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Herd of elephants in Serengeti.
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  Serengeti NP
Size: 14,763 km2/5,700 sq mi.
Best time to visit: Good all year round, but September to October and December to March are best.
Wildlife: Big herds, many species, a lot of cats, the migration.
Getting there: Seronera in central Serengeti is located a 6–8-hour drive from Arusha (or 330 km/205 mi), the first 3 hours on good tarmac road, followed by poor dirt road. Add 2 more hours for going to Lobo or the Western corridor.
The road passes Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, so these parks can easily be added to your itinerary.
There are daily scheduled flights from Arusha to the three main airstrips (Seronera, Lobo and Grumeti) in Serengeti. The flight time is up to one hour.
An interesting air connection between Serengeti and Kigali in Rwanda opens for savanna safaris combined with mountain gorilla trekking.
Serengeti map
Serengeti map.
Tanzania map
Tanzania map.
  More web sites
Serengeti
Serengeti National Park
By Tanapa.
Serengeti National Park
By UNEP-WCMC.
Maswa Game Reserve
By UNEP-WCMC.
  Glossary
Safari glossary
Opens in a new window.
 
This page in Swedish
Go to www.savannen.com for this page in Swedish.
 
 
Tanzania:
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti is one of the world's most famous parks. It is situated in northern Tanzania and is the country's second-largest park (next to Selous Game Reserve in the south). As to wildlife, it's the best park in northern Tanzania.

Diverse wildlife
The landscape varies throughout the park, thereby offering habitats for a diverse range of animals. The south is dominated by vast short grass plains, the central parts by acacia savanna, bordered by more densely vegetated wooded savanna, continuing northwards, where the landscape also turns more undulating.

Map of Africa Namibia Botswana South Africa Zambia Mozambique Malawi Rwanda Tanzania Kenya Uganda
Lions in northern Serengeti.

Western Serengeti has a mix of woodland, grass plains and marshes, fringed by hills. Kopjes, or inselbergs, are found in many areas, and are popular places for many animals, among these the big cats. The park is estimated to host 3,000 lions, 300 cheetahs, and 250 leopards. There are also 7,500 spotted hyaenas, Africa's second largest carnivores.

The migration
In the north, Serengeti borders Kenyan Masai Mara National Reserve. The migration, i.e. huge herds of ever-wandering wildebeest and zebras, moves between grazing areas in these two parks. These herds and normally found in Serengeti from December to June.

Many television documentaries showing the African savanna and wildlife were shot in Serengeti National Park, and many of them show the migrating herds crossing the Grumeti and Mara rivers within the park.

Migrating wildebeest in southern Serengeti.

Typical savanna
Because of the qualities of the park, Serengeti is an obvious destination on many safaris in northern Tanzania. The wildlife is very rich and varied, as is the bird life, and the landscape offers those views of the typical savanna that you have come all the way to Africa to see.

Serengeti is the most remote of the main parks of northern Tanzania, and parts of the road getting there can be in poor condition at times; they may be bumpy, corrugated and dusty. If you think such roads are not a very nice way to travel, you may reach Serengeti in about one hour by air from Arusha. There are daily scheduled flights to the central (Seronera), northern (Lobo) and western (Grumeti) parts of the park.

Neighbouring parks
Serengeti National Park is bordered by a number of nature protected areas, acting as buffers towards the surrounding rural areas. These areas include Ngorongoro Conservation Area (to the south-east), Maswa Game Reserve (south), Singita Grumeti Reserves (north-west) and Ikorongo Game Reserve (north-west).

Sunset in Seronera Valley in central Serengeti National Park.

Seronera and central Serengeti
Seronera Valley, or just Seronera, is the central part of Serengeti, regarded by many to be the best area for game viewing in the park. It is a transition zone between the open grass savanna to the south and the more densely vegetated tree and shrub savanna to the north. Such transition zones are generally good areas for game viewing, as they can support a wider span of species.

The Seronera River is a permanent source of drinking water, never drying out, and one more type of habitat for birds, mammals and reptiles, for example hippos and crocodiles. Elephants and herds of buffalos, wildebeest and zebras come here to drink. In the mornings and evenings, roosting marabou storks and vultures are seen in numbers in the trees that line the river, and the African fish eagle is regularly seen.

