Everything you need to know about the Serengeti National Park
Welcome to Discover Africa’s Serengeti National Park guide. At 14,763 square kilometres in size, A Serengeti Safari is arguably the finest safari experience directly in a national park in Africa and offers a wealth of wildlife viewing opportunities. Pretty much every large animal in East Africa can be regularly seen in the national park or wider ecosystem. When you include all the contiguous protected areas, of which Ngorongoro is one of the most noteworthy, the total size of the entire Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is a staggering 30,000 square kilometres packed choc-full of truly extraordinary wildlife sightings. Renowned for its predators – especially lions, leopards and cheetahs – and with plenty of elephants favouring the western woodlands of Grumeti, a Serengeti Safari experience dazzles even the most hardened safari critics.
Our recommended tour
Calving Season Safari
Visit Tanzania during the calving season to see wildebeest calves join the massive herds making their way through the Serengeti for the great migration.
When you arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport, you will be greeted and transferred to the Onsea House in Arusha …Here, you’ll get a brief overview of your Serengeti safari tour, giving you the chance to do any last minute preparations. You will stay overnight at the Onsea House on a bed and breakfast basis, where you’ll be given the opportunity to encounter Mount Meru cultural tourism walking tours, a Meru walking safari, Lake Duluti Forest Reserve Tour, Arusha city tour, coffee tour and cultural walks to Baraa Primary School.
You will drive from Tarangire National Park to Ngorongoro Crater where you will stay on a full-board basis for two nights in the Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp …The camp’s main areas include breathtaking views of the spectacular scenery and large trees that surround it. Enjoy amazing game drives in the Lake Manyara National Park, where prolific wildlife such as zebra, wildebeest, lion, leopard, elephants and black rhinos can be sighted.
Join us to explore the different forms of vegetation and landscapes of the Serengeti ecosystem and meet some of the most fascinating inhabitants …Observe the calving season in the south Serengeti National Park and watch as the newborns come to life. The Serengeti is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth - the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. Enjoy guided game drives through the park, as well as Ndutu Marsh walks, sundowners and more, with the option of a hot air balloon safari. Lemala Ndutu Mobile Tented Camp will be your home for the next three nights with all your meals and local drinks included.
Join us to explore the different forms of vegetation and landscapes of the Serengeti ecosystem and meet some of the most fascinating inhabitants …Observe the calving season in the south Serengeti National Park and watch as the newborns come to life. Going on serengeti tour in tanzania is quite likely the best holiday you can choose as the Serengeti is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth - the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. Enjoy guided game drives through the park, as well as Ndutu Marsh walks, sundowners and more, with the option of a hot air balloon safari. Lemala Ndutu Mobile Tented Camp will be your home for the next three nights with all your meals and local drinks included.
January falls during the green season, and receives an average of 14 days of rain in the month. It’s one of the warmest months of the year, with day time highs reaching 29CThe Southern Serengeti and Ndutu Region are the best places to be in January, when the herds have congregated on the lush green plains to graze and to calve.
- Falling between the “long” and “short” rainy seasons, January sees lush, green, beautiful landscapes in the Serengeti, which make for amazing photos. However, the thicker vegetation makes game viewing more challenging.
- January is the start of the calving season in the southern Serengeti and Ndutu region, when thousands of baby wildebeest are born on the plains every day.
- Another bonus of travelling in January is the chance to see numerous migratory bird species in the park.
February has the same climate as January – warm days with highs of up to 29C, and some rain – an average of 14 days a month.
- February is peak wildebeest calving season, so if you want to see baby animals being born – as well as lots of predator action – then this is the month to travel.
- The landscapes are lush and verdant, although this does make seeing animals harder than in the dry season.
- February is one of the best months for birdwatchers in the Serengeti, as the migratory species are in the park.
March is the start of the “long rains” season – the three wettest months of the year. It rains most days of the month, although it doesn’t usually rain for the entire day. Average day time highs are 29C, while nights go down to a cool 16C. The Ndutu Region is the best region of the park to stay in March, when the wildebeest herds have their new calves, and there’s lots of predator action as the cats pick on the vulnerable baby animals. March has lush, beautiful landscapes and great birdwatching, but the thick vegetation and rain can make game viewing more challenging. However, if you’re staying in the Ndutu Region, you will be able to see the massive herds of the Great Migration with their baby animals (and exciting scenes of predator kills).
