Abundant game in this World Heritage Site makes it a must-see for anyone interested in the natural world.
Serengeti is arguably the world’s most famous national park – for good reason. This is where the Great Wildebeest Migration takes place each year and where some 3 000 lions and 1 000 leopards control the 15 000 square kilometres of plains and savannah woodland. This unique ecosystem is the only place on earth that can sustain the wildebeest migration, where an annual population explosion of up to 8 000 ungulates are born every day. Here, the circle of life and the survival of the fittest are followed with passionate interest by safari operators, journalists, photographers and other visitors year after year.
Incredible sightings, up to a hundred lion in one day
Great Migration all year round
You can still get lost and get away from the crowds
Space and endless plains
Where to go in Serengeti
Central Serengeti & Seronera Valley
The Central Serengeti, lying at the heart of this spectacular national park, is the most popular region in the reserve for its abundant wildlife, large numbers of big cats and quintessential Serengeti landscapes of acacia-studded savanna. Resident wildlife makes this part of the Serengeti a fantastic year-round destination, but the months of April to June and October to December, when the herds of the Great Migration pass through the area, are when it’s at its peak.
Credit: Camp Zebra
The Seronera River Valley, located in the south-central region of the park, is one of the most popular areas in the entire reserve. Known as the Big Cat Capital of Africa, the Seronera is rich in lion, leopard and cheetah – and people often spot all three in one day of game drives. Look for leopard around the Seronera River, which is home to one of Africa’s densest populations of the big cats, while lions can often be seen on the kopjes (rocky outcrops). The Serengeti Plains – the open savanna south of the Seronera River – are prime cheetah territory. Other animals to spot in the area’s varied habitats of rivers, swamps, kopjes and grasslands include elephant, hippos and crocodiles in the rivers, buffaloes, impala, topi, jackals and bat-eared foxes.
While the year-round supply of water from the Seronera River means that the area is excellent for wildlife spotting throughout the year, April to June is the peak season for game viewing in the Seronera, as this is when the plains are full of migrating wildebeest, zebra and gazelle as they’re making their way up north. The central location of the Seronera means that it’s one of the best places to see the Great Migration in action, as the animals are moving through the area for months.
The Central Serengeti is a fantastic area to see the Great Migration in action: the herds move through this section of the park from April to June as they travel northwards, and then they come back again heading south from October to December. Some of the best locations in the Central Serengeti to see the herds include the Seronera Valley and Seronera River, Moru Kopjes, Simba Kopje and Maasai Kopjes.
If you’re after Big Cats, the Seronera area in the Central Serengeti is your best bet: this region is hailed as the best place to see predators – particularly lion, leopard and cheetah – on thrilling hunts.
The Central Serengeti is studded with many rocky granite outcrops, known as kopjes, which are where you should look out for lions and cheetahs. There are also some particular kopje highlights, such the Simba Kopje, or Simba Rocks – the place that inspired Pride Rock in the Disney film The Lion King. The film link is not the only reason to visit this pile of granite boulders however – it’s great spot to see lions, which are often lying on the rocks under the sun. At Moru Kopjes, south of the Seronera River, you can try and search for some of the last remaining black rhinos in the entire reserve – as well as see some old rock art paintings. Then there’s a visitor’s centre for the Serengeti Rhino Project, where you can learn about the important rhino conservation work that’s being done to protect this highly endangered species. Moru Kopjes is also one of the very few areas of the park where you can do multi-day walking safaris.
Hot air ballooning is a must-do when you’re visiting the Serengeti. Floating gently above the grassy plains in the golden light of dawn, spotting animals from your suspended basket is an experience you’ll never forget. If you’re staying in the Central Serengeti, you can get a transfer to and from your lodge or camp to the hot air ballooning launch site near the Masai Kopjes. A champagne breakfast once you land is the cherry on top of an amazing activity.
Many lodges and camps offer a visit to a Maasai village so that you can learn more about the famous semi-nomadic pastoralist tribe who have long lived in the area that is now the Serengeti and the Masai Mara national parks. At the Maasai village you’ll be treated to members of the village singing and dancing, with the male warriors doing a traditional jumping dance. You’ll also be able to buy beautiful jewellery and handmade crafts, which make great souvenirs – and also support the local economy.
