Price Star from: $800 Per Person
“The place where the land moves on forever.” (Siringitu in Masai Language). Famous for its annual migration of over 2 million white-bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 250, 000 zebras.
It lies on the shores of Lake Victoria in the East and Kenya’s Masai Mara, to the Northwest. Hills rising out of the seemingly endless plains, rivers, and small lakes, magnificent rocky outcrops and the occasional swamp all add to the park’s fascination.
Serengeti’s prodigious animal life, native peoples, vast area and varied topography create a variety that’s unmatched by any park on earth. This is the place almost everybody thinks of when the words “African Wildlife Safari” come to mind. It would probably be enough that Serengeti, established in 1951, is the greatest preserve of plains animal species on earth
The list of species is almost overwhelming: wildebeest, zebras, lions, elephants, giraffes, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, hippopotamus, buffalo, eland, reedbucks and jackals live, prosper and die in wild, unfettered surroundings. There are 500 species of birds, including flocks of flamingos that turn the sky into a mile-long cloud of swirling pink when they take off.
It is the chance to see such abundant life in its natural surroundings that draws so many visitors here. But the strength of the park is more than its extravagant gifts of nature. An excellent insight lies behind its organization. Serengeti, whose name in Maasai means “endless plains,” has been laid out to accommodate the migration of the wildebeest, the homely grazing animal whose 2-to-3-million-member herd plays the starring role in the park.
The Serengeti National Park is broadly divided into three distinct areas, the Seronera Valley and Seronera River, the Western Corridor and the Northern Lobo area that extends northwards to join the Maasai Mara.
THE SERONERA VALLEY
The most popular entrance to the Serengeti is the southern Naabi Hill Gate, which opens onto the Seronera Valley, a vibrant wildlife area at the heart of the Serengeti. The Seronera is characterized by mainly wide open grassy plains patched together within a network of rivers that ensure year-round water supplies and keep this region incredibly rich in wildlife. This region, in particular, is studded with distinctive rock kopjies, random collections of huge granite rocks, weathered through the ages to form distinctive softened shapes rising out of the plains; a haven of shade and water for all animals through the dry season. The Seronera Valley has resident herds of buffalo, topi, hartebeest and impala, waterbuck, reedbuck and dikdik, numerous giraffe, warthog, and a rich pageant of birdlife of all colors and sizes. The large pride of lion here are renowned in this area, rolling southern plains down to the Naabi Gate are the area in Tanzania in which you are most likely to encounter cheetah. The lines of sausage trees along the Seronera riverbanks provide the perfect environment for languid leopards to camouflage themselves on sun-dappled branches, and lion roam at large throughout
THE WESTERN CORRIDOR
To the west of the Seronera, the Serengeti branches out along the westerly reaches of the Grumeti River, in an area called the Western Corridor. This area is more wooded than the Seronera, and although it still has a good population of resident game it is harder to spot them in the bush. It is worth taking a guide who knows the area. This region is particularly worth visiting in June and July when the migration moves northwards from the Seronera and must face up to the often fatal challenge of jumping across the crocodile-infested Grumeti River. Many of these resident crocs rely entirely on this spring-time annual feast and spend the subsequent months of the year in an idle, yellow toothed, mud-covered wait.
THE NORTHERN SERENGETI AND LOBO AREA
The landscape changes as you head north from Seronera. Beyond the Orangi River, the land opens out into wide open Togoro plains, clear and sunbaked and seemingly perfect cheetah terrain, although they are rarely spotted here. The route continues like this for about three hours, until you reach the hills and huge worn-smooth rock kopjies of the Lobo area, haunt of at least two extended lion prides. Further north is the Mara River, which marks the border between the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Although a passable road leads across, the border crossing is closed to tourists.
The endless plains of East Africa are the setting for the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle – the 1.5 million animal ungulate (wildebeest) migration. From the vast Serengeti plains to the champagne colored hills of Kenya’s Masai Mara over 1.4 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras and gazelle, relentlessly tracked by Africa’s great predators, migrate in a clockwise fashion over 1,800 miles each year in search of rain ripened grass.
There is no real beginning or end to a wildebeest’s journey. Its life is an endless pilgrimage, a constant search for food and water. The only beginning is at the moment of birth. An estimated 400,000 wildebeest calves are born during a six week period early each year – usually between late January and mid-March.
HOT-AIR BALLOON SAFARIS
Another very popular option to gain a bird’s-eye view of the wildlife below is from a hot-air balloon. An early morning departure, gentle lift-off, the lush rolling expanse of the Serengeti plains below, and a romantic champagne breakfast to complete this very special and unforgettable Serengeti experience.