The southern half of Seronera is mainly typical savanna, with open grassland, flat-top acacias, patches of woodland and riverbeds lined with trees. Areas scattered by kopjes are popular with the big cats; lions, cheetahs and leopards. The northern half is dominated by shrubby woodland, which continues extensively to the north.

Safari vehicle in the grass plains of south-eastern Serengeti.

Gol, Ndutu and the south
Most visitors enter the park from the south-east, arriving from Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This is where you find the vast short grass plains that have given the park its name in the language of the Maasai: siringet, 'the endless plains'. Shrubs and trees are scarce, mainly found in kopje areas such as Gol Kopjes. The rocks and vegetation of the kopjes offer shelter and food to antelopes and hyrax, as well as to cats. The grass plains are a typical habitat for Grant's and Thomson's gazelles, which are hunted by cheetahs.

The few rhinoceros that still remain in Serengeti are found in the Moru Kopjes area further north, where the grass plains transform into savannas, and where hills of sedimentary rock break the horizon.

Lake Ndutu
Lake Ndutu is situated in the very south, where Serengeti borders Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This soda lake is set in a patch of woodland, surrounded by the grass plains. This is usually a very good area during January to March, when the migration occupies the plains, attracting cats and other carnivores.

Lion on a rock in Serengeti.

Lobo and the north
The Lobo area is named after the granite Lobo Hills in the northern parts of Serengeti National Park, some 80 km/50 mi along the bush road north from Seronera towards the Kenyan border and Masai Mara. This route is mainly bordered by shrubby woodland, a typical environment for impalas and giraffes. Once you reach the Lobo area, the landscape opens up into a mix of grassland, rivers, hills and woodland. The peak season, as to wildlife, is usually November to December, when the southbound migration is passing on its way to the plains of southern Serengeti. Non-migrating species, such as elephants, antelopes, buffalos and cats, can be seen throughout the year.

This part of the Serengeti is less visited than the southern and central areas, and during low seasons, you may spend most of your game driving time without meeting other visitors. A lodge, a few tented camps and a very basic camping site provide accommodation in Lobo, and an airstrip offers a comfortable way of getting there, should you prefer not to travel by road.

Some shrubby areas, especially west of the main road, are favoured by tsetse flies, which have a nasty bite and can, even though this is very uncommon, carry sleeping sickness.

From Lobo, you can continue further north within the park, but you cannot cross the Kenyan border into Masai Mara. The border crossing is closed.

Kopje in Serengeti criss-crossed by game driving tracks.

The Western corridor
Travelling to the west from Seronera in central Serengeti, you drive through shrubby woodland. The area isn't very beautiful, but you may see impalas, bat-eared foxes, banded mongoose, dikdiks, giraffes, lions and other mammals. It is often a good area for birds of prey, such as bateleurs, long-crested eagles and goshawks.

The area further west is called the Western corridor. This is where the northbound migration passes in June, headed for Kenyan Masai Mara in the far north. Here, the herds have to do one of the risky river crossings as seen on nature documentaries, as the Grumeti River, one of the major rivers in the Serengeti, is cutting straight through their route. The crocodiles of the Grumeti are known to grow very big because of this.

The Western corridor offers various habitats; grassland, woodland, hills, marshes and gallery forests lining the Grumeti River. A few luxury tented camps and lodges are situated in the far parts of the corridor, and may be accessed by road or air. Even further west, you reach the park border and Lake Victoria beyond.

Huge herd of migrating zebras close to Moru Kopjes in Serengeti.

The migration
You may visit Serengeti all year round, but a prime time for visits is when the migration is present, from December to June. You may want to avoid the 'long rains' in April–May, though, as many smaller roads and bush tracks are difficult or impossible to access due to rain and mud; the black cotton soil found in many parts of Serengeti makes an impassable mud when wet.

The migration consists of up to 1.5 million wildebeest and a few hundred thousand zebras migrating between pastures, mostly appearing in smaller herds, but occasionally congregating into enormous herds, counting hundreds of thousands.

The migration mainly follows the same route every year, wandering south from Masai Mara in Kenya in November, to reach the plains of southern Serengeti to spend the months up to the long rains in this area. The calves and foals are born during this stay in the south. When the long rains come, the herds start moving north-west, reaching the Western corridor in June, where the main herd crosses the Grumeti River and continues north out of Serengeti National Park towards Masai Mara. Smaller herds may choose an eastern route on their way to the Mara, staying within Serengeti National Park.

