Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti National Park is Tanzania's largest and best-known national park, with a massive concentration of migratory animals who move around the park according to the availability of food. The Serengeti ecosystem extends beyond the National Park to include several other conservation areas and reserves, including the Masai Mara in Kenya. It is through these extensive protected areas that a million or more wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and impala, complete their great circulatory migration. Serengeti means "endless plain" in the Maasai language and much of the landscape epitomises what we have come to expect from an East African safari - vast open savannahs dotted with acacia trees and a few rocky hillocks.
It is hard to predict exactly where the migration will be at a certain time, because the animals are driven purely by the search for food, and if the rains come when they are supposed to, the herds follow a predictable pattern. In May the herds graze along the western corridor between the Grumeti and Mbalageti Rivers, and commence their mating season.
Then in June or July they split up and some continue west, while others head due north and hundreds of thousands move steadily north-west towards the long golden grass of the Masai Mara. They graze on both sides of the Mara River for several months and then head south again in about October. They return to the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti, where during December to April they give birth. Then the endless cycle of life begins again.
The numbers of animals that complete this great migration is incredible - 1.5 million wildebeest, 300,000 Thomson's gazelle and 250,000 zebras chomp and grunt their way through the plains. Where there is such a large mobile meat supply there are predators and the Serengeti is renowned for its impressive lion sightings. Silver-backed jackals, spotted hyenas, cheetah, eagles and vultures are also avid consumers of this endless source of meat and little goes to waste.
Some of the Serengeti's largest buffalo herds are to be found in the pristine woodlands to the north and elephants abound in this area too. For excellent year round game viewing the Seronera valley in the centre of the park has abundant grazing and considerable numbers of animals including giraffes, warthogs, reedbucks and many other species that sustain resident leopards and large prides of lions.
In the south is the saline Lake Ndutu which attracts throngs of flamingoes and in the west the Grumeti River contains some of the largest Nile crocodiles you will ever see.
- The great migration
- Prides of lions
- Vast open spaces and big sky
The Serengeti World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve encompasses 8,078miles² (20,922km²)