Serengeti’s Endless Plains

If you are coming the first time to Serengeti, this is like one of the biggest adventures of your life. The Serengeti National Park is located northwest of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation area and is one of Tanzania’s most well known parks in the Mara and Simiyu regions. It was an Austrian, Oscar Baumann, who visited the area in 1892 as one of the first Europeans and you can find his recordings in his personal scrapbook about northern Tanzania. One of his major impressions was that this is an endless land that is reflected in the name Serengeti that is derived from the Maasai word “siringet” meaning “the place where the land runs on forever”.

We were heading into the Serengeti with our proven Toyota Landcruiser based safari vehicle and it felt great to be riding such a massive and robust truck while being out in these endless plains.

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This park covers more than fourteen thousand square kilometres of mainly grassed plains, savannah, riverine forest as well as woodlands. The park continues in Kenya where it is called the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which we will describe in another post.

In the south of the park you find almost treeless grassland and this is the wildebeest breeding area during the wet months from December till May. They are sharing this area with zebra, gazelle, waterbuck, buffalo, impala, elephant and hyena and of course you can find also the usual predators. The Serengeti is very well known for the great migration that starts after the breeding season having animals move to the north where the herds arrive in Kenya in late July and August. In November with the start of the short rains the whole migration starts moving south again.

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The northern part of the park starts changing from pure grassland into open woodlands and hills that span from Serona in the south to the Mara River at the Kenyan border in the north. For humans it is forbidden to live in the park, only the Tanzanian National Parks Authority and some researchers of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (obviously this is a leftover of the famous Grzimek conservation work) and staff of the lodges and hotels in that area have exceptional allowance.

Some of the great camps to visit in the middle of this gorgeous wilderness are the Serengeti Pioneer camp and the Serengeti Migration camp, where you can enjoy delicious meals and drinks while resting from the daily efforts of safari.

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I am always surprised of how great the meals are cooked, look like, and taste in these remote parts of Africa and it stays a secret to me how these can be prepared so perfectly.

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On top of that there is always a pretty decent selection of wines available that are carefully served if you desire.

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During November it is already pretty likely that it can start heavily raining and this happens more or less within minutes and changes the landscape completely.

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This is of course always a welcome alternation for all the animals, buffalos or zebras.

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And for some zebras that enjoy it a bit too much and are less careful this can be a deadly and last experience, as there are always hungry groups of lions around who only wait for the chance for a great meal.

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While death is like always something serious it is a necessary part of the whole lifecycle and something completely natural as you can see when watching the lion cubs happily playing during and besides their meal in the wet and muddy grass of the savannah.

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The whole Serengeti offers a really unique and exciting adventure and the time you are able to spend here before moving on becomes always too short.

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Learn more about safari tours including Serengeti National Park on our African Safari Tours page with a variety of sample tours.

Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Peter’s African Safari Travel Diary

Waking up this morning in this wonderful place (The Manor) was like a dream. When walking out for breakfast everything had completely changed compared to last evening, it was now a bit cooler and foggy what resulted in nice colours of all the flowers and bushes around.

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We had a delicious breakfast in the main building and it was actually very hard for me to leave with so much hospitality offered and while residing in all these beautiful rooms, reminding us of great but long gone times of the last century.

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We finally said good bye to the nice people of The Manor and jumped back into our car in order to drive up to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area – the Ngorongoro Crater.

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While driving, Ute had the idea to try to visit the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, that is normally closed for day visitors but we wanted to give it a try, because from this lodge one has quite the best view over the crater. While driving towards the lodge we passed by at the memorial place for Michael Grzimek who died here in 1957 while his plane crashed against the crater walls in fog. Michael and his father Bernhard Grzimek had spent their lives working for conservation of the Ngorongoro area.

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After a short drive we arrived a the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and were lucky, as they would let us in for sight inspection.

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The crater has an approximate diameter of 30 miles and is the caldera left from an ancient big volcano that is estimated to had a height of around 6000m. Today approximately 25000 large animals live in the crater including the black rhino, buffalos, hippopotamus, zebras, gazelles, impalas waterbucks, impalas, lions, leopards and Tanzanian cheetahs. The large lake in the southwest of the crater is Lake Magadi and gives home to flamingos.

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It is absolutely true, the lodge provides a magnificent view over the crater. But also the lodge itself is one of the most beautiful and comfortable places in whole Africa.

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We were enjoying the hospitality of Nafue, who showed us happily around and was also not shy to pose for some photos, what beautiful people the locals really are!

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Fast forward from this stunning place we visited a Masai camp outside of the crater on our way to the Serengeti National Park. We were not only seeing some original dances but were also shown the interior of one of the huts, a really interesting experience.

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Once in the Serengeti National Park we had lunch at the Serengeti Pioneer Camp where we could see the spectacle of a tropical thunderstorm accompanied by heavy rain. The storm lasted for maybe one hour and drained the whole Serengeti in some very welcome water.

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Before we reached Serengeti Migration Camp, our final destination of this exhausting but also exciting day, we were lucky to find a group of lions eating their kill – a zebra. This was so special as we could see the cubs play and eat more or less at the same time.

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If you would like more information on planning your African safari vacation, visit the safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Peter Tomsu for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa