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Serengeti National Park Tanzania

The Serengeti National Park, lying in Mara and Simiyu regions of Tanzania, stretches over some 14,750 square kilometers of grasslands, savannas, riverine forests and woodlands. When visiting Africa, it is a fantastic destinations for African safaris and Tanzania tours opportunities, any tourists to Africa and especially those going on Tanzania tours packages to the Tanzania, will be well-advised to stop at Serengeti. “Serengeti” is the Maasai name for this beautiful area, which means “the place where the land runs on forever,” in line with the park’s never-ending landscapes.

The Serengeti National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its ecological importance and biodiversity. Tanzania safaris in the Serengeti are renowned for observing the Great Migration of over 1.5 million white-bearded wildebeest and 250,000 zebras every year, making it one of the most spectacular sites on a Tanzania tour. The Serengeti’s ecosystems also contain an abundance of other wildlife including the ‘Big Five’ – lions, leopards, elephants, black rhinoceros, African buffalos – as well as cheetah, hyena, giraffe and diverse birdlife.

The Great Wildebeest Migration Safari in Tanzania

The annual migration of more than 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra (plus more eland, gazelle, hartebeest, impala and a dazzle of zebras) is one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles. Visitors on Tanzania safari will see the herds of animals as they ford the mud of the Grumeti and Mara rivers, moving in their world-famous circular course across the Serengeti in search of fresh grasses and water. The circle of life is completed with the birth of up to half a million calves each February: the cycle starts again with migration, as the herds move south into the Serengeti, gorge themselves, then travel north, crossing the Grumeti River and into the Masai Mara Great Wildebeest Migration is truly an unforgettable experience as the world seethes with life: the great herds cascaded across the endless grasslands like liquid spilt on the Serengeti; the earth trembled and thundered with the rolling and bounding feet of hooves.

The “Big Five”Animals in Serengeti

In the Serengeti, tourists catch sight of the ‘Big Five’ – including lions, leopards, elephants, black rhinoceros and African buffalos. Tanzania tours offer excellent chances of spotting them all. Lions are the most plentiful, for the Serengeti is home to the largest lion population in Africa. Viewing these big cats is a major attraction, as there is virtually always at least a pride to spot – whether lying on a rocky outcrop or stalking across the grasslands. Leopards, though graceful, are elusive – and are more likely to be caught arcing through the trees, or resting on an acacia branch, than stalking through the woodlands. Elephants, the gentle giants, roam the park in impressive herd formations, many with tusks still intact.

Diverse Ecosystems

Different ecosystems characterise different parts of the Serengeti, and each tends to have its own wildlife sphere. The southern plains, to which the name ‘Serengeti’ is most closely connected, conjure up white and grey-tufted acacia trees that bravely break the horizon, mocking the obligations of the earth below. Golden grasslands are a standard backdrop, exploited in thousands of commercial images of the Serengeti, and there’s no better time to visit than during the green season, after the rains have turned the plains into a lush, emerald inferno. The western corridor, along the Grumeti River, is home to a dense jungle of acacia woodlands, with sedge swamps lined with crocodiles and hippos, as well as a wide variety of primates.

Birdwatching in Serengeti

The park is home to more than 500 bird species, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. Tanzania safaris offer sightings of a wide array of birds from large to small, from the huge, lumbering ostrich, the world’s largest bird, to smaller birds such as the pretty lilac-breasted roller, even called the ‘flying rainbow’. This species is only found in Africa and swallows flying insects in flight. The variety of habitats in the Serengeti support resident and migratory bird species. The diverse birdlife mean you can visit the park any time of the year and spot dozens of species of wild tropical birds, including the endangered grey crowned crane, the massive secretary bird and the elegant African fish eagle. Also drawn to the park are raptors: the huge martial eagle; the bateleur, which looks like a small kite; and the augur buzzard.

Moru Kopjes

Several weathered granite outcroppings collect around a central plain in the middle of the Serengeti, named the Moru Kopjes. There’s an abundance of wildlife on these rocky outcroppings as well as in the surrounding savannah, and it’s on these hills that the lions hunt. These kopjes are ancient rock formations, sculpted by wind and rain for aeons, rising out of the sprawling grassy plains like an archipelago in an island sea. Here one can see lions, stalking territories and hunting; here the endangered black rhino can be spotted browsing, hidden in the magical vegetation that grows on the crags and slopes of the kopjes.

Serengeti Game Drives

The quintessential activity while in the park is the game drive – it’s the best opportunity to see wildlife. Tanzania safari operators offer many game drives on a daily basis, allowing drives to get into the park’s interior so visitors can sightsee the best that the Serengeti has to offer. Game drives typically last all day or for half the day, depending on client request. The best times for wildlife sightings are early in the morning or late in the day, as animals are much more active when the weather is cooler than it is in the heat of the day. At dawn, the Serengeti begins to awaken, as herds of grazing herbivores make their way across the plains, passing through the large predators that are lying in wait for their next meal. On any game drive, visitors might see the full range of wildlife in the Serengeti. This includes the ‘Big Five’ (elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards and rhinoceros) as well as a range of smaller creatures, including warthogs, jackals, bat-eared foxes, and other species.

