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Serengeti Safari Tours & Holidays

Extending over 14,763km² of undulating plains and isolated koppies (rocky hills), the Serengeti is not only Tanzania’s oldest, largest and most famous national park, but also a strong contender for the accolade of Africa’s finest safari destination. The Serengeti is renowned for hosting an annual migration comprising at least two million wildebeest, plains zebra and gazelle – the greatest spectacle of its type in Africa – but the immense plains are also home to unusually dense populations of lion, leopard, cheetah and other predators, while being possessed of a liberating sense of space best experienced on an early-morning balloon safari. A Serengeti safari trip will be a highlight of a visit to Tanzania.

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8 Questions About Serengeti Safaris

Answered by Philip Briggs

When is the best time to see the Great Migration?

“The migration through the Serengeti follows a reasonably predictable annual cycle, but there is also variation from one year to the next, dependent mainly on the rainfall. If you are looking to see a horizonless column of braying wildebeest on the move, aim for the Western Corridor in late May to June, when the migration heads towards the south bank of the Grumeti River before crossing it, usually in early July. More reliable for river crossings is the far north of the park over August to October, when herds of several hundred or a few thousand make the treacherous crossing from one side of the Mara River to the other with logic-defying regularity. Over December to April, the wildebeest disperse into the southeast Serengeti, which is the most accessible part of the park from Arusha, but might still be seen in herds that stretch from one horizon to the other. These southeastern plains are the main wildebeest calving grounds, with peak calving season usually centered on February, a phenomenon that attracts high predator concentrations.”

1

What opportunities are there to meet local Maasai people?

“If your Serengeti holiday is restricted to the park itself, there will be no opportunities to meet Maasai people. This is because the Serengeti is a national park and permanent human habitation is forbidden. That said, practically all drive-in Serengeti safaris pass through Maasai country en route from Arusha, while fly-in Serengeti safari packages usually incorporate a stop at Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In both cases, this offers safari-goers the opportunity to incorporate a visit to a Masaai manyatta (home) into their Serengeti experience.”

2

How can I avoid the crowds?

“The Serengeti is a vast reserve and it doesn’t usually experience the kind of crowding you get in the far smaller Masai Mara park across the border in Kenya. The one exception to this is the area around the park headquarters at Seronera, where any worthwhile sighting tends to attract a gaggle of safari vehicles responding to radio calls from other driver-guides. In addition, safari vehicles tend to congregate in whichever sector of the park is currently hosting the migration. The best way to avoid this is not to spend more than a night or two in the vicinity of Seronera, and to split your Serengeti safari package between two areas: one set in the heart of the migration, and the other somewhere unseasonal (for instance the far north between November and June, or the western corridor between August and October). It is also worth bearing in mind that May is the lowest season in the Serengeti due to the high rainfall, but it can be an excellent time to visit – in addition to being uncrowded, it is a very pretty time of year, and large numbers of wildebeest are usually present in the far south. Note, too, that roads around Seronera tend to be busiest during the peak wildlife-viewing hours of 7.30 AM to 10 AM and 2 PM to 4.30 PM. So, instead of breakfasting in camp, head out as early as possible – game drives are permitted from 6 AM onwards – with a packed breakfast to enjoy that magical first hour of daylight.”

3

What animals can I expect to see in the Serengeti?

“The Serengeti is great when it comes to both variety and volume of wildlife. Over the course of a typical Serengeti safari, you can expect to see lion on a daily basis, and with luck you will also encounter a host of other carnivores including leopard (most common around Seronera), cheetah, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, golden jackal and bat-eared fox, You might also be lucky enough to see secretive nocturnal creatures such as civet, serval, genet and African wildcat. Also certain to be seen on Serengeti tours are elephant, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, plains zebra, wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, Coke’s hartebeest and warthog. The localized patas monkey and black-and-white colobus are both resident in the Western Corridor. The black rhino is scarce and more likely to be seen in Ngorongoro Crater. Around 550 bird species have been recorded, among them the endemic grey-throated spurfowl, Fischer’s lovebird, rufous-tailed weaver, Usambiro barbet and grey-crested helmet-shrike. The open plains are good for terrestrial giants such as ostrich, kori bustard, secretary bird and southern ground hornbill.”

More about the Wildlife of Serengeti National park 4

How long is the drive to the Serengeti?

