The focus of a safari in the Northern Tanzanian circuit during this season should be on the Southern short-grass plains of the Serengeti/ Ngorongoro eco-system. The annual wildebeest and zebra migration is arriving on these plains from December onwards and it is here where they congregate and give birth to thousands of calves in February and March. These mineral rich plains are where the great herds will stay for as long as feeding permits. Apparently the iron and zinc found in the fodder of these plains is what the wildebeest are after.
The movement of nearly two million animals is the driving force of the ecology of most of the Serengeti eco-system. Predators follow these herds like sharks following a shoal of fish. Great wildlife viewing is guaranteed because the young animals make easy prey. The density of predators is high. This is also a great time for bird lovers since many birds migrate to East Africa from Europe.
We would suggest a few nights in the Ndutu Area (Serengeti) during December through March since it is here that the best viewing is found.
Early December is the short rainy season but this isn't much more than the odd thunder shower in the afternoons, actually a cool relief from generally hot days. It also helps to keep the dust down! This time of the year it is mostly sunny (25-30 °C).
Our lightweight camp in Naabi is the perfect form of accommodation for this area and time of year. Being a small and unintrusive camp, the herds can move around (and even through) the camp all day and all night giving you a real feeling of being up-close to Africa. This doesn't happen in bigger camps and lodges since they are situated further away from the animals and in one fixed location.
Lake Manyara National park is a very good all-year park. It is a small park bordered almost on all sides; it is hard for animals to move out (although it's not like they want to move out with all the water and food there). So, for a guaranteed good wildlife experience visit this park any time of the year.
The Ngorongoro Crater is also good year-round. It does get very dry during some seasons but the wildlife is always plentiful. Peak seasons (December - January and July - August) can be very busy with other tourists.
Tarangire is not ideal at this time of the year. Animals disperse over a huge area the moment it rains. The grasses also get very tall making game viewing difficult.