Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park is the oldest and most famous protected area located in the northern part of Tanzania. The park is known for its great wildebeest migration and harboring abundant wild animals including lions, elephants, giraffes, cheetah, bird species among others. Serengeti national park can be divided into three regions which are Serengeti plains, western corridor, and northern Serengeti. Serengeti national park was established in 1952 and covers a total area of 14,763 square kilometers which is comprised of grasslands, savannah shrubs, acacia trees, woodlands, riverine forests among others. Serengeti national park is bordered by the Ngorongoro conservation area to the southeast, Maswa game reserve in the southwest, Loliondo game control area in the east, Ikorongo and Grumeti game reserve in the west. The park extends to the southern part of Kenya where it’s called Maasai Mara national park. The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai word Siringeti which means an endless plain where the Masai people used to graze their cattle. Serengeti National Park was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981due to its high concentrations of animals and having the biggest wildebeest migration
Attractions in Serengeti national park
Wildlife, Serengeti national park is a home of abundant wildlife species including elands, klipspringer, impala, zebra, gazelles, dik dik, waterbucks, bushbucks, roan antelopes, topi, reed bucks, oribi, bush duiker, buffaloes, elephants, lions, leopards, cheetah, hyenas, bat eared fox, jackal, hunting dogs, warthogs, hyraxes, mongoose, porcupines, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, primates like baboons, patas monkeys, vervet monkeys among others.
Birds, Serengeti national park is a home of over 500 bird species including migratory and endemic species which are only found in the park such as Fischer’s lovebird, grey breasted spurfowl, rufous tailed weaver and other birds like black headed gonolek, green backed woodpecker, grey backed fiscal, red capped robin chat, silver bird, usambiro barbet, grey crested helmet shrike, yellow throated sandgrouse among others.
Wildebeest migration, this is an annual movement of wildebeest, zebras and other animals across the Serengeti- Mara ecosystem from the Serengeti short grass plains of the southeastern Serengeti. The wildebeest take advantage of spending the wet season on the southeastern plains of Serengeti and the dry season in the woodlands of northern Serengeti. The migration is never the same in terms of timing and direction in that as the local conditions influence grass growth they may move off the open plains earlier and remain in the northern woodlands longer in other years. The wildebeest give birth between January and March on short grass plains which make it the best time for calving.
Kopjes, the kopjes are granite and gneiss rock formations in the park, they are a result of cracking and erosion from being exposed to the sun, wind and rain. They are of great importance to wildlife in the park in that they provide shelter and water for animals especially during the dry season. There are various groups of kopjes in different parts of the park such as Barafu, Gol, Maasai, Loliondo, Wogakurya, Simba and Moru kopjes. The Moru kopjes are the most visited and outstanding kopjes due to their size and give you great views of different wildlife species such as lions, leopards, serval, rhinos, elephants, rock pythons, caracal, views of the cave paintings made by the Masai, play the rock gong by beating a piece of wood to the listen to the gong sound among others. Gol and Barafu kopjes also act as habitats for cheetahs and they are used by wildebeest in the wet season.
Retina hippo pool, the hippo pool is located in the north of Seronera valley where the course of Seronera River joins the Orangi River to form a deep pond where hippos spending their day immersed in water. Retina hippo pool is the best place in the park where to spot large concentrations of hippos especially during the dry season.
Seronera River valley, Seronera river is one of the most famous areas in the park that offers great views of big and small cats like lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, serval cats, caracal, bat eared fox, jackal, mongoose among others.
Top things to do in Serengeti national park
Game drive, this is one of the interesting and most done activities in Serengeti national park. The game drive is done in the comfort of an open roof safari vehicle driving around the park and you will be able to view large concentrations of different animals including predators like lions, leopards, cheetah, hyenas, other animals like buffaloes, elephants, kongoni, impala, elands, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest among others. You will also be able to watch the wildebeest migration when the wildebeest struggle to cross River Grumeti which is an exciting thing that you shouldn’t miss.
Hot air ballooning is one of the interesting activities in the park which gives you an opportunity to explore and have spectacular views of Serengeti national park. There are three starting points for the hot air balloon safari for example the central Serengeti where you will view wildlife around Seronera River, the western Serengeti where you will view Grumeti River and experience the hundreds of animals crossing during the great migration and the third starting point is the south Serengeti plains where the wildebeests calve producing newborns everyday on a three week marathon. Hot air balloon safari is best done early in the morning and during the activity you will have views of different animals, birds, tree tops, views of the park among others.
