The Serengeti is famous worldwide for its wide-open savannas and stunning wildlife, in particular its spectacular yearly migration of wildebeest and zebra. The park is a UNESCO world heritage site, and was recently listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Covering 5,700 square miles, the park is the oldest reserve in Tanzania, having been established in 1951.The Serengeti National Park is located in northern Tanzania (near the border with Kenya) near Lake Manyara, Arusha, and Tarangire National Parks, as well as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area – this group of five reserves makes up what is known as the “northern safari circuit.” Quite a bit of controversy has surrounded the park’s history, in particular the fact that the Masai people living in the Serengeti were moved to Ngorongoro. Despite this, the Tanzanian people feel an enormous amount of pride for this park, and it is one of the must-sees of the Tanzanian game parks.
The terrain of the Serengeti is wild and open – indeed, with the exception of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) staff and researchers, no human habitation is allowed within the park. The park is a stunning mixture of savanna, grassland plains, and forests. Every year around October, millions of the park’s animals migrate to the Masai Mara in Kenya, making the return journey back to the Serengeti in April. The journey is an arduous one, exemplified by the fact that more than 200,000 wildebeests die while making the journey. Interestingly, the park remains home to one active volcano, called the Ol Doinyo Lengai – tree roots cannot penetrate the volcano’s ash, resulting in the treeless plains which stretch to the west of the volcano.
The animals of the Serengeti are what have drawn visitors and adventurers to the park year after year. The array of beasts is spectacular: gazelles, buffaloes, elephants and lions are just a few of the animals visitors will see when visiting the park. There is a clear distinction in the park between the Serengeti’s predators and preys. Some of these predators are the most stunning of East Africa’s large mammals – golden lions, speedy leopards, and mischievous cheetahs all roam the park, feeding on gazelles and wildebeests. Visitors will also have the chance to view the over 90 variations of dung beetles that populate the park, as well as over 500 different species of birds. There is never shortage to see, and Serengeti travelers will find themselves on sensory overload from the moment they enter this renowned game reserve.
Arriving at the Serengeti is not difficult; because of the park’s popularity, numerous safari tour operators are located in Arusha. Planes from Dar es Salaam to Arusha run daily. If you book with a safari operator before arriving in Tanzania, they can help you in making transportation arrangements. Arusha makes a great base for exploring both the Serengeti and a number of the other northern circuit parks. In order to see the great migrations, visit the park from December to July. However, if you are more interested in seeing predators, June to October is ideal.
A number of camping sites, lodges, and luxury tents are located within the Serengeti, and to truly take advantage of your safari experience it makes the most sense to stay within the park. After all, there is nothing like waking up early for a morning walk and seeing lions roaming through plains as the sun comes up. Work with your tour operator to find your perfect accommodation. Check out the recently opened Billa Lodge, located within the park, which offers some fantastic package rates. Discuss with your tour operator the type of accommodation you are interested in, as well are your budget restraints, and they will be able to find you exactly what you are looking for.