Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park in northwest Tanzania is about the size of Connecticut. Its southern region is a 5-hour drive from Arusha. The word “Serengeti,” derives from the Maasai term meaning “endless plain.” The Serengeti has a wide variety of accommodations ranging from large hotels to small luxury lodges, romantic tented camps to exclusive safari lodges, private villas, no-frills safari camps, and mobile campsites.
Wildlife and Natural Highlights
The Serengeti is home to the Big Five (rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard) plus various other species of mammals, cheetahs, and impalas. The Great Migration animals include the wildebeest, zebras, and antelopes. Where the Serengeti plains and woodlands meet in the Central Serengeti region there is a diverse mixture of species and predatory animals including hyenas, hippos, and crocodiles.
The Seronera River, also in the central region, is the habitat of the famous tree lion and leopards, and lion prides. There are four hundred species of birds, millions of flamingos, and primates such as baboons, vervet monkeys, and the blue and red monkeys. All of these animals have their own natural predators and prey whose natural habitat is the Serengeti.
Serengeti High Seasons
The Serengeti is inviting to visitors all year long. Even during its short rainy season (November-December) and long rainy season (March-May), it provides the opportunity to see spectacular views of the Big Five and the annual Great Migration. Throughout the year, visitors will enjoy vast majestic scenic landscapes and the tribal peoples who consider the Serengeti their home.
In the southern Serengeti region, visitors can explore the endless Serengeti Plain watching the calving of the wildebeest, visit Olduvai Gorge: archaeological site of Louis and Mary Leakey, see the Moru Kopjes famous for the endangered black rhino and Maasai rock paintings. In the western region, Lake Victoria invites exploration and fishing.
One of the greatest natural spectacles on earth occurs in the western Serengeti June-July when the Great Migration crosses the Grumeti and Kiawire Rivers that are filled with hungry crocodiles as the migration follows its northern to the northwestern course. From the northern highlands of the Serengeti, guests will see the famous Mara River and its huge crocodiles.
The Great Migration Cycle.
October – December
The migration is making its way from the Maasai Mara in the northern Serengeti region to southern Serengeti along its eastern border formed by the Great Rift Valley escarpment to begin its calving season. Once the herd arrives in the southwestern Serengeti,“calving season” begins when the wildebeest give birth to a quarter million newborns during a three week period. It is a great time to see the drama of the hunt, as predatory animals seek their babies. The short rains occur from November-December. Kusini Camp is on the wildebeest migration path where they congregate on Kusini’s grassy plains during calving season.
The southern Serengeti has specific areas that provide exceptional views of the Great Migration such as the Moru Kopjes where the rare black rhino migrate this time of year and see Maasai rock paintings. It is also an exceptional location for viewing cheetahs as is Gol Kopjes where fresh green grasses attract cheetahs. Lake Ndutu, one of the Rift Valley’s soda lakes, attracts flamingos that nest in its waters. It also has stunning acacia woodlands where a variety of animal species hunt within this eco-system.
January – March
At the end of the short rainy season, the Great Migration heads to the northwest and central Serengeti as they seek new water sources. During this period, the quarter million newborns begin the first mass migration of their lives. As the short rains have ended, they can move more easily on the dry plain.
April – May
This period includes the long heavy rainy season when many camps are closed in the southwestern and central Serengeti. In the central Serengeti, the Great Migration must defend itself against the large pride of lions, leopards, and cheetahs located in this area.
June – July
The Great Migration of about 1.8 million wildebeest is joined by around 800,000 zebras along with antelopes in the western Serengeti region. This is one of the most exciting and breathtaking times to view the Great Migration, as the massive herd of animals attempts to cross the Grumeti River that is filled with hungry crocodiles.
As the baby wildebeest and zebras are still young, they make easy prey for the huge crocodiles that waiting in the Grumeti River’s turbulent rushing waters. Many animals drown as they cross the Grumeti, getting pulled downstream by rushing currents heading westward towards Lake Victoria.
August – September
During these months, the migration has made its way to the northwestern region of the Serengeti located in southwestern Kenya called the “Maasai Mara.” It is an amazingly beautiful sight at to see the migration cross the famous Mara River.
Game drives, crater climbs, bicycling, hikes, photographic safaris, waterfalls, and cultural visits can take place at various locations throughout Serengeti National Park. Visitors interested in the birthplace of humanity can visit the archeological site at Olduvai Gorge.