Serengeti National Park

July 5, 2019

‘Serengeti’ – A Look into BBC’s New Documentary

©Copyright of Shutterstock. A male lion with the red glow of a sunset behind him in the heart of the Serengeti.

For those who tuned into BBC1 at 8pm last Thursday, you will have witnessed the start of a series that transports you from your armchair to the rolling plains of the Serengeti. There you will witness the battle that the Serengeti’s best known animals face. Each day is a struggle between life and death and although it is great to watch these events unfold on television, there is nothing better than seeing these spectacles first hand. Whether it is the lions, the elephants or the wild dogs that spark an interest for you to go on safari or a love of wildlife, it doesn’t matter. After organising luxury safaris for over twenty years, we know the best places for you visit! Read below for our honest advice about where the best places are to see these magnificent animals.  

The Wildebeest Migration

The world-renowned Great Migration is a year-round event that occurs within the Serengeti National Park. Each year millions of wildebeest and zebra follow the rains in a clock-wise motion clocking up about two-hundred and fifty kilometres each. From crossing the Mara River in the North to giving birth on the Ndutu plains in the South, drama is never far away when watching these ungulates. If you’re particularly interested in keeping up with the migration, then we would whole-heartedly recommend a mobile camp. These are tented camps that follow the migration all year, moving from site to site meaning that they have the best spots for the action. Do not fear though, luxury isn’t compromised. All your amenities (and more) are certainly apparent.

©Copyright of Shutterstock. One of the greatest wildlife spectacles on Earth – The Great Wildebeest Migration

Lions

The majestic King of the Jungle is probably the most sought after animal people want to see when they go on safari. Luckily, lions are everywhere in the Serengeti and unlike the wildebeest, they stick to their territories. Whilst the migration may pass through areas at different times of the year, no matter where you stay there will be plenty of resident game in the lion territories to keep them fed whilst the wildebeest are away. If you are after a great value safari, it is worth seeking the ‘off season’ camps as they will still have great opportunities to see lions and great prices!

A beautiful lionness in the morning light. Picture taken by Africa specialist Sam whilst in the Serengeti.

Cheetahs

Small, lithe and the only cat that can’t roar, you are often left feeling sorry for the cheetah. Often bullied by hyenas and the other cats, being a cheetah mother is probably one of the toughest jobs in the Serengeti. Even with the honey-badger disguise, cheetah cubs unfortunately have a very high mortality rate. But for all their bad luck, there is one place in the Serengeti that we hold close to our hearts. Recently reopened and what used to be a cheetah research area, Namiri Plains in the Eastern section of the Serengeti is a place like no other. As well as being home to numerous caracals, servals and other big cats, the cheetah population has thrived here for years and sightings are daily and wonderful. For the best cheetah sightings and photographic opportunities we couldn’t recommend Asilia’s Namiri Plains Camp high enough. If you don’t believe it yet, check out our Instagram to see our first-hand sightings from our trips there!

Two cheetah brothers photographed by Managing Director Marc on his stay at Namiri Plains.

Elephants

The most intelligent of all savannah animals, with communication systems that humans haven’t been able to apprehend and emotions that no other animals seem to have, the elephant is a magnificent creature. The biggest member of the Big 5, yet also the most gentle, one would be mistaken that they are big fumbling, bumbling balls of grey, yet an insight into their behaviour shows just how gentle and nimble they can be. That’s not to say they aren’t destructive because they certainly can be when the mood strikes. With the Serengeti being such an open and vast landscape, elephants are not normally found in such open areas, that’s why it is important to be in a camp that is placed perfectly for both habitats. A great area for elephant sightings is in the often-forgotten Serengeti forests. Here the vegetation is denser and riverine thickets are the perfect habitat for elephant families who need plenty of food, water and shelter to provide safety for the herd.  We absolutely love Nomad’s Serengeti Safari Camp, a mobile camp which moves throughout the year depending on where the migration is, yet their location also takes into consideration the movement of the mega fauna like the elephants. Their new position by the Moru kopjes in central Serengeti provides the perfect setting for great sightings.

The often forgotten forests of the Serengeti photographed by Africa specialist Sam whilst staying in the Moru region.

Whilst I hope you will enjoy the rest of the series, I know I plan to, if you want to experience the Serengeti with your own eyes then there is only one thing for you to do: contact us! We would love help you book the trip of a lifetime.

April 30, 2018

Why do a Serengeti Safari?

