Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park sprawls within the endless plains of Tanzania and incredibly one of the famous game sanctuaries in the world. It is set between Mara and Simiyu regions, and given its strategic location, it is popular for its annual wildebeest migration. Serengeti National Park became a national park in 1951 making it one of the oldest national parks in Africa. In 1979, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sits in an area of about 15000sq.kms. The Serengeti Ecosystem is composed of lakes, woodlands, grassland plains of Ndutu in southern Serengeti and covers some parts of the northern verdant river expanse and the Masai National Reserve.

Wildlife species in Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park hosts huge concentration of wildlife species that sprawl within its diverse habitats which range from the grassland plains, savanna grassland and riverine forest to woodlands. The popular wildlife species to look out for while on Tanzania safari in Serengeti National Park include wildebeests, impalas, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, gazelles, zebras, hartebeests, topis, water bucks, buffaloes, the Nile crocodiles, hippos, patas monkeys, martial eagles African bush elephants, dik-dik, aardwolf, bat eared fox, crested porcupine, aardvark and giraffes. Serengeti National Park also hosts other reptile species like the leopard tortoise, serrated hinged terrapin, rainbow agama, Nile monitor, chameleons, African python, black mamba, black necked spitting cobra, puff adder.

A herd of elephants in the morning in Serengeti National Park as well as the migration of ungulates, the park is well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife, particularly the “big five”, named for the five most prized trophies taken by hunters:
Lion: the Serengeti is believed to hold the largest population of lions in Africa due in part to the abundance of prey species. More than 3,000 lions live in this ecosystem.
African Leopard: these reclusive predators are commonly seen in the Seronera region but are present throughout the national park with the population at around 1,000.
African Elephant: the herds are recovering from population lows in the 1980s caused by poaching and are largely located in the northern regions of the park.
Black Rhinoceros: mainly found around the kopjes in the centre of the park, very few individuals remain due to rampant poaching. Individuals from the Masai Mara Reserve cross the park border and enter Serengeti from the northern section at times.
African Buffalo: still abundant and present in healthy numbers.
The park also supports many other species, including cheetah, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyena, baboon, impala, African wild dog, and giraffe. The park also boasts about 500 bird species, including ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, crowned crane, marabou stork, martial eagle, lovebirds, and many species of vultures.

Birdlife in Serengeti National Park

More than 500 bird species are confined within Serengeti National Park and they include among others Kori bustard, crowned cranes, secretary bird, Masai ostrich, helmeted guinea fowls, southern ground hornbill, yellow billed stork, lesser flamingo, martial eagle. Purple grenadier, grey breasted spur fowl, grey headed sparrow, red capped robin chat, black headed heron, yellow throated sandgrouse, variable sunbird, secretary birds, white crowned shrike, red backed scrub, Decken took Tockus, D’Arnaud’s barbets as well as several migratory bird species which confine in this pristine national park from November to April.

The Serengeti National Park is a Tanzanian national park in the Serengeti ecosystem in the Mara and Simiyu regions. It is famous for its annual migration of over 1.5 million white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250,000 zebra and for its numerous Nile crocodile.
A million wildebeest… each one driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling its instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life: a frenzied three-week bout of territorial conquests and mating; survival of the fittest as 40km (25 mile) long columns plunge through crocodile-infested waters on the annual exodus north; replenishing the species in a brief population explosion that produces more than 8,000 calves daily before the 1,000 km (600 mile) pilgrimage begins again.

Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park, also a world heritage site and recently proclaimed a 7th world wide wonder, the Serengeti is famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing.

Yet even when the migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.

The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat.

But there is more to Serengeti than large mammals. Gaudy agama lizards and rock hyraxes scuffle around the surfaces of the park’s isolated granite koppies. A full 100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500-plus bird species, ranging from the outsized ostrich and bizarre secretary bird of the open grassland, to the black eagles that soar effortlessly above the Lobo Hills.

As enduring as the game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that characterises the Serengeti Plains, stretching across sunburnt savannah to a shimmering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains, this golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds, rivers lined with fig trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust.
Popular the Serengeti might be, but it remains so vast that you may be the only human audience when a pride of lions masterminds a siege, focussed unswerving on its next meal.

About Serengeti 
Size: 14,763 sq km (5,700 sq miles).
Location: 335km (208 miles) from Arusha, stretching north to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west.

Getting there
Scheduled and charter flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara and Mwanza.
Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.

What to do
Hot air balloon safaris, walking safari, picnicking, game drives, bush lunch/dinner can be arranged with hotels/tour operators.  Maasai rock paintings and musical rocks.
Visit neighboring Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron’s flamingos.

When to go
To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July. To see predators, June-October.

Getting to  Serengeti.

One of Africa’s most famous safari sites, the Serengeti National Park, is reached by flying to Tanzania and then finding your way to the park’s several entrance gates. Here are the main approaches to the Serengeti:


By  Air:

Aircraft operating to Seronera Airstrip:

The Serengeti’s central Seronera Airstrip is reached by flight from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport by many tourists.

Scheduled flights from Tanzanian main cities and airports to Seronera Airstrip are operated by domestic airlines including Coastal Aviation, Auric Air, and Regional Air.

Depending on your intended itinerary and lodging, other Serengeti airstrips include Kogatende Airstrip (in the northern Serengeti) and Ndutu Airstrip (in the southern Serengeti).

By Road:

From  Arusha:

The most often used overland route to the Serengeti starts in the town of Arusha. Depending on traffic and the particular entrance gate you’re going to, the Serengeti can be reached in 6 to 8 hours from Arusha.

The principal gateways into the Serengeti are Klein’s Gate (from northeast), Seronera Gate (from south), and Naabi Hill Gate (from east). Each gate gives entry to a distinct section of the park.

Safari Tours with Guides

Numerous tourists opt to reserve guided safari excursions or packages that cover lodging, food, and safari activities in addition to transportation to and from the Serengeti.

Tanzania’s safari firms and tour operators give a range of trip choices, from luxury to affordable, together with informed guides who share their expertise of the Serengeti’s ecosystems and species.

Self drive

The Serengeti can be reached by self-driving from Arusha or other Tanzanian cities for daring tourists who like flexibility and independence.

But, you really need a reliable 4WD car in Tanzania because some of the park’s roads may be difficult and unforgiving, particularly in the wet season.

Self-drive safaris call for meticulous preparation, which includes getting park permits, using navigational aids, and being familiar with driving in wildlife habitats.

Public  Transport

Tanzanian main cities and towns are connected by public buses and minibusses (dala-dalas), including Arusha and Mwanza, the closest big city to the western edge of the Serengeti.

You may arrange for a rental car to take you to the Serengeti from Mwanza or other neighboring towns.

The first step to an amazing safari experience in one of Africa’s most famous wildlife areas is getting to the Serengeti, no matter how you choose to go. For a hassle-free and pleasurable trip, make sure you arrange your lodging and transportation well in advance.

Four lodges, six luxury tented camps and camp sites scattered through the park; one new lodge will be opened next season (Bilila Lodge); one luxury camp, a lodge and two tented camps just outside.