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Situated in the remote northwestern border of the popular Serengeti National Park is the Grumeti Game Reserve, spread across 350,000 acres. It is a critical part of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem and home to the phenomena of the Great Migration. Grumeti is a migratory corridor for herds of animals that naturally pass by the area. This beautiful game reserve holds Tanzania’s exceptional biodiversity. Due to its isolated location, Grumeti offers an exclusive experience of the East African Wilderness.
Grumeti Game Reserve is characterized by rolling hills, gushing rivers, and woodlands that extend as far as the eye can see. The Grumeti River, a crocodile-infested river in the game reserve, turns into a truly dramatic location once the Great Migration commences. The river serves as a dangerous obstacle once the animals start crossing it in hopes of reaching the other side.
The lush is a prime area, devoid of any tourist crowd wherein visitors are bound to enjoy classic safaris and rest in extravagant accommodation. Not to mention, the wildlife-rich reserve provides excellent game viewing and endless activities to enjoy.
Nearest airport: Nearest airstrip is Grumeti, intl airport is Kilimanjaro International Airport
How to reach: From Kilimanjaro by flight or road
Famous for: Sightings of large lion prides, Big Five, birding, Great Migration, safari drives, hot air balloon rides
Months open: January to March and June to December
Best time to visit: June to October (migration)
WHAT TO SEE
Big Five animals and big cats
The Great Wildebeest Migration and Grumeti river crossing
Black and white colobus monkeys
450 to 500 bird species
Views of the African savannah from hot air balloon rides
In order to safeguard the path of the yearly Great Migration and the indigenous biodiversity, the Grumeti Reserve was created in 1994 by the Tanzanian government. The reserve was soon protected and acknowledged as part of an important ecosystem. The non-profit organization of Grumeti Community and Wildlife Conservation Fund, presently known as the Grumeti Fund, was granted the right to conserve and manage the reserve in 2002. Four years later, the management rights were transferred to Singita, a luxury safari company, to enhance low impact while offering luxury tourism. Singita also owns and operates accommodations such as Sasakwa Luxury Lodge and Singita Faru Faru in the reserve.
Singita’s partnership with Grumeti Fund has positively impacted the Grumeti Ecosystem. The Fund carries out community development programs and wildlife conservation in and around Grumeti. It has restored the once barren land to flourishing wilderness as well as recovered many species such as buffalos, elephants, and the wildebeest population.
The Big Five and other wildlife of Grumeti
Grumeti Game Reserve is one of the wildlife rich areas. It is home to the African Big Five animals: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and the African buffalo. It supports a healthy population of wildebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, kudus, eland, a variety of antelopes, zebras, and giraffes. Big predators like lions, cheetah, hyenas and Nile crocodiles are in abundance. In fact, Grumeti is famous for its large lion pride, consisting of up to 60 individuals at a time. During the months of Great Migration, exciting river crossing and predator-prey interaction are also seen in the reserve.
Grumeti Game Reserve has around 450 to 500 diverse bird species. A fine variety of birds can be spotted in the reserve namely little spotted woodpecker, black-headed gonolek, pygmy falcon, northern white-crowned shrikes, grey crowned crane, Western banded snake eagle, and many more.
The Great Wildebeest Migration
The Great Migration, also known as the Wildebeest Migration, occurs annually. This event begins when approximately two million wildebeest, 700,000 gazelles, zebras, and other species of antelopes cross the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti in search of food. This migration is a fluid, continuous and yearlong journey of animals traveling through Kenya and Tanzania, covering around 1,200 miles.
The migration starts from the Ndutu region of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. After the calving season, the herd reaches the Grumeti River in the Western Corridor during June. Large concentrations of Wildebeest congregate on the southern banks of the Grumeti River. This marks the herd’s first ever river crossing and a major obstacle, with hungry Nile crocodiles ready to prey. Those who manage to avoid the crocodile’s deadly jaws and safely cross the river head towards the Grumeti Reserve. Many of the lodges are based around the river’s area, offering the perfect sightings of the river crossing from the comfort of private verandas.
While the bigger sister, the Mara River, is often flocked by numerous tourist vehicles, the Grumeti River is occupied by only half as many safari jeeps during the Great Migration. This makes the thrilling river crossing clearer, followed by fewer distractions.
The most successful months to witness the Great Migration in Grumeti are from late June to early October. The dramatic Grumeti River crossing can be witnessed in June and July.
Activities to enjoy in Grumeti Game Reserve
Game Drives – Grumeti Game Reserve not only offers game drives during the day but also at night as the reserve is not bound to Serengeti National Park’s regulations. Moreover, off the road game viewing is also allowed during game drives around the reserve.
Walking safaris – Grumeti is one of the few places that offer walking safaris in Serengeti. Visitors can spend countless hours on foot, learning about birds, tracking animals, spotting the tiniest of the insects up-close as well as discovering indigenous plants. Accompanied by a guide, walking safaris are interesting as Grumeti lies outside of the Serengeti National Park’s boundaries and has much more freedom to explore.
Community visits – Community visits around Grumeti involve interactions between locals and tourists. Visitors can get first-hand experience of the beautiful culture of the local African villages through such visits.
Anti-poaching observation post visit – The dedicated scouts patrol the vast private concession of Grumeti. They are spread around 12 observation posts or OP and constantly survey the area. Visitors have the opportunity to visit one of the OP, located atop a hill with a spectacular sunset view over the Grumeti plains. Visitors also get an insight into the scouts’ hard work towards the anti-poaching unit.
Wine experiences – Singita is prominent for being Africa’s most influential collector of wine. Guests can enjoy a premium wine tasting experience within the unique ambiance of each lodge that has its own temperature-controlled cellar.
Where to stay
Only a handful of lodges can be found in Grumeti Game Reserve. Some of the luxurious accommodation options are as follows:
Faru Faru Lodge – This lodge is set in front of a busy waterhole, adjacent to the Grumeti River. It provides a relaxed approach to luxury and helps guests experience African nature to the fullest. This contemporary African lodge comprises bedroom suites, oversized windows, vast outdoor decks, and other top-notch facilities.
Serengeti House – Atop the Sasakwa Hills sits the Serengeti House which further boasts endless views of the beautiful Serengeti plains. This modern African villa has four guest suites, each attached with bathrooms, private terraces, outdoor showers, a media room, fitness center, and a tented massage treatment suite.
Singita Explore – Singita Explore is an authentic tented accommodation, offering the thrill of camping without taking away the comforts. It is based on the requirements of individual booking and offers custom-designed tents with luxury touches, campaign-style furniture, and a plunge pool.
Sasakwa Lodge – Built in the style of an Edwardian manor, Sasakwa Lodge gives panoramic vistas of the surrounding. Balancing between elegance and casual luxury, the lodge has expansive bathrooms, verandas, vintage collectibles, and an overall airy atmosphere.
Sabora Tented Camp – Sabora Tented Camp lets guests enjoy adventures under canvas. Each suite has traditional safari-style rooms, a private deck, a fitness area, and a unique ‘Guest Deli.’