon continue on to reach the new camp by tea time. Camp will have been established by the backup team in a suitable spot: maybe with panoramic view, or in the centre of a vast plain, depending on game movements. The air will be filled with the braying and mesmerizing grunts of wildebeest. A cup of tea or a cold beer when you arrive in camp,
followed by hot showers and dinner, listening to the sounds of the bush. This is special; this is safari as it was in the 1900’s.
Days 5, 6, 7 and 8: the land that runs forever.
The horses are fit and agile; the riders are confident; the crew are discrete and unbelievably hard-working; the Big Game is thriving and the natural world calls the shots. We go with it: whatever the day throws up, we will respond riding across open plains, into kopje-dotted grassy valleys and passed swathes of whistling acacia thorn. It sounds naff, but even the air in this part of Africa has a unique quality; once you’ve experienced it, you want it to last forever.
The trail arrangements each day will vary with the weather and movement of herds; the guide will aim to ride to at least one more camp so you can discover another new area, and we may suggest using a ‘fly camp’ (lightweight camp, sleeping under mosquito nets only) for one night. On one of the days there will also be a long game drive with a picnic or BBQ lunch deep into the Serengeti National Park itself crossing the grass plains and looking out for cats such as cheetah, lion and leopard which thrive here, as well as elephant. Surprisingly, this is also a good place to see flamingo which gather on the area’s soda lakes.
Safari Day 9: Heading home.
An early wake-up call for breakfast and a farewell to the horses and support team before heading back through the Serengeti to Ndutu airstrip. Fly back east towards Arusha with another chance to see Ngorongoro Crater from above (60 min flight). Lunch at the farm and there will be time to shop for souvenirs, if you wish, before the return transfer to Kili International, or onward travel.
NB. This is a sample itinerary and the precise details remain flexible so that we can respond to animal movements. Camp locations, trails ridden and routes will be varied by your guide (who possesses decades of experience) at her absolute discretion according to the weather, game movements or if other local conditions require.
Min 4 riders max 10
Polo club / Permanent camp, en suite facilities. Wifi in the clubhouse. 1 nights
Mobile camps; en suite bush-bathrooms and bush showers. 7 nights
Polo club – Day Room ½ Day
Accommodation is based on twin-share occupancy.
All meals are included from dinner on day 1 to lunch on day 9.
Vegetarians and special diets can be accommodated, but please give us notice.
Locally-sourced drinks are included.
Included in the price
Qualified private guide, horses and riding
A day room on the last day of the safari is available before flight departure.
All food and beverages as detailed
Airport transfer (return)
Flying doctor membership for each client
Park fees into NCA (Ngorongoro conservation area) or Serengeti NP x 1 day
Wildlife department fees
WMA (wildlife management area) fees
Internal flights to Serengeti/NCA and back
Gratuities for the camp team and guides (guideline of 20-35 USD per guest per day)