Serengeti National Park is the most popular national park in Tanzania. It is the oldest and most cherished national park in the country, with thousands of visitors every year coming from all corners of the world to see the gems which attracted its title of seventh world wonder. Serengeti has also been made a world heritage site. The most well-known feature of Serengeti National Park is its extremely wide range of wild animals of all types, shapes and sizes.
- +Incredible views
- +Bird watching
- +Wildlife migration
- +Walking and driving safari
- +Many different species of wild animals
About Serengeti National Park
One of the most well-known, well-loved and popular wild animal destinations in all of Africa is Serengeti National Park. For the lover of wildlife, exquisite natural sights and activities in the great, wild outdoors, Serengeti is the ideal place to visit. All the best of what Tanzania has to offer can be admired right here, in this beautiful eco-system hosting hundreds of different species of animals, birds and fish.
Among the beautiful animals you can see on safari, there are zebras, gazelles, hyenas, jackals, wildebeest, kudu, antelopes, dikdik, reedbuck, and others. A significant sighting to note is that of the oryx, a rare and endangered species.
But by far, the most impressive at Serengeti is the selection of medium and large mammals, including wild and dangerous carnivores. Caracal, giraffe, black rhinoceros (also an endangered species), hippopotamus, African elephant, cheetah and leopard.
In addition, there are also significant numbers of zorilla, hyrax, aardvark, patas monkey, bat, olive baboon, common and potted genet, ground pangolin, vervet monkey, porcupine, otter, golden cat, white colobus monkey, black colobus monkey and dozens of other animals, big and small.
If that’s not enough, there is also an outstanding array of birds to be admired; more than 500 different species, to be exact, among which there are 34 species of raptors. Waterbirds can be spotted in aggregations of as many as 20,000. Crowned crane, marabou stork, African fish eagle, black-winger plover, ostrich, lesser flamingo, purpuratus, secretary bird, kori bustard, Caspian plover, and many, many others.
The aquatic creature and reptile population is rich in African rock pythons, Nile crocodiles, puff adder, Nile monitor lizard and blacknecked spitting cobra, to name just a few.
As you can see, Serengeti National Park is full of life of all varieties and it is an exceptional place to visit in order to view as many interesting animals as possible. It is certainly an experience that one remembers for a lifetime.
Serengeti National Park can be accessed most easily from Arusha, where the majority of safaris start. There are flights available to Kilimanjaro International Airport (46km away from Arusha).
Alternatively, you can take a plane to the Julius Nyerere International Airport, close to Dar es Salaam, after which it is possible to get to Arusha Airport via a domestic flight.
A cheaper alternative would be to fly into Nairobi, Kenya and opt for a shuttle bus into Arusha.
When to Go & Weather
- June-October: this is the dry season, which is also the best for game viewing and admiring wildlife, in general
- November-May: this is the wet season, with March-May being the time with the highest precipitation rate and “long” rains, while “short” rains are seen in November-December
Serengeti enjoys a dry and warm climate, with “short” and “long” rain seasons. Temperatures are pretty consistent throughout the year, between 25 and 28 degrees Celsius during daytime, with colder nights of about 15 degrees Celsius.
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The name of the area, Serengeti, comes from the Maasai word “siringet”, which translates as “the place where the land runs on forever”. For context, the people had been taking their animals grazing in the Mara Region, in the “endless plains”, as they were known. Hence, the name Serengeti. The first European to reach this area was Oscar Baumann, a German, who traveled here in 1892, followed by the Briton Stewart Edward White in 1913, who came back seven years later and shot 50 lions in a three-month period. Hunting impacted the lion population negatively, so a (partial) game reserve was established in 1921, becoming full in 1929. The Serengeti National Park was opened in 1951, based on these conservation efforts.
In the interest of preserving wildlife, the Maasai were moved from the Serengeti National Park to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in 1959. Serengeti is the oldest national park in Tanzania and one of the largest and most famous, offering a unique and satisfying safari experience. Among its major draws are the 1 million wildebeest, 2,500 lions and hundreds of other species of mammals, birds, reptiles, etc., as well as the impressive migrations. The Serengeti National Park is a major part of the tourism industry, and it attracts thousands of people every year.
The most important animals present in the park are:
- The African buffalo (which still exists in normal numbers)
- The African leopard (of which there are about 1000 and which can be seen scattered around The park, but it can mostly be spotted in the Seronera region)
- The Eastern Black Rhinoceros (which only exists in low numbers, because of poaching and That can be typically seen in the center, in the kopjes)
- The Tanzanian cheetah (which can be found in high density in both Kenya and Tanzania)
- The Maasai lion (there are over 3000 lions at Serengeti; the park has the highest density of lions on the continent)
- The African bush elephant (which were eliminated in large numbers because of poaching, but are now recovering) and others.
Other species in the Serengeti National Park include the baboon, East African wild dog, gazelle, Masai giraffe, spotted hyena, eland, impala, topi, striped hyena, waterbuck, eland, etc. In addition, around 500 bird species populate the park, and among them you can spot the crowned crane, lovebirds, secretary bird, marabou stork, ostrich, vultures, Kori bustard, martial eagle and others. The variety is, indeed, impressive and it is what brings so many people to the park every year, both in the wet season and the dry one. While the former is better suited to bird watching, the latter is ideal for game viewing.
The Serengeti National Park is a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site, due to its tremendous ecological value and biodiversity. It is a protected area through its status as national park, according to the system of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The significance of that is that the park is meant to be handled in a way that will fulfill its purpose of protecting the ecological process and ecosystem. All the animals contained within the park, as well as the flora, benefit from protection and are to be conserved because of their importance and value.
The Tanzania National Parks Authority is the one that is in charge of the administration of the Serengeti National Park. One of the first game wardens of the area was Myles Turner, who worked to decrease and control poaching in the national park. He wrote about his experience in an autobiographical book that provides insight into the first years of the park, its history, its conservation work, etc.
- During an important economic depression in Tanzania, the Serengeti National Park suffered from many points of view. Not only did it lose its chief game warden, but the rangers worked with no uniforms, bullets, boots or money, the rhinos were decimated until only two were left and the ivory poaching left the elephant population at just a few hundred.
- Although ivory poaching was stopped, especially since the Ivory Ban (enforced internationally), meat poaching has not. Animals are still killed in high numbers (around 40,000) every year by the locals living in the areas surrounding the Serengeti National Park.
- Evidence has been found that humans lived in the Serengeti area a full two million years before colonizers (both British and German) arrived; the remains are at the Olduvai Gorge, which pertains to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, but is part of Serengeti’s ecosystem.