Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park, meaning “endless plains” in the Maasai language, is undoubtedly one of the world’s most celebrated wilderness areas in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa.

The Serengeti is a vast ecosystem in east-central Africa. It spans 12,000 square miles (30,000 square kilometers), giving rise to its name, which is derived from the Maasai language and means “endless plains.”

This region of Africa is located in north Tanzania and extends to southwestern Kenya. The Serengeti encompasses Serengeti National Park and a number of protected game reserves and conservation areas maintained by the governments of Tanzania and Kenya. The region hosts the largest mammal migration in the world and is a popular destination for African safaris.

Altitudes in Serengeti range from 3,020 feet to 6,070 feet (920 meters to 1,850 meters). The usually warm and dry climate is interrupted by two rainy seasons March to May, and a shorter season in October and November. The Serengeti landscape can be divided into two regions defined by their dominant vegetation-woodland and grassland. Woodlands, which are grassy areas dotted with trees, can then be broken down further by their dominant trees, Acacia woodlands and Terminalia woodlands. Grasslands include riverine, plains and derived grasslands (or those grasslands that are only there because of repeated fires),

The expansiveness of the Serengeti is interrupted by Ol Doinyo Lengai, the only active volcano in the area and the only volcano that still ejects carbonatite lavas that turn white when exposed to air. When it rains, the ash turns into a calcium-rich material that is as hard as cement.

The southeastern area lies in the shadow of the Ngorongoro highlands and is composed of shortgrass treeless plains, as this area does get rain. Some 43 miles (70 km) west, acacia woodlands rise suddenly and extend west to Lake Victoria and north to the Loita Plains.

The landscape is dotted with a number of granite and gneiss outcroppings known as kopjes, which are large rocky formations that are the result of volcanic activity. The Simba Kopje (Lion Kopje) is a popular tourist stop.

Serengeti National Park supports a magnificent diversity and abundance of animals, from the Big Five: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and black rhino (although these are rarely spotted) to giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, impala, kongoni, topi and eland. The Serengeti is famous for its predators: you can expect excellent lion and cheetah sightings (and exciting lion kills), and leopards are also regularly spotted. Other predators include serval cats, golden and black-backed jackal, African wild dog and spotted hyenas.

The Great Migration is the stellar highlight of the Serengeti’s wildlife: an annual circular movement of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle northwards into the neighbouring Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and back into the plains of Serengeti. This mass movement of animals is accompanied by predators picking off their kills, while the dangerous crossings of the mighty Mara River make for dramatic scenes of struggle and survival as animals battle strong currents and attacks by huge Nile crocodiles.

For birders, there are more than 500 species in the park, including a few Tanzanian endemic species, such as Fischer’s lovebird, grey-breasted spurfowl and rufous-tailed weaver. Other birding highlights include kori bustard, secretary bird, usambiro barbet, yellow-throated sandgrouse, grey-crested helmet shrike, and Hildebrant’s starling.

What to do in Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park is a great tourist destination in Tanzania offering breath-taking and memorable experiences to tourists visiting the park for a safari, safari activities offered in the park include

 

Game Drives/Viewing

For a place renowned for its majestic wildlife and birding opportunities, it would be a shame if you did not spend the time to go on a game drive. The great experience of Serengeti can be fully executed through game drives that take travellers close to the gates of nature viewing animals and other wildlife in different ecosystems of the Serengeti.

Game drives in Serengeti are subdivided into four groups: morning, evening, full day and night games drives. The morning game drive is one of the most common and most rewarding game drive the park offers. Catch up with an early in the bush, big cats on sunbathing and mission of hunting is incredible, infant 90% of the morning game drives are well stocked with true African wilderness experience with the best videos of African wilderness recorded in the morning. Full day game drives are mostly done on the second day as one fully feels the beauty and excitement of Serengeti national park with lots of animals to be seen like lions, leopards, buffaloes among others.  The night game drives are available upon request and they come with an extra cost.

Game drives are much rewarding in Serengeti; you can have enough time to explore the best wildlife of Serengeti. See animals like 16 species of Antelopes like Oribi, Kobs, Wildebeest, kundu, big cats like lions, leopards and cheetahs’ others animals include hippos, giraffes, buffalos and many more.

 

Birding

Birding is one of the most prominent activity in Serengeti national park second to game viewing, the park is a home to over 500 bird species across the endless plains of Serengeti national park with Ndutu area taking half of the bird species population. The diversified ecosystem of the park harbours different kind of birds from open savannah to the small dotted shrubs in the north and the hills surrounding the park, which inhabits different bird species. The most common sited birds are secretary birds; grey breasted spurfowl, southern ground hornbill, grey crested helmet-shrike, black eagles, ostriches and many more.

Luckily, bird watching in the Serengeti is good year-round, but at its very best between early November and late April. Not only is this when European and North African migratory birds are present, but it is also nesting time for resident species. This makes it easy to spot birds in their exciting breeding plumage.

