When many people think of Africa in all its wild and spectacular glory, they are often thinking of the Serengeti National Park, and particularly the seemingly endless grassy plains of its south east. This is the stage for what is often thought of as the greatest wildlife show on Earth: the Great Migration when more than 1 million wildebeest, 200,000 Burchell's zebras and 300,000 Thompsons gazelles follow seasonal rains through the Serengeti and Maasai Mara in Kenya, in an endless search for fresh grass.
Where to see the best game changes throughout the year and Aqua-Firma’s privately guided safaris adapt to provide you the best seasonal experiences. Forward planning, expert trackers and daily updates on animal movements enable us to make the best of your experience in the area. Providing you with your own vehicle and guide, we can also adapt to what makes your days in the Serengeti as rewarding and enjoyable as possible; whether that be long days dedicated to game viewing, with a picnic lunch in the field; or excellent game viewing either side of a relaxing midday meal at a lodge or tented camp.
The Serengeti National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering some 14,763 km². It is part of the much larger Serengeti Ecosystem, which also takes in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the south east, the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and a network of other connected game reserves. This complete area covers an area of approximately 30,000 km². Despite its popular image of endless grassy plains, a safari to the Serengeti can offer exceptional diversity.
The Northern Serengeti region running north of Seronera towards the Maasai Mara offers a hilly landscape, dominated by bushes and wooded areas. This is good area to view elephants and Maasai giraffe in particular. The two main rivers which pass through this area (the Grumeti and Mara) can also provide huge concentrations of wildebeest and zebra in the dry season, and dramatic scenes when they cross these rivers en masse, running the gauntlet through a phalanx of crocodiles lying in wait.
Extending out towards the vast expanse of Lake Victoria is an area known as the Western Corridor. The main feature of this region is a group of rivers threading their way through the plains and hill landscapes, bordered by dense riverine forests in many regions. Black and White Colobus and Vervet monkeys are often found in these dense fringing forests; as well as families of elephants enjoying the river and hippos snoozing in the midday sun. The Great Migration passing through these rivers provides a seasonal glut in food supply for some of Africa’s largest and most impressive Nile Crocodiles. Even outside of main river crossing periods, the Grumeti River can provide excellent game viewing, with pleasant scenes of elephants hosing themselves down; grunting hippos forming islands midwater; and the more sombre sight of a crocodile thrashing a victim at the water surface.
The Southern Region contains short and long grass plains on the fringes of the Great Rift Valley. The area is also defined by several low lying lakes where a huge swathe of East Africa running north to the Red Sea, is slowly pulling away from the rest of the continent. Lake Ndutu is one of these. Throughout the Southern Region plains you can find granite kopjes which are rocky outcrops protruding like islands from the savannah. These are good places to find resting cats, pythons, smaller antelopes and a leopard perhaps slung across the bough of a tree.
The Great Migration is often something that’s often considered to happen at certain times of year. The reality is that the migration never really ends; it’s just in different areas at different times and for varying periods of time. The timing of the Migration varies slightly from year to year due to the rains coming early or later in the season.
Between these two areas the centrally located Seronera Plains contains what is claimed to be the highest density of cheetahs anywhere in Africa. Look out for them early morning making the most of termite mounds and other raised features as they begin their daily scout for prey. Using the bonnet of a safari vehicle is not an unknown occurrence! Unlike other cats, cheetahs mostly hunt in the daytime and here around the Seronera you might just get lucky and spot the world’s fastest land mammal in action.
The Serengeti is a place of incredible wildlife spectacles on a grand scale, but it is also a place on exceptional diversity, both in a geographical and biological sense, where moments shared with wildlife can be savoured. Smaller creatures such as servals, rock hyrax and mongooses can be spotted and find productive homes of the plains. Likewise lesser known antelope such as topis and the huge and distinctive eland can also be observed here in good numbers. Watching lesser known creatures, especially with a knowledgeable local guide by your side can be as rewarding as watching their better known cousins.
Birdwatchers will find the Serengeti a diverse and fascinating location, with more than 500 species recorded in the park. Ostriches, eagles, vultures, secretary birds and the slightly arrogant looking Kori Bustard are the most apparent. The Northern Hemisphere winter is a period when many migratory species return to the plains. This is when the Serengeti, fueled by rains, provides an abundant supply of food for both resident birds and migrants.
Aqua-Firma’s privately guided safaris can be tailored to make the most of each seasonal benefit, basing you in the best anticipated locations and adapting on a daily basis the areas we take you to explore. For a full taste of Africa and to explore Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara en route we can drive you in. We can also drive you back out, or you can avoid a lot of miles if we fly you back to Arusha. Contact one of our Tanzania experts to discuss this further.