Serengeti National Park Tanzania – Attractions, Best time to Visit, Location and Accommodations
Popular for being the home to the Great annual migration, there is something about Serengeti National Park that makes it magical and worth exploring during African safaris.
The possibility of experiencing whatever you dreamt about Africa is higher in this Tanzanian Protected Area than any other place. Surprisingly, innumerable wildlife films and documentaries have been shot/recorded in Serengeti National Park and it’s all for a good reason.
This is one of the places where visitors can witness millions of migrating wildebeests alongside gazelles and zebras over the vast acacia plains. Not only that, the Park is the cradleland of human life and undoubtedly the closest to unblemished African wilderness you can ever get.
Visitors to this Protected Area agree that it is where time stands still regardless of millions of wildlife continuously on the move.
Remarkable Size and location of iconic Serengeti National Park
The incredibly large Serengeti National Park extends for over 1,476,300 hectares within the northern part of Tanzania. It is found within the Eastern Mara region as well as the north-eastern side of Simiyu region with virgin savannah.
Serengeti National Park history
On the name of the Protected Area, it was named “Serengeti” from Masai word “Siringet” to mean an “area where the land runs on forever”, owing to its sweeping savannah plains. Before becoming a National Park, the area first became a Game Reserve in 1930 within the south and East Serengeti with about 228,600 hectares.
In this particular year, the Government (then Tanganyika) came up with a system of National Parks that are acquiescent with the “Convention relative to the Preservation of Fauna and Flora within their original state” The “National Park” status was gained in 1940 and this meant eviction of Masai pastoralists that occupied areas within the demarcated Area. The boundaries of the Park were completed by 1951 and it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.
Unmissable attractions within Serengeti National Park
Animals in Serengeti
Serengeti National Park is a remarkable wildlife hotspot with most of Africa’s wilderness animals. More than 2000 lions live in Serengeti National Park while travellers can also see African bush elephants, Black rhinoceros, Cape buffaloes, cheetahs and primates (yellow baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboons and patas monkeys among others).
Other animals include, East African wild dogs, Caracals, African striped weasels, African golden wolves, Ground pangolin, serval cats, Mongoose of varying species, crested porcupine, striped and spotted hyenas, Defassa waterbucks, wildebeests, side-stripped and black-backed jackals, common elands, Aardwolves, bat-eared foxes, African wild cats, African civets, Honey badger, Otters, Aardvarks, Masai giraffes, common genets, warthogs, Cape hares and many others.
For reptile lovers, expect to see puff adders, leopard tortoises, Black mambas, Serrated hinged terrapin, different chameleon species, the black-necked spitting cobras, Monitor lizards, Nile crocodiles, Rainbow agama and African rock pythons among others.
Serengeti National Park is haven to over 500 species of birds that include Marabou storks, secretary birds, Martial eagles, Goliath herons, Cattle egrets, Hadada ibis, sacred ibis, pink-backed pelicans, Kori bustards, Saddle-billed storks, spotted thick-knees, African fish eagles, Crowned cranes, Egyptian geese, southern ground hornbills, spur-winged geese, lesser flamingos, African collared doves, white storks, Oxpeckers, helmeted guineafowls, and the Tanzanian red-billed hornbills among others.
The wildebeest Migration
The wildebeest migration is another outstanding attraction within Serengeti National Park and involves millions of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles northwards towards Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
Antelopes such as impalas, common elands and Topis also join the migration and white it is a spectacle worth seeing; these animals move annually to search for fresh pastures and clean water.
This is a never-ending cycle, during which animals move around the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in a seasonal pattern, dictated by rains and grass nutrients.
The beautiful of Serengeti National Park is mainly characterized by grassland plains to the southeastern side while the northern side is mainly rocky and hills and the west is filed with Valleys, dense forest and Rivers. The area is also dotted with Kopjes occupied by cheetahs and leopards while the granite outcrops rise above the savannah plains.