Credit: Serengeti Acacia Camps
The Seronera region, as the most popular area of the park, has a wealth of lodging options ranging from budget-friendly through to mid-range and up to all-out luxury, with some of the park’s best high-end properties. Budget travellers can camp under the stars at the rustic Seronera Campsite, while travellers looking for mid-range options will find affordable lodges and camps – many of which are family friendly and offer the full range of amenities such as WiFi. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury camps: there are mobile camps which move with the Great Migration herds (and don’t scrimp on comfort, with proper beds, hot bucket showers and private butlers), beautifully designed lodges with private infinity pools and activities such as guided meditation sessions in the bush, bush picnics and stargazing.
The park headquarters are also based in Seronera (close to the airstrip), where there’s a visitor information centre, a curio shop and a café.
The Seronera gets particularly busy during the most popular months of June and July and October to April and sightings can be overpopulated. If escaping the crowds is your priority and you’re travelling in these months, consider booking your lodging in another part of the park.
Seronera is accessible by road on a six-hour drive from both Arusha and Mwanza, but the easiest option to access this part of the park is to fly into the Seronera airstrip and stay at a lodge that caters for fly-in travellers: they’ll come and pick you up from the airstrip and provide game drives in their vehicles.
Some of the lodges and camps offer short walks in the bush of two to four hours with Maasai guides, who’ll teach you about the smaller creatures and the plants that you miss on game drives. If walking is something you’d like to experience, do some research on lodges that offer this activity.
The Eastern Serengeti is one of the most beautiful regions of the park: mountains, valleys and sweeping grassy plains with are lush in the green season dotted with granite outcrops and sliced through by meandering rivers. It’s one of the more remote regions of the park, which makes it perfect for adventurous travellers who prefer their safaris off the beaten track.
The region can be visited year-round for wildlife sightings, but November to February are the best months to see the Great Migration herds passing through towards the Southern Serengeti. The green season of December to May sees the plains become lush and verdant, which attracts abundant game. Home to the biggest concentration of cheetah on the continent, the Gol Kopjes is the most famous landmark in the Eastern Serengeti, while the area is also known for its lion and leopard sightings.
Under two hours’ drive from the Central Serengeti, the Soit Le Motonyi region, which opened in 2014 after being closed for two decades for cheetah conservation, is drawing visitors for its pristine, totally undeveloped landscapes of grassy plains and acacia woodlands, completely secluded camps – and for cheetah.
Spotting cheetah is a big highlight of a safari to the Eastern Serengeti, and the prime area is Gol Kopjes. Known as the world’s largest Japanese rock garden, the Gol Kopjes – huge granite rock formations – are home to the highest concentration of cheetah on the continent, and offer some of the best game viewing opportunities in the Serengeti during the rainy season from January to June, when the Great Migration herds are passing through the area.
To experience rugged wilderness with very few other visitors, the newly re-opened Soit Le Motonyi region, where short grassy plains meet acacia woodlands, is one of the most remote and least developed corners of the Serengeti. The area was inaccessible to the public for twenty years for cheetah conservation, and now it’s the best place in the Serengeti to see a huge concentration of cheetah undisturbed by other cars and tourists. The Great Migration herds pass the area between November and April (with the “long rains” period of March to May attracting a huge number of feasting hyena), and leopard and lion can be spotted on the rocky outcrops, while there’s other wildlife to spot year-round thanks to a permanent water supply. There are only two camps in the Soit Le Motonyi area, and activity highlights include walking safaris and spending time with a cheetah researcher learning about conservation strategies and helping to collate data on cheetahs that you spot.
If you’re staying in the Eastern Serengeti, consider making a side trip outside of the park to visit Lake Natron, a brightly hued lake with a pinkish crust that attracts millions of flamingos between June and November. You can swim in the lake, and explore the surrounding scenery, which is remarkable – think volcanic craters, waterfalls and gorges. Close by to the southern end of the lake, the active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai (“Mountain of God” in Maasai) looms over the Rift Valley. Adventurous travellers who are up for a bit of a challenge can tackle the 2962-metre ascent of Ol Doinyo Legai over three days.
