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Perhaps the most famous park on the continent, the Serengeti is 13,200 square kilometres & home to the world-famous great wildebeest migration, a wildlife phenomenon second to none. Unknown to many, the migration of around 2.5 million wildebeest and zebra occurs year-round in Tanzania in a clock-wise circular motion covering an 800 kilometre route. With the world’s largest migrating herds enjoying the best grazing grounds, this also brings the largest concentrations of predators on the planet. The landscape of endless plains is typical of what we have come to expect on an African safari and this park does not disappoint. It gets busy due to its popularity but there are still places where one can visit without sharing with the crowds and, after almost 30 years on the ground in Tanzania, we know just those places.
Whilst the main reason for many to visit Serengeti is for the migration, a safari away from the herds and hoards can be special too. The migration itself consists of around 2.5 million wildebeest & 300,000 zebra as well as thousands of smaller antelope like gazelle and impala all on the move together looking for the sweetest grasses. With this abundance of food roaming the plains, the predators are never far behind with approximately 4000 lion and huge numbers of cheetah, leopard and Hyena following the herds. You can also see 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. Phenomenal.
Safaris here are almost exclusively by game drive vehicle usually in stretch Toyota Landcruisers or Land Rover Defenders with pop top roofs. However, some camps have open game drive cars for shorter safaris taken from the camps which are superb for photographic safaris.
If you are looking to treat yourself, you might opt to do a balloon safari over the Serengeti plains as part of your tour.
This park is a great year-round safari destination and to focus simply on the great migration would not do it justice. Even without this, the Serengeti would be a strong contender for the best wildlife park in Africa with enormous numbers of grazers, large elephant herds, fantastic lion prides, leopards and cheetah viewed from a selection of the very best safari accommodation. July through October is the best time to witness the drama of the great migration in the far north of the park as they spend these months crossing back and forth on the Mara river that borders Kenya dodging enormous Nile crocs that lie in wait just feasting for months every year. February is a great time to see the herds congregate for the calving season.
The time to avoid is the rainy season of April & May. The rest of the year is great but maybe avoid the month of November through early December if you are hoping to witness the migration when the herds are on the move from north to south.
From June through to mid-July the migration is usually in, what is known as the western corridor along the fabulous Grumeti river. This area however is great year- round with less people out of the migration season but still full of wildlife.
From December, the herds are in the south east of Serengeti, known as Kusini where they will munch on fresh grass for several months up to March. This is the calving season and a wonderful time to see young.
The Serengeti is vast and can be broken down into many sub-areas. We have chosen to concentrate on the three areas mentioned previously based on our knowledge of the migration as well as the central region of Seronera. Whilst incredibly busy with tourists year-round, Seronera does have some great wildlife and is particularly known for its lion prides. Visitors to the park will invariably pass through Seronera by car on their way to the Ngorongoro crater as well as other parks beyond the eastern Serengeti gate.
It is easy to get wrapped up in the pursuit of the migration herds and their attendant predators. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that areas such as the western corridor along the Grumeti river is a great wildlife area year round whether or not the migration is there or not. It often pays to do that to get away from the cars lined up and waiting for a river crossing.
There are daily schedule flights from Arusha into the Serengeti. Alternatively, you can be met by a game drive car and driver guide at Mwanza airport or Kilimanjaro airport and your tour can start here. If you are flying in and out of Dar es Salaam, that works too as you can simply connect to a flight north to Mwanza and be met there to start your tour.
Most visitors to Serengeti start there tour either West at Mwanza airport or East at Kilimanjaro airport and then their tour to Serengeti starts there with other parks in between. Most people combine a visit to Serengeti with Ngorongoro too.