A million wildebeest… Each one driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling its instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life: a frenzied three-week bout of territorial conquests and mating; survival of the fittest as 40km (25 mile) long columns plunge through crocodile-infested waters on the annual exodus north; replenishing the species in a brief population explosion that produces more than 8,000 calves daily before the 1,000 km (600 mile) pilgrimage begins again.
Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park, also a world heritage site and recently proclaimed a 7th world wide wonder, the Serengeti is famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest’s trek for fresh grazing. Yet even when the migration is quiet, the Serengeti offers arguably the most scintillating game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle.
The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates Tanzania’s greatest park. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat.
But there is more to Serengeti than large mammals. Gaudy agama lizards and rock hyraxes scuffle around the surfaces of the park’s isolated granite koppies. A full 100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500-plus bird species, ranging from the outsized ostrich and bizarre secretary bird of the open grassland to the black eagles that soar effortlessly above the Lobo Hills.
As enduring as the game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that characterises the Serengeti Plains, stretching across sunburnt savannah to a shimmering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains, this golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds, rivers lined with fig trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust.
Popular the Serengeti might be, but it remains so vast that you may be the only human audience when a pride of lions masterminds a siege, focused unswervingly on its next meal.
Important information to plan for the best of Serengeti safari experience
What entices you the most in life? Is it the continuous hustle in your profession or the happy breaks that you get with your loved ones in between? Vacation can be a subjective preference for many, albeit being the only respite from loads of stress we accumulate on our shoulders through the course of our daily lives. In such cases, you might look towards options for enjoying some quiet time in complete tranquility. So, what’s the best option to move away from busy and chaotic environments?
The best of Serengeti safari tours could be one of the alternatives you might want to take into consideration for your next vacation. The Serengeti national park is one of Africa’s renowned tourist attractions, which provides the best places to enjoy nature right in its lap. Are you prepared for an adventure of your lifetime? Then, read on to find more about tips to plan for Serengeti safari tours, the best things to do in the Serengeti, and the best camps and lodges for accommodation during your vacation in the Serengeti.
Serengeti: A true wonder of Africa
Before proceeding towards the best of Serengeti safari, let us know something about the park itself first! The Serengeti is the most famous national park in Africa that provides some of the amazing wildlife viewing experiences in the world. On the other hand, you can also try your hand at various other activities apart from the game drives. The Serengeti National Park is the ideal place for enjoying an African safari experience with the abundance of wildlife. In addition, the terrain filled with golden plains adorned with sausage trees, umbrella acacia trees, and kopjes alongside the rivers filled with crocodiles and hippos are some prominent attractions in the Serengeti.
It is also known as one of the seven natural wonders in Africa with the recognition of being the site for the most massive terrestrial mammal migration in the world. The lion population density in the Serengeti is the largest in the world, alongside housing all members of the Big Five as well as 500 bird species. Located in northern Tanzania, the Serengeti National park spans over an area of 5,700 square miles that gives a large expanse for tourists to explore. However, travelers would get the best Serengeti safari tours only in the confines of the protected national park. When you look beyond, the larger picture of the Serengeti is spread over almost 18,600 square miles. There are many other game reserves and parks such as the Masai Mara National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Top things to do in Serengeti safari tours:
Now, let us take a look at the different things that you can do to get the best of Serengeti safari experience. Here are some of the notable things to do in the Serengeti, which can be based on your preference.
The foremost aspect for attention in the case of best Serengeti safari tours are game drives. The migrating wildebeest population, good chances to view bird species and dense lion population makes it ideal for having the best wildlife drives. The vast expanse of the Serengeti may be difficult to fathom in a few days of your vacation. Therefore, you should plan the sites that you want to visit during the length of your safari trips across the Serengeti.