There’s a limited amount of lodging in the Eastern Serengeti, which is perfect if you like seclusion and privacy, but it does mean that you need to book far in advance.
If you’re staying at a camp in the Soit Le Motonyi region, then the closest airstrip is Seronera, which is around one and a half hours’ drive away. Note that there are only two camps in Soit Le Motonyi, so you’ll need to book in advance for the high seasons of December to February and June to October.
The Ndutu Region forms part of the northern section of Ngorongoro Conservation Area and stretches to the unfenced southern reaches of the Serengeti National Park, a meeting point between these two incredible wilderness areas. This section of the park is made up of rolling grasslands peppered with alkaline lakes that attract flocks of flamingos, as well as acacia woodlands.
There’s year-round resident wildlife (such as giraffe, elephant, hyena and various antelope species) in the Ndutu Region, and you can spot animals around the waterholes during the dry season from June to November. Look out for the six cat species – lion, cheetah, leopard, serval, African wild cat and caracal – that are present throughout the year.
The best months to visit the Ndutu Region are from December, when the Great Migration herds start to arrive from the north, until April when the millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle have trekked northwards again. In the early months of the year – with a peak in February – the wildebeest herds are calving on the verdant grassy plains: thousands upon thousands of baby animals are born every day, attracting the attention of cheetah, lion and hyena.
Credit: Legendary Serengeti Camp
A big draw of the Ndutu Region is to see the full circle of the Great Migration, from the return of the herds to graze in December, and then the calving which takes place in January and February, and then the departure of the herds again in April as they start making their journey northwards. Calving season is particularly dramatic: a million wildebeest give birth to 8000 babies every day, and as these newborns take their first steps, they’re targeted by lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena.
The prime game viewing spot in the Ndutu Region is around Lake Ndutu, where enormous herds congregate between December and April to graze and calve. The forests and granite kopjes around Lake Ndutu are also home to lots of game outside of the migration months.
Sightings of six species of cats – leopard, lion, cheetah, caracal, African wildcat and serval – are a big highlight of visiting the Ndutu Region. You can spot the cats throughout the year, but the best viewing is during the calving months of January and February, when these predators pick on the fledgling baby animals.
A trip to Ndutu is not just about wildlife and landscapes – there’s incredible cultural heritage to explore too. Lying within the Ndutu Region, Olduvai Gorge (also known as Oldupai – the correct Maasai spelling of the word) is one of the world’s most significant paleoanthropological sites, thanks to the discovery of the earliest evidence of the existence of our human ancestors. Visit the dramatic ravine and spend some time in the museum to learn about the fascinating excavations and discoveries that have taken place here. A visit to Olduvai Gorge should be combined with a stop at the nearby Shifting Sands: mysterious and beautiful dunes formed of volcanic ash that move with the winds.
For adventurous travellers, you can do multi-day walking safaris starting in the Ndutu Region and heading into the highlands of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and for the very intrepid, you can combine the walking safari with an ascent up the active volcano of Ol Doinyo Lengai.
Day trips to the Ngorongoro Crater are a highlight of staying in the Ndutu Region. The remains of a massive volcano, the Ngorongoro is one of the most superb wilderness areas on the continent, and boasts some of the greatest populations of animals – particularly predators – found in Africa.
Credit: Nasikia Mobile Camp
With no public campsites, Ndutu isn’t the best region for budget travellers. Your best budget-friendly option would be to stay at one of the mid-range mobile tented camps that operate in the area.
As with most areas of the Serengeti, camps and lodges are mainly in the upmarket range. Due to the seasonal nature of wildlife, lodges tend to only open for the peak season from November to March.
Camps and lodges in the Ndutu Region can either be located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area or in the Serengeti National Park, so keep in mind that you’ll need to pay park fees for each park if you’re staying in one park and doing game drives in the other.
You can reach the Ndutu region by road from Arusha, which is around six hours’ drive away through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. A quicker way to reach your lodge if you’re not self-driving is by air: the Ndutu Region is served by several airstrips, and it’s a quick flight from Arusha.
