Serengeti National Park is the largest national park on Tanzania northern safari circuit covering an area of 14,763km². The park is only part of the greater Serengeti eco-system that stretches into southern Kenya in Masai Mara Game reserve, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and North West towards Lake Victoria. Serengeti (Siringeti) is a masaai world that means Endless plains.
Seerngeti has evolved overtime as the most prominent safari destination in Tanzania/ East Africa being that it features on many documentaries and television writings about the African wildlife especially because of its large lion prides among other game.
Serengeti loosely translated as endless plains by the locals, the park is one of the seven wonder in Africa due to its vast beauty and plains. The park has over 500 bird species and it has the densest population of lions.
Serengeti is located in Tanzania and it is one of the most visited National parks when it comes to a safari. The vast plains filled with lots of vegetation form the Savannah grasslands, the plenty baobab trees and the un- spoilt wilderness are a sight to see when one decides to take a safari in Serengeti.
Serengeti has a variety of both animal and bird species which can be viewed when one decides on a Serengeti safari. the Great Migration is the major attraction in Serengeti and you can get to see like Elephants, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, Colobus monkeys, bat eared fox, the porcupine, zebras, buffaloes, hyenas and many more animals and it has over 500 bird species that can be viewed.
The predator viewing here is exceptional with approximately 3-4,000 lion and huge numbers of cheetah, leopard and hyena. Other animals commonly found in the park include topi, eland, hartebeest, buffalo, elephant, caracal, serval, bat-eared fox, hyrax, genet, hares, porcupine, aardvark, giraffe, jackal, mongoose, crocodile, monitor lizard, aardwolf, many kinds of primates including baboons, vervet and Colobus monkeys, and over 500 species of bird.
Preparing For A Safari To Serengeti
Before you head out on a Serengeti safari, you need to pack correctly in order to have maximum fun on your safari. I have listed down a few things that you will need on this wonderful journey.
- If you want to stay connected on the different social media platforms then you are in for a surprise as there is hardly any Wi-Fi both in the tented camps and campsites and you will have to wait till you leave Serengeti to get back on the internet.
- At night, Serengeti can be chilly even with the availability of fire camps and you will need to pack some heavy clothes so that you are more comfortable when it comes to sleep.
- Pack comfortable shoes that will be used for hiking and the guided walks so that you do not get blister on your feet in the process and sneakers might be the best option.
You will also need to pack extra batteries for both your camera and phone as Serengeti camps do not have a supply of 24 hour electricity and you should note that the service on the phone might be slow or non-existent
Sights within Serengeti
As a unique and the oldest eco-systems in the world, Serengeti has so much that fascinates its visitors just beyond its vegetation and wildlife. The park is a vast savannah plain with occasional rocky outcrops/kopjes spread over the northern region, valleys, acacia trees and woodlands, water stream and rivers, small lakes and so much more.
The Serengeti Tanzania Park is sectioned into four distinctive safari routes and it may take you a day or two to explore each of the safari areas. The area are particularly of savannah plains and Kopjes in the south, a northern corridor linking up with the Masaai Mara in neighboring Kenya, Seronera River and campsites or lodges at the heart and finally a western corridor along the Grumeti River reaching the shores of Lake Victoria 8km away.
Annual Serengeti migrations are the main reason for Tanzania safari to Serengeti Park. More than a million animals move from the southern Serengeti plains in February in search of water and fresh grass pastures which they find more 300km away in the neighboring Masai Mara Game reserve in Kenya. The animals migrate and cross two rivers, Grumeti and Mara making an amazing spectacle of a sea of grunting herds.
Lake Ndutu in the south is a spectacular area to catch the Serengeti Big five and other animals early in the year (December to February). This seasonal lake is fringed by forest woods and you’ll see giraffes, flamingoes and other birds here. The area is a calving site for wildebeest and gazelles in January and February before they set off for their migrations later on.
The rocky outcrops (Kopjes) are an important past of the Serengeti eco-system. Many of the kopjes are famous outposts for lions, leopards and insects. Moru and Simba kopjes are identified for their big cats on the hunt. Besides, some of the kopjes have water holes which attract several herds of animals looking for water. The Lobo kopjes in the north are excellent outposts for wildlife viewing during the migration.
Serengeti Wildlife Safari
The vast park is gifted with the largest herds of African lion moving in herds of more than 10 members. The serengeti lion safari is a safari trip that no Tanzania tourist should miss. Other animals in the park include hippos, crocodiles, warthog, gazelles, buffalos, wildebeest, giraffes, crocodiles, impala, dik-dik, eland, reed buck, elephants, rhino, waterbuck, hyenas, leopards, jackals, servals, cheetahs, spring hare, porcupine, hyraxes, baboon, vervet monkey, colobus monkey, patas monkey, snakes, lizards and mongooses.
More than 500 birds are recorded in the park alone, minus the migrant species that flocks in from Asia and Europe in the onset of the winter season that last from October to April. Some of the birds regularly seen here include flamingoes, vultures, storks, sun birds, ostrich, martial fish eagles and many others.
Serengeti is not located near the city centers and therefore it will need sometime as it is a long way from Arusha which is known to be the nearest town. As you are heading to Serengeti, your first day will be spent on Lake Manyara as it is half way enroute Serengeti. Some other people can make a stopover at Tarangire before setting out to Serengeti. There are actually four ways that one can get to Serengeti and they have been listed below:
- You can travel to Serengeti from Masai Mara. Flights from Kenya are shorter mostly if you are travelling from Kenya and a drive form Masai Mara is about 10 hours.
