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Serengeti

Choosing which time of year to see the Great Wildebeest Migration is made easy with this safari.

Serengeti Safaris:
From the Wildebeest Migration to Year-round Game Viewing

Home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wildlife and the majority of the Great Wildebeest Migration, Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s flagship conservation area and a must-do for first-time and returning safari goers alike.

Protected in part by the Moremi Game Reserve and numerous private concessions, the Okavango Delta is home to huge numbers of plains game plus unusual antelope like puku, sitatunga and red lechwe. It is a world-famous stronghold for predators as well as many sought-after bird species like Pel’s fishing owl, bee-eaters and kingfishers.

Translated from the Maa language as, ‘The Land that Moves on Forever’, the Serengeti’s vast rolling grasslands and golden savannah give travellers a soul-stirring sense of space and support millions of wildebeest, as well as sizable populations of zebra, buffalo, elephant and giraffe and myriad gazelle and antelope species. And where there are plains game aplenty, predators – like lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyena and wild dogs - are sure to follow. The Serengeti is definitely a photographer’s paradise!

Witness the Annual Wildebeest Migration

The majority of the fascinating and dramatic Great Wildebeest Migration takes place in the Serengeti. From about January to March, they are in the far Southern Serengeti. In April and May, they usually begin to move to the Central Serengeti. The herds generally continue moving north and west in June and July. From approximately August to October, they are crossing rivers into Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. By November and December, the forerunners are mostly back in the Serengeti, ready to start the circular cycle all over again.

  • Mobile camps move regularly to stay as close to the herds as possible.
  • Accommodation options with easy access to traditional river crossing points.
  • Rutting is very exciting as males fight for mating rights.
  • Calving results in plenty of bittersweet predator action.

Excellent Year-round Game Viewing

Such is the density of wildlife in the Serengeti that it provides a spectacular safari experience no matter what time of year you visit. Although some of the wildebeest, zebra and antelope migrate to fresh grazing, not all do and none of the predators move with the herds either. The open plains, wide grasslands and temperate climate mean that the vegetation is never too dense or thick to see the animals, and the weather is very seldom too inclement to venture out (short-lived thunderstorms generally occur in the late afternoon and the animals don’t move away when it’s raining).

  • Off-roading, walking and night game drives are possible in the private conservancies that border the national park.
  • The Green Season is much quieter and calmer, giving you much more space and time to absorb the beauty of the rain-replenished landscape.

Suitable for First-timers and Returning Safari Lovers

The Serengeti is a bucket-list item and many first-time visitors to East Africa want to tick it off. But such is the diversity of the wildlife present here that the area is suitable for those who’ve travelled to Africa many times before. If you have already seen the Migration, then branch out into a different time of year or one the private concessions – travelling in Green Season, for example, will be lusher and quieter, with far fewer other visitors. More and more lodges are now able to offer vegetarian and even vegan meals so those with special dietary requirements can be accommodated.

Plenty of Activities Besides Only Safari and Top Accommodation

The Serengeti is a pre-eminent safari area but there is far more to it than twice-daily game drives. Although game drives (in vehicles with closed or open sides, and with roofs or without – Tanzania has a wide variety) form the backbone of most itineraries, more and more lodges are branching out into other activities.

  • Go on immersive nature walks with top guides.
  • Spend a night fly-camping with just a back-to-basics set-up.
  • Exclusive safari villas may offer tennis or archery.
  • Try mountain biking or horse riding in some private areas.
  • Sign up for mobile camping if you’re adventurous.

Setting the Scene for Serengeti Celebrations

Because it is such an iconic destination, many travellers choose the Serengeti to celebrate all sorts of milestones in their lives. Our Africa Safari Experts have helped clients plan a Serengeti honeymoon, engagements, birthdays and even the occasional wedding ceremony. Logistics are easy, transfers are generally short by Africa’s standards and English is widely spoken. The staff enjoy being part of a special occasion and can arrange private dinners, romantic sundowners, fun-filled evenings with Maasai dancers and drummers, and even birthday cakes.

  • Many lodges have special honeymoon suites that offer romantic turndowns, outdoor showers or tubs, and petal-strewn king-sized beds.
  • Secure family suites or interleading tents as soon as you can since there are limited numbers of them and they are very popular.
  • Let your consultant know if you are travelling with mobility impaired guests so we can arrange accommodation close to the mess tent so they don’t have to walk long distances.
  • Many camps are unfenced to allow animals to pass through. There may be an age restriction on unfenced camps.
  • Some lodges have special programmes and activities for younger children who may not want to go out on every game drive.