The Northern Serengeti offers a chance to escape the crowds: this region of the park – wedged between the Central Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve to the north – is remote and relatively inaccessible, which means it sees fewer visitors. Travellers who make it to this corner of the Serengeti will be rewarded with gorgeous landscapes of green rolling hills, granite outcrops and acacia woodlands dotting open savanna, incredible wildlife, and most importantly, with massive herds of wildebeest and zebra making dangerous crossing of the croc-infested Mara River during the Great Migration in June and July and again in September, October and November. This sector of the park is also home to the greatest concentration of elephant in the Serengeti, as well as good numbers of lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena and diverse resident animals such as giraffe, topi, eland and hippo.
Credit: Dunia Camp
Lying in the park’s north eastern corner, the remote Lobo Valley is a particularly beautiful part of the park, encompassing open plains, rolling hills, dramatic kopjes and woodlands. It’s known for large elephant herds and the second largest lion pride in the Serengeti, and it’s not unusual to spot lion, leopard and cheetah on one game drive. The Lobo Valley is also home to year-round resident game such as giraffe, hartebeest, topi and buffalo, while the herds of the Great Migration pass through the valley in July and August moving north, and then return on their southwards journey between September and November.
Outside of the park’s boundaries to the east and bordering Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maasai-owned Loliondo Game Controlled Area is nearly a third of the size of the Serengeti itself. This private concession is an important wildlife corridor and the herds of the Great Migration pass through here on their southwards march from Kenya in November and December. The benefit of staying in lodges in the Loliondo is seeing all of the wildlife of the Serengeti but with the activities that are not permitted in the national park: night drives and off-road driving. Lodges also offer walking safaris and cultural activities with the Maasai.
Credit: Oliver’s Camp
The Mara River, which courses its way through the Northern Serengeti and then into Lake Victoria to the west, is undoubtedly the highlight of this remote region of the Serengeti. The river is home to giant pods of hippos and attracts an abundance of game, from giraffe and elephant to leopard and lion. Between July and September, the Mara River becomes the site of thousands upon thousands of wildebeest and zebra battling currents and huge Nile crocodiles to reach the opposite bank, where they make their way north into the Masai Mara in neighbouring Kenya. These thrilling river crossings are a big highlight of seeing the Great Migration in action, and while across the border in Kenya these sightings can become crowded with game drive vehicles, there are far fewer tourists on the Serengeti side of the river.
Walking safaris are a recent addition in the Serengeti, and there aren’t many places in the park where they are offered. One location is from Kogatende, near the Mara River. On a multi-day adventure, you’ll just carry a day pack, staying at temporary camps with comfortable beds and delicious meals prepared for you by camp staff. Walking in the wilderness is the ultimate way to experience the Serengeti’s wildlife and scenery, and going camping in the bush and sleeping under the stars definitely takes the usual safari experience up several notches.
Go hot air ballooning one morning during your safari in the Northern Serengeti to be treated to sunrise views over the plains and 360-degree wildlife spotting from the air. The magical dawn flight ends with a lavish champagne breakfast when you land on the plains.
Credit: Camp Zebra
The best months to visit the Northern Serengeti are June until October, while for Mara River crossings the peak months are from July to September.
Lodging options are limited in the Northern Serengeti, as there is only a handful of permanent lodges in the area. During the peak months of the Migration, from July to October, mobile camps move into the area to provide the perfectly located places to stay to catch the exciting Mara River crossings. There are a few mobile camps and lodges in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area on their own private concessions. Lodging is largely in the high-end category, but there is one option for budget travellers – the Lobo Campsite – which is the only public campsite in the north.
If you need to head south through the park after a stay in the north, a scenic – and adventurous off-the-beaten track – alternative to driving through the park is to head out of Klein’s Gate, drive through the Loliondo Game Controlled Area to the beautiful flamingo-dusted Lake Natron, the looming volcano of Ol Doinyo Lengai and the Crater Highlands, before entering the park again.