The whereabouts of the herds isn't predictable in detail, as they are constantly in search for the best grazing. Local rainfall boosts the re-growth of grass and diverts the herds.

A herd of elephants on the move in Seronera in southern Serengeti.

The Big Five
Many safari-goers want to see the Big Five, which means the five mammal species African elephant, rhinoceros, African buffalo, lion and leopard. All of them can be seen in Serengeti, but you should not expect that to happen. The few rhinos still remaining are all found in just one area, the Moru Kopjes, and even if you go there, your chances of spotting them are not very good. To see rhinoceros, you should include a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater in your itinerary, where chances are much better.

The other four – elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard – are seen by many visitors. The most difficult one to spot out of these is usually the leopard, due to it's secretive habits, but the Serengeti may be the best park in East Africa for observing leopards, so seeing it is far from unlikely. In fact, close to all groups that we have travelled with have seen at least one leopard in Serengeti.

The cheetah is not one of the Big Five, but it is one of Africa's three big cats and a popular animal to see. It is often seen, mostly from Seronera and southwards, but also in other areas, such as Lobo. September to October is often a good time for spotting cats in general. These months are the last during a long dry season, so the grass is short and the deciduous trees and shrubs have lost their leaves to conserve water, which makes the vegetation less dense. As a result, cats and other animals are easier to find.

Female cheetah with cubs in southern Serengeti.

Birds
The bird life of Serengeti is rich. One particular bird will probably catch your eye even if you have little interest in birds otherwise: the ostrich, which may be found in grasslands.

If you're into birds, they will keep you busy throughout your visit. The wide range of habitats allows for many different birds. Ground hornbill, kori bustard, helmeted guineafowl, lilac-breasted roller, little bee-eater, woodland kingfisher, usambiro barbet, silverbird, white-headed buffalo weaver, long-tailed starling and crowned lapwing are some of the species seen on every safari. Black crake, saddle-billed stork, goliath heron and others may be seen closer to water.

Birds of prey
Birds of prey are plentiful. Some species seen on most safaris are bateleur, tawny eagle, African fish eagle, secretary bird, lesser kestrel, black-shouldered kite and dark chanting goshawk. Not as common, but regularly seen, are martial eagle, long-crested eagle and pygmy falcon. The white-backed, Rüppel's griffon, lappet-faced and hooded vultures are common, and the white-headed vulture seen occasionally.

View from Moru Kopjes in the dry season.

Lodges and camps
There are a number of lodges and tented camps in the Serengeti area, both inside the national park and in the areas bordering it. In addition, some safari tour operators have their own mobile camps, which are pitched seasonally or when needed, usually in "controlled/special camp sites" (i.e. camp sites that can be booked exclusively, and that are not open for campers); such private mobile camps are not listed below. "Public camp sites" for camping are found mainly in Seronera in central Serengeti.
 
Seronera and central Serengeti

Seronera Wildlife Lodge.Seronera Wildlife Lodge has the most central location among the lodges in Serengeti. It is built in a kopje, and has good views of the savanna to the west of the observation terrace. There are 75 tourist class rooms, restaurant and bar. Hyrax, mongoose and agama lizards are often seen within the lodge area, and all kinds of animals may be seen in the surrounding bush.

More about Seronera Wildlife Lodge

Web site: www.hotelsandlodges-tanzania.com

Serengeti Sopa Lodge.Serengeti Sopa Lodge in the south-western parts of central Serengeti is built on a hill and has good savanna views. The lodge has 80 rooms, restaurant, bar, swimming pool and gift shop. The standard is good.

More about Serengeti Sopa Lodge

Web site: www.sopalodges.com

Serengeti Serena SafariLodge.Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge north-west of central Serengeti is set on a ridge in the hills, overlooking the savanna. It has 66 rooms, restaurant, bar, swimming pool etc, and very good standard.

More about Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge

Web site: www.serenahotels.com

Bilila Lodge Kempinski.Bilila Lodge Kempinski is a fairly new lodge offering very high standard. Its 77 rooms makes it one of the largest in Serengeti, and its design makes it rather a modern designer hotel than a traditional safari lodge.

