The Serengeti ("big plains" in the maasai language) is certainly the most famous park in Africa and spreads on a surface of 14.700 square kilometres in the north of the country, west of Ngorongoro crater, south of Maasai Mara park in Kenya. It was the first official park in Tanzania, so declared in 1951, and World Heritage in 1981. Millions of animals have their home in those plains and thousands of documentaries have been filmed there, but its fame comes in the first place from the biggest migration in the world, when millions of animals wander across the plains and the Grumeti River looking for water and pasture.
It is one and a half million wildebeests, zebras and gazelles that start moving together for survival. They devour 4000 tons of grass every day on the way! It is a most impressive show, for the eyes, the ears and the nose, that you will never forget! The plains are crowded as far as the eye can see. You will also assist incredible scenes of hunting by the big predators, as well as the amazing crossing of the Grumeti River where the crocodiles wait patiently for their food. Life and death in their magnificence!
The landscape is a mix of the famous plains, scattered with "kopjes", these granite blocs that serve as view point for the lion prides, and woodland. The animal population is extremely rich, with around 2.500 lions (the biggest concentration in a park), and you will have the possibility of spotting the "big five", that is lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and if you are lucky, rhinos!
Just before entering the Serengeti, you will pass the Olduvai valley, probable cradle of human kind, with the discovery of skulls of Homo Habilis and Homo Erectus in the sixties by the Leakey family. There you will also see the footprints of our ancestors, dating 3, 75 million years back!
When and how to visit?
All seasons are good for visiting the Serengeti, as the quantity, variety and density of animals is so important. The migration starts moving from the southern grass plains in May, when grass becomes scarce, towards the North, passing the Western Corridor. It reaches the Masai Mara, in Kenya by end of June and stays there until September, when it starts south again, crossing the Lobo area and the Grumeti River, and reaching the big plains in November. From February to March, several hundred thousands baby wildebeest come to the world in the Ndutu area!
Serengeti is also good for bird-watching, even with its big grass plains. More than 500 species of birds are observed here, and for example, there are about 4300 ostriches in the Serengeti.
Wildebeest, especially when the migration is there, has the biggest population, with over a million heads, followed by zebras and different kinds of gazelles. But this comes with all the predators, and it is the place to be able to watch a family of cheetahs hunting for example. If you spend a few days in the Serengeti, you will be able to watch most African animals.
For more information, we advise you the official website of the Tanzanian national parks (TANAPA): www.serengeti.org