Few people forget their first encounter with the Serengeti. Perhaps it’s the view from Naabi Hill at the park’s entrance, from where the grasslands appear to stretch to the ends of the earth. Or maybe it’s the coalition of lions stalking across open plains, their manes catching the breeze. Or it could be wildebeest and zebra migrating in their millions, following the ancient rhythm of Africa’s seasons. Whatever it is, welcome to one of the greatest wildlife-watching destinations on earth.
At 14,763sq km, the Serengeti is an epic place, and it’s renowned for its predators, especially lions, leopards, and cheetahs, with plenty of elephants in residence, too. A few black rhinos around Moru Kopjes offer a chance to glimpse all of the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and buffalo), although the rhinos are very rarely seen. It’s also an incredible birdwatching destination, with over 500 species to spot.
When to Go
Year-round; July and August for wildebeest migration across the Mara River; February for wildebeest calving; February-May for birdwatching.
Serengeti Balloon Safaris
There’s no better way to see the Serengeti than by spending an hour floating over the plains at dawn, followed by an ‘Out of Africa’ full English breakfast in the bush under an acacia tree. You’ll rise to 1000m for a vast view, then drop to the treetop level. To be sure of a spot, reserve well in advance.
A wildlife drive in Serengeti, whether self-drive, as part of an organized safari or as operated by your Serengeti lodge, is one of the most enjoyable things you can do in Africa. Exploring the Serengeti’s four major areas (Seronera and the South, Grumeti and the Western Corridor, Central Serengeti and Northern Serengeti) requires careful planning; understanding what each area has to offer and at what time of year will determine how you experience this wonderful place.
A new development in the Serengeti is the introduction of walking safaris. Led by Wayo Africa, multiday camping trips are available in the Moru Kopjes, at Kogatende (by the Mara River) and in other areas of the park, and they can be as relaxing or as adventurous as clients prefer. Expeditions can also be combined with other safaris.
The Serengeti has a full range of sleeping options, from basic campsites with no amenities to top-end luxury lodges and mobile camps that follow the herd migration. Most places within the park are top end, but there are a few more reasonably priced choices, plus several lower midrange places just outside the park borders.
Twiga offers simple but decent rooms with electricity and hot showers, and satellite TV in the lounge. Guests can use the kitchen, or meals can be cooked for you if you order way in advance. There are a well-stocked little bar and a bonfire at night.
Built on a Kopje near the Mara River in the far-northern Serengeti, Lamai blends into its surroundings so well it’s nearly invisible. There are two lodges, one with eight rooms and another with four, each with its own dining areas and swimming pools. All rooms have African-themed décor and soothing earth tones and are open-fronted, with wonderful views.
A rare foray by Serena into the world of tented camps, kirawira makes you wonder why it doesn’t do it more often. The camp, ringing a low hill, works at the colonial theme with plenty if antiques and polished wood floors. The tents have big porches and very un-tent-like bathrooms. Guest rave about the food.
Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp
This is one of the best and most luxurious camps in the Serengeti. It mixes its wild location with chic pan-African decor and the 10 tents are superb. Only three tents have unobstructed views of the Kanyanja River, a prime spot during the herd migration; at other times watch hippos while you lounge in the swimming pool.