Guides
Guides from our travels

Destinations
Day-to-day details & all costs of our trips

Deals
Deals from other travel websites

Postal Stamps Memorabilia
Make a memory of every place you visit by getting a postal stamp from local post office

Tips
Do's, don'ts, advice, how-to's




Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

May 29, 2009
Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti is where Africa’s mystery, rawness and power surround you, and where the beauty and synchrony of nature can be experienced as in few other places. On its vast, treeless plains, one of earth’s most impressive natural cycles plays itself out again and again, as tens of thousands of hoofed animals, driven by primeval rhythms of survival, move constantly in search of fresh grasslands. The most famous, and the most numerous, are the wildebeests – of which there are more than one million – and their annual migration is the Serengeti’s biggest drawcard. During the rainy season (between December and May), the wildebeests are widely scattered over the southern section of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. As these areas have few large rivers and streams, they dry out quickly when the rains cease, nudging the wildebeests to concentrate on the few remaining green areas, and to form thousands-strong herds that migrate north and west in search of food. They then spend the dry season, from about July to October, outside the Serengeti and in the Masai Mara (just over the Kenyan border), before again moving south in anticipation of the rains. Around February, the calving season, more than 8000 wildebeest calves are born per day, although about 40% of these die before they are four months old.

Serengeti National Park at Tanzania-Kenya border

Serengeti National Park at Tanzania-Kenya border

The 14,763 sq km Serengeti is also renowned for its predators, especially its lions, many of which have collars fitted with transmitters so their movements can be studied and their locations tracked. Keeping the lions company are cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, jackals and more. You’ll also see zebras (of which there are about 200,000), large herds of giraffes, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, impalas and warthogs, and fascinating birdlife. Wildlife concentrations in the park are greatest between about December and June, and comparatively low during the dry season (between about July and October). However, the Serengeti is rewarding to visit at any time. For the wildebeests, the best base from about December to April is at one of the camps near Seronera or in the southeastern part of the park. The famous crossing of the Grumeti River, which runs through the park’s Western Corridor, usually takes place somewhere between May and July, although the viewing window can be quite short. In particularly dry years, the herds tend to move northwards sooner, avoiding or only skirting the Western Corridor. There are several camps in or near the Western Corridor, and it’s also easily accessed from Seronera. The northern Serengeti, around Lobo and Klein’s Gate, is a good base during the dry season, between about August and October. As well as the migrating wildebeests, there are also small resident populations of wildebeests in the park, which you’ll see at any time of year.

Almost all shorter safaris, and those done as part of a quick northern circuit loop, use Seronera as a base, although other sections of the park are just as rewarding, if not more so. In the low season, you will see few other vehicles outside of Seronera, although even in the high season the park is large enough that it doesn’t feel overrun. Overall, the opportunities for wildlife viewing are unparalleled and, if you are able to visit, it’s a chance not to be missed. Try to schedule as much time here as possible in order to explore the park’s varied zones and to appreciate its vastness.

Climate:
The Serengeti falls into the classic bimodal rain pattern of East Africa. The short rains are concentrated in November/December, the long and heavier rains in March – May. Mean monthly maximum temperatures are relatively uniform throughout the year being constant around 27 to 28 deg C (or 75 – 80 deg F) at Seronera. At Ngorongoro Crater the nights can be very chilly due to altitude.

Any time other than during the long rains in April and May is a perfect time to be on Safari in Northern Tanzania. Game viewing and the number of other tourists varies widely according to the seasonal concentrations of wildlife . Most Safari operators will adjust their itineraries accordingly.

Getting there:
By Air
The nearest international airport to the Serengeti is Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha. KLM is currently the only international airline that flies directly into Arusha (on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from Amsterdam). Other airlines such as Swissair will fly into Nairobi, Kenya (from Zurich) or Dar-es-Salaam, from where you can get a connecting flight to Arusha.
Internal flights by small aircrafts from Arusha to the Seronera Airstrip in the heart of Serengeti or to Kirawira Airstrip in the Western Corridor cost 135 US$ per person one way. The cost of charter flights varies widely. Limit your baggage to 10 – 15 kg (25 – 30 pounds) per person. It is advisable to carry your luggage in soft bags rather than hard sided suitcases. Coastal Aviation, Air Excel and Regional Air have daily flights from Arusha to various Serengeti airstrips, including Seronera (US$150 per person one way) and Grumeti (US$180). There are also airstrips at Serengeti South, Lobo and most other ranger posts. Some of Coastal’s flights continue on to Mwanza and Rubondo Island National Park on demand.