April is the wettest month of the year, and even though there’s rain almost every day of the month, it rarely rains all day. April is slightly cooler than March, but it’s still warm during the day, with average highs of 28C. While calving season has ended, the herds of wildebeest are still in the Southern Serengeti and Ndutu Region, sustained by the lush grass on the plains. However, the herds have also started moving northwards, so you can catch them on the move in the Seronera/Central Serengeti region too. Because of the amount of rainfall that April receives, it’s one of the least popular months to visit the park, which means that you can get discounted rates on lodging and packages. A plus is that the park is very quiet, so you’ll have sightings without any crowds.
May is less rainy than April, but still one of the wettest months of the year, receiving an average of 18 days of showers in the month. It’s slightly cooler than April, with a maximum average of 27C during the day. The Central Serengeti is the best region to base yourself in for the month of May, as the Great Migration herds are on the move through the heart of the park this month. Towards the end of the month, the herds have moved into the Western Corridor. May is very quiet in the park, and it’s a good month to travel if you want to get discounted rates at lodges and camps. Game viewing is not its best this month because of the rain and the lush vegetation, but you can still see epic scenes of the herds on the move.
June marks the beginning of the dry season – the peak time to be in the park. There’s little rain, and temperatures range from 27C during the day to 15C at night. In June, the herds move from the Western Corridor into the Grumeti (making the crossing of the Grumeti River) so either of these areas would be a good base. Dry weather, lush landscapes, clear skies and the Great Migration herds’ crossings of the Grumeti River makes June a wonderful month to visit the Serengeti. Tourist numbers pick up this month after the low season of April and May, so the park is busier.
July is the driest month of the entire year, and also the coolest. While day time highs peak at 26C, night time averages are 14C – and can sometimes be even colder so be sure to pack warm clothing for the evenings and early morning game drives. The Great Migration herds are continuing their move northwards, crossing the Grumeti River in the west of the park in the beginning of the month, and then starting to make the dramatic crossing of the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti towards the end of the month.
- River crossings are some of the most dramatic scenes of the Great Migration, and if you travel in July, you’ll be able to catch Grumeti River crossings, as well as the more dramatic Mara River crossings in the north of the park.
- The dry vegetation at this time of year makes wildlife spotting easy, and the weather is ideal. It’s one of the most popular months to visit the Serengeti, so parts of the park – especially the Seronera area – can be very busy.
August is slightly warmer than July, and it’s also another dry month, with an average of only seven days of rain in the month. Stay in the Northern Serengeti to see the thrilling scenes of thousands of animals making the crossing over the Mara River as they move across the border into Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park. Mara River crossings are among the most dramatic moments of the Great Migration, and August is the best month to travel to the Serengeti for the chance of seeing river crossings. It’s one of the most popular months of the year for travel to the park, which means that river crossing viewing points can be very busy with other cars.
September falls within the Serengeti’s dry season. It’s slightly warmer than August, with day time averages of 28C, but nights are still cool, falling down to 15C. The Northern Serengeti is the best region to travel to in September to see the Great Migration herds crossing the Mara River into Kenya. September offers the chance of exciting Mara River crossings in the Northern Serengeti, with fewer tourists than August. It’s also one of the best months of the year to see resident game in other areas of the park.
October marks the end of the dry season, and the “short rains” can sometimes start this month. It’s one of the warmer months of the year, with day time highs averaging at 29C. Some of the Great Migration herds are still in the Northern Serengeti (and still making Mara River crossings), but sometimes this month (depending on when the rains start), the herds start to move back down into the Serengeti from the Masai Mara this month, passing through the Loliondo Game Controlled Area (a concession outside of the park’s northern section).
- Depending on when the rains start in October, the herds of the Great Migration will start to make their way from the Masai Mara back down south into the Serengeti, however the exact timing of this movement is unpredictable. There is a chance that you can still catch the last of the river crossings in the Northern Serengeti this month.
- Falling at the end of the dry season, October’s very dry and thin vegetation means that this is an excellent month for seeing resident game.
The short rains usually begin this month, bringing fresh green grass to the plains. November is one of the rainiest months of the year, receiving an average of 17 days of rain in the month. There may still be some animals crossing the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti at the start of the month. However, to see the big herd movements, stay in the Seronera Valley in the Central Serengeti, where the animals are on the move en masse towards the fresh grass in the south of the park. While November is a rainy month, it usually only rains in the afternoons, so you will still have superb game viewing opportunities. It’s a quieter month, so some lodges offer low season rates. November is a great time to travel to the Serengeti if you want to see the full spectacle of the Great Migration herds on the move.
