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.
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.
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.
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.
On top of that there is always a pretty decent selection of wines available that are carefully served if you desire.
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.
This is of course always a welcome alternation for all the animals, buffalos or zebras.
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.
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.
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.
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