The vast and beautiful Serengeti is one of Africa’s most awe-inspiring safari locations in Tanzania. The sheer volume of animals here is extraordinary and estimates suggest that around one million wildebeest, hundreds of thousands of zebra and Thomson’s gazelle, and tens of thousands of impala, Grant’s gazelle, topi, hartebeest, eland and other antelopes live here – all hunted by the predators for which these plains are famous.
Some of these animals reside permanently in home areas which are excellent for safaris all year round. But most of the wildebeest and good numbers of other species are permanently on the move in the ‘Great Migration’ which is a remarkable spectacle that is one of the greatest wildlife shows on earth. If you plan carefully, it’s still possible to witness this spectacle in the wild and remote areas without too many fellow enthusiasts crowding the scene.
The Serengeti National Park itself covers about 15,000km² of mostly flat or gently rolling grasslands, interspersed with occasional rock outcrops which are known as kopjes from the Afrikaans language. But this is just the centre of a whole ecosystem that covers more than double that area and includes Grumeti Reserve, Ikorongo Game Reserve, Loliondo Controlled Area, Maswa Game Reserve, part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and also Kenya’s relatively small Maasai Mara Game Reserve. This combined area is often referred to as the Greater Serengeti area or the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.
Vast short-grass plains cover the south of Serengeti National Park, stretching into the north of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the south-west Loliondo and Maswa Game Reserve. Occasionally there are small kopjes which, like the forests around Lake Ndutu, harbour good populations of resident game. However, around these oases of permanent wildlife, majority of this area is flat and open. It is alive with grazing wildebeests from around late-November to April, but it remains virtually empty for the rest of the year.
Stretching from Seronera (central) for about 100km north, to the Kenyan border, the northern Serengeti is a gently rolling country, broken by small rivers and occasional hills plus kopjes. There are good permanent populations of wildlife in several areas here including the very beautiful Lobo Kopje. This part is an interesting varied country which is located far from the park’s main entry point in the south and thus receives fewer visitors.
The further you go north, the fewer vehicles you see. Even when the migration is here, between about August and October, you can still enjoy spectacular crossings of the Mara River. A particularly stunning are is the wild Lamai Wedge – the area of land between the Mara River and the Kenya Border – which includes the picturesque Wogakuria Kopje, and a beautiful series of game-rich valleys and plains. This is the only area of the national park where off-road driving is acceptable