Great Migration Safari 2024: Kenya & Tanzania

15 Days


Guided by Jim Heck

March 16 – 30, 2024


Jim’s signature “Great Migration Safari” has operated annually for nearly a half century.  There’s no more perfect itinerary or experienced guide!

The great migration (mostly wildebeest and zebra) is a continuous, circular movement that follows the ebb and flow of the rains. Rains grow grass and that’s all the wildebeest eats. The unique sub-ecosystem south of the Seronera River, east of the Moru Kopjes, west of the Lemuta Hills and north of Olduvai Gorge has a topography, mini-climate and an altitude perfect to grow the unique grasses that deliver a powerful whack of nutrition and protein into the mother’s milk. That’s why 1-2 million wilde congregate here in February-April to calve. It’s the only way to turn a helpless little 40-pound baby wildebeest into an awesome 175-pound running machine in a ridiculously short four months. (By the end of its second year, a male wildebeest weighs 350 pounds.)

Jim has seen groups of 100,000 animals on these plains. Lions and cheetah constantly menace them. Hundreds of vultures soar in funnels above the kills. Giraffe and eland wander among the herds. Hundreds of thousands of beautiful gazelle are popping all over the place. The ghostly cries of the jackal and terrifying whoops of the hyaena never stop. It’s a 24×7 gargantuan battle for survival with sunrise a sudden, magnificent call to arms and sunset a cold warning that the cats are coming. Jim has traveled all over Africa and the world and feels nothing anywhere is as dramatic, beautiful or revealing of nature’s struggle for perfection.

The trip starts in Kenya where amazingly different terrain is home to very rare and beautiful animals found nowhere else: the reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra on the stunning drought-battered landscapes of the Great Northern Frontier. You’ll see a host of heavily furred animals like the colobus monkey and giant forest hog in Kenya’s cold highland jungles.

And of course we visit the most famous geological and wildlife site in Africa, Ngorongoro Crater. Once the largest natural structures on earth, the volcano blew its stack about 3 million years ago eventually becoming a wildlife paradise.

If this is your first trip to Africa Jim is sure that all your expectations and dreams will come true! If like many of his travelers you’re coming again, you already have goose bumps wondering what new and wondrous stuff is going to happen this time! Jim considers it an honor to be able to interpret the power of wild Africa to you, so certain in this peculiar beauty lies not just inspiration for ourselves but a roadmap to a more lasting and better world.


About your guide . . . . JIM HECK

At a 2016 surprise sunset ceremony along the Mara River, Maasai elders associated with the legendary Governor’s Camp pronounced Jim an “honorary elder.”
While not a singular honor it’s quite rare and affirmed how grateful the local Maasai are for Jim’s contribution to Kenyan development and tourism.

Few people know East Africa as well as Jim Heck. For nearly a half century he has worked, lived and guided in sub-Saharan Africa. His popular blog, Africa-Answerman, includes investigative journalism of some of Africa’s most critical news stories as well as anecdotes and features of daily African life. His award-winning novel, Chasm Gorge, will soon be followed by a second one, The World by Ole Sarut.

Jim was the first westerner allowed to leave Addis after the Red Terror; had canoes overturned among crocs and hippos on the Zambezi; been charged by an elephant that he hit with a plate of waldorf salad; lost in the jungles of Cameroun; marooned in the Ituri Forest and rescued by Rhodesian sanction busters; and was among the few outsiders to travel through Uganda during the rule of Idi Amin. Jim has never lost a client or fired a gun.


Whenever you arrive you’ll be personally met and privately transferred to Hemingway’s Resort. Kindly note that check-in cannot be guaranteed before 2 p.m. unless you request pre-booking.
[no meals]

Most EWT travelers come at least a day early, anyway, so this way no special arrangements are necessary. Come early just to wind down – and there's no better place to do so than the lovely Hemingway's Resort – or to experience a bit of this modern, exciting African city!