Filed under: Serengeti National Park — Tags: , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 1:02 pm

Serengeti, derived from the Masai word ‘Seregenget’ or ‘Siringitu’, means ‘the place where the land moves on forever’ – a fitting description for the area’s rolling grassy plains that are the epitome of most people’s vision of wildest Africa…

Wild, open, and inviting, the Serengeti’s landscape never fails to entice travellers to explore its endless wonders. While some might overlook this classics safari destination as being too mainstream, we urge you not to make this mistake. After all, the Serengeti became Africa’s most renowned national park for good reason.

4 Reasons to do a Serengeti Safari:

1. Key-Destination in the Wildebeest Migration

Wildebeest Migration Serengeti

The Serengeti is a key-destination is the wildebeest migration and perhaps the most popular reason that people travel there. A 1,800-mile odyssey, the wildebeest migration sees 1,5 million wildebeest and 200,00 zebras chasing the rains in a race for life. The herds are constantly moving so their location depends entirely on the time of year that you visit.

2. Seronera, Big Cat Capital of Africa

Lioness at Seronera, Serengeti

Situated in the heart of the Serengeti, Seronera Valley has been dubbed ‘The Big Cat Capital of Africa’ due to its extremely high concentration of predators. The area is a network of several perennial rivers that enable resident animals to thrive all year round, making it a fantastic destination for wildlife viewing.

3. Walking Safaris, Game Drives, and Hot Air Balloon Rides

Hot air balloon safari Serengeti

Whether you prefer to explore on foot, in a vehicle, or from the sky, the Serengeti offers it all. While not all, some camps offer walking safaris which are an excellent way to immerse yourself in the environment. Game drives, on the other hand, are a great way of covering larger distances in search of wildlife. And for totally different and whimsical activity, a hot air balloon safari is a spectacular way to get a bird’s-eye view of the Serengeti, allowing you to truly appreciate the immensity of the Serengeti.

4. Variety of Accommodation Options

Lamai Serengeti Bedroom

From rustic and remote, to fancy and luxurious, the accommodation options in the Serengeti are about as vast as its grassy plains. There are even mobile camps that follow the wildebeest migration, such as Olakira Camp. Essentially, there is something to meet the needs and budgets of every traveler. Some of our favourite permanent tented camps include Sasakwa Lodge, Sayari Camp, and Dunia Camp, to name just a few.

To start planning your safari to the Serengeti, get in touch with us!

January 31, 2018

Tanzania Horseback Safaris

World-renowned for its wildlife and natural beauty, and boasting highlights such as the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater and the tropical spice islands of Zanzibar; a Tanzania makes for an unforgettable horseback safari destination.

Tanzania Horseback Safari

Benefits of a Horseback Safari:
• They are more eco-friendly than safari vehicles
• You can explore areas that are inaccessible by vehicle
• Horse riding allows you to get closer to wildlife without disturbing it
• You will naturally notice more of your surroundings than you would in a vehicle, as you are moving at a slower pace and are more immersed in the environment
• Most places that offer horseback riding safaris cater to all ages and riding abilities
• It’s a completely different way to experience the wilderness

Here are a few unforgettable horseback safari experiences in Tanzania:

Serengeti:
What better way to experience the Great Wildebeest Migration than from horseback? Horse riding over the vast plains of the Serengeti, next to massive herds of wildebeest, zebra and other wildlife, is a truly exhilarating experience.

Serengeti Horseback Safari

Photo © Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Zanzibar:
If galloping along a pristine white sand beach, next to the gentle and warm waters of the Indian Ocean, sounds like your kind of safari experience, then a horseback ride in Zanzibar is a must do! From full moon beach rides to swimming with the horses, horse riding in Zanzibar is a magical experience.

Horse Riding in Zanzibar

Photo © Seacliff Resort

Kilimanjaro:
Mount Kilimanjaro is surrounded by stunning savannahs and wilderness areas, and horse riding in the shadow of this famous mountain is a quintessential safari experience. With no fences, buildings or roads in sight, the opportunities for spotting wildlife are endless. In addition to the brilliant game viewing, the area has some of the most spectacular scenery in Africa. As you ride, there are also numerous opportunities for interactions with the local people and herdsmen, ensuring a wonderfully enchanting cultural experience.

Horse riding near Mount Kilimanjaro

Photo © Kaskazi Horse Safaris

Are you chomping at the bit to go on a horseback safari in Tanzania? Get in touch with us and we’ll help you plan your perfect trip.