More about Bilila Lodge Kempinski

Web site: www.kempinski.com

Ikoma Tented Camp.Ikoma Tented Camp is a tourist class tented camp situated outside the park border of central Serengeti. It has 31 tents, a restaurant and a good bush feeling. The camp offers bush walks and night game drives.

Web site: www.moivaro.com

Grumeti Luxury Tented Camp.Grumeti Luxury Tented Camp is a new tented camp situated outside the park border of central Serengeti, not very far from the Grumeti River. It has eight tents with ensuite bathrooms and verandas. The central area has restaurant, bar, viewing deck and fireplace. A swimming pool is planned. The camp offers game drives, bush walks, bird watching and balloon safaris. Children younger than seven years are not allowed in the camp.

Web site: www.ecolodgeafrica.com

Serengeti Medium Camp. Serengeti Medium Camp has 20 tents with ensuite bathroom. It's set in the Makoma Hill area west of Seronera in central Serengeti. Meals are served in a mess tent.

The owners use the description "mobile camp", but it doesn't appear to be moved between different sites, so with our difinition it's not a mobile camp.

Web site: www.tanganyikawildernesscamps.com

Grumeti Wildlife Camp is a planned sister camp to Grumeti Luxury Tented Camp, planned to open early in 2010. It is to be situated some 5 km/3 mi from its sister camp and to offer lower range standard and pricing.

Mbuzi Mawe is a new luxury tented camp built in a kopje north of Seronera in central Serengeti, off the road that goes north towards Lobo. It has 16 spacious tents, restaurant, bar and gift shop.

Web site: www.serenahotels.com
 
Gol, Ndutu and the south

Ndutu Safari Lodge.Ndutu Safari Lodge (Ngorongoro Conservation Area) is situated close to soda lake Lake Ndutu on the border between south-eastern Serengeti National Park and western Ngorongoro Conservation Area (the lodge is on the NCA side of the border). The area can be very good for game viewing from December to March, when vast numbers of animals may be present. The Ndutu area is generally good for cats.

More about Ndutu Safari Lodge

Web site: www.ndutu.com

Lake Masek Tented Camp.Lake Masek Tented Camp is a new tented camp close to Lake Masek in western Ngorongoro Conservation Area, i.e. in the Lake Ndutu area. The camp has 20 tents and a restaurant. The activities offered include game drives, bush walks and night game drives.

Web site: www.tanganyikawildernesscamps.com

Kusini is an exclusive tented camp with 12 tents in southern Serengeti, set among kopjes in a remote part of the park where few visitors come, apart from those staying in the camp. The overall quality and service is very good, and the location fine for game viewing. The area may be good for seeing the migration during January to March.

Web site: www.kusini.com
 
Lobo and the north

Lobo Wildlife Lodge.Lobo Wildlife Lodge in northern Serengeti is a tourist class lodge set on a hill and offers great savanna views to the east and west. The lodge has 75 rooms, restaurant, bar, swimming pool with a view and a waterhole.

More about Lobo Wildlife Lodge

Web site: www.hotelsandlodges-tanzania.com

Migration Camp.Migration Camp is a tented camp offering high standard, and is situated by the Grumeti River in the northern parts of Serengeti. The tents are spacious and comfortable, and have private bathrooms and verandas. The camp has restaurant, bar and a swimming pool.

More about Migration Camp

Web site: www.elewana.com

Klein's Camp is an exclusive camp in a private concession just east of northern Serengeti, not very far from the Kenyan border. It has ten cottages, restaurant, bar and swimming pool. The safari activities arranged include game drives at day and night, and bush walks.

Web site: www.kleinscamp.com

Sayari Camp is a sister camp of Olakira, and is set in the Mara River area of northmost Serengeti, and offers the same concept of a small camp (eight tents) in the middle of the bush and a true safari atmosphere. Driving off-road is allowed in parts of these northern areas.

Web site: www.asilialodges.com

Suyan Camp, sister camp to Olakira and Sayari, is set in Loliondo Game Controlled Area east of Lobo in northern Serengeti, i.e. outside of the park. This allows for activities not allowed inside the park, such as night game drives and walking safaris. There are five guest tents, and the same bush atmosphere as offered by the sister camps.

