Serengeti National Park is located in Northern Tanzania and covers an area of about 14.670 km². The park was founded in 1920 and became a National Park in 1951. The Park is especially famous for its’ immense Wildebeest and Zebra herds, but it is not without reason that it is also known as the best place for observation wildlife in general.
The Serengeti is one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world. The Serengeti migration is as remarkable as it is impressive. This migration takes place twice a year within Kenya and Tanzania and is considered one of the greatest migrations of wildlife on the planet. Its ecosystem is spread across 60,000 square kilometers and is home to the largest diverse concentration of wildlife and famous for infamous for the migration of nearly two million Wildebeests, Zebras, and Antelopes.
The Great Migration is as old as human history. Fossils that were found in the Olduvai canyon, prove that Wildebeests have already been using the planes of the Serengeti for their migration over a million years ago. Already to those times, they were following the rains through the Serengeti.
The yearly cycle begins in the south of the park, where half a million calves are born between January and March. But when the rains end in May the land dries fast and the grazing animals must move on, heading for their dry season refuge in the Masai Mara. The key players in this 1,200-mile odyssey are the wildebeest – 1.5 million of them – accompanied by 200,000 zebras, 350,000 Thompson's' impala and Grant's gazelles. For them, every year is an endless journey, chasing the rains in a race for life.
The action takes place across 150,000 square miles of woodlands, hills and open plains, a wilderness that includes not only the Serengeti national park and Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve but also the dispersal areas beyond. With the beginning of the short rains in late October the migration makes its way back into the Serengeti, so this a good time to be anywhere in the north of the park. By December, having emerged from the northern woodlands, the herds return past Seronera to mass on their calving grounds again and the circle is complete. But as soon as the rains return the wildebeest head back to the Serengeti, drawn towards their calving grounds in the park’s deep south. Between January and March, when the calves are born, there is nowhere on Earth so vibrantly alive.
When the rains end in May the wildebeest make tracks for the Masai Mara. Some take Route One – north across the Seronera Valley. Others swing through the Western Corridor, but for all of them the journey is beset with danger. For a start there are the famous Serengeti lions – about 3,000 at the last count – to which can be added leopards and cheetahs, hungry hyena clans and monster crocodiles. The river crossing is most likely one on the most dramatic events in the Serengeti!
The exact dates of the actual river crossing is always a mystery but it is usually around the end of July through mid-August
The Central Serengeti
This area is the vibrant, beating heart of the Serengeti. The Central Serengeti sees high volumes of visitors due to the large amounts of resident wildlife. This gives travelers a high chance of seeing wildlife in the least amount of time. The central Serengeti is the quintessential image of a Serengeti safari; stretches of savanna grassland dotted with acacia and baobab trees. The Seronera River Valley is beautiful and the year round water supply keeps the area rich in predator and prey. The Central Serengeti is a year round destination thanks to the resident wildlife and reaches its peak in the dry season from June to November.
Western Corridor & Grumeti
The Western Corridor is a remote section of the Serengeti which stretches to Lake Victoria. This area is well known for the Grumeti River which is the scene of treacherous river crossings that form part of the Great Migration. Thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle make their way across the crocodile infested waters en route to the lush plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya. The best time to witness these crossings is from late May to mid-July.
The Northern Serengeti is a quiet area of the Serengeti thanks to its remote and secluded location. Expect far fewer crowds here as it requires long travel times to get to the northern area. The trip is worth it as the Northern Serengeti’s landscapes are varied and beautiful and it is home to exciting wildlife. It is also where travelers can watch the dramatic Mara River crossings. Herds that are thousands strong make the dangerous crossing, attempting to avoid the crocodiles as they do so. The best time to visit with a high chance of seeing the river crossings is from July to September.
Serengeti translates loosely to “endless plains” in the local Maasai language. It could be argued that the seemingly never ending, short grass plains of the Southern Serengeti were the inspiration for the name. This seasonal safari destination is the most accessible area of the Serengeti and stretches from the Central Serengeti and the Seronera to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The Lake Ndutu region is dotted with alkaline lakes home to flocks of pink flamingos. This area is great for game viewing during the Great Migration from December to March. Most excitingly, the lush plains are the perfect destination and backdrop for the calving season during February when about half a million calves are born over a 2-3 week period and join the ranks of the huge herds.
The Eastern Serengeti is definitely ‘off the beaten path’ and is one of the most starkly beautiful sections of the Serengeti. Made up of grass plains, rivers and rocky outcrops, this area does not see many tourists but is an exciting safari destination. It is home to all three species of big cat (leopard, lion and cheetah) with a noticeably high concentration of cheetah. The wildlife viewing in the eastern Serengeti is at its best during the dry season and reaches its pinnacle in November when the Great Migration passes through.