Serengeti National Park is the world’s renowned safari destination located in Northern Tanzania. The park covers a land area of 14,763 square kilometers and it is most famous for the wildebeest migration. Serengeti National Park was established in 1940 and protects not only the wildebeest but a variety of wildlife species. It is also one of the 7 world heritage sites in Tanzania and was given that status in 1981.
The vegetation of Serengeti National Park is diverse with savanna grasslands, woodlands, and riverine forests. The River Grumeti is the main water body that transverses the park, pouring its waters into Lake Victoria. It is home to a number of Nile Crocodiles and Wildebeest migration river crossings around the Grumeti usually from April to June.
Wildlife in Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park has 3 main regions that are Central Serengeti, Western Corridor, and Northern Serengeti. The wildebeest migration in Serengeti can be experienced in different regions depending on the movement of the grazers and the month of the year.
The park is one of the few protected areas on the African continent with large wildlife populations. It is a lion conservation unit with an estimated lion population of about 3,000 lions living in over 300 prides. Serengeti has many other big cats including leopards and cheetahs. Other carnivores include striped hyenas, black-backed Jackal, spotted hyenas, and African wild dogs among others.
Serengeti has safari’s favorites, the big five mammals include buffaloes, leopards, Rhinos, elephants, and lions. The Elephant population in Serengeti is estimated at 7000 individuals and they are often seen while on game drives in the park. The buffalo population is also estimated at over 30,000 and they are a must-see while in the park. Other big safari animals include giraffes and hippos.
There are over 500 bird species in the park with 5 endemic bird species. Notable birds include the Kori bustard, secretary bird, Fischer’s Lovebird, silver bird, and Southern ground hornbill among others.
The wildebeest is the most abundant wildlife species in the park with a population of over 1 million individuals. There are over 300,000 Thompson gazelles, 200,000 zebras, and other major antelopes like elands, Impalas, and the topi that often attract predators.
There are also some primates in the forests near River Grumeti including Olive baboons, Vervet Monkeys, and Patas monkeys.
Activities in Serengeti National Park
Wildebeest Migration Safari
The wildebeest migration is an annual mass animal movement that involves the movement of millions of wildebeest, Thompson Gazelles, zebras, and other major grazers over the Serengeti and Mara ecosystems. They move in search of fresh pasture, a journey that sees them overcome several obstacles, especially predators.
The mass movement is very spectacular and amazing to watch as herds of grazers move over the open plains of the park. During this course, they cross River Grumeti from April to June as they proceed to Kenya’s Masai Mara. The river crossings are most spectacular and are best seen from the Mara River. A safari in Serengeti National Park featuring the wildebeest migration is one of the must-do while in the park.
These are commonly done in the park featuring the wildebeest migration and Big Five mammals and cats. The best time to start a game drive is early morning to be able to catch up with the early risers. On morning game drives you get to see a number of wildlife species including the major predators. An early morning game drive enables you to capture the sunrise and is ideal for safari photography.
Evening game drives are equally rewarding as you get to see wildlife species you missed seeing. A sundowner with a view of the endless plains of Serengeti sums it up as you dine and relax in the wild. You can choose to do experiential game drives following a particular wildlife species in the park.
Balloon safaris are very adventurous and will enable you to get a panoramic view of Serengeti National Park. The view also increases the chances of wildlife viewing as you explore the Serengeti ecosystem from the sky.
The best times for balloon safaris are early mornings and late afternoons. Balloon Safaris are also very ideal for wildlife photography and if you intend to visit Serengeti for that then the balloon safari is a must-do.
There are a number of guided nature walks in Serengeti. Many of these are guided by local Masai people and enable you to get close to wildlife. The nature walks are very safe and have no human-wildlife conflicts. Most of these are done within lodge premises and in areas that are safe.
Serengeti having over 500 bird species makes it a great birding safari destination. Birding in the park is doable all year round but for best experiences, you can visit the park from November to April. During this time, there are migratory birds in the park that offer one a variety of bird species to see. It also doubles as a bird nesting time for the resident birds and can easily be seen in breeding plumage.
Serengeti National Park Accommodation
There are various accommodation options in Serengeti ranging from budget to high-end luxury tented camps. The lodges and camps are strategically located with easy access to the park and many game drives often start from the lodge. Some of these include Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge, and Singita Sasakwa Lodge among others.
Because Serengeti is the most visited park in Tanzania, it is very important to book accommodation in advance, especially in the dry season. The wildebeest migration season also attracts many people and it is important to know where the animals are before booking accommodation.
Getting to Serengeti National Park
The park can be accessed by both road and air transport. By Road, you can transfer from Arusha and directly be driven to the park. In case you want to explore more you can add Tarangire and the Ngorongoro Crater visit on the itinerary. African safari road trips are very adventurous and rewarding.
For air transport, you can directly fly to Serengeti’s Seronero, Kogatende, Grumeti, Sasakwa, Lobo, Tarime, and Forti Ikoma airstrips. Air transport enables you to reach early enough in the park for major safari adventures.
The park can be visited at any time of the year.