Grassy plains studded with granite kopjes extend endlessly across the scenically beautiful Southern Serengeti, which stretches from the bottom of the Central Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Maswa Game Reserve. It’s one of the best areas to see the animals of the Great Migration: visit between December and May to see the huge herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle arriving to calve, and then at the beginning of the dry season making their way northwards again in search of green grass. February is a particularly good month to visit the Southern Serengeti to see thousands of baby wildebeest taking their first steps on the savanna – and being targeted by hungry lion, cheetah and hyena, which are in abundance in the region.
The Southern Serengeti is a seasonal region, as during the dry season, from May to October, when the plains are parched and there’s not much left to graze, most of the herds have left the area.
Because much of the Southern Serengeti lies outside the national park, lodges and camps permit off-road driving, which is not allowed in the rest of the park.
A safari in the Southern Serengeti is all about seeing the Great Migration in action on daily game drives, whether it’s baby wildebeest being born and taking their first steps on the lush green plains in the early months of the year, or watching the vast herds on the move as they track their course northwards towards the Masai Mara. The Southern Serengeti is one of the places where you can see the full circle of the Great Migration: the herds returning to graze in December with the start of the green season, the birth of the babies in January and February, and the departure of the herds as the grass starts to dry at the end of the rains.
The Southern Serengeti is one of the few places in the Serengeti where you can do walking safaris. Exploring the bush on foot is one of the best ways of immersing yourself in the wilderness, and learning about the smaller creatures that you miss on game drives. And then there’s seeing large game on foot: truly thrilling encounters that make for an exceptional safari experience.
Hot air ballooning is offered in the Southern Serengeti, with a launch site located in the area. A gentle sunrise flight will give you incredible views over the vast plains, and a totally different kind of wildlife spotting. February is an excellent month to do a hot air balloon safari in the Southern Serengeti to see baby wildebeest being born on the savanna.
The Serengeti Cheetah Project, located in the Southern Serengeti, is monitoring cheetah numbers in the hopes of helping to conserve this very vulnerable species. Some camps in the area help the cheetah conservation by asking guests to collaborate in cheetah research by submitting photos and any details about the cheetahs they’ve spotted on game drives.
Credit: Kusini Camp
Due the seasonality of game viewing in the Southern Serengeti, there are only a few permanent lodges in the region, as well as one permanent tented camp. There are several mobile camps, ranging from affordable to luxury, that are open during the months of the Great Migration. Other options include lodges situated on private concessions bordering the Southern Serengeti.
Be sure to reserve far in advance for a trip to the Southern Serengeti during the Great Migration months of December to May, as the few lodging options get booked up.
The Southern Serengeti is an excellent area to base yourself in if you’d like to combine your Serengeti safari with a few days in the nearby Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Stretching across to Lake Victoria, the Western Corridor (or West Serengeti) is a remote, little-visited area of the national park famed for the thrilling river crossings of the Grumeti River during the Great Migration between May and July. A huge valley bordered by hills that ends in Lake Victoria, the Western Corridor is made up of open savanna, woodlands, floodplains and riverine forest which are home to a great diversity of year-round wildlife, including elephant, giraffe, hippo, giant Nile crocodiles, rare Colobus monkeys and the localised kongoni antelope.
Flanking the Western Corridor is the unfenced Grumeti Game Reserve, a 138 000-hectare private concession which serves as a wildlife corridor for the animals making the migration between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti in June and July. The concession not only offers superb migration sightings with few other vehicles around but also lush, green landscapes of woodlands, rivers and rolling hills, as well as year-round leopard and lion populations.
Seeing the enormous herds of the Great Migration making crossings of the Grumeti in June and July is an excellent reason to visit this part of the Serengeti. While these river crossings are less well known than the Mara River crossings to the north – where the river is more dangerous, wider and has more viewing points – the Grumeti River, which is the first big obstacle for the herds to tackle, still offers some exciting sightings, with the added benefit of fewer tourists at the crossing points.
There are only a few places where you can do walking safaris in the Serengeti, which makes the walking safaris offered in the Grumeti Game Reserve particularly special. Spend hours on foot in the bush with a guide, not only tracking animals and learning about birds and insects, but also discovering fascinating medicinal and cultural uses for indigenous plants.
Visit a local Maasai community to see how people from the tribe live on the edges of the Grumeti Reserve. You’ll get to meet with subsistence farmers and their families and learn about what daily life is like – such as how villagers need to invent non-invasive ways to prevent elephants from trampling their crops.
