Serengeti National Park, created in 1951, is Africa's most famous game reserve, renowned for its dense predator population and annual wildebeest migration. The sense of space attached to exploring the vast Serengeti Plains is overwhelming, as are the sheer numbers of animals these plains support. The park covers an area of almost 15,000 square kilometers, but the Serengeti ecosystem (which includes a number of game reserves bordering the national park as well as Kenya’s Masai Mara national park) is more than double that size. Most of the national park is open and grassy, broken by isolated granite koppies and patches of acacia woodland. On its vast treeless plains are tens of thousands of hoofed animals constantly on the move in search of fresh grassland. The wildebeest of which there are over one million are the chief herbivores and also the main prey of large carnivores such as lions and hyenas. The name comes from the Masai word 'Serengit' which means 'endless plains'. The Masai previously occupied the Serengeti plains in the 17th century. There is very little permanent water in Tanzania's largest National Park, so the Migration and general location of most of the animals is linked to rainfall patterns.
How to get to the Serengeti
The Serengeti national park lies 320km from the town of Arusha in the northern part of Tanzania near the Kenyan border. The trip takes at least 6 hours by car. You can also fly directly to the small air strip at Seronera in the western corridor towards Lake Victoria.
The best time to see this park is between December and May, when the wildebeest migration is in the south, and if you are lucky you will catch the annual movement of wildebeest and zebras in may or June.
What to see
The Serengeti’s most common antelope species are wildebeest, Thompson’s gazelle, impala, topi, Grant’s gazelle, kongoni, and eland. Other antelope species include Kirk’s dik-dik, klipspringer, and small numbers of roan, oryx, oribi and waterbuck. After wildebeest the most populous large mammal is zebra. There are significant numbers of buffalo, giraffe and warthog.
Elephant are relatively scarce on the open plains but more common in the wooded areas of Lobo and the Western Corridor and the few remaining black rhinoceros are restricted to an inaccessible part of the park. The olive baboon and vervet monkey are the most common and wide spread primates the isolated and seldom seen patas monkey is resident in the north, black and white colobus haunt the riparian woodland along the Grumeti river through the western corridor.
An estimated 300 lion hunt on the central Seronera Plains alone, with more being dispersed around the park. Leopard, more elusive and very well camouflaged in the foliage of trees can often be spotted by their tails hanging down. Cheetahs too are regularly sighted in the grasslands around samba hills. Spotted hyenas are very common, golden jackals and bat eared foxes appear to be the most abundant canine species on the plains of seronera while black backed jackals are common in the thicker vegetation towards lobo. Driving at dusk or dawn is probably the best chance of seeing nocturnal predators such as civet, serval, genet and African wild cat.
The Serengeti Ecosystem is an Endemic Bird Area. Six species are not found anywhere else in the world and due to the diverse variety of habitat an amazing 505 species have so far been documented.
An expensive but highly enjoyable way to experience the Serengeti is via balloon safari. These have become a very popular activity in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. People who have done it describe the activity as an amazing experience, seeing animals in their natural habitat from a view that only a few get to experience.
The procedure for a Balloon Safari in the Serengeti is an early morning start, it lasts an hour, flying low over the beautiful plains of the Serengeti, with snacks on board and a champagne breakfast in the bush when you land at 8-9am.
The Serengeti- Mara eco system is one of Africa’s endemic bird areas, hosting five bird species found nowhere else, of which are confined to the Tanzania portion of the eco system. These are easy to locate and identify within their restricted range: grey throated spurfowl (a common roadside bird around the park headquarters), Fischer’s lovebird, rufous tailed weaver, the usambiro barbet, grey crested helmet shrike, the massive ostrich, the kori bustard, secretary bird, southern ground hornbill, the lilac breasted roller, black eagle, golden pipit, European turtledove, short eared owl, long tailed nightjar, black backed cisticola swallow tailed kite, Abyssinian roller and white billed buffalo weaver.
The best base from around December to April is at one of the camps near seronera or in the south eastern part of the park. The famous crossing of the Grumeti river which runs through the parks western corridor usually takes place somewhere between May and July although the actual viewing window can be quite short. In dry days the herds tend to move northwards sooner avoiding or skirting the western corridor. The northern Serengeti around lobo and Klein’s gate is a good base during the dry season particularly between august and October.
Serengeti’s dense predator population and annual wildebeest migration is a very amazing experience. The sheer numbers these plains support are overwhelming and is by far the reason why most tourists come to Tanzania.
Where to stay
Mbuzi Mawe Camp: Superior tented camp situated in the heart of the Park.
Olakira Camp: Mobile tented camp that follows the Great Migration through the Serengeti.
Sayari Camp: A lavish tented camp located in the scenic northern Serengeti, following the great migration.
Serengeti Migration Camp: Luxury tented safari lodge set among rocky outcrops in the Park.
Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge: Traditional African safari lodge overlooking the grasslands of the Serengeti.
Serengeti Sopa Lodge: Rustic safari lodge, situated in the Nyarboro Hills of the Park.
Serengeti Tented Camp: Secluded tented camp located in a concession area just outside the Park.
Serengeti Under Canvas: Mobile tented camp following the spectacular migration in the Park.
Seronera Wildlife Lodge: Seronera Wildlife Lodge is a standard safari lodge in the Serengeti.
Bilila Lodge Kempinski: A spacious safari lodge offering the luxuries of a large hotel, situated within the Park.
Dunia Camp: A peaceful and comfortable tented safari camp ideally situated for a Migration safari in the Serengeti.
Grumeti River Camp: Exclusive tented camp situated in the western corridor of the Park.
Kirawira Tented Camp: Kirawira is an exclusive tented camp on the western edge of the Park.
Klein's Camp :Exclusive safari lodge situated on the north-eastern edge of the Park.
Kusini: Superior permanent tented camp situated in the Park.
Lemala Luxury Camp Serengeti: Semi-permanent luxury tented camp in the northern sector of the Park.
Lobo Wildlife Lodge: Standard safari lodge in the northern part of the Park.
Mbalageti Serengeti: Mbalageti is a luxury safari lodge in the western corridor of the Park.
Mbalageti Suite: A luxurious suite at Mbalageti Serengeti Safari Lodge in the Park.
Africa Safaris and Tours - One Stop Point for all Africa Safaris!