By Car/Motorcycle
Most travellers visit the Serengeti with an organised safari or in their own vehicle. For shoestring travellers the only other option to try to get a glimpse of the animals is to take a bus travelling between Arusha and Mwanza or Musoma via the Western Corridor route – check with Coastal line at the Arusha central bus station – although you won’t be able to stop to observe the wildlife. You will need to pay park fees and, if you disembark at Seronera, you’ll have the problem of getting onward transport, as hitching is not permitted in the park.
Access from Arusha is via the heavily used Naabi Hill Gate (6am-6pm) at the southeastern edge of the park. From here, it’s 75km further to Seronera. Ndabaka Gate (6am-4pm) is about 140km northeast of Mwanza along the Mwanza–Musoma road, and gives you direct access to the Western Corridor. The road from Ndabaka to Seronera is in decent to good condition; allow two to three hours. Ikoma Gate is also accessed from the Mwanza–Musoma road, from an unpaved track running east from Bunda. Bologonya Gate, 5km from the Kenyan border, is the route to/from Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, but the border is open only to East African residents or citizens. There are other entry points at Handajega (Western Corridor) and in the north near Klein’s Camp. Driving is not permitted in the park after 7pm. Petrol points en route from Arusha include Makuyuni, Mto wa Mbu and Karatu. Petrol is also usually available at Ngorongoro Crater (Park Village) and at the Seronera Wildlife Lodge, although it’s expensive. It is not available anywhere else in the park, so if you have your own vehicle come prepared with sufficient supplies. From the west, the most reliable petrol points are Mwanza and Musoma.

Entry fees:
Park fees can be very expensive in Tanzania. If you book your trip through a travel agent they are generally included in the overall trip cost. In Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation area the park fee is US$ 50 per person (adult) per day (US$ 10 for child aged 5-15), for camping US$30 per tent per day and US$ 30 per vehicle per day. There is a number of definite “don’ts” in the Serengeti. These include approaching too close and disturbing animals, making an unacceptable noise, picking flowers or destroying vegetation, discarding litter, exceeding 50km/h speed limit, bringing pets or firearms into the Park, and going off the roads within 16km of Seronera.

Information:

  • Bookings for camp sites, resthouses and the hostel should be made through the Chief Park Warden or the Tourism Warden (Tel: +255 28-262 0091, +255 28-262 1515, +255 28-262 1504; www.serengeti.org).
  • Park headquarters are at Fort Ikoma, just outside the park, while the tourism division is at Seronera. It’s not mandatory to hire a guide, although having one along is likely to greatly enhance both your wildlife watching and your navigation through the park.
  • Vehicle rentals from both Arusha and Mwanza almost always include a driver-guide.
  • Excellent Visitors Information Centre at Seronera with a self-guided walk through the Serengeti’s history and ecosystems. Explanations are in English and Swahili, and it’s well worth spending time here before
    exploring the park.
  • The gift shop at the Seronera Visitors Information Centre sells various booklets and maps, including the excellent MaCo Serengeti map.

Tipping:
Tipping at restaurants (at your discretion) is 10%. We recommend tipping US$5 for each traveller per day at lodge based safaris; US$ 10 per day for your driver guide and US$5 each per day for the camp staff when camping on mobile safaris.

Accommodation:

Central & Southern Serengeti
Central Serengeti is the most visited area of the park, and readily accessed from both Arusha and from Mwanza via the Western Corridor. The main lodge area is at Seronera. Southeast of here near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) boundary and Lake Ndutu is a prime base for wildlife watching during the December to April wet season, when it’s full of wildebeests. The more rugged southwest, in addition to being well-placed for the wildebeest during the wet
season, is also notable for its lion and leopard sightings, especially around the Moru Kopjes area, which has a substantial resident wildlife population year round.

Serengeti Sopa Lodge
Tel: +255 27-250 0630/9
Email: info@sopalodges.com
Price: single US$210; double US$350
Spacious rooms, two double beds. About 20km south of Seronera, on the edge of the Niaroboro Hills, and well-located for wildlife watching.

Seronera Wildlife Lodge
Tel: +255 27-254 4595/4795
Website: www.hotelsandlodges-tanzania.com;
Price: rooms per person US$400
Overall good value, with a prime location in the heart of the Serengeti and situated for wildlife drives, plus modest but pleasant rooms and a lively end-of-the-day safari atmosphere at the  evening buffet.