Sunday morning Jim will take you to the Giraffe Centre which is close to the resort. He'll discuss one of the most surprising biogenetic discoveries ever made about African wildlife and how it even informed us Africa's early geography! After a quick break back at the resort he'll take you into town for a short walking tour of the center city that ends at a re-creation of the colonial bar that figured so importantly in White Mischief. The afternoon ends at the impressive National Museum which gives Jim an excellent platform to discuss both East Africa's wildlife and the area's remarkable situation as truly the "place where man was born."

There's a lot more to Nairobi! Very close to the resort is the Karen Blixen National Museum, the site of the movie Out of Africa and the former home of Karen Blixen. You can visit the Kazuri Beads Womens' Cooperative nearby – now a global enterprise – a rags-to-riches venture of 100 single Moms to create some of the finest porcelain products which you can buy directly after touring the facility! Further afield is the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, one of the most popular attractions especially for families.

So whether you come early just to relax or to go on Jim's sightseeing or travel on your own agenda, it's the perfect way to prepare for the most exciting safari you've ever imagined!

Relax in the beautiful surroundings of the resort or join Jim for some guided sightseeing: Mid-morning visit to the nearby Giraffe Centre; then after a quick break back at the hotel, an early afternoon excursion into the center city for a short walking tour and visit to the National Museum.

The museum is most famous for its displays and warehousing of early man artifacts and bones! No paleontologist today can further her career without time spent here, for there are more early man items carefully curated and preserved in Nairobi than in any other museum on earth.

Jim’s favorite exhibit is the small, carefully monitored “Turkana Boy” room with some of the most dramatic original finds of early hominid on display. The museum also houses great examples of Kenya’s many peoples and cultures, as well as the fiberglassed preservation of Ahmed, the largest tusked elephant ever known! This gives Jim the chance to introduce you to the turbulent and widely misunderstood story of elephants before you actually begin to see them in the wild. Overnight at Hemingway’s Resort.
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The safari begins this morning with one of its most challenging tasks: Nairobi rush-hour. It doesn’t last that long, really, but it’s a demonstration of how vibrant and colorful this major African city is!

About an hour after leaving the hotel then leaving the highway, you’ll finally begin to see the beauty of Africa, as this is the “highlands.” Lush vegetation peppered with banana and pineapple plantations and flowering trees like the Flame Tree welcome you out of the hectic modern world! The area is famous for its tea, and Kenya is the largest tea exporter in the world. (India produces the most tea, but it also drinks most of what it produces!)

A stop is made at a new venture: a “purple tea” plantation. As the owner explains escorting you through his fields, purple tea is a cultivar very popular today in China, his main customer. After the tour the owner hosts us for an outdoor lunch adjacent his home.

Continue through increasingly beautiful and lush highlands into the foothills of the great Aberdare Mountains. Arrive an old, majestic colonial lodge in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight at the Aberdare Country Club.

The day is spent game viewing in the Aberdare National Park . The beauty of this highland rain forest immediately appears right after entering the park. Gargantuan trees are covered with moss and squawking hornbills and other unusual birds fill the branches. You might see elephants pretty quickly along with buffalo and warthog. This enormous park has all the big-game but is noted for its rare monkeys, high altitude birds, bongo and giant forest hog.

Where Jim actually decides to go depends upon circumstances at the time. One option is to the very top of the mountain range, where at 11,000' there are a number of beautiful waterfalls.

Tonight is spent at The Ark tree hotel. Here the traditional format for game viewing is upended as the animals come to you!

The lodge is built over a natural water hole and salt lick. Flood lights which don’t bother the animals turn on at dusk and a never-ending parade of Africa unfolds throughout the night. A buzzer near your bedside wakes you to anything spectacular, but many find it difficult to leave the viewing areas for the sleep which comes so easily in the cold mountain air.

Game view very early out of the park through ranching country towards Mt. Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain. After time for ATMs and a quick coffee in the town of Nanyuki, the safari embarks on a really spectacular drive round Mt. Kenya past massive wheat and cut flower farms.

To the right of the road are the often striking views of glaciers and far below to the left is the seemingly endless desert that stretches for nearly 300 miles to the Ethiopian border. The descent from the mountain onto the desert is breath-taking. In a mere 40 minutes the safari leaves the cool, moist farmlands for an area similar to Arizona, much hotter and peppered everywhere with cactus.