Credit: Sanctuary Swala Camp
Hot air ballooning is offered seasonally (from the beginning of June to the end of August) in the Western Corridor. A magical sunrise flight in a gently gliding balloon is an unforgettable way to see the Serengeti’s spectacular landscapes and wildlife from a bird’s eye perspective.
Credit: Roving Bushtops
Budget travellers are best off staying in the Central Serengeti, as the Western Corridor and the Grumeti are more geared towards higher end travellers, however there is a campsite located at a lodge near the Ndabaka entrance gate, and a public campsite at the gate itself. Mid-range options in the sector include camps located just outside the park boundaries, while the region is most famous for its superb, intimate luxury lodges and mobile camps – some of which are completely exclusive.
June and July are the most popular times to visit the Western Corridor and the Grumeti to see the Grumeti River crossings and the herds on the move, but September and October are also great months to see the remaining herds of zebra and wildebeest, along with other resident wildlife such as elephant, leopard and lion. If you’re travelling during June and July, you’ll need to reserve lodging far in advance, as there aren’t many places to stay in the region.
Many people choose to fly into their lodge or camp’s private airstrip. Self-drivers hiring a car should pick up their vehicle and supplies from Mwanza, which is just over 130 kilometres from the Ndabaka Gate.
Experience our Tailor-made Tours in Serengeti National Park
When is the best month to travel to Serengeti National Park?
Serengeti in January
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 29C.
The 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.
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.
Safari lodges have guest rooms similar to a hotel with en-suite bathrooms. They are comfortably furnished with facilities normally associated with a hotel rooms, except your rooms are normally set in beautiful wilderness settings, with nature and wildlife around.
Tented lodges have rooms which are tents on a platform and with a roof and also have en-suite facilities with showers, flush toilets and hot water. Basically all the amenities of a hotel room, except canvas walls and roof.
The boutique lodges and camps can be very stylish and smart in terms of design and decor, often with very spacious rooms and even going so far in some cases as having plunge pools for each room.
Eco-camps and smaller tented camps have insect-proof tents with en-suite facilities including a safari shower and flush toilet. They give a more authentic safari experience but the tents are comfortably furnished with proper beds and you don’t need to bring your own sleeping bag! The emphasis is usually on having excellent guides and great wildlife viewing away from the crowds. Guests often eat together and people travelling alone usually say that they found the atmosphere friendly and enjoyed meeting other like-minded travellers around the campfire in the evening or at dinner.
The Adventure Camps are a budget option with guests bringing their own sleeping bags and towels. Accommodation is in small dome tented with a mattress on the floor. Each tent has its own nearby cubicle with a flush toilet, safari shower, and wash basin. The Adventure Camps are suitable only for those who don’t mind “real camping” and can put with some degree of “roughing it”. Apart from the accommodation in simple dome tents, the meals and the guiding are the same standards as the higher quality camps and game drives are in 4x4 safari vehicles. For those on a limited budget, the Adventure Camps are a good alternative to the big tourist lodges and minibus tours for those for whom the safari experience is more important than hotel accommodation.
A Grumeti safari is rewarding throughout the year. However, the best time to visit Grumeti Game Reserve is during the migration months of June and July - when massive herds of wildebeest arrive to cross the crocodile-infested Grumeti River on their way back to Kenya’s Masai Mara.
For many, the post-migration months of September and October are seen as the best time to visit the Grumeti Reserves - large herds of zebra and wildebeest remain in the area along with elephant, topi and Thomson’s gazelle. However, it's also easy to spot predators moving through the short grass.
If the weather causes unforeseen problems on the day of your hot air balloon safari, we will try to move it to another day or you will be refunded.
The most affordable way to visit the Serengeti is to book a holiday package which includes transport from Arusha, lodging, meals, park fees, as well as game drives and other activities at the safari lodge. You can also hire your own 4×4 and self-drive in the park, although you can often get better value for money with packages.
While the Serengeti has a concentration of exclusive and luxury camps and lodges, there’s a good choice of mid-range lodging options both inside the park and outside the park gates. The benefit of staying outside of the park boundaries is that you don’t pay park fees for your days of travel to and from the Serengeti, and there are activities on offer – such as night drives – that aren’t permitted in the park.
