Serengeti National park is Tanzania’s most famous and visited national park located in the northern part of the country. It is Tanzania’s oldest national park covering a land area of 5700 square kilometers providing shelter to thousand wildlife species.
The park was named Serengeti which means endless plains clearly describing nature of land in the area. Serengeti national park land area is covered with savanna grasslands, woodlands and Riverine forests. A combination of these relief and vegetation cover inhabits various wildlife species seen on a visit to the park.
Serengeti National park has three major sectors that include the Serengeti plains predominantly covered with grasslands. These grasslands attract a number of grazers like antelopes, zebras, buffaloes, and wildebeest especially in the wet season. These often graze on the pasture of Serengeti though their presence attracts a number of predators like lions.
The Serengeti western region is traversed by Grumeti River and covered by riverine forests that are homes to primates species. Patas monkeys are some of the primates seen here as well as other Savannah animals like Hippos. Grumeti River has crocodiles that present challenges to herbivore on wildebeest migration as they prey them while on river crossings.
Lastly the northern Serengeti sector has open woodlands with wild animals like elephants, and giraffes. This is a great place to catch the wildebeest migration from July to August and in November.
Serengeti National Park is the genesis of wildebeest migration where millions of antelopes, wildebeest and zebras move searching for pasture. This natural wonder is a whole year round and animals move into Kenya’s Maasai Mara and return to Serengeti in November.
Animals on the wildebeest migration have births on the course of the journey attracting predators like leopards, lions & hyenas. These often target young vulnerable calves but they are brave to even taken down the largest mammals of the land.
Wildebeest migration safaris in Serengeti National park are very rewarding and a must do while on a visit to Tanzania.
The Big Five Mammals
This vast national park has Africa’s big Five mammals that include Elephants, Leopards, Lions, Rhinos and Buffaloes. Serengeti has over 3000 lions that have managed to thrive over the years because of abundance of prey. They mainly hunt and feed on the many antelopes, wildebeests and herbivores present in Serengeti National park.
The leopard population is estimated at 1000 often seen on game drives in the different areas of Serengeti. Herds of Elephants are often seen in the northern part of Serengeti and the Elephant population is estimated at 5000.
Rhino population in Serengeti greatly declined because of poaching and there are about 30 rhinos in the park. With time, there is hope that the rhino population will increase because of the continued conservation efforts.
Buffaloes have the highest population of the big five mammals in Serengeti National park. Their total population is estimated at over 52000 and these are also hunted down by the fierce predators especially lions.
The big five mammals are East Africa’s classics and make game drives in Serengeti worth every time spent.
Serengeti national park is also famous for its various bird species with over 500 recorded bird species. Many bird species are seen while on birding safaris for example Secretary birds, ground hornbills, crowned cranes and lesser flamingos.
There are also many Vultures often seen around remains of dead animals feeding or fighting for prey with Hyenas. Other commonly seen birds in Serengeti include Lovebirds, Marabou storks, Eagles, Kori Bustards, grey-breasted spurfowls, Hildebrandt’s starling & Schalow’s turacos.
Birding in Serengeti can be done through out the year and you can even catch up with some migratory birds. The best times for Birding is early morning and late in the evening where you even enjoy the African sunset.
Best time to Visit
The best time to visit Serengeti is in the dry season from June to October with minimal rainfall disturbances. For those interested in the wildebeest migration, you can visit in June and July. January and February are also great times as they are characterized with wildebeest calving.
During the low season from March to May, you can still visit the park however there is usually a lot of rainfall.
There are a number of safari lodges and tented camps evenly distributed in Serengeti. With this you can select where to stay depending on your budget and what you want to see. With the great wildebeest migration, there are a number of temporary under-canvas tented camps set up. Ensure to book the right one for perfect timing of the migration so that you don’t miss out.