- December 6, 2016
The Serengeti National is acclaimed for its prodigious enthrallment of predators and a very large Serengeti Migration of almost two million wildebeests where nearly one million wildebeests and 200,000 zebras move from the northern hills to the south every October and November during the short rains. Later, they move toward the west and north with the onset of rains from April-June. The impetus to migrate is strong that no drought, gorge, or river infested with crocodiles can impede the process. It is so a sheer rugged beauty that it is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Serengeti National Park is the oldest and the most fascinating national park, neighboring Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The name Serengeti comes from the Masai language, meaning ‘endless plains’
History of Serengeti
Uptil 1913 the capacious stretches of Africa were quite unexplored when Steward Edward White, an American hunter started on a journey from Nairobi. Moving towards south he said: “We walked for miles over burnt out country… Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked two more miles ahead and found myself in paradise.” He came across this spectacular land, Serengeti, which he later compared with paradise. In the years since White’s excursion under “the high noble arc of the cloudless African sky,” Serengeti has come to symbolize paradise to many of us. The Maasai, who had grazed their cattle on the vast grassy plains for millennia had always thought so. For them it was Siringitu – “the place where the land moves on forever.”
The Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979, Maswa Game Reserve (2,200km2) in the south, the Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya (1,672km2) to the north, all lie within the segment of Serengeti region of East Africa. The whole ecosystem is intact and the migration doesn’t get hampered. The park welcomes more than 90,000 tourists every year and if one is there at the right time, one can feast his eyes on the herds as a part of the fascinating migration.
The Serengeti can widely be prorated in four different segments; the central Seronera Valley, the Western Corridor, the Northern Lobo and Kogatende areas, and the Southern Plains.
The stupendous annual wildebeest migration
The spectacular grassy plains are the richest grazing grounds on the African continent and therefore an abode to the largest herds and maximum population of predators on the planet. The annual migration of two million wildebeests along with thousands of zebra’s and gazelles followed by their predators in quest of water and food is perhaps one of the most phenomenal as well as astounding feat of nature. This spectacular phenomenon takes place in a unique scenic setting of ‘endless plains’: 25,000km2 of treeless expanses of endless flat short grasslands dotted with rocky outcrops (kopjes) interspersed with rivers and woodlands. It is a home to four endangered species; black rhinoceros, elephant, wild dog, and cheetah contributing to the high biological diversity of the park.
Serengeti: a tale of magnificient wildlife
Serengeti offers an exceptional predator viewing with approximately 3000-4000 lions and massive numbers of leopards, hyena and cheetah. Great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant’s gazelle are natural inhabitants which can be located at any time of the year.
The Serengeti is the gem in the crown of Tanzania’s green grasslands, which altogether make up some 14% of the country’s land area, not many countries can match its conservation records. Serengeti protects the most vast and diversified collection of terrestrial wildlife on earth and secures its place as one of the few great migratory systems still intact.
What are the Big Five?
The mention of The Big Five is a very common thing to hear before a safari, from books, local signboards etc. The Big Five are the final animals which everybody wants to see during their visit to the Serengeti National Park. Hundreds of years ago the Big Five were the most sought after animals to hunt. What makes them remarkably superior to other animals is their ferocity and dangerous presence, many hunters fell prey to their vehemence.
The African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros are the Big Five game animals. Today, of course, camera lenses have replaced the up close and personal experiences with the wildlife, but that doesn’t take away the mad thrill of seeing your first lion or hearing a leopard walk past your camp at night. These big mammals are each far more interesting than the early explorers knew.
The unrivalled safari experience and much more…
Safari, in Kiswahili, simply means “journey”. In English it has become a synonym for a wildlife viewing adventure. ‘To go on safari’ In Tanzania is, and always will remain a fascinating and exciting experience. Day time driving is one of the main activity in Serengeti. Night safaris are not permitted inside the National Park but there are number of lodges in the adjoining reserves where night safari is available. These reserves are Singita’s Grumeti Reserves (Sasakwa, Faru Faru and Grumeti Reserves Sabora), Klein’s Camp and the camps in the adjacent Loliondo reserve though boating safaris are not available in the area. A few camps allow walking autogenously. Alex Walker’s Serian is the only camp in Southern Serengeti area where walking is permitted.
Hot air balloon safaris, walking safari, picnicking, game drives, bush lunch/dinner can be arranged with hotels/tour operators. Maasai rock paintings and musical rocks offer a splendid experience to the visitors and not limiting their enterprise just to the wildlife. Tourists can visit Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron’s for the beautiful flamingos.
The Park is open for visitors year-round. The best time to have a glimpse of the great migration is from December- July. You can get there by road, air and train.