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 - January 2011
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:
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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Full name: Serengeti National Park
1981 - InscribedReasons for inscription
The site has 16 connections. Show all
- 'Threatened' by Roads Arusha- Musoma Highway
- Covered by volcanic ash The underlying soils and materials of the Serengeti plains are comprised of volcanic ash derived from a number of local volcanoes. The dormant caldera of Ngorongoro, the Kerimasi Volcano and Mt Lengai (last eruption in 1966) have all contributed volcanic ash to these soils (vertisols). These soils have characteristic plant communities, distinguishing the ecoregion from its neighbors.
- Animal Migrations Wildebeest
- Big Five
- Critically endangered fauna species Black Rhinoceros - General: "Population size collapsed during the last century, from an estimated 65,000 animals in 1970 to a mere 2,300 in the 1990s. Rhino numbers are now increasing, but recovery is slow"; in Serengeti NP: "very few individuals remain due to rampant poaching"
- Elephants African elephant
- Inselbergs "The Serengeti plain is punctuated by granite outcroppings known as kopjes. These outcroppings are the result of volcanic activity. Kopjies provide a microhabitat for non-plains wildlife. One kopje likely to be seen by visitors to the Serengeti is the Simba Kopje (Lion Kopje). The Serengeti was used as inspiration for the animated Disney feature film The Lion King and subsequent theatrical production. (Wiki)
- Ratites common ostrich
- Rhino habitat
- Strepsirrhini brown greater galago
- Ernest Hemingway In 1933 Hemingway and Pauline went on safari to East Africa. The 10-week trip provided material for Green Hills of Africa, as well as the short stories "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber". They visited .... the Serengeti (WIki)
WHS on Other Lists
- World Biosphere Reserves Part of Serengeti-Ngorongoro (1981)
World Heritage Process
- Extensions on Tentative List The Great Rift Valley - The Maasai Mara - "The site should be listed as across boarder site as the United Republic of Tanzania has taken the first initiative"