For discounted rates on lodges and on safari tours, book your trip during the rainiest months of April and May, which are the least popular months to visit the Serengeti. While you’ll have heavy rains, the wildlife viewing is still good, and you’ll get better value for money, as well as fewer other tourists in the park.
While most lodging options in the park cater to high-end travellers, and park fees are pricey (US$60 per person per day), there are a few options available to budget travellers. The most affordable way to do a safari in the Serengeti is to join an overland tour, which will include transport, a guide, the cost of camping, food and park fees.
Credit: Roaming Around The World
Self-guided independent travellers will need a car to explore the park: you can hire a 4×4 from Arusha or Mwanza, as well as camping equipment, and stay at one of the campsites outside the park gates or at one of the nine public campsites inside the Serengeti: there are six in the Seronera area in the heart of the park, one at Lobo, one at the Fort Ikoma Gate and one at Ndabaka Gate (you can book and pay for these campsites when you enter the park gates). There are also special campsites which you’ll be able to use exclusively for your group. These you’ll need to book in advance through a tour operator or through the Tanzania National Parks Authority. You’ll need to be entirely self-sufficient if you’re camping, so stock up on provisions in either Arusha or Mwanza before you enter the park and bring your own firewood. Many travellers prefer not to drive themselves on the Serengeti’s challenging roads, and instead hire a driver although this will cost a lot more than driving yourself.
The alternative to staying inside the park is to book an affordably priced lodge on the outskirts of the park where your meals and game drives are included in the rate, and spend some time on game drives outside of the park, so you don’t have pay park entrance fees for every day that you’re in the bush.
Travel during the rainy season from January to March, when the Serengeti is at its wettest, to get discounts on lodge rates and safari packages for the best budget deals.
The Serengeti has much to offer high-end travellers, with a wealth of luxury lodges and tented camps scattered across the reserve and on its outskirts. Permanent lodges – which can be small or have dozens of rooms – have the full range of amenities, from tennis courts and gyms to spas and swimming pools where you can watch wildlife drink from water holes while you cool off. Tented camps, which give you a taste of sleeping under canvas without sacrificing any comforts (think king-sized beds, ensuite bathrooms, antique furniture and butler service). Then there are minimal-footprint seasonal bush camps which are only open during the months of the year when the migration is passing through the area, and exclusive, intimate mobile camps, which move a few times during the year with the movement of migrating herds. Mobile camps are an excellent choice for a Serengeti safari, as they get you close to the action in remote, untouched areas, and you get an experience of being immersed in the bush – but this is a long way away from rustic camping. Luxury mobile camps come with hot bucket showers, flush toilets, private butler service and gourmet cuisine served in dining tents, and some offer private and exclusive game drive vehicles and guides for each part of guests.
Credit: Chem Chem Safari Lodge
Picking your lodge or camp is a question of when in the year you’re travelling, as the park is vast and there are different attractions in each region at different times of the year. If your priority is seeing the Great Migration, then you’ll need to book a lodge that closest to the action in the month you’re travelling.
You can hire a car, a driver and a private guide from Mwanza or Arusha and travel to the park on your own, or, the much easier and more hassle-free option is to do a fly-in safari, taking a small plane from Arusha to one of the many airstrips located across the Serengeti. Some lodges have their own private airstrips, and a vehicle will be waiting to collect you when you arrive – so your first game drive will be the journey to your lodge. You can also hire a car and a driver and still do a fly-in safari: the driver will travel from Arusha and meet you at the airstrip in the park.
Having the perfect family holiday in the Serengeti is all about picking the right lodges: while some don’t allow children under the age of 12, others are particularly family-friendly, offering a host of fun kids’ activities such as learning to use a bow and arrow, getting cooking lessons, roasting marshmallows over the campfire. And then there are some camps and lodges allow children under the age of 10 to sleep and eat for free. When choosing your lodge there are a few things to take into consideration, such as picking a place that has a swimming pool so that your kids have something to do during the long hot afternoons in between safari activities.