Exciting things to enjoy during Serengeti National Park Tours
Guided Game Drives
Whether you are using a private self-drive vehicle or Camp cars to Serengeti National Park, one thing you should never miss is at least booking a guided game drive.
The experienced tour guides are well conversant with the wilderness and communicate with each other hence know where to get the highest number of animals.
A sunrise game drive is perfect for travellers interested in photography or hate large crowds with views of cheetahs, common warthogs, lions, African bush elephants, spotted and striped hyenas, yellow and olive baboons, Defassa waterbucks, leopards, Cape buffaloes and so much more.
Sunset or night game drives offer views of nocturnal wildlife species especially civets, cheetahs, leopards, striped and spotted hyenas and many others.
Hot Air Balloon Tours
Exceptional on many bucket lists is a hot air balloon tour. Who wouldn’t want to swirl through the direction of the wind while watching huge herds of unique animal species? Discover the interesting landscapes-hills, forests, woodlands and savannah plains with their exceptional animal species.
Visit a Masai Cultural Village/community
It is worth visiting and learning the unique lifestyle of the people who have lived within the area for centuries, even before it was gazetted into a National Park.
Learn about how the Masai people live simple and happy lives, and get a chance to eat with them, laugh with them, listen to stories of the past, learn how to make their traditional art and handcrafts, learn about their traditional dances as well as get a chance to live in the traditional life of the Masai pastoralists.
Walking safaris in Serengeti National Park are conducted with armed Rangers and experienced guides to discover the hidden treasures of this magnificent Tanzanian safari destination. With this activity, travellers are assured of seeing small and hidden creatures that are possibly not seen during game drives.
There are many bird watching trails inside Serengeti National Park where visitors go through different landscapes-forest, granite rock outcrops, woodlands and savannah to see the different avifauna species that call the area home.
Expect Kori bustards, sacred ibis, African fish eagles, Crowned cranes, pink-backed pelicans, Cattle egrets, Saddle-billed storks, spotted thick-knees, Egyptian geese, southern ground hornbills, Hadada ibis and many others. This activity can be enjoyed all year round but the rainy season blossoms with flowers, thus perfect for birding.
Best time of the year to explore the beautiful Serengeti NP
Over 1.5 million wildebeests, 300,000 gazelles and 200,000 zebras migrate from the northern hills of Serengeti National Park to the southern plains of Masai Mara National Reserve for the short rain, every October and November then continue to move westwards and north after the long rains within March, April and May.
These are obviously wet months hence the best time to experience the peak of wildebeest migration is the rainy season. However, travelers that wish to add game viewing can do so during the dry season-June to September and December to February when animals gather around watering points.
Best places to stay during tours of Serengeti National Park
When you talk of places to stay in Serengeti National Park, you will undoubtedly be spoilt for choice. There are luxurious, midrange and budget Safari Camps/Lodges inside or around the Protected Area.
Expect to stay at Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp, &Beyond Klein’s Camp, Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, Mwiba Lodge, Singita Sabora Tented Camp, Olakira Migration Camp, Mbalageti Serengeti, Grumeti Migration Camp, Serengeti Pioneer Camp, Singita Mara River Tented Camp, Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Dunia Camp, &Beyond Grumeti Tented Camp, Lemala Ewanjan Tented Camp, Serengeti Bushtops Camp, &Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas, Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Siringit Serengeti Camp, Sanctuary Kusini Safari Camp, Nomad Lamai Serengeti, Lemala Kuris Hills Tented Lodge and many others.
Getting to the spectacular Serengeti National Park
Flying from Kilimanjaro International Airport/Arusha Airport is the fastest way to get to Serengeti National Park via any of the nine airstrips (Seronera, Kogatende, Sasakwa, Lobo, Ndutu, Kleins, Kusini, Kirawira and Grumeti Airstrips).
A long drive from Arusha Town to Serengeti National Park takes 5-7 hours for a distance of 350 kilometers. Using a comfortable 4WD Vehicle leads travellers to any of the Park gates-Ndabaka, Naabi Hill Gate, Bologonya and Klein’s Gate among others.