December falls during the “short rains” period in the Serengeti, and receives just a bit less rain on average than November. Day time highs are 28C and nights go down to 16C. At the start of the month, the Great Migration herds are in the Seronera region of the Central Serengeti, while towards the end of the month they are concentrated in the Southern Serengeti and Ndutu Region. December is a good month to catch the herds on the move from the Central to Southern Serengeti. Depending on the rains, the calving season may also begin towards the end of the month. While December falls during one of the rainy seasons in the Serengeti, the afternoon thundershowers usually clear up quickly, so they don’t tend to cause much disruption to a safari. The rains have turned the plains of the Serengeti lush and green, and the skies are dust free, which makes for great photos.
Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is the safari destination that most people dream of. This massive wilderness area, which stretches across 14750 square kilometres, offers one of the continent’s best wildlife viewing experiences, as well as classic East African scenery of vast savanna (Serengeti means “endless plains” in the local Maasai language), and the dramatic spectacle of the most spectacular animal movement on the planet – the Great Migration.
Game viewing is superb year-round in the Serengeti: the park is home to the Big Five (although rhinos are rarely seen), and is particularly renowned for its predators – leopard, cheetah, lion and hyena – which are regularly spotted. The Serengeti also plays host to the phenomenal Great Migration, which sees millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle traversing the open plains of the park in search of fresh grass from seasonal rains, moving northwards into the neighbouring Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, and then returning south to the Serengeti again. The dramatic scenes of huge herds on the move, crossing rivers and vast plains and pursued by predators looking for their next kill, are the stuff nature documentaries are made of. Experiencing the Great Migration is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime event that most safari travellers have at the top of their bucket list.
Apart from thrilling game drives, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy during your safari in the Serengeti, including sunrise hot air balloon rides over the plains, newly-introduced walking safaris in some sections of the park, visits to Olduvai Gorge – the most important paleoanthropological site in the world – Maasai cultural experiences, birdwatching, and making a filmic pilgrimage to see the rocky outcrop that inspired Pride Rock in The Lion King.
Given the massive size of the reserve, picking where to go in the Serengeti takes a bit of planning. Different parts of the park have different attractions throughout the year, and choosing a region or lodge really depends on what you’d like to experience and when you’re planning on travelling. Each of the Serengeti’s major regions (Central, Northern, Eastern, Southern and the Western Corridor and Grumeti) have varied wildlife attractions, so researching what the different areas have to offer at what time of year will pay off in terms of giving you the best safari experience. There’s also the opportunity of staying on the unfenced private concessions just outside the park boundaries, which offer the landscapes and wildlife of the Serengeti but also extra activities, such as night drives and walking safaris, that are not permitted within the park.
Why the Serengeti?
The Great Migration is the most dramatic wildlife spectacle on the planet and there’s only two places in the world where it takes place: the Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Every year millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle make their way from the Ndutu region in the south of the Serengeti, across perilous river crossings and huge expanses of grassy plains, to reach fresh green grass that comes with seasonal rains as they move northwards. For many months of the year, the vast herds can be seen in different parts of the Serengeti: calving at the start of the year, river crossings in the middle of the year, and the return journey from the Masai Mara at year’s end.
Apart from the drama of the Great Migration, the sheer vastness of the Serengeti makes it stand out from other wilderness areas. Named as one of the Seven Wonders of Africa, the Serengeti is makes up one of the most important ecosystems on the planet, supporting and abundance and diversity of animals and birdlife that is hard to match anywhere else. The national park, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also home to the highest concentration of large predators in the world.
A safari destination to visit time and time again
The Serengeti is so vast that you could never even think of seeing it all on one trip. Each region offers different landscapes and wildlife highlights, as well as varied lodging and activity options. Return visits would definitely make the most of the park’s diversity.
There’s also a lot of seasonality to the park and its wildlife, and different regions of the park have different things going on at varying times of the year. It would definitely be worth visiting in the peak months of the Great Migration, to witness this incredible wildlife spectacle – the vast herds, lion kills and river crossings – and then returning to the park at a quieter (but no less exciting) time of year, such as for wildebeest calving in the south of the park in January and February.
With the varied lodging options, return visits would allow you to experience the breadth of what’s on offer, from permanent lodges to mobile tented camps, as well as multi-day walking safaris where you stay in small camps each night.
Wildlife in the Serengeti
One of the greatest wilderness areas in the world, the Serengeti supports a magnificent diversity and abundance of animals, from the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and black rhino (although these are rarely spotted) – to giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, impala, kongoni, topi and eland.
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.
For birders, there are more than 500 species in the park, including a few Tanzanian endemic species, such as Fischer’s lovebird, grey-breasted spurfowl and rufous-tailed weaver. Other birding highlights include kori bustard, secretary bird, usambiro barbet, yellow-throated sandgrouse, grey-crested helmet shrike, and Hildebrant’s starling.