The Serengeti is home to a simply remarkable number of species. Of course, the main attraction is the Great Migration, when over a million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and gazelle traverse the plains along age-old migration routes in search of fresh grass.
But the Serengeti is also one of the few places in Africa where game viewing is spectacular year round, and it is classic Big Five territory. Vast herds of grazers are ever present and predator numbers are high, with almost 3 500 lion in the area and frequent sightings of leopard and cheetah.
Our top sightings in the Serengeti include:
- The Big Five: elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhinoceros (black rhino are rare)
- Spotted hyena
- Aardwolf (very rare)
- Ground pangolin (very rare)
- Coke’s hartebeest
- Wild dog (mostly in the Southern plains)
- Golden jackal
- Bat-eared fox
Regions of the Serengeti
The Serengeti is a vast wilderness that spans over a million hectares – so where to start planning your safari? The best way to ensure you get the best, most fulfilling experience possible is to understand what the different regions have to offer.
First-time visitors to Serengeti should not miss the Southern region. This is where you’ll find Serengeti’s iconic grassland plains, the Ndutu Woodlands and spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, where you’ll find an incredible diversity of wildlife year-round.
As the summer sun warms the landscape, the wildebeest begin their trek back to the lush grasslands of the south and neighbouring Ngorongoro Conservation Area (but not Ngorongoro Crater itself). Vast plains of lush new grass triggered by the start of the summer rains provide perfect fodder for the wildebeest, which come here to graze, rest and calve en masse. In February, the plains are filled with millions of wildebeest calves as mothers give birth to approximately 500 000 babies in a remarkably synchronised event. Of course, where there are wildebeest there are predators. In the southern grasslands, lion, leopard and cheetah are never far from the action, while Lake Ndutu in particular has high concentrations of the elusive African wild dog. The granite kopjes in this region make for great observation points for the big cats.
In the west, the Serengeti narrows into the remote ‘Western Corridor’, a small strip of verdant land that stretches almost to Lake Victoria. Two rivers flow through the area, the Grumeti and the Mbalageti, lined by evergreen forest and swampy savannah with its black clay soil.
From May to July, the Great Migration passes through and the herds of wildebeest pause to gather momentum before tackling the crossing of the Grumeti River, eagerly watched by predators at every turn. You’ll see enormous Nile crocodiles snapping opportunistically at their heels as they mill around the banks before stampeding across the fast-flowing waters. The landscape is as varied as the game: vast open plains, woodlands and savannas dotted with acacia trees provide a hospitable habitat for the wildlife species that can be sighted here.
This uncrowded area is virtually unexplored and teems with wildlife, including the largest concentration of elephants in the Serengeti. The landscape, which includes heavily wooded areas and bushy savannah, is spectacular, and offers an authentic off-the-beaten-track experience with viewings of hippo, giraffe, eland, Thomson’s gazelle and more.From August to November, the plains of the Northern Serengeti spring to life as millions of wildebeest travel age-old migration routes in search of new grass. It is here that the wildebeest face one of the principal obstacles of their trek, the great Mara River, providing spectacular, chaotic and exciting viewing. Wildebeest not only risk being swept away by the swollen river but must also run the gauntlet of Nile crocodiles submerged in the water and hungry predators on the other side.After the migration, once the wildebeest make their way south, calm descends on the northern plains. The grass rebounds into a lush green carpet, the Mara River returns to a sinuous ribbon of calm and resident game is plentiful. This is a special time to soak up the singular beauty of the Serengeti in peace and quiet.
Planning your Serengeti National Park Safari
You can plan your safari by yourself but you can go there by yourself. If your are not sure how you can plan your perfect trip to Tanzania, contact us and we can help.