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Serengeti National Park Safari Guide

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Stewart Edward White, a hunter from America, set out in the year 1913 pushing south from Nairobi in search of vast open expanses and African wildlife, and that’s when he discovered paradise on earth – the Serengeti. The Maasai called it ‘Siringitu’, the place where the land always keeps moving, and used it to graze their cattle for millennia.

Home to the wildebeest migration, the most stunning wildlife adventure in the world. 

The Serengeti National Park encompasses two UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves within its boundaries. The ecosystem present here ranks among the oldest on planet earth, and the flora and fauna of the Serengeti have remained unchanged for millions of years. With traces of humans dating back 2 million years to the time of the Early Man, it is easy to understand just how ancient the Serengeti really is.

The last 'great' safari of Africa. 

Its fame attracted countless movie personalities, celebrities, poets, artists, writers, storytellers, directors and film crews over the years. The likes of Hugo von Lawick, Peter Mattheissen and Alan Root have entered its boundaries, but its most popular visitor was one Ernest Hemingway, one of the biggest patrons of African tourism and the man responsible for romanticizing Serengeti safaris around the world.

Serengeti Safari Ratings

Annual Visitors: 90,000
Size: 13,250 sq. kms.
Altitude: 3,737 feet to 7,133 feet 
Location: 335 kms. (208 miles) from Arusha
Commonly Visited: Lake Manyara NP, Ngorongoro Crater
Wildlife Rating:          
Scenery Rating:         
Bush Vibe:          
Balloon safari in the Serengeti National Park
Balloon safaris in the Serengeti

Pros and Cons of a Serengeti Safari

Pros:

  • Home to the Great Migration.
  • Best national parks for animal sightings, irrespective of the time of the year.
  • The Serengeti plains offer an authentic African feel.
  • Hot air balloon safaris present the Serengeti in an entirely new light.
  • Presence of luxury lodges catering to mid-range and luxury travelers.

Cons:

  • Seronera area gets very crowded between the months of June – July and October – April.

Birds and Animals of the Serengeti

Wild animals in a national park

The most obvious charm of the Serengeti National Park is its Great Migration phenomenon. While the park is home to a number of animals, watching hundreds and thousands of wildebeests, gazelle and zebras make their way through the park in search of greener pastures and give birth to off-springs along the way is a sight for sore eyes.

Being surrounded by millions of animals is a moment you'll never forget. 

Serengeti safaris offer excellent wildlife viewing opportunities outside the Great Migration as well. It is home to the elusive black rhino, kongoni, giraffe, elephant, eland, topi, buffalo, big cats and 500 species of birds, including five species that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.

Common Animal Sightings

Herd of African buffaloes
A herd of African buffaloes in open grassland habitat in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Hippopotamus with its mouth wide open
A hippopotamus opens its gigantic mouth in a watering hole in the Serengeti National Park
Two Giraffes walking in the Serengeti National Park
Two Giraffes grazing in the grassland of Serengeti
Elephant family grazing on the tall grasses of the Savannah
Elephant family walking in the plain lands of Serengeti National Park
Lion resting on the rock in Serengeti
A male lion lying on the rocks in Serengeti National Park
Cheetah hunting in the Savannah
A Cheetah chasing its prey in the Savannah of Serengeti

Common Bird Sightings

Black headed Gonolek
A Black headed Gonolek in the Serengeti National Park
Fischer's Lovebirds
A flock of Fischer's lovebirds in Tanzania
Grey breasted Spurfowl
A family of grey-breasted Spurfowl walking in the Savannah of Serengeti
Southern Ground Hornbill
Close up view on a male Southern Ground Hornbill
Little spotted Woodpecker
A little spotted woodpecker on a tree stump
Usambiro Barbet
Usambiro Barbet in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Things to Do in Serengeti National Park

The wildebeest migration is a big reason to visit the Serengeti, but ‘the land that keeps moving’ makes sure you aren’t simply stuck in the back of your land cruiser. It presents vast and varied experiences, including sweeping you off your feet (literally) for some mesmerizing sights and scenes from the air.

View of a national park in Africa
Sightseeing
Serengeti migration
Great Migration
Game drive in a safari
Game Drive
Hot air balloon safari
Hot Air Balloon
Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge
Air charter safaris
Air Charter

Click here to find out more on the top things to do in Serengeti National Park.

Regions of Serengeti

The Serengeti is spread across 5600 miles of land, covering a significant portion of Tanzania. This is the stage for what Sir David Attenborough called the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’.

