Serengeti National Park and Lake Victoria, Tanzania
See the famous migration of the wildebeest in ultimate luxury
Backed by the rolling savanna of the Serengeti but bordered by the glittering waters of Lake Victoria, the largest inland lake in the world, the white-painted Speke Bay Lodge , with its traditional round or ‘rondavel' thatched buildings resembles a small village of the local Sukuma people, strung out along the shores of Lake Victoria.
Though outside the borders of the Serengeti National Park, the luxury Speke Bay Lodge is only 15 minutes drive from the nearest gate, allowing guests to combine the traditional safari experience with the much more unique lakeshore ambience. Set in 100 hectares of rolling savanna, the lodge also offers guided walks, biking, fishing, canoeing and more.
The Serengeti National Park
Venue of the world famous migration of the wildebeest
The Serengeti, whose Maasai name ‘Siringet' translates as ‘the endless plains', offers unparalleled ornithological opportunities and an unrivalled natural arena wherein the glory and harmony of nature can be appreciated as nowhere else on earth. The vast and rolling Serengeti is also the venue for ‘the greatest wildlife show on earth' the annual migration of over one million wildebeest and their attendant cast of herbivores and predators.
The safari lodge location
The Serengeti is 200 km west of Arusha, Tanzania: the park's northern boundary abuts with the Kenya border, its western boundary reaches Lake Victoria, Tanzania.
Speke Bay Lodge is located on the south-eastern shore of Lake Victoria, 15 kilometres from the Serengeti National Park, and 125 kilometres north of Mwanza.
Your Tanzania luxury lodge safari
Speke Bay is part of Speke Gulf, named after the famous explorer John Hanning Speke, who, in 1858, discovered Lake Victoria to be the source of the Nile.
The vast and sensational Serengeti, covering 14,763 sq km of endlessly rolling savannah plains, is Tanzania's first-established, largest and most famous park wherein tens of thousands of wildebeest and other hoofed animals roam in a constant and unremitting search for the fresh grasslands upon which their survival depends.
The million-plus wildebeest are the predominant herbivore and also the main prey of a huge cast of large carnivores, principally lion and hyena. Whilst the annual wildebeest migration is the Serengeti's most famous attraction, the Park is also renowned for its lion, many of which have been fitted with radio-transmitter collars so that their movements may be tracked, and additionally for its wealth of cheetah, zebra, giraffe, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, eland, impala, klipspringer, hippo and warthog.
Wildlife highlights around Speke Bay Lodge: This unique Serengeti safari showcases wildebeest, zebra, Thomson's gazelle, lion, spotted hyena, hunting dog, cheetah, black rhino, elephant, giraffe, buffalo, topi, eland, jackal and otter. Birds: over 350 recorded species including 34 raptors.
Accommodation: Luxury safari lodge and tented camp
Speke Bay Lodge Cottages
Eight ensuite (hot and cold running water, shower, WC) cottages are situated along the shores of Lake Victoria, each in a separate structure designed to ensure privacy. Roofs are thatched with a thick layer of grass in the traditional style of the local Sukuma tribe. The Speke Bay Lodge luxury cottages are equipped with ceiling fans and mosquito nets, custom-made furniture in solid Mkola wood adds to the warm and elegant atmosphere. Some have two twin beds in the loft, making them suitable for families with children. Breakfast is served on the private veranda of the cottage.
Speke Bay Lodge Tents
The Speke Bay Lodge tented camp consists of 12 semi-permanent luxury safari tents, each covered by a thatched roof, which also creates a private and shady sitting area. The tents are fully furnished and contain two beds (hot showers and WCs are not en-suite but close-by).
Dining and bars: Tanzania luxury safari lodge style
The Speke Bay Lodge central restaurant offers both international and local cuisine and uses fresh-caught lake fish and freshly-grown vegetables. The Speke Bay Lodge also offers a bar, veranda, garden terrace and open-air lounge overlooking Lake Victoria. The lodge has its own gift shop.
A Child-friendly safari lodge
The Speke Bay Lodge welcomes children and is well suited to accommodate them. Each bungalow has a loft with two twin beds, making them suitable for families with children.
What to see and do on your Tanzania luxury lodge safari
The annual wildebeest migration in the Serengeti
The migration of the wildebeest is perhaps one of Tanzania's most famous natural events. Twice a year, propelled by the rains, 1.3 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson's gazelle gather to undertake an 800 km migration trek to new grazing lands. The precise timing of the wildebeest migration varies but generally the Serengeti herbivores congregate and move out at the end of May, sometimes over a period of weeks, sometimes over a period of as little as three or four days.