Best Time to Visit the Serengeti

The short October/November and March/April rainy seasons notwithstanding, the Serengeti's temperate and mostly dry climate plus abundant resident wildlife makes for a great game viewing experience all year round - the question of exactly when to go to the Serengeti really revolves around whether you want to see the wildebeest migration.

If so, then the best time to visit the Serengeti is between October and July before the wildebeest return to Kenya's Masai Mara around August. Note however that the migration is a fluid affair: not only is its precise timing subject to each year's rainfall pattern but the herds move around the Serengeti depending on the time of year.

Where to Go in the Serengeti

At almost 15 000km², the Serengeti is an enormous park with distinct regions that each offer a different game viewing experience. You'll need to choose carefully where and when to go in the Serengeti, not least if it's the annual wildebeest migration that you want to see. The herds move in a clockwise direction around the park, their concentrations dictated by season, available water and grazing.

Several of Tanzania's top places of interest in the vicinity of the Serengeti National Park and include the Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge, the latter a famous archaeological site known as the Cradle of Mankind.

Southern Serengeti

The southern Serengeti is characterised by rolling tree-studded grassy plains, a habitat which makes up one third of the park's entire area. The most accessible part of the Serengeti National Park, it can get busy here in peak season but it's classic savannah country with great game viewing all year round.

From January to April, the newly-watered plains provide fresh grazing for the tens of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles that have left the Masai Mara. It's here that the main calving season takes place and predators - especially the big cats - are highly concentrated in this section of the park.

Central Serengeti/Seronera

The Serengeti's centrally located Seronera River Valley marks the boundary between the grassy plains of the south and the wooded hills of the north. As a result, the area is home to wildlife from both habitats making the central Serengeti one of the richest ecosystems in the park and game viewing is good throughout the year.

The wildebeest and zebra herds are in the region from around December to May and your chances of seeing predators are high, especially when the herds are dropping their young between February and March. Lions and cheetah are common, and leopards are often seen in the valley where the lack of trees makes it relatively easy to spot them.

Eastern Serengeti/Loliondo

Tucked away between the Serengeti National Park, Lake Natron and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is Loliondo, a community-based conservation area that provides grazing for the migrating herds between December and April. Many wildebeest drop their calves in the Loliondo region between February and March, attracting large numbers of predators.

It's an area of diverse habitats which means a wide range of wildlife, and the fact that it lies outside of the Serengeti National Park means that not only are there very few visitors but lodges in the Loliondo concession are allowed to conduct walking safaris and night drives, activities not permitted in the park itself.

Western Serengeti

Following the line of the Grumeti River, the Serengeti's Western Corridor pushes the park's borders all the way to Lake Victoria. Be there between May and July when the 40-kilometre long caravan of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles arrives on the banks of the Grumeti to begin the perilous river crossings, running the gauntlet of the river's notoriously giant crocodiles.

The crocodiles feast off the crossing herds and give those lucky enough to witness the encounter one of the most remarkable wildlife sightings in the world - book your accommodation early to ensure front-row seats.

Grumeti Reserves

June and July are the months to be in the Grumeti Reserves, a 162 000 hectare private concession area bordering the Western Serengeti. An area of classic savannah and open woodland, the wildebeest not only have to cross the muddy, crocodile-infested waters of the Grumeti to continue their northward migration but they have to avoid the large numbers of lion, hyena and cheetah in the area too.

Grumeti is good for wildlife all year round. Even in September and October large wildebeest herds remain alongside healthy numbers of topi, zebra, Thomson's gazelle and eland while in November southbound wildebeest, returning from the Masai Mara in Kenya, move back into the reserves after the season's first rains.

The Grumeti region is also a great bird watching area with over 400 recorded species and the riverine forest is a good place to spot colobus monkeys. And since Grumeti is a private reserve, visitors at the area's lodges have the opportunity to go on guided nature walks and night drives, activities not allowed in the Serengeti National Park.

Northern Serengeti

Far less crowded than the rest of the Serengeti, the north of the park is characterised by green rolling hills and thickly vegetated granite outcrops and offers visitors the highlights of the Serengeti without the crowds.

Game is not as prolific as the central and southern regions of the Serengeti but from around August to October the migrating herds move through the area to cross the Mara River on their way north to the Masai Mara. This is the time to visit the northern Serengeti: dramatic scenes ensue as tens of thousands of animals plunge into the river in a desperate attempt to reach the other side before the river's enormous crocodiles home in on them - book your accommodation well in advance to guarantee ringside seats.