Serengeti Visitor Center:
The next important attraction that you may come across in the Serengeti is the Serengeti Visitor Center. The self-guided walking path at this place equipped with information signs and exhibits can provide considerable information regarding the history of Serengeti; it’s wildlife, and the overall ecosystem. Tourists could also find some of the wildlife such as rock hyraxes, vibrantly colored agama lizards, and birds. The outdoor picnic area, snack and coffee shop, restrooms, and a gift shop at the Serengeti Visitor Center make it the perfect pitstop on Serengeti safari tours. Located in the Seronera area, this visitor center is open for tourists daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Indulging in the local cultural experience:
The Masai tribes are indigenous inhabitants of the Serengeti ecosystem. A semi-nomadic tribe living in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania nearby the Great Rift Valley, the Masai are a popular tribe among visitors in East Africa. Tourists could visit some Masai villages for learning about their culture, lifestyles, traditions, and customs closely. Such visits may include a short dancing ceremony with a visit to a traditional Masai village home-made of sticks, cow manure, and mud. In addition, visitors could also get the opportunity to visit the village school along with chances to purchase handicrafts made by the village members. In addition, such experiences are the best of Serengeti safari as elders of the village can explain important customs associated with marriage, education of children, raising and herding livestock, traditional clothing, and the construction of homes. Pretty engaging cultural experience, isn’t it?
Night game drives:
The thrill of night game drives is also one of the prominent attractions of best Serengeti safari tours. Game drives at night can help you spot various nocturnal animals such as aardvarks, civets, nightjars, and bush babies. In some cases, tourists can also spot predators on the hunt. Although there is no permission for night game drives in the Serengeti National Park, certain camps and lodges could take you on night drives along the borders of the Serengeti.
Witnessing the topographical marvels of nature:
Kopjes are another important attraction for tourists in the Serengeti. Kopjes are actually weathered colossal rock formations rising out of the central Serengeti plains. The most interesting thing about Kopjes is that they appear like large islands in a sea of grass. The most frequently visited kopjes are the Moru Kopjes. Moru Kopjes area is known as one of the best places for spotting the rare black rhino in the Serengeti. The rock formations in the heart of the Serengeti are known for providing shade and small water pools alongside serving as promising vantage points for various animals such as leopards, cheetahs, and lions.
The Great Migration:
How could you miss out on the most notable attraction in the Serengeti safari tours? The Great Migration of wildebeests and other hoofed animals such as gazelles, zebras, and elands are one of the magnificent sights in the Serengeti. However, you need to note that the migration is a continuous process and is not all about the animals crossing the Mara River. Therefore, visitors have to plan accordingly and consult with their safari operators to maximize their chances of viewing the migration.
More than just wildlife:
The Olduvai Gorge is also another notable attraction in the best of Serengeti safari for tourists. Visitors can find the Olduvai gorge as a reliable stop between Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. The most notable highlight of the location is the discovery of human fossils and tools that date back to almost 2 million years before.
The fossils of more than 60 hominids found at this site make it one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world. The nearby Laetoli archaeological site is renowned for the 27m-long trail of hominid footprints. These footprints are assumed to be over 3.6 million years old. The small Olduvai Museum could be the right place for you to enrich your knowledge about fossil discoveries, the Lateoli footprints, and the Olduvai Gorge.
A view from the top:
A hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti definitely seems like an appealing proposition for enjoying your trip to the Serengeti. You can get to witness the sunrise and then hover at treetop level for viewing animals. Although balloon rides can be quite expensive, you can go for small shared regional plane flights for a bird’s eye view of the Serengeti National Park.
Walking safari: A unique experience
You may also want to take some walking safari tours to get the best of Serengeti safari experience. Even though it may seem a little tiring, the joy of exploring the Serengeti on foot is an entirely different experience altogether. You can find great opportunities to view plants, trees, and various small animals along the borders of the Serengeti National Park and learn more about them.