“Coming directly from Arusha, it is around 300km to the park headquarters at Seronera. The first half of this drive follows the same surfaced road that runs past Lake Manyara to the main eastern entrance of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). The second follows a rough and dusty corrugated track around the Ngorongoro Crater rim and western plains of the NCA. Allow at least six hours for the full drive, and ideally a full day. Note, however, that most Serengeti tours include overnight stops at Lake Manyara and/or Ngorongoro Crater, which helps to break up the trip.”

5

What condition are the roads in within the Serengeti?

“By any sensible international standards, the roads are terrible. It’s not a problem when you are on a relaxed game drive, but it can be tough going on longer drives between lodges and camps. If this sounds daunting, or you have a vulnerable back, think about booking a Serengeti safari package that includes flights into the park and between lodges and camps.”

6

What are the pros and cons of different accommodation types?

“Several types of accommodation are available on Serengeti safari tours. If you want to keep down costs, the cheapest option is a basic camping safari with a budget operator that will usually supply tents, sleeping bags and other gear, and no-frills meals. Serengeti is also serviced by a number of ‘hotel in the bush’ lodges operated by chains such as Serena and Sopa; these tend to be upper mid-range in price and offer high levels of comfort. They also tend to be designed to close out the bush at night, making them well suited to first-time safari-goers nervous about wildlife encounters. The park is also serviced by innumerable small lodges and tented camps (some permanent, others seasonal in order to follow the migration) that combine a medium to high level of comfort with a genuine bush atmosphere and high probability of wildlife passing through, especially at night. Generally speaking these smaller camps have prices that reflect the level of luxury and exclusivity they offer. Whichever option you go for, practically all Serengeti safari prices are all-inclusive and incorporate transport, game drives, park fees, accommodation/camping and food.”

7

What lodges or camps would you recommend in Serengeti?

“If your budget runs to it, there are some superb exclusive small lodges and tented camps scattered around the park. I tend to favor places with a more remote crowd-beating location. Sanctuary Kusini Camp, set among massive boulders in the far south, offers superb wildlife-viewing during February and March; the semi-permanent Dunia Camp near Moru Koppies offers excellent wildlife viewing all year, peaking from December to March; the super-stylish &Beyond Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp is easily the pick of the lodges in the western corridor, where wildlife activity peaks from May to July; and there’s not much to separate Lamai Serengeti and Sayari Camp, which are the two most exclusive properties in the far north, and ideally placed to catch wildebeest river crossings from August to October. Of the more mid-range options, Ndutu Safari Lodge, a low-key, family-owned set-up overlooking the eponymous seasonal lake, is great value and offers superb predator viewing from December to April.”

8

Serengeti Safari Reviews

4.9/5 349 Reviews
Expert
Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

A Wildlife Wonderland where Wildebeest Steal the Show
5/5

During migration season herbivore populations explode as wildebeest and zebra arrive in their hundreds of thousands. The cacophony that accompanies the plodding herds, drawn forward by the promise of life-giving rain and fresh grazing, is...

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Expert
Brian Jackman  –  
United Kingdom UK

Brian is an award winning travel writer, author of safari books and regular contributor to magazines such as BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa.

The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth
5/5

We’re talking about the Serengeti migration, the year-round spectacle of a million wildebeest and maybe 200,000 zebras chasing the rains on an endless journey in search of grass and water. Come in Jan-Feb to see them massed on the short...

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Tom Milligan  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Sep 27, 2019
5/5

Lots of wildlife, of course, and the vast, flat plains really make distant elephants and giraffes stand out. I have seen lots of TV shows documenting the great migration, but seeing it in person is still an amazing phenomenon.

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Sat  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Sep 24, 2019
A magical place to see animals
5/5

Serengeti National park (along with its northern extension Masai Mara) is one of the most beautiful places on the planet to see wildlife in their natural habitats. There are wide variety of wildlife from predators to scavengers to grazers...

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Urs  –  
Switzerland CH
Reviewed: Sep 6, 2019
4/5

The scenic beauty of the Serengeti is fantastic. And you can see a lot of animals. The only thing I didn't like are the roads. Hundreds of kilometer just dust. With good cars and a modern air condition it would be ok - but in those safari...

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Kaitlin  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Aug 31, 2019
5/5

This was by far my favorite park! It was insane to see the sun rise and set over the serengeti! This is how I pictured a safari would be. It felt like being in our own personal lion king. The amount of animals that we saw here was insane!...

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