Ndutu Calving in Tanzania

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The Ndutu calving area in the southern stretches of the Serengeti (Tanzania) is renowned for being one of the great natural wonders of Africa. It is a growth point for the great wildebeest migration spanning a majestic landscape that transcends the test of time. This region is the genesis of a unique wildlife phenomenon, an annual celebration of life. Can you imagine two million white-bearded wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), or brindled gnu, giving birth to 400,000 calves within a period of three to four weeks? Nothing on earth compares to this spectacle. That is approximately 8000 baby wildebeest born each day!

When Should You Go?

The Ndutu calving season is pretty special! Usually, around December each year the herds start congregating in the area with the peak of the calving season being from February to March. In the backdrop, you’ll spot zebra and gazelle grazing in the sprawling grasslands too.  It’s a cacophony of life! Although, fair warning, Mother Nature needs to watch over her kingdom with a close eye, uncompromising in her quest for balance. Life and death entwine in an untimely tango.

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Why Is This So Special?

 

The Great Migration is such a pivotal event because it is important for wildlife, Africa, and the greater ecosystem. Some of the world’s most crucial ecosystems are based on this diverse continent bedecked in an abundance of nature’s riches. Without the balance of these ecosystems, we will experience faster environmental degradation, increased pollution and ecological imbalance. Ndutu is a flat, verdant action-packed arena against which the circle of life may be appraised.  Nature is driven by purpose. Its inhabitants, by survival instinct. Here, the wildebeest’s feeding and trampling of the earth stimulate new growth, their dung fertilizes the great plains and their numbers support the food chain. The calving season brings new life among a grass plain that, at times, can be a rather grim sight for all the carcasses.  Furthermore, experiencing calving season during the great migration is an event that you will not find anywhere else.

This time of the year is such a pivotal event as the Great Wildebeest Migration brings balance to our ecosystem. For without it, we will experience faster environmental degradation, increased pollution and ecological imbalance. However, from an edutainment perspective, the calving season is a smorgasbord of life lessons, some rather harsh, mind. Imagine nature’s epic playing out against the rich backdrop of the African plains. Action-packed river crossings as the jaws of the Nile crocodile snap at the wildebeest hocks. On the banks, large feline predators survey the movable feast with opportunistic eyes, every sinew bowstring taut. Patiently, they wait on standby for their perfect moment to pounce on the vulnerable young, the sick or the weak wildebeest. It’s a scene straight out of a National Geographic docu-drama. But the best part is that you get to experience it firsthand! Given the opportunity, who wouldn’t want to experience this chapter of the great book of life, played out right before your eyes? It truly is a wonderful experience, life-changing in many ways, and an event to cherish. Not many people get to experience it, so that is why we think it is so special.

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Into The Heart Of The Action

If you have the stomach for it, go and can bear witness to and embrace the full range of feelings enmeshed in the circle of life. Experience the emotional high of the unbridled joy of new calves teetering on wobbly legs like drunken four-legged little darlings of Ndutu. The rising brilliant light of new life casts a long, dark shadow of sinking dread. The realisation dawns that nearby the baby blue wildebeest is being stalked by its natural nemesis, a cheetah. A mother herself, among the luminous, soft green shoots of new grass, the camouflaged cat flattens her lithe, spotted form against the sun-baked earth. Her silhouette melts into the horizon which to the naked eye, appears unbroken. Her eyes widen to take in every detail, glowing like amber lamps as she scans the scene, her gaze locks on to her teetering target. In milliseconds she calculates the ground she needs to cover at what velocity, the dangers posed by the calf’s protective mother and her take-down potential. Exploding from her ambush point chaos is unleashed. Moments later, calm is restored. Another battle chalked up on the scoreboard of life playing out on the great plains of Africa.

Every missed opportunity for the mother cheetah spells danger for her cubs’ survival. The black and white yin and yang of nature are uncompromising.  Without the predators to keep the swelling numbers of wildebeest intact on Africa’s great plains, the ecosystem is in danger of collapsing like a flimsy house of cards.


Part of the experience during the calving season is getting to see all the amazing animals up close and personal (within a safe distance, of course). So, it’s important to ensure that you’re comfortable during your stay.

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There are safari camps to suit all tastes and desires, but here are some of our tried and tested recommendations worth exploring:

Elwai Camp

This new camp is situated in the Ndutu area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and caters specifically to those with a photographic focus in mind. Elwai Camp indeed specializes in hosting photographers and photography groups and are excited to welcome you too. Find out more about joining Tristan in February 2023 for a photo safari to view the epic calving season here.

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Asilia Olakira & Ubuntu Migration Camps

The Asilia Olakira Migration Camp is one of those special migration camps that curates wonderful experiences that will be remembered for a lifetime! Picture this… how would you feel about tracking the Serengeti migration in an explorer-style mobile outfit? What a romantic adventure! From the majestic river crossings in the north to bearing witnessing to new life being born on the great plains of Ndutu in the south. This is such a magical, star-studded experience (remember to look up at nighttime!) that is offered by the Asilia Team – it is such a worthwhile experience

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Serian’s Serengeti Mobile Kusini Camp

Serian’s Serengeti Mobile Kusini Camp is another magical moveable camp that focuses on the mobile experience across various locations. The namesake of the owner, Alex Walker, they too track the migration in their search for the sweet, green shoots of their birthing ground to feed their young. Perfectly situated on the short grass plains, a superb vantage point for the great migration, the Kusini Camp experience is one-of-a-kind. The two viewing areas consist of high concentration areas of wildlife, including cheetah and hyena among other iconic African animals.

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Planning Your Safari

Now is the time to plan that dream safari – where better to celebrate life than right here in the vast sea of green, Ndutu? With over thirty-five years of collective experience in the safari and travel industry, we are well placed to curate a life-changing, unique adventure for you and your loved ones. You can sit back and relax while we personalize your safari expedition while ensuring you’re part of the process. Connect with us and speak to a dedicated safari specialist.

 

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