Enjoying the music of the wild:
One of the most important activities that you can adopt for making the most of your Serengeti safari experience is staying at a camp or lodge in Serengeti. The camps or lodges help you to sleep amidst the melody of the wild, with many animals speaking their hearts out in their natural habitats. The rustling of the giant African elephants, the indomitable roar of the lions, and the hysterical “laugh” of the hyenas would be some of the sounds that you can experience commonly. Such experiences could make the best Serengeti safari tours with the excitement of being right in the heart of the action in the Serengeti. The best Serengeti lodges and camps give you more than just the experience of listening to wild animal sounds. The constant fear and apprehension regarding wild animals making unwanted advances into the camp maybe something right out of the pages of an African adventure book. However, you don’t have to worry about any unwanted guests in the best lodges and camps in Serengeti.
Tips to plan safari tours in Serengeti:
The next important concern for tourists planning a safari trip across the Serengeti is vested in important tips for the best of Serengeti safari tour experience. Therefore, you could take a look at the following factors in order to ensure the best safari experience in the Serengeti. The following pointers can be used as best practices for planning your Serengeti safari trip.
Establish a budget:
The first concern for visitors should be pricing. Safaris could be potentially expensive from the perspective of a general visitor seeking the thrill of Serengeti safari. Therefore, you should establish your requirements from the safari tour beforehand in order to establish the budget. Establishing a clear budget can help you find the most reasonable travel plans and safari tour operators. For example, choosing between a private safari and a group safari or the duration of the safari could be vital determinants of the cost of the trip. So, decide according to the budget you can afford for the trip.
Selection of safari tour operator:
The next crucial pointer to prepare for the best of Serengeti safari experience is the selection of the right safari tour operator. You can be confused by the wide range of alternatives of safari tour operators along with their various appealing service offerings. The important questions that you can ask the safari tour company you are considering include the number of people in the car or the type of car they use for safaris.
You need to inquire about the safety aspects of the vehicle that will be used for safaris. Does it have spare tires? Does it have an AC and a charging point for phones? These questions can help you establish the fact that you can safely explore the Serengeti safari without any risks to your life or the safari experience altogether. You need to ask for the additional perks that the safari tour operator provides with their vehicle, such as binoculars. Another important detail which you should take into account is the itinerary of the game drive. This is where you should find out whether you can get to rest in the best camps in Serengeti during the course of the safari trip. Check whether the tour operator provides written confirmation about the various costs included in the total package.
You need to have everything confirmed in writing, to avoid any unnecessary costs for the trip. Most important of all, ask the safari tour operator for outlining the costs of different services that you may want to avail during the Serengeti safari experience. Do not forget to check the cancellation and refund policy of the safari tour operator. Based on these pointers, you can ensure that the safari tour operator gives you the best deal, and you get to enjoy the most with what you have at hand!
Choosing the perfect itinerary:
The itinerary is also one of the formidable concerns for people wishing to have the best Serengeti safari experience. The best course of action would be to go for itineraries, which include notable attractions of the Serengeti ecosystem. Look out for the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area among the foremost places to visit in the Serengeti. The other interesting places for visiting in the Serengeti include the Tarangire National Park, Lake Eyasi and the Lake Manyara National Park. In addition, you should also prefer itineraries, which include visits to the Lake Natron, Arusha National Park, and the Empaakai Crater.
Best time for visiting:
When is the best time to visit the Serengeti? The straightforward answer for the question is the dry season, as you could be able to witness the maximum number of animals during this period. The calving season in January and February is the right time to witness baby wildebeests and zebras as well as the Great Migration. The wet season from March to May could be futile as you would not get sufficient visibility due to the rain. The peak season, i.e., the dry season lasts from June to October with plenty of opportunities to spot Serengeti’s amazing wildlife. The shoulder season or the months of November and December could be perfect for you if you want limited tourists, albeit sacrificing a huge investment in accommodation budgets.