- You can travel from Lake Manyara to Serengeti through Tarangire. If you set off in the morning, by mid afternoon you will be in Serengeti.
- You can also travel from Lake Natron and use the Northern entrance into Serengeti and this route is mostly used during the migration in the North between July and September.
- You can also fly from Zanzibar as there are daily flights and these can land at the different airstrips that can be found in the park.
- As you are on the game dives, you will be able to go with delicious packed picnics like juice, sandwiches, chicken, muffins and other snacks.
When to visit Serengeti
The safari experience on Serengeti National Park goes on all through the year but different safari activities in Serengeti have specific timing. The rainy season that starts in March and ends in May, with short rains in October and November –it is the best time to visit Serengeti on Tanzania birding safari however the road are indeed slippery and only robust 4X4 vehicle can access some parts of the park.
July up to August has less game viewing opportunities as most of the herds move on the annual migration trails into northern Serengeti crossing over to Masai Mara Game reserve in Kenya. The herds later return in November and thus create great game viewing time up to late February.
Serengeti Safari Lodges and Accommodation
Serengeti safari lodges define luxury safari overnights to the dot. There are a number of excellent safari lodges located near the Seronera area, being a game crowded region in serengeti. Such include Serengeti Sopa lodge, Serena Serengeti lodge, Lobo Wildlife Lodge, Seronera Wildlife Lodge and Ndutu Safari Lodge near Olduvai Gorge among others. The safari lodges usually offer fully equipped en-suite bathrooms, private verandas and elegant furniture.
There are also several tented camp, 12 bush camps and public campsites that include Kijesereshi Tented camp and lodge-south of Nsabaaka Gate, Serengeti Migration camp around the Lobo area, Kensington camps, Mapito tented camp, Grumeti river camp, and many others . The public campsites have basic facilities, some without running water but African night sounds dominate the night fall among them are laughing hyena, roaring lions, cooing owls, cricket, croaking frogs-ofcourse under a star-filled sky.
The tented camps
Travelling to Serengeti is all wildernesses and the best one can sleep in is a tented camp and several of these are located in Serengeti.
The tented camps offer you a private bedroom and bathroom and you can clearly feel the grass rustles as the different animals pass by your tents. This will give you a double feel of hotel life and the wilderness combined.
Some of these tented camps can be fixed all round the year and yet others are set up as they follow the Great Migration.
Serengeti safari camping
Camping at the Serengeti is majorly done by those who love nature and are basically on a budget. The camping safari is serviced by basic facilities and public restrooms which are all in good condition. And they also come with a private chef who prepares all the meals from breakfast to picnics. The camps in Serengeti are divided into two campsites that is the Lobo and Seronera.
The Lodges at Serengeti
The lodges in Serengeti offer accommodation to all depending on the person’s budget. They can accommodate people with low budgets and those that have heavy budgets and they are very conducive when it comes to children that is they provide a distraction to the kids in form of televisions, pools and clubs for kids.
They are majorly taken on by those who love comfort since they have WI-FI hot water and they are more secure from the wild animals as they are brick and mortar unlike the tented camps.
The park has enough security as you enter the park but you still need to be conscious when inside the park. There are some rules that need to be followed once one is inside Serengeti National Park and these have been listed below to increase on personal safety of the tourists.
- You should not feed the animals as this is not allowed, do not walk through the park without a guide,
- You should keep your head and arms inside the car during the drive through especially through the window. This should be done at the pop top roof only.
- If you have children, it is best to keep them close to you to avoid attacks from predators.
- You are not allowed to shout, use drones in the parks as this will attract the wild animals to your car.
There are several things that you can do on a safari to Serengeti and some of these include the following:
The hot air balloon safari
This is one of the fun things to do on a Serengeti safari and it is one of the highlights. This is done during the evening hours at dusk and can be done either at the Northern or central part of the Park. Hot air is filled in the balloon and you get to soar above and view the park with its wild animals and you can also carry a picnic basket to this adventurous activity. This is one activity that you should not miss.
The great migration
The great migration take place in phases in Serengeti national Park and they migrate in large numbers. These animals are over one million and the migration happens due to the climatic change and this sees animals migrating into Masai Mara located in Kenya. The best time to view these animals is in the morning and the movement of the animals is as follows.
They migrate to Naabi hill which is South of Serengeti during the wet and rainy season and then head towards Lobo valley and Bologonja in the Northern part of the Park. You will be able to see Gazelles, Impalas, and many more other animals.
You will also be able to see the big five that is the elephants, lion, rhinoceros, leopard, leopards and the buffalos. Although you should note that the rhinoceros is hard to sight.
Visit the Grumeti River
This is located in the central part of the park and it has a large population of crocodiles and you can easily picnic from the area especially for those who love nature. You will also be able to view the Great migration from here and enjoy the anticipation of the crocodiles waiting to feast on the different animals which are in the great migration.
Visit the Masai land
You cannot do a Serengeti Safari minus visiting the Masai land and learning about their beautiful culture. You will be able to get yourself souvenirs from the different shops, lesus from the local Masai women and the vast beads that are sold at affordable prices. The locals can also give you an insight on the different animals that are found in the park and the different cultural norms found in Tanzania.
You can carry out your Serengeti Safari throughout the year but the best time is April and May during the great migration and wet season.