Serengeti National Park
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The Serengeti National Park is the ultimate safari destination, with more wildlife here than anywhere else in the world. A safari in the Serengeti is one of Africa’s best-known holidays, famous in particular for the abundance of big cats who are found here. If you want to see lion or cheetah in action, this is the place to come. For many, the wildebeest migration of the Serengeti is the main attraction, as well as seeing the Big Five. With a variety of authentic luxury lodges and tented safari camps to stay in, a trip to the Serengeti is a must on a Tanzania safari holiday.
About the Serengeti National Park
Situated in the heart of the larger Serengeti ecosystem that also includes the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti is the largest national park in Tanzania at over 14,750 km². The name Serengeti translates to ‘endless plains‘ - a reference to the vast African savannahs that extend into the horizon. The park’s acacia-dotted grasslands, rocky kopjes and winding rivers are home to one of Africa’s highest concentrations of wildlife.
Serengeti Wildlife Safaris
The Serengeti is one of East Africa’s best Big Five safari parks, as well as having the highest cheetah and lion populations on the continent. Sightings are common, and you’re more likely to see big cats here than anywhere else. Other predators in the Serengeti include thousands of hyena and a healthy population of wild dogs, which are not often seen in many other parks in Africa. The rich grasslands of the Serengeti support a wealth of grazers too, and there are two million wildebeest here for most of the year. Other possible sightings on a tailor-made Serengeti safari holiday include elephants, white rhino, giraffe, buffalo and a variety of antelope species. An estimated 200 black rhinos are present but sightings are rare.
The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is an important conservation area for birds, with recorded species here exceeding 500. There are a number of endemic and near-endemic varieties including Fischer’s lovebird, the Usambiro barbet and the Rufous-tailed weaver, as well as more common birds such as raptors and vultures.
Game drives in 4×4s are the typical way to spend a day on safari in the Serengeti, and as there is so much to see and a whole lot of land to cover, this is the most efficient and rewarding way to explore the park. Some camps offer options for walking safaris in the Serengeti, for those who want to stretch their legs and enjoy a change of pace. Hot air balloon rides in the Serengeti are popular too, often departing early in the morning to take in the dawn breaking over the plains far below. A truly unforgettable experience.
The Great Migration in the Serengeti
One of the highlights of any bespoke Tanzania safari holiday is witnessing the Great Migration herds flooding the plains as far as the eye can see, and that happens right here in the Serengeti. Over a million wildebeest and other grazers arrive here in search of greener pastures, as part of the annual migration cycle that occurs in both Tanzania and Kenya.
Although the migration occurs year-round there is a seasonal element which must be considered when planning your luxury Serengeti safari. Take a look at our Tanzania Great Migration guide to find out more.
Best Places to Stay in the Serengeti
There is a variety of Serengeti safari camps and lodges to choose from depending on the experience you are looking for. Some of the camps are known as Serengeti mobile safari camps, moving regularly in order to stay in close proximity to the migration herds. Usually, these mobile camps have two or three different locations pre-reserved and ready for their arrival at the start of each season. The experience in a mobile tented Serengeti safari camp is more of an ‘authentic’ African bush experience. Although they can still provide an element of luxury, there is a greater sense of being on an adventure in the wild.
This experience can also be achieved in varying degrees by some of the Serengeti’s permanent camps. These camps remain in the same area throughout the year, but because the Serengeti has such a high concentration of wildlife there is always lots to see at any time of year. The migration can be experienced from a permanent camp in the Serengeti with a well-planned itinerary.
Serengeti safari lodges are also available, although most visitors opt for camp-style accommodation. There is a selection to choose from which varies between luxury Serengeti lodges to more budget options.
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Best Time to Visit the Serengeti
The Serengeti National Park is a good year-round safari destination. Different parts of the park are better than others depending on the time of year you visit. Between the months of June and October, the Serengeti usually experiences its dry season when vegetation is thinner and wildlife is easier to spot. Animals also tend to congregate around water as it becomes scarce, making their location easier to predict. This is a great time for a family safari in the Serengeti to coincide with school holidays.
Historically the migration herds travel north into Kenya’s Masai Mara from mid-July to early October. Game viewing in Tanzania at this time is still exceptional but seeing the herds of the migration is less likely. Rainfall affects the migration patterns of the herd and so their location can never be guaranteed.
During April and May Tanzania experiences its wet season known as the ‘long rains’. During this period heavy rain can make parts of the park difficult to navigate in a 4×4. Game viewing is still good in the Serengeti in these months but there is a greater chance of wet conditions disrupting your game drives.