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Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park is located in in Tanzania and is part of the larger Serengeti ecosystem which covers 12,000 square miles (30,000 sq km) and includes several other game reserves. The national park itself covers an area of 5,700 square miles (14,750 sq km). It runs contiguously with the Masai Mara in Kenya.
The name Serengeti is derived from a similar Masai word which translates, “the place where land runs on forever.” It is also affectionately known as the “endless plains.” The area is comprised of grassland plains, savanna, riverine forest, and woodlands. Although the majority of the park is open plains, the elevation does vary from 3,000 to 6,000 feet (914 to 1,828 m). The lofty rock croppings spawn visions of the movie “Lion King,” and it is possible you may even see lions on them.

3 Day Maasai Mara
The Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Mount Kilimanjaro are almost inseparable when it comes to traveling to Tanzania. Visitors will almost always experience the three of these together. Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti share the migrating wildebeest, zebra and impala herds.
In general, the park is often described as three regions with boundaries of the national park. The primary area is the Serengeti plains where is where the wildebeest breed. A second area is a western corridor featuring black clay covered savannahs. This area is home to crocodiles and hippopotamuses. The hippo pool located near this region is a guaranteed place to see hippos sleeping and wallering around.
The third area is the northern Serengeti which is where the majority of hills and woodlands occur. This is the best place to find an elephant and a giraffe.
The Serengeti National Park is globally renowned for its abundance and variety of wildlife as well as high biodiversity. The Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) can all be experienced in the park. Except for the mountain gorilla, all of Africa’s Big 7 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, hippo, and crocodile) can be found in the national park.
Predators beyond the lion and leopard include cheetah, hyena, jackals, African golden wolf, honey badger, serval, and the African wild dog. Because the park landscape is so open, there is a fair chance that you will see most of the predator species. Keep your eyes open for gathered safari vehicles; you can almost guarantee if there are more than three gathered together, they are looking at lion or leopard.
The largest remaining unaltered mammalian migration in the world is the pinnacle wildlife experience of the Serengeti. The migration features over 1.3 million wildebeest, 250,000 zebra, 500,000 gazelles, and tens of thousands of topi, hartebeest, and impala. This statistic is one of the main reasons the migration was selected as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

The Serengeti National Park is one of the most coveted safari destinations in the world. There is no question of “if” you will see anything but rather how many of which ones. Speaking of the Big 5, there are approximately 3,000 lions, 1,000 leopards, and 5,000 elephants. The most abundant is the buffalo with approximately 53,000 of them. Unfortunately, there are only 31 individual rhinoceroses left in the park because of poaching.
The expanse of the Serengeti National Park creates the opportunity for endless roaming as safari-goers pursue their ultimate wildlife encounters. Ballooning over the plains itself is stunning, however, it is awe-inspiring to balloon over the migration herd to actually get a panoramic view of its enormity.
One of the most exciting natural facets of the migration occurs in September or October when the migrating herd of wildebeest, zebra, and other ungulates cross the Mara River into Kenya and the masai mara game reserve. Watching hundreds of wildebeest cross the river at any given moment is a spectacular sight. It will also leave you speechless if you witness one of the crocodiles in the river capture one of the members of the cross herd.

Wildlife in Serengeti national Park

The Serengeti is famous for its predators: you can expect excellent lion and cheetah sightings (and exciting lion kills), and leopards are also regularly spotted. Other predators include serval cats, golden and black-backed jackal, African wild dog and spotted hyenas.

The Great Migration is the stellar highlight of the Serengeti’s wildlife: an annual circular movement of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle northwards into the neighbouring Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and back into the plains of Serengeti. This mass movement of animals is accompanied by predators picking off their kills, while the dangerous crossings of the mighty Mara River make for dramatic scenes of struggle and survival as animals battle strong currents and attacks by huge Nile crocodiles.

 

The Serengeti Great Migration - August
The Serengeti great migration

 

 

Bird species in Serengeti National Park

Birds in the Serengeti range from the tiny Beautiful Sunbird that often can be seen hovering around bright Aloe flowers, to the massive ostrich with its pinkish legs and dramatic mating dance, and everything in between. The Serengeti Biodiversity Program has recorded some 540 species of birds. In particular, keep your eyes open for the ‘Serengeti specials’: bird species endemic to the region and therefore cannot be found elsewhere on the planet. These special birds include the grey throated spurfowl, Schalow’s wheatear, red throated tit, rufous-tailed weaver, grey-crested helmet shrike, and Schalow’s turaco. Some other birds you may recognize and try to find are the secretary bird, African fish eagle, Fischer’s lovebird or countless vulture species.

Other birds; Chasing the Serengeti specials will be a priority for every serious birder. However, the mixed vegetation types of woodland, riverine forests and grasslands offers prime quality birdwatching that allows also non-birders to take delight of the many birds in Serengeti National Park. Did we mention that we recommend bringing a pair of binoculars already? We often see ostrich, and other giants such as the southern ground hornbill, kori bustard, and secretary bird. One of the most extraordinary birds of the Serengeti is the lilac-breasted roller, often seen in trees alongside the road. Highlights are inevitably subjective, but definitely should include a magnificent black eagle soaring above the cliffs at Lobo, or a breeding colony of Jackson’s golden-backed weaver.

 

the Lilac-breasted roller of Tanzania

 

What is the best time to visit Serengeti National Park?

The best times to visit Serengeti National Park are from January to February or from June through September, although you should plan your trip around the movement of The Great Migration. For example, winter is the best time to see the herd in Southern Serengeti, while the Western Corridor and Northern Serengeti are the best places to spend the summer and autumn months. Most safari operators like Umarella voyage Safaris has a good idea of where the animals are headed and when, and most will adjust their itineraries based on the herd’s movement. Temperatures remain relatively constant with daytime highs resting in the 80s. You’ll find cooler weather in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area due to its higher elevation. April and May see the most rainfall, and many lodges and camps close for this slower season.

Why months of June-September?

During the summer and fall, The Great Migration makes its way north, where the plains are ablaze with colorful flora. In the early summer months, you’ll most likely find the herd near the Grumeti River in the park’s Western Corridor, although you’re sure to catch a glimpse of a smaller rogue group in the Lobo Valley. Watching the grazers take on the river’s vicious crocodile population can make for an experience of a lifetime. Between July and September, the wildebeest and zebras mingle with elephants and giraffes in beautiful Lobo and Bologonja Springs in the park’s northern area.

 

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