Bird watching, Serengeti national park is a home of over 500 bird species including endemics in the Serengeti Masai Mara ecosystem, near endemic, migratory birds among others. Bird lovers on a birding safari should look out for bird species like grey breasted spurfowl, fischers lovebird, grey chested helmet shrike, rufous tailed weaver, usambiro barbet, red capped robin chat, black headed gonolek, yellow throated sand grouse, red backed scrub schalows turaco, silver birds, southern ground hornbill, hildebrandts starling, verreauxs eagle among others.
Guided nature walk, Serengeti national park also offers an adventurous nature walk activity where you will be able to explore the park on foot. During the nature walk you will be accompanied by an armed park guide as you walk around the open grasslands, savannah vegetation among others. During the nature walk you will be able to get close and personal with animals like elephants, giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, rhinos, hippos, view colorful bird species flying up in the air, plant and trees, butterflies, listen to sweet bird sounds, take incredible pictures among others.
Bush dinner, this is an exciting experience that shouldn’t be missed during your safari in Serengeti national park. Bush dinner starts at around 6:00pm and takes place at a location where you will have great scenic views of the plains, sundowners around the campfire among others. During the Bush dinner the lodge will set a table and chair, campfire, serve a five course meal and it will be accompanied by Maasai songs and dance.
Best time to visit Serengeti national park
Serengeti national park can be visited all year round though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to October. During the dry season the vegetation in the park will be thin which gives you an opportunity to clearly spot different wild animals in the park and also experience the wildebeest migration. Serengeti national park can also be visited in the months of January to February where you will be able to experience the wildebeest calving.
How to get to Serengeti national park
The national park is located in the northern part of Tanzania and it can be accessed by both air and road transport means
Air transport, when using air transport means you will book scheduled or chartered flights from Arusha, Dar es Salaam to one of the airstrips in the park. The park has about seven airstrips and booking of scheduled or chartered flights can be done with the help of a trusted tour operator.
Road transport, the park has eight gates which include Fort Ikoma gate in the northwestern border of the park, Ndabaka gate in the western part, Naabi hill gate in the eastern part, Tabora B gate, Klein gate in the north eastern border, Lamai gate, Handajega gate in southwestern part and Ndutu gate. All these gates can be accessed by road transport means whereby from Arusha through Ngorongoro conservation area takes about 272km distance to reach Naabi gate which is the main gate in Serengeti national park, from Arusha to Kleins gate it takes about 420km distance, from Mwanza to Ndabaka gate it takes about 141 km distance, from Mwanza to Fort Ikoma gate it takes about 253km distance, from Sirari boarder to Ikoma via Kiabakari, Butiama and Mugumu it takes about 158km distance, from Sirari to Ikoma gate via Nyamongo and Mugumu it takes about 138km distance and from Sirari to Lamai gate via Nyamongo it takes about 67km distance.
Where to stay on your safari in Serengeti national park
There are a wide range of accommodation facilities where you will stay during your safari in Serengeti national park. The accommodations range from luxury, midrange, budget, campsites and they include Seronera wildlife lodge, Ndutu safari lodge, Lobo wildlife lodge, Serengeti Serena lodge, Serengeti Sopa lodge, Kirawira luxury tented camp, Kijereshi tented lodge, Serengeti migration camp, Osupuko tented camp, Kati kati camp, Siringit Serengeti camp, Robanda tented camp, Camp Zebra, Pumzika safari camp, Taasa lodge, Mawe tented camp, Legendary Serengeti camp, Mbono tented camp, Subeti tented camp, Mwiba tented camp, Mwiba lodge, Wildlands camp, Serengeti wilderness camp among others.
If you are hungry for experience, Serengeti national park is the destination to visit on your safari in Tanzania because it has a lot to offer in terms of great scenic views, abundant wild animals, colorful bird species, aerial views, water bodies, vegetation types, wildebeest migration among others. In order to go on a safari or get more information about Serengeti national park you can contact Focus East Africa Tours.