Serengeti is a Maasai word meaning endless plain. Its vast rolling savanna appear to stretch out past the horizon. So too, the immense herds of wildebeests, marching by the millions in their great migration – the largest movement of animals on the planet.
This is Africa at its most epic. Lions? Over 3,000. More than any other park on earth. Over two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle astonish visitors with their vast exodus parading the ancient cycles of nature. The rivers here are filled with crocodiles and hippos while overhead 500 species of birdlife take wing.
Chances are when you picture Africa, images of the great Serengeti are what come to mind – the immense sweep of grasslands, populated by the vast herds of elephant (5,000), hyena (4,000), plus jackal, wolf, wild dog, honey badger and seven species of mongoose.
On these infinite golden plains, you can spot all the “Big Five” including buffalo (53,000) and black rhino. And the Serengeti’s forests are home to several species of baboon and monkey.
The park is so singularly spectacular that it has been named one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of Africa” and one of the “Ten Natural Travel Wonders of the World”. It has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it is perhaps the name “Serengeti”, from the Maasai phrase “siringet” or “endless plains”, that best describes the feeling of awe as one takes in Tanzania’s oldest and most popular park.
Though most imagine the plains as the Serengeti, this immense reserve is actually divided into three eco-regions.
The Serengeti plains: These are the great treeless expanses of grassland in the south which most think of as typifying the park. Here the wildebeest breed from roughly December to May. You’ll find other hoofed animals here like zebra, gazelle, impala, hartebeest, buffalo and waterbuck.
Western Corridor: This area is mostly known for the Grumeti River and its surrounding forests, where crocodiles, monkeys, hippos and eagles dwell.
The Northern Serengeti: This area is primarily open woodlands and hills. Though not heavily visited, this region is a good environment to spot elephant and giraffe.
The vast Serengeti ecosystem is one of the planet’s oldest, its vegetation and wildlife are little different than they appeared a million years ago.
The area is a prehistoric cradle for mankind as well. Early man inhabited the nearby Olduvai Gorge about 2 million years ago. Signs of early tool making, and other artifacts have been found here.
Like everything else here, Serengeti Park is immense at 14,763 sq. km (5,700 sq. mi).
The park lies in northwest Tanzania, 335 km (208 mi) from Arusha and extends north to Kenya, bordering Lake Victoria to the west.
It can rain often but not for very long. The average minimum temperate is 16°C/61°F and maximum is 26°C/79°F.
There’s lots to see in the park, so it depends on your interests. The best time to see the migration is December through July. To view the predators, visit June through October. You may want to avoid the heavy rainfall in April and May. There’s so much to see and do in the Serengeti we recommend a 3 or 4-day safari here.
By road – you can book a tour with Wild Streamer Safaris. Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara or Ngorongoro Crater
By air – fly in safaris can land at several regional airstrips. The closest is Seronera. There are also 3 international airports at Mwanza, Arusha and Kilimanjaro.
You’ll find everything here from basic campsites to top end luxury lodges and even mobile camps that follow the migration.
The Great Migration – This is without a doubt the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth. The sight of innumerable wildebeest and zebra marching in columns 40 km (25 mi) long is unforgettable. You can also witness the early life cycle of the wildebeests in February when more than 8,000 wildebeest calves are born every day.