The wildebeest then head west on the first leg of a roughly triangular 800-km circuit that takes approximately 3-4 months and ends in the Masai Mara National Reserve of Kenya. When the grazing here is exhausted the tide of wildebeest turns and reverses its progress returning to the short grass plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Where and when to see the migration while at the Speke Bay Lodge
The migration runs according to its own rules, but in general a large column of wildebeest passes west to Lake Victoria while another moves north past Lobo. While on the hoof (May to June) the rut commences and the wildebeests mate. The migration herds usually reach the north, and eventually cross into Kenya's Masai Mara NR, during July to October. In November the herds begin to reform for the return journey and by December the migration is complete and they are usually to be found grazing the southern grasslands; wildebeest calving starts in February.
Tanzania luxury lodge safari experiences in the Serengeti
Typical Tanzania safari experiences at Speke Bay Lodge include: safari game drives in especially adapted 4WD safari vehicles (with professionally trained Tanzania safari guides), safari bush breakfasts, lunches and dinners; cocktails around the lodge safari campfire and guided safari walks through the bush. The Speke Bay Lodge also offers ornithological tours, cultural performances and visits to the local Maasai people of Tanzania.
In the Serengeti, a particular highlight is a hot air balloon ride, which typically ascends from its launch site at dawn and travels for around an hour across the plains before descending in a controlled landing to a cooked safari breakfast in the bush.
Safaris into the Western Corridor of Serengeti
The beauty and attraction of the Western Corridor of the Serengeti National Park is still underestimated and left out of many itineraries. The special attraction of this area lies in the all year round availability of water in the Grumeti River, and heavier rainfall than the rest of the Serengeti. This results in large resident herds of wildebeest and most of the other game. On top of that, the area is also part of the migration route of the wildebeest: as the dry season intensifies the population moves away from the eastern plains to the north and west towards Lake Victoria.
Due to the dryness in the tourist high season (July, August), the number of animals seen on the plains in the east of the Serengeti and around Seronera can be significantly reduced. In the Western Corridor, however, visitors can see large numbers of migration wildebeest, zebra and gazelle, and various other mammals like cheetah, lion, elephant and hippo, and exceptionally large crocodile - all year round.
Guided canoe trip to nearby fishing village Visit a traditional Tanzania village by local, colourful canoes, and learn about their methods of fishing and local life. The fishermen will also return you to the lodge, singing their rhythmic melodies while they row. You will be picked up in a colourful canoe at the Lodge's beach by fishermen and brought to Mwaburugu, their village. You may explore the village on foot before they bring you back, singing their rhythmic melodies while they row. Your guide tells you about the different methods of fishing, the way of life in the village and the birds you see on the way. This trip is only scheduled mornings, when the lake is calm and the fishermen bring in their overnight catch. Each canoe can carry four persons.
Guided bird walk
Go out either early morning or late afternoon, and spot some of the 260 different species of bush, swamp and water birds. Over 250 species of bush, swamp and water birds live on the Lodge's 85 hectares of savannah. African Fish Eagles have a nest in a tree next to the lounge. You can frequently see them skim the lake and catch fish. You are free to roam around the extensive gardens or use a boat to get close to the reeds for better observation. Many birds are indigenous to this area and will not be seen in the Serengeti. Among them: swamp flycatcher, red-chested sunbird, Northern brown-throated weaver, yellow-backed weaver, black-headed gonolek and blue-headed coucal. The Speke Bay Lodge keeps a bird list, and co-operates with the Tanzania Bird Atlas, by surveying the lake area. Guided walks are offered twice a day; early morning or late afternoon.
Fishing on Lake Victoria
Fish from the shore or rowing boat for tilapia, cat fish and cichlids Fishing
You can fish from the beach or from a rowing boat for tilapia, catfish, barbel or small fish like the cichlids. Equipment is for hire at the Lodge. Lake Victoria is famous for its unique population of "furu" (cichlids), which seems to be recovering, after it was threatened with extinction by the Nile perch. These chiclids are very colourful and are often kept in aquaria. The Nile perch was introduced in the lake somewhere around 1960 and flourished. On one side it was an ecological disaster, but on the other side the Nile perch was baptised "Mkombozi" (Saviour) by the local Sukuma tribe. Now there is a lively fish trade in Nile perch with a lot of factories that export to Europe.
Motor boat trip
Cruise along the lively shores of Lake Victoria
Venture out into the heart of Sukumaland by mountain bike. In the Masamba Hills the only means of transportation is a bicycle. That is why there are numerous small tracks and no cars. It gives a good picture of what most of Tanzania still looks like 'off the beaten track'. Towards the evening it gets cooler (the altitude is around 1200-meters/4000 ft above sea level), farmers work on their shamba's while singing, women in their colourful kangas come home from markets, shepherds bring their cattle back from grazing, people wave and children smile and greet you. The bike trips will be adjusted to the fitness level and wishes of each group.
Speke Bay Lodge - Serengeti / Lake Victoria• Tanzania Safari Lodges
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