At the base of the mountain is the important Arab town of Isiolo bustling with colorful markets and mosques which Jim used as the background to an important chapter of his novel, Chasm Gorge. After that it’s all desert.

At first you wonder why on earth you’re traveling through this desiccated landscape. But soon the road crosses the Ewaso Nyiro river which flows off the Aberdare and the desert blooms! Enormous amounts of big game – much of it extremely rare – is found here.

At the entry to the Kalama Conservancy Jim dismisses his own drivers and vehicles and you transfer into the open Landrovers with Samburu guides from the reserve.

It’s a short ride to Samburu Saruni Lodge for lunch. Afterwards local guides lead the safari around this enchanting reserve with its rare game and spectacular scenery. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.

The lodge is just a few miles from Samburu National Park where you travel for morning game viewing. Samburu is a strikingly beautiful wilderness in a Mohajve desert made beautiful by the great Ewaso Nyiro River.

Huge palms rise from the banks and palmetto forests stretch out from the water’s edge. Elephant, impala, waterbuck and all the cats are here. More importantly, there are extremely rare animals that can’t be seen in Tanzania: the reticulated giraffe and the Grevy’s zebra – there are less than 3,000 left in the world. Other animals rarely found in Tanzania include the beautiful gerenuk and oryx. After a hot breakfast set up along the river’s edge the safari returns to the lodge for a late lunch.

Since the lodge is just outside the reserve a number of other activities are possible this afternoon, including camel rides and later, night time game drives. Activities, meals and overnight at Samburu Saruni Lodge.

After some final game viewing on the way to the airstrip the safari takes a beautiful small aircraft flight on its first leg into Tanzania. Weather-permitting there should be some breath-taking views of Mt. Kenya with its sparkling glaciers.

At the small international Wilson airport there’s time for an independent Deli lunch before immigration and customs formalities followed by a quick 45-minute flight into northern Tanzania. If the weather is kind you’ll have more spectacular photo opportunities from a flight path that practically buzzes the snow-covered peaks of Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro. Quick customs and immigration before boarding a final plane that skims over northern Tanzania and lands on the very edge of the Great Rift Valley right above Lake Manyara National Park!

It’s then a lovely 40-minute drive across an especially productive agricultural area of northern Tanzania for a wonderful two-night break from intense game viewing. Dinner and overnight at Gibb’s Farm.

Gibb’s not only positions the safari perfectly for the dramatic Ngorongoro/Serengeti circuit, but it allows you the only real opportunity to experience something about contemporary rural African life. The free activities at Gibb’s include a tour of the nearby town, a typical northern Tanzanian village.

There are countless other activities as well, from mountain biking to arranged guided hikes into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to an exciting cave visited by elephant, to sessions with a Maasai shaman. Other free activities follow the daily life of this actual working farm and tea plantation starting with harvesting, the roasting of coffee, to learning from the farm chef how to make bread from your own wheat fields!

Many guests, however, simply adore the extraordinary comfort provided by the expansive, private cottages surrounded by some of the most beautiful exotic African vegetation imaginable. Birders will be especially thrilled.

Meals and overnight at Gibb’s Farm.

Jim takes you before dawn back to Lake Manyara for a wonderful game drive in this unique and very popular game park.

Manyara is the smallest “big” game park on the circuit, hardly 40 sq. miles, but it’s truly one of the most diverse. The safari begins creeping through a thick jungle forest that has more species of trees in an area of just a few square miles than most North Atlantic states! Some tower into the sky; others like rhinorib creep across the ground weaving a veritable jungle. Early in the morning is the perfect time to get a glimpse of the rare dinosaur-like black-and-white hornbill. Its spine-tingling croak dominates the morning forest.

Continue through the acacia forest along one of the fresh-water streams that feeds the great lake. This provides the habitat for many fish and that attracts many birds. It’s also the home for many hippo.

