Across Africa there are few places that compare to the beauty of the Serengeti National Park (SNP) and the great Serengeti ecosystem. Most famous as the location of what Sir David Attenborough dubbed “the greatest show on Earth”, the Serengeti is more than just the setting of the great migration. It’s a combination of vastly different biomes and landscapes all combining to create one of Africa’s most famous National Parks.
Coming from the South
As you approach the Serengeti from Arusha (as many travellers do) you will pass through areas of towering mountains, deep gorges and forested hills. This is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, one of the region’s most spectacular areas. Within this lies the world’s largest intact, inactive collapsed volcano, The Ngorongoro Crater. With a floor area of 260 square kilometres and walls as high as 610 metres high, this wonder of nature has become its own biome and many of the animals here have evolved differently to those outside the crater. Massive “tuskers” (elephants with tusks weighing over 100 pounds) lope across the crater floor and expert teams protect this area from poachers year round. Moving further north you’ll encounter a paleoanthropologist’s dream – Oldupai Gorge. The discovery of many early hominid fossils in this gorge by the Leakeys has led to this being one of the world’s most important archaeological locations and the museum is extremely interesting to visit.
The Southern Sector
Once you have passed the Oldupai Gorge, the area flattens out into the plains that the Serengeti is so famous for. A visit to the nearby Lake Ndutu gives you a chance to see masses of bright pink flamingos in the alkaline lake. The best time to travel to this area is January to March as the great migration takes over the region for calving season. Hundreds of thousands of baby gazelles, zebras and wildebeest descend on this area to feed on the succulent shoots of grass, as this region becomes the birth place to the next generation of migratory herbivores. This of course draws in the many predators of the Serengeti ecosystem and it is common to spot lion and cheetah watching the herds from afar. This area is characterized by very short grass and open plains, so game viewing is usually exceptional if you’re there at the right time of year. Wild Frontiers is proud to have a seasonal camp in the area, Ndutu Wilderness Camp, which is set up during these months to ensure you don’t miss out on the migration while still receiving the luxurious services of our camp.
Seronera and the Centre of the Park
While much of the Serengeti is seasonal and is only visited during the migration months, the central area is always full of animals. The area in the centre is called Seronera and has a vast range of different ecosystems. From the ever present grasslands to acacia forests and riverine areas, many animals have chosen to simply settle in Seronera rather than chase the rain and follow the herds. Many luxurious camps, such as our Serengeti Central Wilderness Camp, are permanently in the area and there is a plethora of activities for you to enjoy. The famous hot air balloon flight is one of the more popular activities and drifts slowly over the rivers and plains of Seronera before settling down for a breakfast in the middle of the vast Serengeti Wilderness. A definite must-do activity for any traveller looking to top off their African safari adventure. Seronera is one area you can visit year round and still be assured you’ll have an exceptional safari experience.
The Western Corridor
As June approaches and the rainy season begins to wrap up, the herds move west to an area known as the Western Corridor. The Western Corridor is a far cry from the wide open plains of Ndutu in the south and consists of many hillier areas and large forests of acacias. This area is also famous for its river crossings and contains the infamous Grumeti River. The gigantic Nile crocodiles that live in this river have been known to barely eat all year in preparation for the incoming feast. The Western Corridor also allows visitors to book a hot air balloon flight and many nature documentaries have been filmed in this corner of the park. From here the migration moves north through the Grumeti and Ikorongo Game Reserves where the landscape is similarly hilly and wooded. The best time of year to visit the Western Corridor is May, June and July when the migration will be pushing through the area and crossing the many rivers that crisscross the land.
Northern Serengeti and the River Crossings
Steep river banks, monstrously large crocodiles and fast flowing tumultuous rivers await the herds as they seek out the permanent water of the Masai Mara in the driest months of the year in the Serengeti ecosystem. An instinctive drive to go north in search of water and food brings them to one last obstacle. The Mara River. Here there is a beautiful mix of riverine forests, hills, plains and rocky outcrops. The massive Mara River cuts through this region and is the stage for the greatest show on Earth. Hundreds of thousands of animals cross the rivers, leap off steep river banks and try their best to avoid the gnashing jaws of the resident crocodiles to reach the Masai Mara in Kenya to the north. The best time to visit this region is August and September as the herds go North and November as they return south to Tanzania. Wild Frontiers’ Serengeti North Wilderness Camp is set up in this are for a few months to take advantage of the show happening just a few kilometres from its doorstep.
East of the Park
As the rains begin to fall in the south yet again, the herds begin to push south from the Masai Mara and back towards the breeding grounds of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Ndutu Plains. During November however they pass through the eastern edge of the park and the Loliondo Controlled Area. This region is a mix of plains, rocky outcrops and rivers which supports the massive herds for November and December as they rush to reach the southern plains and start the entire process again…
Wild Frontiers has three seasonal camps in the Serengeti, in the south (Ndutu), central (Serengeti Wilderness) and north (Serengeti North) but we are more than happy to book your stay anywhere in the Serengeti depending on the time of year you’re travelling whilst still letting you take advantage of our fantastic guides and custom built safari vehicles. So give us a call or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and let us design your ultimate Serengeti safari adventure.