Web site: www.asilialodges.com

Loliondo Camp is a small camp of five tents in the Loliondo area just east of Lobo in northern Serengeti. The standard is tourist class, and the camp area is private and right in the bush. As the camp is outside of the national park, the activities include not only daytime game drives, but also night game drives and bush walks.

Web site: www.kirurumu.net
 
The Western corridor

Kensington Serengeti Wilderness Camp.Kensington Serengeti Wilderness Camp is a luxury tented camp in the Kirawira area of the Western corridor, a 20-minute drive from Grumeti airstrip. It has eight tents.

Web site: www.kensingtoncamps.com

Mbalageti Serengeti is a fairly new and good lodge in the Western corridor in Serengeti. It has some 20 rooms and two suites, restaurant, bar, gift shop, swimming pool and good views overlooking the surroundings.

Web site: www.mbalageti.com

Kirawira Camp is a luxury tented camp set by the Grumeti River in the Western corridor. The camp has 16 tents, restaurant and swimming pool.

Web site: www.serenahotels.com

Grumeti River Camp is a luxury tented camp situated between Kirawira Camp and Seronera, i.e. well into the Western corridor. It has ten tents, restaurant, bar, swimming pool and gift shop.

Web site: www.grumeti.com
 
Singita Grumeti Reserves
 
Sabora Tented Camp in private Singita Grumeti Reserves north of the Western corridor in Serengeti is a luxury camp with six air-conditioned tents with ensuite bathrooms, electronic safes, phone, wireless Internet, satellite television and heated swimming pool. The camp offers game drives and bush walks, plus for example badminton, mountain biking, tennis and spa.

Web site: www.singita.com

Sasakwa Lodge is, like its sister camp Sabora, set in private Singita Grumeti Reserves. This luxury lodge has six cottages and a villa for up to 28 guests all in all. The cottages have air-conditioning, bar, safe, ensuite bathroom, heated infinity pool etc. Some cottages have wheelchair access. Like Sabora, the lodge is set close to the bush, but has rather a colonial luxury atmosphere than a bush feeling. The same typeof activities are offered, plus horse riding.

Web site: www.singita.com

Faru Faru Lodge is, like its sisters Sabora and Sasakwa, set in private Singita Grumeti Reserves. It has a more contemporary style than its sister lodges, and faces a waterhole that attracts wildlife. The lodge has six air-conditioned suites, and offers the same level of luxury and the same kind of activities as Sabora and Sasakwa.

Web site: www.singita.com
 
Mobile camps
 
Nduara Loliondo Camp offers accommodation in six spacious and stylish yurts (a kind of mobile tents/huts originally used by nomads in central Asia), and bush style bathroom facilities; short drop toilets and bucket showers. This semi-mobile camp is moved twice every year between areas east of Serengeti National Park, following the migration. The setting outside of the park allows for night game drives and bush walks.

Web site: www.nduara-loliondo.com

Serengeti Safari Camp is a semi-mobile tented camp pitched in different areas of Serengeti, including the southern plains, the Western corridor and northmost Serengeti, depending on the migration season. The camp has six safari tents (for up to 12 guests) with ensuite bathrooms, and is pitched right in the bush. Expect a true safari atmosphere.

Web site: www.serengeti-safari-camp.com

Olakira Camp is a semi-mobile tented camp moving between southern (December–March) and central (June–November) Serengeti depending on season. It has six traditional safari tents set right in the bush, each with ensuite bathroom, and two tents for dining and socializing.

Web site: www.asilialodges.com

Serengeti Camp (or Kirurumu Serengeti Camp) is a sister camp to Loliondo Camp, but unlike the latter situated within Serengeti National Park. It's semi-mobile, moved seasonally to follow the migration and other wildlife; December–March in southern Serengeti, from June in the Western Corridor, and later during the dry season towards Seronera in central Serengeti. Like Loliondo Camp, it has five tents, and the same standard.

Web site: www.kirurumu.net

Lemala Luxury Camp Serengeti is a semi-mobile camp that moves seasonally between the Ndutu area of southern Serengeti (December–March) and northern Serengeti (June–October). The camp has eight guest tents, i.e. capacity for 16 guests. The tents have ensuite bathrooms, and have safari style interiors.

Web site: www.lemalacamp.com

Lioness and cubs drinking.
 
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Page updated 27 April 2013