Serengeti game drives

Hot Air Balloon Safaris

To make an African tour experience unique and memorable, try the hot air balloon safari the Serengeti offers. As you ascend in the balloon with the first rays of the sun, and drift above the plains, the silence and the solitude culminate in various fascinating views. The balloon ride over the Serengeti creates an almost mystical experience, a surreal environment that can’t help but fill you with admiration for this awesome and beautiful place on Earth. The silence and solitude offer you a perspective of the vastness of the Serengeti. As you lazily float with the breeze above the plains, you’ll be surprised to see nature in all her glory below you. Herds of wildebeest, zebra and elephants appear like seams of silver on the green carpet of the savannah. Smaller creatures, such as gazelles, hares and wild dogs, effortlessly become conspicuous from up there, thanks to the clear bird’s-eye gift. You will enjoy views that are otherwise extremely difficult to see from the ground. The patterns and textures are worth a mention, but the bird’s-eye view of the Grand Serengeti – with its rivers, winding through the patchwork of green grasslands and woodlands – will probably not fail to amaze you. After the hot air balloon safari, land your balloon in a bushy spot and have a luxurious champagne breakfast. One of the best African experiences during your Tanzania safari never felt so good.

Walking Safaris

Walking safaris are the most intimate (or should I say vulnerable) way to experience the Serengeti’s wilderness. You will walk with a guide, tracking animals, learning about the plants of the Serengeti, and getting a sense of the complex web of life that sustains the eco-system. You’ll learn to read tracks, droppings and other signs to better understand the relationships between different species. Walking across the grasslands with an expert in tow, you’ll be able to approach animals more closely than from inside a vehicle, for intimate and unforgettable encounters. Walking safaris can be arranged only in certain parts of the park. They need to be booked in advance or in advance at the park office. Safety is of absolute importance in the wilderness of the Serengeti.

Cultural Visits

On a Tanzania safaris, make sure to visit the Maasai village before you, or after you visit the Serengeti. It is an opportunity to get into the culture of the Maasai people. Most visitors flock into the Maasai village, also known as the boma, to get a feel of the people’s daily lives and rituals. You can witness the traditional dance moves by some Maasai men while Maasai women serenade you with amazing songs. You can also watch them perform special rituals, and recount the tales about the people and their beliefs, including their traditional customs and their hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Many intermediate Tanzania tour operators incorporate cultural visits with a Maasai in their safari packages, ensuring that the Maasai people are treated with dignity and respect.

Photography Safaris

The superlative savannah and diverse wildlife of the Serengeti make it the dream destination of the budding photographer as well as the seasoned pro and a photography workshop can help you capture the sights and sounds of the Serengeti. Those interested in skills can learn to capture the movement and adventures of the African savannah in the medium of their choice, be it a beginner’s smartphone or the serious professional’s camera gear. Hobbyists, artists and amateurs and those new to the craft are invited to attend a photography programme, the duration of which ranges between a few days to a few weeks. Accompanied by seasoned professionals, these workshops host no more than 10 travelers and at times include sessions with resident experts and conservation officers who serve as passionate and skilled educators. The workshops are tailored to various deservedly popular wildlife, conservation, ecology, camera hire and photography skills. Beginners and experienced photographers both need to familiarise themselves with the basic of composition (or image design). Excellent images capture a visual concept and connect with the visual sensibilities of the viewer. Taking good photos is a craft that takes considerable time and devotion to perfect.

Bush Dinners

Dine under the stars in the middle of the Serengeti. Many safari lodges and camps in Tanzania offer opportunities for bush dinners — often on another secluded spot, a multi-course meal under lantern light, with the sounds of hyena calls echoing in the distance, and the rustling of nocturnal creatures in the undergrowth. Bush dinners are often set in idyllic spots, such as on a hilltop overlooking the plains or beside a quiet waterhole. It’s an intimate, exclusive setting that adds to the magic of a Serengeti evening. What better way to create memories with your loved ones, or fellow travellers, than to enjoy a romantic dinner in the middle of the Serengeti?

Luxury Safari Lodges in Tanzania Serengeti

The Serengeti has an abundance of luxury lodges if you want to experience the pinnacle of style and comfort on your Tanzania safari. This option typically offers world-class amenities, like the more refined hotels with spacious rooms or suites, gourmet dining, stunning views, private plunge pools, massage or other spa treatments, and fine wines and cocktails. Some of the popular luxury lodges are Singita Sasakwa Lodge, with its colonial-style architecture and superior views; Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, offering a multitude of five-star amenities and activities; and the luxury safari tent camps of &Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas, following the movement of the Great Wildebeest Migration.

