Covering tens of thousands of square kilometers, this is one of Tanzania’s largest parks, a symbol of African wildlife and primeval beauty. In the Masai language, the name Serengeti means ‘endless plains’. Huge herds of Wildebeest and Zebra dominate the park and their seasonal migration to and from Masai Mara in Kenya provide an unequalled wildlife spectacle. The predator population cannot be overlooked. Naturally, with such a big number of the plains game providing a sufficient food supply, the predators thrive here. It is not unusual to see 40 or more lions in a day’s game viewing.
The larger area of Serengeti is covered by vast open plains with lofty rocky outcrops, called Kopjes. The other areas are covered by acacia, savannah woodland, scrub, forested and mature treed rivers, an occasional swamp and small lakes ‘here and there’. The park ranges in altitude from 910 meters up to 1,820 meters. True eye-catching beauty, immortalized in the film “Serengeti shall not die.”
Unrivalled photographic opportunities exist when the great animal migration is on. There is a wealth of bird life in the area where the larger species of birds of prey, game birds and water fowl are well represented.
Here also a unique historical find revealed a settlement site of people dating from 1000 to 100 B.C.
The great trek usually begins in Tanzania and the Serengeti in January after the herds have exhausted the available pastures.
The migration involves well over a million animals and approximate 500 miles of travel. The true migrants are the Wildebeest or White bearded gnu and Zebra. Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles participate but only partially while the predators only trail the herds for obvious reasons – easy prey! It is questionable whether the Zebra make the full journey and it is certain that the gazelles do not leave the Serengeti
At this time of the year the wildebeests are scattered across the medium and short grass plains south of Serengeti depending on the water and grazing. They criss-cross the plains with large concentrations remaining around Lake Ndutu and Olduvai gorge. Many travel onto Ngorongoro crater increasing the numbers of animals in the crater considerably.
At this time, there are scattered thunderstorms on the plains, the surface waterholes are full and the grazing is good. Wildebeest calving occurs in February and there are literally hundreds of calves. Predatory activity is high with an abundance of Lion, Cheetah, spotted Hyena with frequent sighting of Leopard.
By the end of March, the rains begin to taper off and the surface waterholes begin to dry up, the grazing is becoming short and the animals begin to panic. The wildebeest begin to gather into large herds and start moving north and west towards Lake Victoria as they graze. The herds continue west following Grumeti river and reach within 20 miles of Lake Victoria. It is for this reason the western arm of the Serengeti was included in the national park and is called the migration corridor.
The animals move off the plains into high country and the corridor.
The herds are still moving off the plains and into the corridor.
The great herds are now in the corridor. At the same time during June the herds move north again through Musoma and head for the Masai Mara in Kenya. Depending on the rain and grazing they reach the Mara river towards the end of July.
The great herds are more concentrated now and remain in Masai Mara area approximately 2-3 months. During this period the courtship and breeding takes place. By the end of September they have consumed most of the grass from the Mara river to the Loita plains in Masai Mara.
They become restless and start moving south through the Keekorok (Masai Mara) and Lobo (Serengeti) Valleys en-route to the plains.
The herds are normally in the highlands, acacia woodland around Lobo in Tanzania. They arrive on the long plains of the Serengeti around Seronera at the end of November and stay in this area for about a month before dispersing onto the vast plains that form the medium and short grass areas of the Serengeti ecosystem.
The herds are in Seronera area (central Serengeti) and the long grassy plains.
The cycle repeats itself.
With 45,000 square kilometers, this is not only Africa’s biggest game reserve but it is the oldest. It is also the least accessible and the least known. Consisting of woodlands with grassy flood plains and dense forest patches, it provides a home for large herds of elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard and hippo, where in fact the elephant herds are the largest in Africa. Containing some of the area is accentuated by the Rufuji river system which flows through its centre making effecting communication impossible.