Serengeti Travel Advice

For general information on travelling to Tanzania, visit our Tanzania travel advice page.

Top Travel Tips for the Serengeti

Plan your timing carefully: if it's the great wildebeest migration you want to see then ensure your itinerary matches the movement of the herds.

Book early: well-located accommodation at migration hot spots such as the Grumeti and Mara rivers gets booked up early, often a year in advance.

Choose your activities: morning and afternoon game drives are standard activities and many lodges also offer hot-air balloon safaris but it's only the Serengeti's adjoining private reserves that list activities such as night drives, horse-back safaris and guided bush walks.

Meet the Maasai: cultural interactions with the resident Maasai people are often part of the Serengeti travel experience - work with your travel consultant to ensure your engagement is genuine and beneficial to the local community.

Expect visitors in peak season: many areas of the 15 000 km² Serengeti are largely unvisited throughout the year but migration highlights such as the June/July Grumeti River crossings attract large visitor numbers.

Go private: if it's exclusivity you want then head for one of the Serengeti's private conservancies - the limited-bed accommodation is excellent, game viewing as good as the main park and more safari activities are offered.

Arusha Airport: the gateway to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire is set just outside the town of Arusha itself but you'll need to get there via Kilimanjaro International Airport, located about 50km away, itself a flight from Dar es SalaamNairobi or Europe.

Note that international flights often arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport late at night, so an overnight in Arusha is usually necessary before setting out the following morning by charter flight into the reserve.

Game drives in the Serengeti and its private conservancies are conducted in open-sided 4X4s.

Serengeti Tours & Safaris

Whether you want to combine your Serengeti safari with a beach holiday or if you want to pack as many wildlife experiences as possible into one trip, we have a comprehensive range of Serengeti tours and safaris that cater for just about every traveller. Some focus purely on the Serengeti and its wildlife, others include this world famous national park as part of a larger itinerary.

At True Lion King Safaris, we feel that one of the best ways to experience the Serengeti is via the simplistic extravagance of a colonial-style tented safari camp, several of which move around the Serengeti according to season. You'll enjoy all the trappings of a luxury safari lodge but in an exclusive, pristine wilderness setting - ideal to soak up all the thrills of the wildebeest migration.

More affordable Serengeti holiday safaris include scheduled departure tours that often include a few days in the adjacent Ngorongoro Crater or even Kenya's Masai Mara. Browse our recommended tours to the Serengeti for ideas or simply contact us for expert advice and help in creating a tailored itinerary.


Recommended Serengeti Tours & Safari Holidays


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Tours & Safaris

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Recommended Serengeti Accommodation

Serengeti accommodation is as varied as the range of animals that make these rolling grasslands their home. From romantic tented camps to exclusive safari lodges and private villas, accommodation in the Serengeti is found throughout the park itself as well as on adjacent private reserves, the latter offering another level of exclusivity as well as activities such as night drives that are not allowed in the public park.

The Serengeti is an all-year safari destination but if you are booking your Serengeti lodge or camp to coincide with the wildebeest herds, you'll need to decide which region you want to be in and when. The annual Wildebeest Migration is a popular event on the safari calendar and the best placed Serengeti National Park accommodation gets booked up quickly! Ask us for advice on where to stay and at which time of year.

Our selection of top accommodation in the Serengeti includes camps ideal for the migration, for families or groups travelling together as well as tucked away luxury suites that are perfect for a Serengeti honeymoon. If you can't find the right one for your needs, simply contact us and let one of our Africa Safari Experts help you find the ideal place to stay.


Recommended Serengeti Accommodation

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Serengeti Travel articles

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Articles & Facts

Serengeti Wildebeest Migration

Activities travellers enjoyed: Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti is the largest single movement of wild animals in the world,

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Articles & Facts

How unique Is Serengeti?

Activities travellers enjoyed:oldest and most famous national park in Tanzania, and possibly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world

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Articles & Facts

How To Get To Serengeti

Activities travellers enjoyed: Most safaris to the Serengeti start from the town of Arusha. The best option to get there is to fly into Kilimanjaro International

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Articles & Facts

Malaria & Safety

Activities travellers enjoyed: As with most parks and reserves, it is very safe to travel to and around the Serengeti in our opinion. Basically, the people you’ll