Serengeti National Park, the highest concentrations of predators in Africa
We spent three days in the beautiful Serengeti National Park during our trip through Tanzania, the world’s most extensive protected grassland and savannah ecosystem. Serengeti is the oldest and most famous national park, a World Heritage site, and recently proclaimed a 7th worldwide wonder. It‘s worldwide known for the Great Migration, when up to 2 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 350,000 Thompson, impala and grant gazelles migrate from one side of the park to another in search of fresh grazing. This wonder of nature is also a great ”party” for predators like lions, leopard and crocodiles that stands along the river banks waiting to grab their prey.
The Park is over 14 763 square kilometres in size and can be divided into four parts according to their unique vegetation and landscapes: the Serengeti Plains with short and long grass, the central part of Seronera with acacia savannah, the Western Corridor with extensive woodland and the Northern Serengeti with hilly and densely wooded areas. Scattered throughout the Serengeti savannah, several outcrops of granite stick out like rocky islands in a sea of grass.
They are called kopjes and were formed thousands of years ago when the soft volcanic rock covering Serengeti was eroded to expose the ancient metamorphic rock below. These rocks provide a habitat for many animals because of the presence of a variety of plants, water, caves for dwelling and last but not least, a vantage point for Serengeti’s many predators. It’s usual to see lions or leopards climb up the kopjes to rest or wait for their prey.
The predator viewing here is exceptional, with approximately 3000 lions and many cheetahs, leopards and hyenas that control the vast plains and savannah woodlands. Serengeti also boasts great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, many kinds of primates including baboons, velvet and Colobus monkeys, thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle and more than 500 species of birds.
Exploring its beautiful grasslands and endless savannah, we spotted hundreds and hundreds of animals but, above all, a considerable quantity of lions and cheetahs. We’ve visited all the most famous savannah national parks on this amazing continent, and we’ve never seen an incredible concentration of predators like in Serengeti.
The best memories we’ve kept in mind are a big group of lions resting in the grass just a few meters from my vehicle, three cheetahs playing together, a cheetah with its four babies and a beautiful leopard eating an antelope. As the Australian born war correspondent and author of popular histories and books about Africa, Alan Moorehead said, “anyone who can go to the Serengeti, and does not, is mad!”.
Need to Know about Serengeti National Park
|1. When to go
The rainy season lasts from November through May, whereas the dry season runs from June to October. June and July are also the coldest months of the year. The dry season is the best time for game viewing because they are concentrated close to permanent water sources.
Serengeti NP ranges from 920 m to 1850 m in altitude. Therefore, it could be cold at night and early mornings above all during the dry season (sometimes the temperature could even reach 5 degrees).
Serengeti wildebeest migration: it’s one of the most spectacular events in the whole of Africa and consists of the movement of vast numbers of the Serengeti’s wildebeest to Masai Mara National Park (and back) in search of green pasture, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, eland and impala. The exact timing of the Serengeti wildebeest migration depends entirely on the rainfall. It’s possible to see the migration all year round (the wildebeests migrate in a clockwise movement around the Serengeti National Park). Still, the most spectacular moment is from June to October when thousands of them cross the Mara river (northern Serengeti) with many predators such as lions, cheetahs and crocodiles ready to catch their prey.
2. Local tour operators
Tanzania is not such a cheap country, and to get the most out of its wonders, it’s good to book a trip with a local tour operator choosing to sleep in the campsites with your tent. We suggest contacting Easy Travel and tour, Roy Safaris, World Tours and Safaris, Dorobo Tours and Safaris and Earthlife expeditions. The tours to visit the “northern circuit” parks usually start from Arusha.
Alternatively, you can also look at Viator’s web platform, which offers tours around Tanzania managed by local tour operators. Another good way to look for your Safari is by using safaribookings.com.
Self-drive: another option is to rent a 4WD vehicle and self-drive through the parks. In Arusha, you’ll find some rental car companies providing the right vehicle to drive to the parks’ gravel road networks. You can try Arusha car rental and safaris, Roadtrip Africa, and Seasons Tanzania.
3. How to get there
If you are coming from Arusha (Tarangire NP, Lake Muro NP, Lake Manyara NP, Ngorongoro CA), you’ll enter from Naabi Hill’s southwestern gate.
4. Where to sleep
The sections of Serengeti NP are three. The most popular is the southern-central part called Seronera valley (classic savannah dotted with acacia trees); the Western corridor (dense bush and forests); and the north section, where the park meets up with the Masai Mara NP, called Lobo (hilly and densely wooded areas). We spent two full days around Serengeti (1 night in the Lobo area and one night in the Seronera area). Click here to see the map of the parks and the location of the accommodations.