by Chris Walker Bush
August 26, 2015

About Serengeti National Park

Tanzania's most famous national park is deserving of its renown. The home of the world-famous Great Wildebeest Migration, the Serengeti National Park is consistently ranked as one of the best national parks in the entire world.

While it is the farthest of the northern circuit parks from Arusha, the Serengeti is often the first inclusion on any safari itinerary. With its sweeping savanna plains, towering rocky hills, and seemingly unending skies - the Serengeti is as much a stunning landscape as it is a place to see Africa's most iconic animals.

And see them you will: the Serengeti is home to huge numbers of wildebeest, zebras, hyenas, lions, elephants, hippos, antelopes, and more. So large is the Serengeti that we strongly recommend a minimum of two nights in the park if you're serious about doing it justice.

Serengeti National Park Fact File

  • Location: 335km north of Arusha.
  • To Do: Great Wildeebest Migration, hot air balloon safari, game drives, Oldupai Gorge visit, Lake Natron, Ol Doinyo Lengai hiking, and fly-in safaris.
  • Known For: Great Wildebeest Migration.

Best Time to Visit

The Serengeti offers outstanding year round game-viewing, but is particularly popular during the Great Wildebeest Migration when some 1.7 million wildebeest and another 500,000 zebras cross the Serengeti on their way to the Masai Mara.

The Wildebeest Migration sees almost 2 million wildebeest move across the Serengeti in one of nature's most memorable displays. The Wildebeest Migration sees almost 2 million wildebeest move across the Serengeti in one of nature's most memorable displays.

Between January and March, the southern Serengeti region of Ndutu plays host to the calving season in which hundreds of thousands of young wildebeest take their first stumbling steps while hungry predators watch on.

April and May see the vast herd making its way across the Serengeti, and offers fantastic opportunities to see this truly colossal herd in motion.

June and July are the most popular time to see the Wildebeest Migration, as the herd must cross the Grumeti and Mara rivers to reach their goal. The river crossings are not only hindered by the fast moving rivers, but also the crocodiles lurking in the shallows and the predators who constantly harry the rear of the herd.

In December, it is possible to view the herd as it makes its way south once more to return to the Ndutu region for another calving season.

Park Highlights

The Great Wildebeest Migration

Each year, the Serengeti is home to the world's largest movement of animals as over 1.7 million wildebeest, 500,000 zebras, and a further 200,000 + species of antelope make their way from the Ndutu calving region in the southern Serengeti north into the Masai Mara of Kenya.

This monumental feat of endurance attracts visitors from all over the world wishing to witness the majesty of the greatest show in nature, and the movement can be witnessed in the Serengeti for much of the year.

From calving season early into the year to the dramatic river crossings in June-July to the eventual slow return late in the year, the Serengeti is without question the best place to see the Wildebeest Migration in all of its glory.

Predators

The Serengeti is arguably the best place in Tanzania to see predators in action. With so many animals calling the grass plains home, predators numbers are high - especially for lions and cheetahs. It's a rare safari to the Serengeti that doesn't spot at least a few lions, and even cheetahs and leopards are not uncommon sightings.

Other predators such as hyenas, serval cats, jackals, and even the occasional African wild dog can be found on the Serengeti.

cheetah family

Sunrise Game Drive

While night game drives within the Serengeti National Park are not allowed, a sunrise game drive is an unforgettable way to see the park in a totally different light. Not only is the sight of the sun setting fire to the savanna something you'll remember for the rest of your life, but the low light and cool air are perfect conditions for predators such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs to do their hunting.

A morning game drive can be added to any Serengeti itinerary, and you can then enjoy a late breakfast at your lodge before hitting the road again.

 

An unforgettable Serengeti sunrise. An unforgettable Serengeti sunrise.

Hot Air Balloon Safari & Champagne Breakfast

The only thing more memorable than seeing a Serengeti sunrise is seeing a Serengeti sunrise from a few thousand feet. A hot air balloon flight over the Serengeti is undoubtedly something for the bucket list.

Starting before sunrise, you'll be high in the air when the sun crests the horizon and lights up the Serengeti in brilliant red and orange. After your serene ride above the plains, you'll settle out on the Serengeti for a champagne breakfast in the wilderness.

Hot air balloon safaris can be added to any itinerary featuring a night in the Serengeti for an additional cost of $499 USD per person.

There are few more memorable ways to see the Serengeti than with a sunrise hot air balloon experience There are few more memorable ways to see the Serengeti than with a sunrise hot air balloon experience

Lobo Valley

Playing host to the Wildebeest Migration in June/July and again from September to November, the Lobo Valley is a popular game-viewing destination year round. Home to large herds of elephants and the Serengeti's second largest lion pride, Lobo Pride, the Lobo region is a distinct geographical region boasting woodland and hilly kopjes.

Mara River

The site of the dramatic river crossing from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara, the Mara River is a swollen body of water that proves a deadly barrier for the Wildebeest Migration as it seeks to cross into the relative safely of southern Kenya.

As if its strong currents weren't enough to challenge the wildebeest and zebras attempting the crossing, the Mara River is also home to Nile Crocodiles only too happy to snap up a tasty treat as it attempts to get across the river.

While it is never possible to predict with certainty when the Wildebeest Migration will attempt a crossing, it provides a thrilling game-viewing experience for those patient (or lucky) enough to see it happen.

Grumeti River

The site of the Serengeti's less well-known river crossing, the Grumeti River nonetheless offers up exciting game-viewing as the river's current and hungry inhabitants present the first major obstacle the Wildebeest Migration must pass on its way north.

Ndutu Region

Home to the yearly calving season in which hundreds of thousands of young wildebeest are born into the world, the Ndutu region of the Serengeti is where the Wildebeest Migration starts.

With the area particularly verdant during the early months of the year, it is the perfect place for expectant parents to birth and raise their young before embarking on the long, dangerous walk towards the Masai Mara.

Safaris wishing to see the Wildebeest Migration during January to March should include Ndutu on their itinerary if they wish to see the vast herd before it moves on.

lion cub

Lake Natron

A shallow alkaline lake fed by a number of springs as well as the Ewaso Ng'iro River, Lake Natron is a brightly coloured lake with a pinkish soda crust.

Surrounded by fascinating landscape including gorges, waterfalls, volcanic craters, and the ominous form of Gelai Volcano, a visit to Lake Natron is as much a cultural and geological safari as it is a wildlife one.

Activities around Lake Natron include swimming in the lake, a visit to a local Masai boma, or hikes within the nearby Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the craters that surround it.

Game-viewing in the Lake Natron area, while not as good as in other areas of the Serengeti, still offers the chane to see kudu, gazelle, oryx, jackals, and large numbers of flamingoes.

Simba Kopje

Located in the central area of the Serengeti, the Simba Kopje (sometimes known simply as Simba Rocks) is a tumbled pile of granite boulders atop which lions can regularly be seen sunning themselves. It is also said to have been the inspiration for Pride Rock in Disney's The Lion King.

While kopjes are not uncommon sights throughout the Serengeti, Simba Kopje is particularly popular due to its central location and regular lion sightings.

simba kopje rocks serengeti lion

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