Serengeti National Park Tanzania
Situated in the northeast of Tanzania, Serengeti national park is one of the grand safari destinations in the whole of Africa. It was first gazetted as a game reserve in 1921 by the government of Tanzania, later on, in 1948 its area together with Ngorongoro was made a national park. Eventually, in 1951, it was separated from the Ngorongoro area to stand as a park on its own. The move was done with the motive of relocating the Masaai pastoralists from this savannah park.
Serengeti national park lies on a surface area of 30,000km2 making it one of the largest animal habitats in Africa. It is bordered by Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves in the West, Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the North, and Loliondo game control area in the East.
The most dominant biosphere in the park is the Serengeti ecosystem which stretches to Masaai Mara in Kenya and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The vegetation cover of Serengeti comprises endless open savannah plains, riverine forests, and woodlands. This is majorly factored by the heat and hot winds that are received in the area annually.
The open savannah grasslands are common habitats where most of the big mammals thrive and this is why Serengeti national park has the highest concentration of the large wild animals in East Africa. Serengeti has the highest number of lions in the whole of Africa, leopards are recorded to be 5.4 individuals per square kilometer, and also a huge population of elephants, capes, rhinos, giraffes, elands, crocodiles, wild dogs, hyenas, Masaai giraffes, and over 450 bird species are recorded in the area. With an astronomical population of lions, rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, and leopards accompanied by open and neat grasslands, Serengeti is regarded as the best place to encounter “the big five animals” on a safari in Tanzania.
Within the Serengeti plains, there is a tremendous natural occurrence of the great migration of over a million wildebeest and thousands of zebra that takes place, especially during the dry months of the year. These ungulates migrate from the Serengeti plains northwards as far as Masaai Mara in Kenya looking for green pastures and water. This is a natural wonder as it holds the largest number of animals seen moving together. Many visitors enjoy these amazing scenes and every year when the occurrence is imminent the tourists are eager and excited to experience it.
Tour Activities to do in Serengeti National Park Tanzania
With the abundance of wildlife species and natural resources, Serengeti anchors a chain of exciting things to do. It is such a wonderful place to be for travelers interested in the common safari activities like game drives, nature walks, birding, community tours, and many more. Below we shall look at the various tour activities to do in the park:
Morning Game viewing
Morning is the best time to go to the wild jungles of Serengeti to search for the different big mammals. The early hours are when the animals are full of life and raring to go look for a meal and also they are the times when tourists are at full strength to engage in such a time-consuming activity. A game drive through the Serengeti plains takes about four good hours because the area is so big and there are lots of animals to search for in their different known designated habitats. The game drive normally starts at 8:00 am and ends around midday. The popular citizens in the grasslands are the big five (lions, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes, and elephants), giraffes, zebras, gazelles, elands, warthogs, wildebeests and hippos, and crocodiles found in the water streams.
The game drive is best done when the visitors hire a park guide, these know and are adept at the different animals and where they normally hang out in the park. The park guide is at the guest’s disposal, the game drive is always insightful and also sure of encountering most of the common mammals in the park. It is also advised for the visitor to have breakfast before the game drive or carry it because of the long hours spent on the game viewing session.
One may wonder how is it possible to go for a stroll in the wild jungles like those of Serengeti. Yeah, it is very possible and utterly adventurous. These walking safaris are carried out under the guidance of a park patron who is equipped with a gun as protection in case of a wild animal charging over the wanderers. On the walking safari, the trekkers explore the untouched areas of the park where they encounter water streams with lots of water birds, unique rocks like the kopjes, peculiar tree species, and also get to the feeding areas of herbivorous animals like zebras, elands, topis, wildebeests, reedbucks and many more.
Hot Air Balloon Safari
This is a different proposition of game viewing. It is very exciting and unique in all senses. The experience is all about having an aerial sight of the Serengeti park and its wildlife species. To make the most out of it is by taking it up during the migration of the wildebeests and zebras spells.
The view given to the tourists in those moments is out of superlative. It’s a very expensive activity compared to others as it cost 500$ per individual. The hot air balloon wagon accommodates a maximum of 16 people.
Meals in the Bush
This is something that is normally organized by the safari lodge a guest must have stayed. It is something different that is worth a try. There is no better way of eating, drinking, and dining with a beloved one other than in an environment that is serene, beautiful, soothing, and with natural music from the wild birds. Don’t forget to take pictures of these incredible scenes that are rare to capture or find.
Tour around the Serengeti Visitor Spot
This is the place to find all the necessary information about Serengeti national park, for example, the wildlife species and main habitat places in the park, activities done, the history of the park, and the accommodation facilities. This is also the headquarters of the park where payments and fees required to engage in the necessary activities are made and verified. The park staff to help the tourists go about the park are also found here. There are also other tourism axillary services or establishments in the area for example food and drink canteens and craft shops for souvenirs.
The Olduvai Gorge
It is a historical place where the oldest remains of mankind were discovered by Mary and Louis Leakey. The fossils that were unearthed in the 20th century are said to be over three million years old.
The Olduvai Gorge anchors an archaeological museum comprising of different remains that were used by the ancient people during the stone age people. The Olduvai is located within the Serengeti plain in Ngorongoro. It is a 48-kilometre stretch with small ragged rocks.
For those interested in archaeology, visiting the gorge is significant for your research studies.
Migration of the Wildebeests
This is one of the greatest natural spectacles to watch in the world. It was named among the best seven natural wonders in the world. Nowhere in the world, does one encounter or sights a colossal number of animals moving together.