At this time of the year there should be thousands of pelicans roosting and many other storks. Manyara had been famous for its millions of flamingoes: this is where the ending scenes of Out of Africa were filmed. Lately, though, climate change has changed the alkalinity of the lake with regular flooding and while flamingoes are usually seen, they’re in the hundreds sometimes thousands, but not the fraction of millions that existed before climate change.

The park is most famous for its lions-in-the trees. Lions climb trees everywhere, it’s just that there are so many, and so many kinds and shapes in Manyara, that it’s easier for them here than elsewhere!

Enjoy a picnic breakfast at the lake shore before returning to Gibb’s for lunch. In the afternoon the safari continues into the fabulous Ngorongoro Conservation Area for dinner. The drive through the 8000-foot highland forest to climb onto the spectacular rim is magical, as heavy mists usually cover giant trees that suddenly scream out at you with their dripping lianas!

Dinner and overnight at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge.

Dawn game drive in the amazing Ngorongoro Crater National Park. The 102 sq. mile crater is a volcanic caldera that is one of the most spectacular sites in the world. The crater floor is dense with animals including Africa's greatest concentration of cats and its largest number of free-ranging wild black rhino.

Enjoy a special picnic breakfast on the crater floor before returning to the lodge for a late lunch. Relax this afternoon sitting on one of the many balconies overlooking this grand expanse.

Meals and overnight at Ngorongoro Serena Lodge.

Many consider today the most exciting drive on safari into the remote southeastern lands of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. All civilization is left behind! First stop is Olduvai Gorge where so many precious finds of early man were found. Afterwards navigate to the sacred Maasai site of Shifting Sands, where a hill walks across the veld! After that it's strictly off-roading! You'll see spectacular scenery crossing into the Lemuta Plains, a domain of the few remaining traditional Maasai people. Few safaris attempt these remote and wondrous lands. Sometimes it's wall-to-wall animals, including the hundreds of thousands of Thomson's gazelle which don't migrate. From time to time with enough rain a pond forms in the middle of the vast plains and Jim’s vehicles slowly search for the hyaena in wait. Lunch is taken atop one of the billion-year old kopjes, or rocky outcrops that is the trademark of this ancient, fecund land. The views leave people breathless. By the end of the afternoon the safari reaches the southwest lakes, the only lakes in all the Serengeti. Overnight at Ndutu Lodge.

The entire day is spent game viewing. The lakes are surrounded by thick acacia woodlands filled with leopards and lions, and the plains outside the forests are one of the finest places in Africa to find cheetah. Normally on these plains at this time of the year is where large sections of the great migration are found. Calving normally begins in February and by the end of March nearly a quarter million new wildebeest have been born. It takes them another 2-3 months to grow strong enough to start running on their long, frantic trek north. The particularly good nutrient grasses of these specific southern Serengeti plains provide their best fodder. Ndutu is also perfectly located for exploration of the great Kusini plains, or into the Kekesio Valley where wild dog are often found! Meals and overnight at Ndutu Lodge.

Jim expects to have found the great herds by now, although of course so much depends upon weather. So today he takes the safari out of the great southwestern calving fields into the central Serengeti.

The Serengeti is one of a handful of massively-sized parks in Africa. Combined with its Kenyan neighbor just across the northern border, the Maasai Mara, the combined ecosystem is larger than the State of Connecticut. It’s impossible to visit in any depth all its most important areas, but one of Jim’s most favorite is the beautiful Moru Kopjes.

In years with unusual weather the migration might be this far north, but Jim’s motivation is otherwise. This is the most beautiful part of the Serengeti. The ancient billion-year old kopjes are set amongst acacia and mahogany forests with rippling rivers that have cut many prairie meadows. Its resident game year-round is exceptional, including three dozen or more black rhinos that have carefully been reintroduced into the wild over the last two decades. This is where Jim’s found the largest of the Serengeti leopard, and there are always elephant and buffalo around each bend. A couple years ago Jim’s clients got a picture of a family of 22 (!) lion playing in a tree near camp!