Credit: Camp Zebra
There are family-friendly lodges, camps and mobile camps in all the different regions of the Serengeti, but the wealth of lodging options lies in the Seronera region of the Central Serengeti. If you’re looking to get more off the beaten track, then try the Western Corridor and the Grumeti Game Reserve, or the Eastern Serengeti, while staying in the Northern Serengeti during the months of the Great Migration gives you the chance to catch the exciting and dramatic crossings of the Mara River – thrilling scenes that will keep the kids on the edge of their seats.
In terms of safety, be aware that lodges and camps are unfenced in the Serengeti and you’ll need to keep careful watch over your children, as wild animals can enter the camp at any time. Children should not be allowed to walk around camps on their own. An alternative is to stay at a lodge outside of the park, where children will have more freedom to run around.
While you can fly into the park and get transfers to and from your lodge (and many lodge stays include twice daily game drives), you can also hire a car and a driver for your family, as this gives you more freedom to run on your own schedule and do shorter game drives if you have small children who get restless in the car on long drives.
The Serengeti is the ultimate romantic safari destination: a magical combination of breathtaking landscapes, superb wildlife viewing and the drama of Great Migration sightings, as well as truly memorable luxury lodges and camps situated in remote reaches of the wilderness make for a very special holiday.
Credit: Dunia Camp
Choosing which region to stay in the Serengeti on your romantic holiday is all about what time of year you’re travelling, as wildlife movements are seasonal and many lodges and camps are only open for certain months of the year. Every region of the park has superb upmarket lodges and camps that cater for romantic safaris – and each region has its benefits, depending on what kind of experience you’re looking for. The Central Serengeti has the biggest array of choices, with the Seronera region in particular boasting the largest concentration of places to stay. For exclusivity, stay at one of the lodges or camps in the Grumeti Game Reserve in the western Serengeti. If you really want to get off the beaten track, stay at one of the few camps in the Soit Le Motonyi region at the far east of the park, which was closed for two decades and only re-opened a few years ago.
Choose to stay in a permanent lodge, which will have a wide range of facilities such as gym, swimming pools and spas, or stay in a more intimate tented permanent camp where rooms may be under canvas but feature king-sized beds, stylish antique furniture and spacious ensuite bathrooms. On the other hand, mobile tented camps are a wonderful choice if you want the feeling of really being in the wild: you can experience giant herds of wildebeest grazing just metres away from your tent. There’s no electricity or running water (although you can expect hot bucket showers) but luxury mobile camps are far from rustic: think large, beautifully decorated tents with ensuite bathrooms and outdoor seating, communal lounge and library areas and gourmet meals.
Many lodges offer special romance or honeymoon packages that include activities such as bush picnics for two, couples’ massages, private sundowners and exclusive candlelit dinners in the bush or on your private deck. For the ultimate romantic safari, book a private safari vehicle through your lodge, so that you’ll be able to go on game drives where it’s just you, the driver and your guide.
The beauty of solo travel in the Serengeti is having the option to be with other travellers, or to enjoy this vast wilderness on your own private game drives.
Credit: andBeyond Serengeti Under Canvas
The best option for solo travellers to the Serengeti in terms of getting to meet other travellers and have a value-for-money trip, is to join a safari tour – an all-inclusive package holiday that covers transport, a guide, lodging, park fees, activities and meals. It’s a hassle-free way to travel, and you’ll have the safety and security of travelling in a group.
Independent travellers can hire a car and a drive from Arusha and Mwanza and stay in a camp inside the park, joining up with fellow travellers on game drives from your lodge or camp, or travelling in their own vehicle. Another option is booking a stay at one of the many all-inclusive lodges across the park’s regions, and doing a fly-in safari: take a small charter plane to the closest airstrip servicing your lodge, and start your first game drive as you’re picked up from the runway in the lodge’s safari vehicle. Many lodges include twice daily game drives as part of an all-inclusive package, as well as other activities such as nature walks and Maasai cultural visits where you’ll be able to join other guests.
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.
Credit: Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp
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.
Credit: Kusini Camp
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.
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.
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.
Credit: Kusini Camp
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.
Credit: Camp Zebra
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.
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.
Credit: Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp
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.