February 25, 2013

The Northern Circuit – The Lobo area

Filed under: The Lobo area — Tags: , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 5:20 pm

Northern Serengeti – Lobo

The landscape changes as you head north from Seronera. Beyond the Orangi River the land opens out into wide open Togoro plains, clear and sunbaked and seemingly perfect cheetah terrain, although they are rarely spotted here. The route continues like this for about three hours, until you reach the hills and huge worn-smooth rock kopjies of the Lobo area, haunt of at least two extended lion prides. Further north is the Mara River, which marks the border between the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Although a passable road leads across, the border crossing is closed to tourists.

This northern region of the Serengeti is bordered by the Loliondo Game Controlled Area, which extends southwards to meet the northern boundary of the Ngorongoro Conservation area. The landscape in this region is stunning, and barely visited by tourists. Those who do travel the distance are richly rewarded, whether they chose to fly in with Conservation Corporation to enjoy the finery of Kleins Camp, or whether their taste for adventure has led them on a walking and camping expedition with Hoopoe Adventure tours. Hoopoe have developed a Community Conservation Project at Loliondo that was ‘Highly Commended’ by the British Guild of Travel Writers for their ‘Silver Otter’ global award for eco-tourism in the year 2000. Here, in return for their extensive co-operational support of the Maasai village of Oloipiri, Hoopoe clients enjoy an exclusive camping concession and opportunities to meet and walk with local tribespeople. Being just beyond the park boundaries, guests are free to enjoy night drives and walking safaris of any duration, and combine their wildlife viewing with village and town visits. The village has developed clean water supplies, medical and educational facilities in return. This region is distinguished by the huge coloured granite rock formations that surround the camp, and the extended views across rolling grasslands and wooded hills and water courses are fantastic.

The Northern Circuit – The Western Corridor

Filed under: The Western Corridor — Tags: , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 5:18 pm

The Serengeti’s Western Corridor – Grumeti

To the west of the Seronera the Serengeti branches out along the westerly reaches of the Grumeti River, in an area called the Western Corridor. This area is more wooded than the Seronera, and although it still has a good population of resident game it is harder to spot them in the bush. It is worth taking a guide who knows the area. This region is particularly worth visiting in June and July, when the migration moves northwards from the Seronera and must face up to the often fatal challenge of jumping across the crocodile-infested Grumeti River. Many of these resident crocs rely entirely on this spring-time annual feast, and spend the subsequent months of the year in an idle, yellow-toothed, mud-covered wait.

The Northern Circuit – The Seronera Valley

Filed under: The Seronera Valley — Tags: , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 5:15 pm

The Serengeti’s central area – Seronera

The most popular entrance to the Serengeti is the southern Naabi Hill Gate, which opens onto the Seronera Valley, a vibrant wildlife area at the heart of the Serengeti. The Seronera is characterised by mainly wide open grassy plains patched together within a network of rivers that ensure year-round water supplies and keep this region incredibly rich in wildlife. This region in particular is studded with distinctive rock kopjies (pronounced ‘copies’, from the Dutch meaning ‘little head’), sporadic collections of huge granite rocks, weathered through the ages to form distinctive softened shapes rising out of the plains; a haven of shade and water for all animals through the dry season. The kopjies also make excellent navigational features: Simba, Gol, Barafu, Maasai, Loliondo and Moro kopjies are the most prominent and best known. There are Maasai rock paintings up to a couple of hundred years old still visible at Moro Kopjies, just about accessible through the surrounding bush during the dry season, (the path gets wildly overgrown after the rains), and only ever to be attempted after a thorough search for resident lion. The Seronera Valley has resident herds of buffalo, topi, hartebeest and impala, waterbuck, reedbuck and dikdik, numerous giraffe, warthog, and a rich pageant of birdlife of all colours and sizes. The large prides of lion here are so renowned that they enticed the first safari game-hunting expeditions here a century ago, and these rolling southern plains down to the Naabi Gate are the area in Tanzania in which you are most likely to encounter cheetah. The lines of sausage trees along the Seronera riverbanks provide the perfect environment for languid leopards to camouflage themselves on sun-dappled branch s, and lion roam at large throughout.