Tempting fate is always dramatic in Africa! Normally rather heavy rains begin just now... which is the reason the 2 million wildebeest are here! No rains, no migration. (At the height of the rainy season, in early May, it rarely rains more than a few hours a day with crisp, clear skies the remainder of the day and night.) The rich black cotton soil of the Moru when too wet is a real impediment to even the best safari vehicle. But Jim will insure that you fall in love with this place, muddy or otherwise, in part by staying at a fantastic, exclusive and remote camp that overlooks enormous plains! Dinner and overnight at Serengeti Pioneer Camp.

One of Moru’s singular attractions is Ngong Rock. This massive granite boulder, probably a billion years old, is almost 50' high and twice as wide. Candelabra cactus grow in the bits of soil collected around its muddled top and a collection of mysterious smaller boulders rest together up there as well. Hit them with a rock, and they sing!

This and the nearby morani cave paintings give Jim the setting to close the story of the Maasai, a story he tells throughout the whole safari. Maasai are not the hut-living people with ragged goats at their feet, so incorrectly shown in the scamming tourist villages throughout East Africa. The founder of Kenyan Airways is Maasai. Google’s second-in-command in Africa is Maasai. A professor of number theory at MIT is Maasai, and in ancient times they were as regal as they are now.

The Moru was their preferred home, and as you enjoy a picnic breakfast atop this boulder that governed so much of their land, Jim tells their sweet-and-sour tale, and you’ll touch the rocks that many of them had touched centuries before.

Return to camp for a late lunch and a free afternoon. If anyone wants to go out game viewing some more, Jim is happy to accommodate. But you might wish to sit still for a minute with a cup of tea, glass of wine or mug of beer, contemplating the massive and beautiful plains of the Serengeti spreading out below you as you reflect on an incredible trip just gone bye!

Meals and overnight at Serengeti Pioneer Camp.

Morning gameviewing to the central Serengeti airport for the quick flight to Arusha, the largest city in northern Tanzania. Time to shop, browse an interesting museum and enjoy lunch before driving about an hour to the Kilimanjaro airport. Everyone has private rooms at the airport hotel, which then shuttles guests to the terminal on demand. EWT services end this evening but depending upon your flight arrangements EWT will easily book an extension for you at this comfortable motel. [b- - ]

Some travelers may do better departing from Nairobi than Kilimanjaro. EWT is an expert in flight arrangements to East Africa. Particularly post-Covid, many of the best deals and most seamless connections are in and out of Nairobi, rather than Kilimanjaro airport where the safari technically ends. Consult with EWT to make your departure as easy as your arrival. Traveling back to Nairobi for your departure is routine.

The safari ends with flights from the central Serengeti to Arusha, but you don't have to go home - there are also flights to Zanzibar! You can be on this historic island by the afternoon. Although the vast amount of tourists traveling here go for its famous white sand beaches, historic Stone Town is chock-full of the history of Africa. This is where the ruling sultans since the 13th Century controlled all of East Africa until Britain blew them away with its Navy in the late 1800s. This is where Stanley began his journey to find Livingstone, where the African slave trade began and ended, where Abraham Lincoln sent America’s first ambassador to the continent, where it’s still a capital offense to smuggle cloves and where Freddie Mercury lived! Enjoy open-air dining of Zanzibar’s famous curry cuisine atop any of a number of little boutique restaurants as you watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean and listen to the last call of prayers...

Cost Includes

  • Accommodations and meals as named
  • Transport in specially outfitted 4x4 safari vehicles with pop-top roofs operated by professionally-trained, English-speaking driver/guides
  • All government fees including park entrance fees, property concession fees, transport fees and V.A.T.
  • Comprehensive guiding by Jim Heck after a minimum of six persons are reserved. If fewer reserve the trip will be guided by someone else.

Additional Expenses Not Included

  • Costs of local air fares within Kenya and Tanzania which can change at any time before purchase: those fares as of February 1, 2023, are shown in the blue-shaded column labeled “Local Air1” on the Reservation Form. You may lock in air fares by paying them at any time.
  • All international air fares
  • Visas
  • Tipping (Jim Heck does not accept tips)
  • The costs of obtaining requisite inoculations and documentation
  • Some meals and most beverages
  • Anything personal like medical preparations or gear