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Serengeti safari


... is one of the ultimate safari experiences in Africa, this is the mother of all parks, the wildlife spectacle here is second to none, the range of camps and lodges superb and the much vaunted crowds are easily avoided if you know how to plan your safari properly.

Serengeti National Park is a very substantial conservation area, the undisputed highlight of the wonderful Northern Tanzania safari area and surely the greatest wildlife reserve in East Africa.

Most people think of the Serengeti as being a vast endless grassy plain, but in reality the ecosystem is comprised of a wide range of landscapes, with areas of acacia forest, riverine vegetation, soda lakes and granite mountains. Each area has its own different character and range of wildlife and it is often worth combining two or three different areas in a single safari in order to take advantage of this variety.

Of course the area is best known for its enormous wildebeest migration, in which close on 2.5 million herbivores munch their way along an 800km route around the greater Serengeti, driven by the continuous search for drinking water and the quality of grazing. The main body of the migration is formed by around 1.7 million wildebeest, who are rather dull-headed creatures, It is the 500,000 zebras who appear to be the main decision makers in terms of routes and timings.

Serengeti safari

The migration is accessible for most of the year, although you do have to plan your safari to be in the right places at the right times. The three main highlights are the calving season Dec/Mar, the rut Mar/May and river crossings Jun/Oct.

Another major reason to safari in the Serengeti is the incredible density of predators, with strong sightings being anticipated year round. During the Jul/Oct dry season the densities of these animals in central areas can verge on the ridiculous, it is not uncommon to see in excess of a hundred lions, twenty cheetahs, two or three leopards and countless spotted hyenas in a single day

Whilst it is easy to get wrapped up in the pursuit of the migration herds and their attendant predators, it is worth bearing mind that many parts of the Serengeti are great for wonderful landscapes, a much wider range of wildlife and a really lovely safari atmosphere. It really is a place worthy of a prolonged stay.

When to visit ...

Safari in the Serengeti is extremely seasonal, you really do have to plan carefully if you want to experience the various major wildlife events. Unusually, the area is superb to visit virtually year round, but the key events and areas are ever-changing.

Read more about when to visit the Serengeti ...

If you already know what time of year you want to visit, then the following section will tell you more about what is happening at that time ...

Read more about seasonality in the Serengeti ...

Areas ...

We divide Serengeti into a total of eight sub-areas, each of which have their own very different character and safari seasonality. Most guests combine one, two or three of these areas into their trip ...

Serengeti Mara ... is the prime area for migration viewing and river crossings during the Jul/Oct dry season. At other times of year it is a wonderful remote area with good resident wildlife. The area has some truly exceptional but inherently expensive camps.

Serengeti Southwest ... is a major centre for migration action during the calving season Dec/Apr, also with a great range of seasonal tented camps and a couple of permanent lodges.

Serengeti Southeast ... is a very quiet backwater which can also be a centre for migration action during this Dec/Apr calving season, but much less predictably. Great if you want to get out on your own.

Serengeti Southcentral ... is a pivotal area which also experiences major migration action during the Dec/Mar calving season and is great for palaeontology, geology, Maasai interaction and walking safari year round.

Serengeti Central ... has the most reliable wildlife viewing year round, with the migration tending to pass through Apr/Jun and Nov/Dec. But this is also the busiest area, so lodge selection and route planning are really important.

Serengeti West ... tends to experience the migration May/Jun, with the tail end of the rut and possibilities of modest crossings on the Grumeti River. At other times of year it's not generally one of the strongest area.

Serengeti Grumeti ... borders the national park to the north-west and offers some of the most exclusive and high-priced safari camps in the region, centred on migration action May/Jun, but attractive year round and with a wide range of activities.

Serengeti North ... tends to experience unpredictable and often less than totally impressive migration action Jun/Jul and Oct/Dec. The area tends to be relatively little-visited, with most people treating it as something of a transit route.

Serengeti safari

How we like to include the Serengeti safari in trips ...

Serengeti is one of our favourite wildlife areas, one of those places that you simply have to visit to at some point in your life and somewhere to which you will probably need to return.

Although it is so well known and attracts such a relatively high number of visitors, it remains more than capable of delivering extremely high quality safari experiences. Fortunately 90% of the visitor traffic in the reserve is usually contained within just 10% of the land area, so it really is more than possible to get away from the crowds and right out on your own, even in peak season.

We usually find that longer and slower safaris are best, with a number of more remote camps and lodges being connected by means of little-used back-tracks. A world apart from the conventional dash up and down the main roads.

The reserve is usually best visited as part of an longer overland journey through the fabulous Tanzania North region, combining it with areas such as Ngorongoro and Tarangire to make a safari of 7 to 12 nights, of which usually around half are deployed in the Serengeti.

We often replace some of the less interesting overland legs with short light aircraft flights, which not only reduces the arduousness of the journey, but can also make it possible to combine more remote and alluring areas.

We also like to encourage our guests to include as wide a range of activities as possible, seeking out lodges and camps where walking safari, night vehicle safari, balloon safari, horse-back safari and cultural interaction are possible.

The Serengeti is best known for its authentic seasonal tented mobile camps, which are completely removed from the parks during the low seasons. We strongly recommend that you include at least one of these, even if you are not usually the camping type.

The majority of visitors to the Serengeti area tend to combine with some or all of Ngorongoro Crater safari, Tarangire safari, Lake Natron safari and Lake Manyara safari to make a total of 7 to 14 nights in the region.

Some visitors also combine with options further afield including Kilimanjaro treks in the northeast of the country, Ruaha safari and Selous safari to the south, Katavi safari and Mahale Mountains chimpanzee safari out west, Maasai Mara safari over the border in Kenya and Virunga Mountains gorilla safari over in Rwanda.

These mainland areas are also commonly combined with nights down on the Tanzania Coast, especially on Zanzibar Island, Pemba Island, Mafia Island or Fanjove Island, usually in trips of 10 to 21 nights.

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Lenny Franklin
Lenny Franklin, Senior Safari Consultant
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