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Serengeti National Park is a 60,000 square kilometer large area of savanna and open woodland. It is home to the largest herds of grazing animals in the world, including more than 2 million wildebeest, 900,000 Thomson's gazelles and 300,000 zebras. Predators are ca. 4000 lion and 1000 leopard.

The Serengeti hosts the largest and longest overland migration in the world, a biannual occurrence. Around October, nearly 2 million herbivores travel from the northern hills toward the southern plains, crossing the Mara River, in pursuit of the rains. In April, they then return to the north through the west, once again crossing the Mara River.

Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve also is part of this Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, and IUCN recommended an extension to add this part.

Visit December 2008

At 8 a.m. we leave for the day-long safari through the Serengeti. Our lodge, the Ndutu Lodge, lies outside the boundaries of the park and therefore we must first take a ride on the plains until we reach the Naabi Hill Gate. Underway we already see plenty of animals, especially a lot of gazelles and the first hyena.

The Serengeti seems a big dry plain but there still are some small pools of water. In one of them about twenty hippos are submerged. They look like a group of stones as they have their heads under water. Only very occasionally, they show their nostrils above the water line.

The first real predators that we see are the Cheetahs. First four at some distance, and then another two fairly close. They were sitting under a tree but when they see the jeep they walk away slowly.

The park also has many different kinds of deer and antelope. In addition to the ubiquitous gazelles we see impalas, hartebeests and Bohor bucks. They all stand around in small groups along the sandy road that we must follow with our jeeps. If a jeep stops, they look up and pull back a bit, but they are not really skittish.

Then time has come for the search for lions. Search is a relative concept here, because the jeep drivers have a radio on board to keep each other informed. Also oncoming jeeps are often asked for information. A group of four lions has made itself comfortable in the shade under a big tree. The two males and two females do not even look up when three jeeps stop in front of them. It is so remarkable how close you can come, but these animals are afraid of nobody, and also accustomed to the many jeeps. A bit later we find another couple. This time on their favorite lookout, a “kopje” (rock in the flat land).

After a lunch at the visitor center (where you can also stretch your legs because in the park you are not allowed to leave your vehicle), we stated that we would like to see a leopard. “If you're lucky …”, our driver Mouni replies. And we are! Within less than 10 minutes we encounter a traffic jam of jeeps. On a tree branch lies a very lazy leopard. He is close, you can see his spotted hide with the naked eye. We remain to watch him over quite a long time, but he does not move more than to rearrange his leg to lie even more comfortable. Surely the highlight of the day, because leopards are quite rare to see.

On our way back to the lodge, we come across two arguing elephants. A jeep is caught in the middle between them (a somewhat unhappy position), but the big beasts have only eye for each other. They are only threatening: one takes a few steps forward and the the other pulls back a little. A few minutes later, it’s the other way around. At one point one elephant in his anger kicks a tree, which is overthrown like a twig. The giants keep on threatening each other but do not fight.


Peter Howard (Kenya)
Peter Howard (Kenya)::
I have visited Serengeti several times in recent years to photograph and carry out research for a forthcoming book about Africa's natural world heritage sites. A slideshow of my best photographs is now available on the African Natural Heritage website, together with comments, other information about the park, a map and links to other websites including satellite images from Google Earth. Follow the link below:
Date posted: January 2011
Brandon Davis (United States):
Recently visited Seregheti NP too on our honeymoon in early July (see Ngorongoro Crater NP). Weather was amazing. Mid-eighties and no humidity. Being the dry season the tsetse flies and mosquitos were not a problem. Had timed our trip for the Wildebeast migration. The beginning of our Safari with Thomson tours (without the "p", which I highly recommend) started at Tarangire NP where the migrating herds had left the week prior to our arrival. However we caught up with the herds in the western corridor of the Serengeti NP. Amazing! A vast expanse of grassland inhabited by millions of animals as far as the eye can see. And best of all, not one radio-tower with flashing red lights to spoil the view in the distance. Coming into the park via the Naabi Hill gate and traversing the endless flat plain is truely a sight to behold. You realize what a small speck you are on this earth. I would recommend visiting early/mid-June to avoid possibly missing the herds in Tanzania (they migrate to Kenya). The Kirawira Luxury camp is exquisite. The people of Tanzania are extremely friendly to foreigners and the use of English is spreading rapidly, thus making travel more comfortable for us westerners. I highly recommend seeing this eden.

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Site info

Serengeti National Park
Country: Tanzania
Inscribed: 1981
Natural Heritage
Criteria:  (7) (10)
Category: Wildlife habitat, Fauna

Site history:
1981 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription

Site links

Official website:
»National Park

In the news:
» Hold the Champagne: Highway to Split Serengeti After All? (01-07-2011).
» UNESCO fires warning shot over Serengeti Highway (30-09-2010).

Related links:
» Serengeti on the Tanzania Parks website.

Related Forum posts:
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"Threatened" by Roads . Covered by volcanic ash .
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