Over a million wildebeests and thousands of zebras and gazelles move from the central Serengeti up north in the Masaai Mara and back during the dry spells of the year. The migration occurs from June- to September, and from December to March. The great migration compels lots of predators like lions, hyenas, leopards, and crocodiles, especially in areas where these trekking ungulates pass to their final destination. The tussle and fights between the ungulates and predators offer incredible scenes to the onlookers sending them into a frenzy.
Maasai Cultural Encounter
The Maasai are one of the most famous races of people in East Africa because they reside in the most visited areas in Serengeti and Maasai Mara. The Maasai people are all over the Serengeti plains but their most known area is Boma. This remote town is full of dotted huts of the Maasai, a visit to the area enables tourists to mix and mingle with the Maasai people and also get to know about their interesting raw culture. Though the western style and culture has taken over in Africa, the Maasai have stuck to their guns. They still follow and practice their ethos and traditions religiously. The Maasai are popular cattle keepers but there are also other activities to enjoy in their societies like the grinding of cereals, making craft items like sandals, clothes from their colorful materials, bangles, neckless, and bracelets. At the end of the community tour, the guests are normally entertained through Maasai dance and music.
There are two types of camping in Serengeti national park and that is; a budget ground tent camping and luxury raised permanent tent camping. However, all these sorts of camping come with the same excitement and experiences because the travelers sleep in the open wilderness. It is only the services and the establishment which differ.
Campfires are always organized at night whereby the tourists gather in a group around flaming firewood and reminisce the good old times of their lives. Sounds of wild animals are also heard in the night. The moonlight is also something to enjoy at night. At this moment, the traveller forgets all about his/her worries and all that he/she craves is the wilderness and adventure. It is commendable to carry a chef and a park guard for food and protection in the wild respectively.
The Bologonja Springs
Water sprouting out of the ground from Bologonja is enthralling and thrilling. It is food for the eyes. In the areas around the springs, animals like reedbucks, elephants, giraffes, birds, and different little primates call them home. A visit to the springs is such an amazing and captivating experience. The Bologonja springs are located in the northeast far end of the Serengeti national park.
Night Game Drive
There are night-active animals known as the nocturnal. Some of these nocturnal include leopards, bushbabies, hyenas, foxes, nightjars, civets, aardvarks, wild dogs, and jackals. The aforementioned animals are best encountered at night and game drives are normally conducted out of the Serengeti park in the nearby reserves. Night game drives are restricted in Serengeti. The local operators must find the right people to organize and guide these night game drives in these trivial game reserves.
Visit the Lobo Valley
With lots of green plains for the zebras, wildebeest, and gazelles to graze conveniently, the big cats who enjoy these ungulates as their dish find Lobo valley the best hangout place in the park. this is why it is the number one spot of lions. In the dry season, it is one of the places in the park wildebeests and zebra densely inhabit and travelers visit the site to watch them at the time.
Visit the Moru Kopjes
Kopjes are one of the interesting unique features found in Serengeti. These small boulders or rocks are predominant in Moru. Most lions and leopards find them an easy place to rest after a long hunt of prey in the jungles. The Moru Kopjes are best visited in the mid-afternoon to have a view of the lions or leopards resting. Rhinos are also seen in the Moru Kopjes.
With over 500 species of birds recorded in its different ecological environments, Serengeti is an important birding area in Tanzania. 11 of the species are endemic to the great Serengeti ecosystem and 100 are permanent habitats to their area. The other species are migratory; they fly from as far as Europe. Some of the bird species to observe in Serengeti national park include shoebill, lesser flamingo, Tanzania red-billed hornbill, pelicans, red-backed, ostriches, vultures, sparrows, sunbirds and many more.
A swim at the lodge
To cool off after basking in the hot climate of Serengeti while engaging in the various activities the day brings for a tourist, diving into a swimming pool is the best option. Most of the standard and luxury lodges in Serengeti national park have pool sides for their guests to unwind, relax and cool off after a long day tussling it out in the park.
An excursion at the Retina Hippos Pool
This is a waterlogged valley found in the central part of Serengeti national park (Seronera sector) and it is a great habitat of hippopotamuses. Animals like elephants and buffaloes are also seen on the banks of the pool. A visit to this waterlogged area is exhilarating.
Trip to Lake Natron
The alkaline lake is situated a few miles away from the park. To be exact, it lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. With lots of salt nutrients in its waters, bird-like the pink flamingos thrive here. Lake Natron is a natural home to innumerable flamingos. It is an area with the highest population of flamingos in Tanzania.
Useful Travel information about Serengeti National park
Serengeti National Park is a popular park for the big five and the great migration of Wildebeest experiences. It is open annually but best explored in the months when the ungulates are making treks to the area. The great migration of Wildebeests, gazelles, and zebra takes place from June to October and December to February. This is also the time when you can easily sight predators like lions, and leopards since they camp along the pathways of the ungulates.
Serengeti National park is located about 364 kilometres North East of Arusha and more than 1,000 kilometres away from Dar es Salaam. Henceforth, the most convenient place to start your trip is Kilimanjaro International Airport (Arusha) since it is somehow near Serengeti, 6hours’ drive by road travel. We advise international travellers to book their safari trip park with local tour companies that can easily arrange private road transportation to the park. There are also scheduled domestic flights from Kilimanjaro Airport to Serengeti airstrip for travelers who are interested in flying safaris and have limited time.
There is a mammoth of accommodation establishments to stay in while in Serengeti ranging from Luxury, standard and economic options. Some of the lodges to stay in include; Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, Four seasons safari lodge Serengeti, Seronera Wildlife Lodge, and many more.