Tented Camps

An alternate way to experience the naturalness of Tanzania’s safari experience is a ‘tented camp’. Although not camping in the normal sense of the word, tented camps can offer the intimacy and immersion in nature that lodge life sometimes misses. Unlike a lodge, you cannot simply walk into a tented camp. You need to drive to your destination and then walk several hundred metres to your ‘canvas home’ for the next few days. Tented camps range from the ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping) experience such as Sayari Camp with its elegant, large and comfortable tents with private verandas that overlook the northern Serengeti, to the more rustic Olakira Migration Camp, which follows the migration to change it location each season, thereby keeping up with the wildlife. The sound of the African night or the dawn chorus of a summer’s morning, together with the scent of wild flowers, are the essence of outdoors life, and camping lifts holiday making to a higher level.

Mobile Camps

Mobile camps are a great option if you want to follow the Great Wildebeest Migration across the Serengeti. These small camps are set up in prime spots along the migration route, and as the herds move on throughout the year, so do the mobile camps to find the best wildlife viewing opportunities and locations of recent game movements. Examples of mobile camps include Serengeti Safari Camp, an authentic, back-to-basics safari camp, and Ubuntu Migration Camp, which is run by the same company and combines the style of a mobile camp with the comfort of a luxury lodge. If your tour of Tanzania includes staying in a mobile camp, you’ll be moving from camp to camp across the Serengeti plains, remaining with the herds and having the amazing privilege of being part of the spectacle and drama of the Great Wildebeest Migration.

Budget-Friendly Options

While there are certainly luxury lodges in the Serengeti, there are a number of alternative choices for budget travellers that don’t cost as much as your holiday budget. Public campsites run by the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) have two options: first, designated camping sites that have some facilities with toilets and showers (though usually just a couple of cold water showers – no hot running water unfortunately), and a sheltered area with a table and benches where a fire can be lit to cook and eat, as well as a fire pit to keep yourself warm at night (although the mind-boggling stars of the Serengeti are sure to distract you from the chill!); and second, freely chosen spots in open areas – in which case you’ll have to bring your own drinking water and dispose of waste responsibly. There are also basic tented camps where you’ll be housed in a canvas tent – often lined with netting for good reason – with eight tents spread out over a sizable area, complete with a communal toilet and shower block. The facilities here are more extensive, but it remains a basic, comfortable option for those that don’t want some of the amenities of five-star lodges, such as a swimming pool!

Best Time To Visit Serengeti National Park Tanzania

June to October (Dry Season)

The warm but dry season from June to October is the busiest time for safaris in the Tanzania Serengeti, and for good reason. Temperatures average about 25°C (77°F) during the day, and a cool 15°C (59°F), at night. In addition, it’s the driest time of the year and the sparse vegetation makes it much easier to see animals as they congregate around the few remaining water sources like the Seronera River and the many waterholes found throughout the park. This is also the time when the Great Wildebeest Migration typically reaches the northern Serengeti and crosses the Mara River into Kenya, often in staggering numbers as the herd surges across crocodile-infested waters. The benefits of wildlife viewing in the dry season are considerable, but it’s also the most crowded time of the year, so be sure to book your Tanzania tour ahead for a more stress-free experience.

December to March (Calving Season)

The calving season from December to March sees thousands of wildebeest calves being born in the south of the Serengeti, so Southern Tanzania tours will have access to some of the best wild animal action of the year. During this time the herds will cluster on the relatively fertile grasses of the southern plains where the majority of the calf-birth will happen. Thousands upon thousands of females will birth their calves in a coordinated event, with research showing that as many as 8,000 can be born on any given day at the height of the calving season. The flood of newborns becomes a bonanza for all the predator-species: lions, cheetahs and hyenas, with the result being some fantastic wildlife encounters, and many dramatic predator-prey ‘battles’. Lightening displays, caused by the afternoon storms, also feature in the spectacle of the Calving Season in the south, with the promise of sensational sunsets occurring almost daily. Although at the height of the calving season the southern Serengeti tends to be swamped in rain, the easy dirt roads means that most 4×4 drives are not hindered by the mud. Therefore, adventurers booking Tanzania tours might want to get in touch with their guides and find out exactly when this magnificent display of wildebeest life is happening, as viewing such a spectacle is more than worth waiting to encounter. There might be a splash of water, and perhaps a little dip in the mud, but it’s all part of the deal when booking Tanzania tours to experience the period where solar power is at its highest point in the year.

April to May (Wet Season)

April and May are the rainiest months in the Serengeti, and the beginning of the wet season hits hard. Inflamed by the grasses and resuscitated by a wash of rain, the once dry, golden park erupts into green. It can be disconcerting going from a mostly dusty dry season to one brought on by pintown showers. But the wet season has its benefits in the Serengeti. For starters, flora go beserk with wildflowers carpeting the plains and trees budding with new leaves. Add in more dispersed wildlife meaning more intimate and secluded wildlife encounters, and birdwatchers are in seventh heaven as spring brings in migratory birds to the Serengeti for breeding. With fewer visitors during the wet season, you are likely to have some of the Serengeti’s greatest hits basically to yourself.