Ndutu Lake, Migration, Safari, Things to do, How to get there

Tanzania’s Great Safari Secret. Ndutu Lake, Migration, Safari, Things to do, How to get there. The Ndutu Region comprises a portion of the northern segment of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and extends to the unfenced southern reaches of the Serengeti National Park, constituting the meeting point of these two incredible wilderness areas. This section of the park consists of acacia woodlands and rolling grasslands dotted with alkaline lakes that attract colonies of flamingos.

Ndutu Serengeti: Should Calving Season be on your Bucket List?

Ndutu Area Travel Guide

Ndutu, located in the northern portion of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, connects to the Serengeti via expansive grasslands. As such, it is a part of the annual migration route of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra, antelope, and their predators, which arrive to graze and give birth between November and March, depending on the rains. The forests and small koppies surrounding Lake Ndutu are also home to abundant native fauna.


  • The renowned Great Migration descends on the plains between November and April.
  • Calving season on the plains is a must-see from December to May.
  • From June to November, during the dry season, resident elephants, giraffes, and big predators congregate at waterholes.
  • All six cat species, leopard, lion, cheetah, caracal, serval, and African wildcat, spend the entire year here.
  • Abundant birdlife
  • Olduvai Gorge; a remarkable archaeological site
  • Lakes Ndutu and Masek; carbonic acid lakes

The Ndutu area is located in the northwestern portion of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which encompasses an area of just over 8,000 km2 and contains the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the Olduvai Gorge, forests, mountains, and the vast plains of Ndutu that extend unfenced to Serengeti.

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is renowned not only for its natural grandeur and abundance of wildlife, but also for permitting human settlement. The local Maasai tribe continues to practice subsistence agriculture. It is not uncommon to see a Maasai herder leading his cattle across expansive grasslands dotted with wildebeest and zebra.

Animals of Ndutu

Large populations of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope settle on the fertile grasslands of the Ndutu plains to calve from December to May, depending on the rainfall. Predators also arrive in large numbers, as anticipated by nature, to feast on the vulnerable young. It is a veritable buffet of fauna and the natural cycle of life.

The herds leave the plains during the dry season in quest of better water and grazing, causing the plains to become desolate. There is an abundance of resident game, however, including giraffe, elephant, hyena, and antelope, which prefer to congregate around the waterholes. Throughout the year, the region is home to all six cat species: lion, leopard, cheetah, caracal, serval, and African wildcat.

Things to see and do in the Ndutu Area (Attractions & Activities)

  • Game drives are exceptionally breathtaking when the Great Migration herds are on the plains.
  • Olduvai Gorge is an intriguing archaeological site.
  • Flight of a hot-air balloon over the prairies
  • Walk with Maasai guides and discover local customs and culture.
  • Observing birdlife

Best time to visit Ndutu

There is never a poor time to visit the Ndutu region, as there is an abundance of wildlife that does not migrate.

If witnessing the Great Migration is at the top of your priority list, keep in mind that animal movement is unpredictable and highly dependent on rainfall. There is a pattern to their migration, and based on previous years, we can estimate when they will be where. The large herds typically come on the Ndutu plains between November and December and depart between April and May.

Consult with our consultants about the optimal time and location to increase your chances of capturing it. Do remember that even if you miss the migration, there is always plenty to see!

How to get to Ndutu

By car:

Ndutu is about 280 kilometers by road from Arusha. The approximately six-hour journey passes through scenic countryside and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

By air:

There are multiple airstrips in the vicinity, including Ndutu, Seronera, and Kusini. During the peak season, daily scheduled flights are available from Arusha to Ndutu Airstrip with a flight duration of just under an hour. There are also charter flights available. Arusha is served by two airports, the Arusha domestic airport and the Kilimanjaro International Airport, where local, African, and international airlines operate daily flights.

Ndutu Migration

Ndutu migration route

The annual Great Migration from Kenya to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCAA) is one of the greatest natural spectacles in the world.

Over two million animals, including wildebeest, zebra, eland, and Thompson gazelle, migrate from Ngorongoro and the Southern Serengeti to the Northern Serengeti in Kenya and return.

This migration route occurs because they follow the rains and, consequently, the swiftly growing new grasses. The Ndutu region is renowned for its short grass plains, which produce vegetation particularly rich in nutrients and sustain migratory animals during their gestation periods. Wildebeest and zebra typically give birth on these plains, with a peak around February, creating a stunning natural spectacle and exciting predator hunting behavior.

The Wildebeest continue to mature on the short grass plains well into March and April, gaining strength for the long migration to the North after the rains and the arrival of fresh grasslands.

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