 

Hot Air Balloon

Serengeti Hot balloon safaris are the best activities in the Serengeti and are a unique experience of the open endless plains. Floating on air as you observe the wildlife at an eagle eye high with other birds is amazing. The activity starts early in the morning with a briefing from the pilot.

Hot air balloon safaris in Serengeti are conducted in three sectors; central Seronera, the northern Serengeti Maasai Mara circuit and then the southern Ndutu sector. They take between 1 to 4 hours and concluded with bush breakfast.

 

Cultural encounters

Apart from the wildlife, there is also the possibility of going for an amazing cultural experience in Tanzania with the Maasai Tribe in their villages. On a typical visit, the Maasai will take you to their homestead (known as bomas) to learn about their nomadic way of life, traditional dress code, marriage ceremonies, education system and their ancient tradition of keeping domestic animals. Visiting the Maasai is incomplete without taking part in the traditional Maasai dance and buying a few of their handicrafts.

 

Be a Part of the Great Migration

The great migration is considered as one of nature’s wondrous spectacles. It is a time when hooved animals such as Wildebeest, Zebras, and Gazelles cross over the Mara River in search of food and greener pastures. Many people flock to the Serengeti to witness this migration happen.

You should know that the Migration is not a one-day event and takes place over a period of time. Let us know so that we can thoughtfully plan to optimize your chances of seeing the migration. You could witness this migration via the best seat in the house in a hot air balloon.

WhEN TO VISIT Serengeti National Park

One of the superb things about Serengeti National Park (and there are many!) is that it offers excellent safari experiences all year round. Therefore, no matter when you go, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have an awesome adventure. Each month has something special to offer (February is calving season, for instance). In addition, each section of the park also has its own unique attractions. It is recommended that one should visit the park during the dry month January to February and from June to December through November since there are short rains always, though this cannot affect your experience.

June to October offer the best wildlife viewing experience and during this time, the park is crowded while November is best for people who don’t want to be in overcrowded areas.

The rainy months of March to May are the best month for budget travellers since most of the lodges usually cut their prices during this season. During the rainy season, it’s easy to see wildlife since there is plenty of water and grass is available making animals to leave near Seronera area where they can easily be viewed.

The months of late June to July offer the best time for the popular wildlife migration crossing from the Mara River. Wildebeest migration is considered as the 7 wonders of Africa, it’s when animals like zebras jump into the Mara river amidst the large Nile crocodiles in the water.

Luckily, for bird watchers, bird watching in the Serengeti is good year-round, but at its very best between early November and late April. Not only is this when European and North African migratory birds are present, but it is also nesting time for resident species. This makes it easy to spot birds in their exciting breeding plumage.

HOW TO GET To Serengeti National Park

Although located in a rather remote corner of our planet, Serengeti National Park is easily accessible. Most travellers start their Serengeti safari adventure at either Kilimanjaro International Airport or bustling Arusha. From here, you may either travel to your preferred lodge by means of a short transfer flight or by safari vehicle.

The most popular way to travel to Serengeti National Park by road is by booking a drive-in safari. In general, the drive-in safaris start from the town of Arusha. As it will take approximately eight hours to travel from Arusha to the Serengeti National Park.

The Serengeti has four main entry and exit point:

Naabi Hill Gate: Serengeti’s main gate, and therefore also the busiest. Naabi Hills Gate is located approximately 45 kilometers from Seronera. Gate is open between 06h00 and 18h00 daily.

Ndabaka Gate: Main access gate for the Western Corridor area approximately a 1.5 hours’ drive from Mwanza and 145 kilometers from Seronera. Gate is open between 06h00 and 18h00 daily but please note that last entry is at 16h00.

Klein’s Gate: Klein’s Gate is located in the far northeast of the Serengeti. Gate is open between 06h00 and 18h00 daily but please note that last entry is at 16h00.

Bologonya Gate: Bologonya Gate is located en route to or from Kenya,

 

By Air

International air travel: The recommended point of entry is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which lies between the towns of Moshi and Arusha. Kilimanjaro International Airport also has daily connections with Nairobi (NBO) in Kenya, which offers more international flight possibilities. Additional airlines such as British Airways, Emirates and others fly into Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam (DAR). Please note that arriving at Dar es Salaam may require an extra overnight and a domestic flight on a small regional airline with luggage restrictions.

 

Regional air travel: The favoured route for a Serengeti fly-in safari is by flying from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK). From here, it will take approximately 1 to 5 hours to fly to one of seven airstrips within the Serengeti National Park. All flights are operated by local airlines such as Grumeti Air or Coastal Aviation. Once landed at the airstrip, your driver guide will transfer you to your final destination where a cold drink will be ready and waiting (please allow another 45 minutes to 2 hours for road transfer – depending on the chosen lodge).

It is also possible to fly from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport (NBO) or Wilson Airport (WIL) to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). When travelling from the Lake Victoria area, the favoured airport is Mwanza Airport (MWZ). There are also direct flights from the Serengeti to Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and other national parks in Tanzania such Lake Manyara and Tarangire.