Most people associate the Serengeti with the wildebeest migration. However, the Serengeti is much more than that. It is a combination of diverse biomes and ecosystems, all of which co-exist in various regions within the Serengeti. 

Want to make the most out of your trip?

You need to know what regions you should be in, to see exactly what you want to see. Here are the various regions of the Serengeti, and what you can find there. 

Lion in Serengeti National Park

Central Serengeti- Seronera

This is where you get to see animals dance to the tune of the wild. 

The Seronera is an all-year destination. It’s a diverse geographical location- with grasslands, to river valleys, to acacia forests, this area has it all. Due to the diverse ecosystems, you can spot a wide variety of animals here as well.

This is the best spot for aerial views of the Serengeti- so take a hot air balloon from here, and do take the day and night safaris to get the most out of this river valley.

Pink flamingo in Serengeti
Pink flamingo

Southern Serengeti

This will be your first glimpse of the rolling plains the Serengeti is so popular for. This area is filled with open plains with short grass, making it perfect for game viewing. You can spot wildebeests, gazelles, elephants, zebras, lions, and cheetahs with ease. You can also spot pink flamingos at the alkaline Lake Ndutu.

If you want to see the Migration, visit the southern part between January- March.

Western Corridor

The Western Corridor is filled with hilly regions, and acacia forests. This rough terrain is where the wildebeests head to around May- July, after the monsoon. 

Countless wildlife documentaries have been filmed here- especially in the Grumeti River, where the wildebeests cross the river, fending off attacks from the crocodiles who have come prepared for a feast.

Serengeti migration
Great Migration river crossing

Northern Serengeti

The landscape of the Serengeti becomes more treacherous in the north- with lots of rivers and steep banks, forests, and rocky hills. This is the last reach of the Serengeti, before the Maasai Mara begins across from the Mara River.

This is another spot where the wildebeests will cross the river, followed by crocodiles, before entering Kenya. The best time for you to visit this region is between August-September. There are lots of beautiful camps around this region- so you can watch the action up-close, without compromising on your luxury!

Eastern Sector

The Eastern Sector comprises of the Loliondo Controlled Area, which is a unique region with plains, rocky outgrowths, and massive rivers. This is where the wildebeests re-enter the Serengeti, back from the Maasai Mara.

This massive 10,000 hectare region has a significant Maasai population, and is home to countless leopards, cheetahs, and lions as well.

Olduvai Gorge
Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai Gorge

Most travelers approach the Serengeti from the south, at Arusha, so the first region they will enter is the Olduvai Gorge, near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Here, you can spot the footprints of our ancestors from over 3 million years ago, and countless fossils of ancient elephants as well.

Accommodation at the Serengeti National Park

There is no shortage of hotels and lodges in the Serengeti, and you're sure to find something that not only fits your budget, but also feels like that dream safari accommodation you've always wanted. From over-the-top safari lodges and stunning private villas, these are some of the best hotels and lodges in the Serengeti.

Asilia Sayari Camp
An interior view of Sayari Camp
Asanja Africa Camp will be magical and intimate any time of year
Asanja Africa bar and lounge area
One Nature Nyaruswiga
Luxury family tent in One Nature Nyaruswiga Serengeti
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti
Two-bedroom villa at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti
Kirawira Serena Camp
Exquisite Kirawira Serena tented camp
Serengeti Central Camp
The layout of the guest tents at the Serengeti Acacia Camps

Click here to find out more where to stay when visiting the Serengeti National Park.

Best Time to Visit Serengeti National Park

The altitude ranges from 920 meters to 1850 meters, and this means that the temperature usually varies between 15 – 25 degrees C. The Serengeti climate is dry, but rainfall takes place in two pockets – the shorter season of October and November and the longer season of March to May.

 Bookmundi recommends you to embark on Serengeti safaris in time for the wildebeest migration which takes place between June – July (river crossing) and January – February (birthing of calves).

Getting There

Most Serengeti safaris start in Arusha. To get to Arusha, you can fly into the Kilimanjaro International Airport or the Arusha Airport. Kilimanjaro International Airport usually offers the best international connections.

Traveling from Arusha to Serengeti can be done by air or by road. You can get small charter planes to drop you at one of the various airstrips located in different parts of the park.  

The drive from Arusha to Serengeti is about 325 kms. / 202 miles and it takes roughly 8 hours to get there. The road can be unforgiving, but you’re always treated to spectacular scenery and wildlife.

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