The final aspect to prepare for the best Serengeti safari experience other than the choice of best camps in Serengeti refers to the packing essentials. Regarding the clothes, you should pick a jacket with multiple pockets and a brimmed hat, long sleeve shirts, a pair of shorts made of comfy, breathable material, warm jacket, and tank tops, bathing suit, comfy dress, and long, warm socks. A scarf, a pair of sunglasses with polarized lens, a pair of sandals and a pair of boots should also be the must-add items in your list of packing essentials.
A good camera is one of the most important additions that you should not miss from your luggage. Smartphones and tablets cannot be used in safari tours for clicking photographs of wild animals or the landscape. So, choose a good camera with a perfect zooming lens and remember to pack some extra batteries as well as a power bank. Don’t forget an extra SD card if you are an avid shutterbug! Other important accessories that should be in your bag while packing for Serengeti safari are insect repellents, earplugs, a headlamp, a universal adaptor, sunblock, and hand sanitizer.
Lodges in the Serengeti:
The final section of our discussion shall move towards the best Serengeti lodges and camps that can provide comfortable accommodation with a bevy of other facilities. Here are some of the notable lodges that you can find in and around the Serengeti as the best places for accommodation.
- The Mwiba River Lodge in Southern Serengeti is one of the best Serengeti lodges if you are looking for a luxury experience. You can find eight suited luxury safari lodge with the massive suites completely at your disposal. You can walk or take night drives through the bush at your freedom and is the perfect place to enjoy bush meals and other treats in the lap of the wild.
- The Kusini luxury lodge in Southern Serengeti is also one of the best Serengeti lodges that give you the experience of a camp and a lodge at the same time. The white canvas tent built alongside raised decking provides the notable benefits of enjoying the spectacle of calm sundowners, the serene plains, and the magnanimous vistas.
- The Four Seasons Serengeti Lodge is also another promising option for visitors looking for luxury lodges in Serengeti. The property is completely isolated and is surrounded on all sides by the massively open savannah. The infinity pool gives visitors the opportunity to bask in the sun while watching a waterhole frequented by elephants.
- The Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge is also a reasonable choice for travelers to enjoy lodging in the Serengeti at affordable pricing. Placed high on a hill with the view of an amazing natural amphitheater across the undulating plains, this lodge is the ideal choice to grab ringside seats to the Great Migration.
- The Serengeti Simba Lodge is another value-for-money option that you may want to try out during your visit to the Serengeti. This lodge is located just outside the Ikoma Gate of the Serengeti National Park with an endless view across the plains. The indigenous elements in the design of the lodge can appeal to the tastes of visitors looking forward to experiencing African culture to the fullest.
Safari camps in the Serengeti:
Now let us take a look at some of the best camps in Serengeti that you can choose for your safari plans.
- The first edition would be the Nduara Loliondo luxury camp in Eastern Serengeti. Nduara offers an authentic experience of African culture, being one of the most remote areas in the Serengeti ecosystem. You can enjoy the safari by walking and learning from local people with family members. Most important of all, this camp offers a unique way of enjoying your visit to the Serengeti other than indulging in game drives. For example, shooting bows and arrows with the local Masai people can be an interesting experience, isn’t it?
- The Namiri Plains camp in Eastern Serengeti is also one of the luxury alternatives that can appeal to the safari enthusiast in everyone. The six-tent luxury safari camp offers the best place to view the big cats of the wild since the Frankfurt Zoological Society used it for research on big cats.
- Serengeti Safari Camp in Northern, Southern, and Western Serengeti offers the best option for enjoying mobile luxury camps in the Serengeti. It is considered as one of the best camps in Serengeti for following the migration. The best thing about this camp is the facility of the best food as well as guides and locations for wildlife viewing. Most important of all, this camp is the right choice for people who want to experience the Serengeti safari as part of a huge family.
Set off on the journey of a lifetime!
So, get ready to pack your bags and head off to the Serengeti for having one of the memorable travel experiences of your life. The planning may be a bit difficult, but it is worth all the efforts once you get there! The points in the discussion mentioned above can be helpful for you to organize the best trip to the Serengeti. Bon, voyage!