Safari in the Serengeti – One of the most famous national parks in Northern Tanzania and a UNESCO World recognised natural wonder.
The scenery is breathtaking, from grassy plains studded with rugged granite kopjes to rivers and woodlands. In the Serengeti, you will fully immerse yourself in the beautiful wilderness and gain a genuine sense of space and the circle of life, in what remains one of the greatest national parks in the world.
The Serengeti is a huge section of grasslands in northern Tanzania, bordering Kenya and the Masai Mara. The park is 14,763 square kilometres in size and lies at the core of a vast migratory ecosystem that connects the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and cross border Masai Mara reserve to cover an area comparable to Switzerland.
The annual migration of some two million wildebeest and zebra through the Serengeti and Mara ecosystem is a peerless spectacle and if you time it right, one can see adrenalin charged river crossings, calving season and massive herds galloping through grasslands in picture perfect light.
With more than 500 species of birds, this is a stellar birding safari destination, particularly in the remote north and west.
If number crunching gives you indication of wildlife, the Serengeti boasts impressive resident wildlife that does not migrate with the wildebeest. There are over 3,000 lion, 2,000 elephant, 16,000 buffalo, a handful of black rhino, 1,000 or more leopard, between 1,500 and 2,000 cheetah, 12,000 giraffe or more and around 7,200 spotted hyena.
The expanse of the Serengeti and its feeling of ‘wild’ plus impressive wildlife certainly draws you back time and time again.
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Best time for a Serengeti Safari
The Serengeti National Park is open all year round and offers a different game viewing experience depending on when you visit. The dry season offers the best wildlife viewing with regards to sheer number, as large herds and packs escape the heat and converge on the last shallow waterholes that litter the plains. The dry season typically lasts from June to September each year. The best chance to view the migration is in the early dry season, June to July, as the herds make their way through the northern Serengeti, crossing the Mara River into Kenya’s Masai Mara. Then September/ October as they make their way back over the River into the Serengeti.
The wet season is not to be disregarded, as it is the prime time to see wildebeest calving and young born in the Ndutu plains of Southern Serengeti plus the dynamic predator action it attracts. Central Serengeti and its granite kopjes is home to the migration March to May usually and it’s quite a beautiful site to see especially from a hot air balloon safari!
How to experience the Serengeti
A game drive in the Serengeti National Park is a staple of a Tanzanian safari; it just wouldn’t be complete without one. Head off in a private or shared safari vehicle and marvel at the deep knowledge and understanding of your guides, as they lead you through the best game viewing areas in the park. Night drives are also available at some camps that take up private concessions, with the chance to spot elusive game and scurrying critters that awake as the sun goes down.
Tanzania’s most famous game viewing experience is of course the famous Great Migration. Follow the huge herds as they make their way across the plains and observe the adrenalin pumping sight of a river crossing; thousands of wildebeest struggling to make their way across the fast flowing river, crowding in on each other in the hopes of avoiding the crocodiles that lurk beneath the surface. The scale of the migration allows ample chance to spot numerous predatory species, including lion and cheetah that follow the migration in the hope of easy prey.
Depending on the location of your chosen camp, you may also have the chance to head out on a walking safari. Wander the plains with a guide and tracker and learn more about the native flora and its symbiotic relationship with the region’s game, as well as the smaller of the region’s inhabitants such as its bug life and small mammal and reptile species. You will witness the larger mammals on the horizon, keeping a safe distance of course.
The Serengeti is also a great place to enjoy an exhilarating hot air balloon safari. Float over the plains and under the clouds and watch as the sun rises in the distance and the animal species head out on their morning hunts before the midday heat kicks in. Upon landing, be treated to a champagne bush breakfast before returning to camp.
Top Five in Serengeti
- Watch the largest animal migration in the world. The great migration thundering onto the plains of the Serengeti every year and is a sight to behold.
- Take a game drive, with a wealth of wildlife at every turn it only makes sense to get out on a 4×4 vehicle and take it all in.
- Hit the road, an even more adventurous way of experiencing the natural wonder is to head out on foot.
- Meet with Masai, most lodges will offer a visit to a local Masai village where you can meet with this inspiring tribe and get a glimpse into their daily lives.
- Kick back and relax, while there is so much to see and do when visiting the Serengeti its important to slow down and just take a moment to enjoy the beauty of the African landscape.
Accommodation in Serengeti
Serengeti accommodation options are endless and it comes down to your budget and time of year travelling plus what you wish to see and do. If it’s the migration you seek, there are fantastic mobile camps that follow the herds and more permanent camps and indeed lodges for that extra comfort and infrastructure.
Tented camps offer that old colonial-style type of stay, with large canvas walled ensuite tents boating spacious rooms that often open up onto private verandas, perfect to sip on cold drinks or cups of tea and watch the wildlife wander by. Mobile camps are great for an authentic safari experience, as the camps change location throughout the year, following the best seasonal weather patterns and wildlife movements.
The Serengeti also offers a number of great ‘green camps’ – eco friendly mobile camps that are easy to set up and dismantle, which leave little to no impact on the local environment and wildlife.