Expert Reviews – Serengeti NP
Lucy is travel writer for a range of publications, including Lonely Planet's guides to Africa, Southern Africa and South Africa.
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Open grasslands punctuated with flat-topped acacia trees, big cats striding through beige-coloured undergrowth, the unmistakable outline of a giraffe silhouetted against a gigantic setting sun. If there was ever an African park that lives up to its storybook image, then the Serengeti is it. It is, of course, incredibly popular, and in peak times you can expect to share every major sighting with a handful of other safari vehicles. Opt to enjoy the shared experience, head for a less-visited corner of the park, or take pleasure in seeking out some of the smaller species, particularly the park's five types of monkey.
Gemma authored several Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.
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Serengeti: timing is everything
The Serengeti is that rare thing – a traveller’s icon that actually lives up to its reputation. If you do it right, this most visited of parks will give you the classic African safari experience you’ve been dreaming of.
I’ve found the key to getting the most out of the Serengeti is to research the migration patterns of the animals before you visit, then target the areas of the park that have the greatest concentrations of game at the time you’re there. Yes, the park’s southern plains are both beautiful and accessible, but they are also empty for parts of the year, when the wildebeest and zebra (and the predators that follow them) migrate north.
The area around the park headquarters at Seronera (where most of the reasonably priced tourist lodges are), can get very overcrowded with game drive vehicles, which tend to follow each other around, meaning you’re unlikely to get much one-on-one time with the animals you find. If you can afford it, head to the lodges and camps around the Grumeti River at the same time as the herds. You’ll be rewarded with views of green plains teeming with animals, and perhaps even the legendary river crossing, complete with giant crocodiles.