Serengeti balloon safaris

Serengeti Park rules and regulations are desperately strict, as they have to be in order to preserve this magnificent wilderness, though it does limit opportunities for taking much energetic exercise. Zooming around in the bush searching for wildlife action is adrenaline-inducing and tiring enough in itself, but for that real heart-stopping edge of extra excitement the only answer is a balloon safari. These are only operated in the Seronera region by Serengeti Balloon Safaris, The Adventure Centre, Po Box 12116, Arusha, Tel 57 508578, Fax 508997. The company has a desk at the major hotels in the Seronera Area, although your tour operator should be able to assist you in arranging bookings.

Balloon safaris take place in the early morning, and all the hotels and operators will ensure that you are picked up and transported to the launch pad during some dark hour before the dawn. Take a warm jumper for the occasion. The balloon is assembled in the gathering dawn, and passengers embark into a horizontal basket that is then gently puffed vertical as the vast bubble overhead inflates. This is a fantastic way to get an entirely different perspective on the plains below, giving you a true sense of the vast spaces below and providing fabulous photographic opportunities. A balloon trip is especially good if the migration is in the Seronera region: otherwise the game-viewing potential is slim. The trip is followed by a sumptuous champagne breakfast in the shade of a spreading acacia with great views all around. Breakfast is a lavish and jolly affair, spread along a long and sociable table with much merriment and warmth as the sun finds its heat. However great the lure of floating over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon, when you consider the price this is certainly a treat. The price changes marginally with the seasons, but generally allow around $375 per person for the whole trip.

February 22, 2013

The Northern Circuit – Serengeti National Park

Filed under: Serengeti National Park — Tags: , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 5:11 pm

It is hard to imagine a more appropriate name than Serengeti, from the Maasai word meaning ‘endless plains’. Russet and green grasses and trees spread like a sea beyond each distant horizon. Although this is the most famous and well-visited of all the Tanzanian National Parks, it remains a land of surprises and unexpected discoveries. Its vast expanses often appear to be havens of peace and quiet from a distance, and then reveal themselves to be alive with wild, expectant or predatory energy when scrutinised at all.

The Serengeti National Park is one of the most celebrated wildlife reserves in the world. Some credit for such wide acclaim must go to the Kenyans for so diligently promoting their own tiny corner of it, but the recognition it receives from nearly every wildlife filmmaker, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, tourists and the Tanzanians themselves has ensured a conscientious approach to preserving and restoring this stunning tract of land in as close to a natural state as possible. The Serengeti covers nearly 15,000 square kilometres of magnificent Tanzanian land, and its rolling miles of short grass plains provide an exceptional landscape for wildlife viewing. This land is justifiably famous for its huge concentrations of wildlife, especially the big cats, as well as for being the stomping ground of the great Migration, a massive accumulation of 1ð million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 350,000 gazelles, stretching their legs over 1,200 miles in an annual race to find enough water and green grass for their survival.

Serengeti National Park – History

A sign hangs in an entrance gate to the Serengeti proclaiming, ‘This is the world as it was in the beginning’. While it is hard not to romanticise the likelihood of this claim when alone among its vast ancient boulders strewn between land and sky, this single expanse of world has had its fair share of history. Around two hundred years ago these wide plains, the realm of various pastoral nomad tribes, became Maasailand, or ‘Seringit’, as the Maasai called it, as the tribe swept in southwards from Kenya. The Maasai lived at one with the natural order, and created their homes from the wood and mud of the land. Armed only with a spear at the best of times, they made little or no adverse impact on the environment, killing only the odd lion in a show of bravery or for self-protection.

The first organized safaris began here in the 1920s, when international professional hunters became aware of the rich game pickings and forged routes in. Rumours of the large population of lion brought the area to the attention of the world, and in 1929 the central section of the present park, around the Seronera Valley, became a full game reserve. In 1950 the Serengeti was made a closed game reserve, in which certain species were fully protected, and a year later it was established as a National Park. Until 1959 this included the Ngorongoro Highlands and crater, but these were then sectioned off as a conservation area and used to re-house any Masaai remaining within the Serengeti’s boundaries. Its perimeters were also extended to the north and south, after the importance of these areas as the path of the annual migration were highlighted by the head of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, Professor Bernard Grzimek.

The Serengeti National Park is broadly divided into three distinct areas, the Seronera Valley and Seronera River, the Western Corridor and the Northern ‘Lobo’ area that extends northwards to join the Maasai Mara. There is always plenty of resident and migratory wildlife action, and endless photo opportunities for the snap-happy.

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