Ndutu Safari Lodge
Tel: +255 27-250 6702/2829
Website: www.ndutu.com
Price: single US$215, double US$326
Comfortable suite cottages; Good-value place in a lovely setting just outside the southeastern Serengeti in the far western part of NCA. Well-placed for wildlife viewing, especially for observing the enormous herds of wildebeests during the wet season, and walking safaris are possible in the surrounding NCA.

Serengeti Serena Lodge
Tel: +255 27-250 4153/8
Website: www.serenahotels.com
Price: single US$375, double US$550
Two-storey Maasai-style bungalows. About 20km northwest of Seronera airstrip.

Kusini Camp
Tel: +255 27-250 9816
Website: www.sanctuarylodges.com
Price: single US$765, double US$1030
Laid-back luxury in a prime wet-season setting amid rocky outcrops in the remote southwestern Serengeti, with 12 well-spaced and well-appointed tents.

Northern Serengeti
The hillier and more heavily vegetated northern Serengeti receives relatively few visitors, but makes a fine off the beaten track base, especially between August and October, when the migration passes through. During the rest of the year, things are kept interesting by a substantial permanent wildlife presence, including, most notably, elephants. The Loliondo area, just outside the Serengeti’s northeastern boundary, offers the chance for Maasai cultural activities and walking safaris, although almost all accommodation here is upmarket.

Serengeti Stop-Over Point
Tel: +255 28-262 2273
Website: www.serengetistopover.com
Price: camping per person US$10, single US$30, double US$60
Camping with hot showers and a cooking area, plus 10 simple rondavels, and a restaurant-bar. Local boat trips on Lake Victoria, visits to a traditional healer and other Sukuma cultural excursions can be arranged.

Klein’s Camp
Website: www.ccafrica.com
Price: per person all-inclusive US$855

Mbuzi Mawe
Tel: +255 27-250 4158, +255 28-262 2040/2
Website: www.serenahotels.com
Price: single US$375, double US$550
A 16-tent camp – each tent with two double beds and views.

Suyan Camp
Website: www.asilialodges.com
Price: per person plus wildlife drives US$480
A 10-bed camp, offers walking safaris, night drives and cultural activities.

Mbalageti
Tel: +255 28-262 2387
Website: www.mbalageti.com
Price: lodge single/double US$305/385, tented chalets single/double US$315/610

Lobo Wildlife Lodge
Tel: +255 27-254 4595/4795
Website: www.hotelsandlodges-tanzania.com
Price: rooms per person US$440

Mobile Camps
There is an increasing number of semipermanent, mostly upmarket camps that move seasonally with the wildlife, with the goal of always being optimally positioned for the  migration.

Olakira Camp
Website: www.asilialodges.com
Email: info@asilialodges.com
Price: per person US$445
This comfortable six-tent camp is based in the Ndutu area with the wildebeests from December until March, and in central Serengeti from June to November.

Serengeti Safari Camp
Website: www.nomad-tanzania.com
Price: per person all-inclusive US$590/930
A highly exclusive mobile camp that follows the wildebeest migration, with some of the best guides in the Serengeti.

Activities:
Wildlife Photography
Hot air Ballooning
Wildlife Safaris
Walking Safaris
Bird Watching Safaris
Cultural visits
Night drives
Fly-in Safaris
Camping Safaris
Self drive Safaris
Horseback Safaris
Classic Mobile African Safaris

Balloon trips – about an hour floating over the plains at dawn, followed by a champagne breakfast in the bush under the acacia trees, complete with linen tablecloths – are offered by Serengeti  Balloon Safaris  (Tel: +255 27-250 8578, +255 27-254 8967, www.balloonsafaris.com) for US$479 per person. The flight route varies depending on the winds, but often follows a stretch of the Grumeti River. The captains try to stay between 500m and 1000m above ground,
weather and wind permitting, which means that if animals are there, you’ll be able to see them. Bookings can be made directly, or through any of the central  Serengeti lodges. Short (two- to three-hour) walks outside the park and Maasai cultural activities can be arranged through lodges based in  border areas.



  • Gloria

    just exquistely beautiful

  • Gloria

    PLEASE DO NOT DESTROY THIS BEAUTIFUL PARK BY ALLOWING ROADS TO RUN THROUGH THE PARK. THIS SHOULD BE HALTED IMMEDIATELY. PLEASE DO NOT LET GREED FROM THE CHINESE BLIND THE BEAUTY OF THE PARK. HOW BEAUTIFUL PLEASE DO NOT DESTROY WHAT NATURE HAS BUILT

  • Very good info indeed. Sure will be a regular reader.
    Thank you.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

All websites use cookies. It's the 21st century! What's a cookie?!

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close