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Guide to Serengeti Safari

“There’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done.” When musicians Elton John and Tim Rice wrote the opening tune to Disney’s “The Lion King,” they were describing the “Circle of Life.” But this lyric serves as a fitting description for world-renowned Serengeti National Park. This magnificent game park sprawls across 5,700 square miles of northern Tanzania in East Africa. When American hunter-turned-conservationist Stewart Edward White first set foot in the Serengeti in 1913, he described the journey: “We walked for miles over burnt out country. … Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked two miles more and found myself in paradise.”

Within the boundaries of the Serengeti, you’ll hear thousands of animals: Hyenas cackle as elephants trample well-worn safari roads and hippos splash in watering holes. And at any given time, more than 2,000 lions are poised to pounce on unsuspecting prey, preparing to chase their unlucky target through the seemingly endless waves of golden grass. The scenery rustles with the swift steps of loping giraffes, and tree branches shake with every monkey’s movement. But the most magical site you’ll behold is The Great Migration, during which White’s paradise is drowned by a sea of animals as more than one million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles traverse the Serengeti in search of greener pastures.

The History of Serengeti:

In 1930, an area of 2,286 square kilometres (883 sq mi) was designated as a game reserve in southern and eastern Serengeti.  In the 1930s, the government of Tanganyika established a system of national parks compliant with the Convention Relative to the Preservation of Fauna and Flora in their Natural State.[citation needed] The area became a national park in 1940. 

It was granted strict protection in 1948 when the Serengeti National Park Board of Trustees was formed to administer the national park. The government restricted the movements of the resident Maasai people, and the park boundaries were finalized in 1951.  In 1959, an area of 8,300 km2 (3,200 sq mi) was split off in the eastern part of the national park and re-established as Ngorongoro Conservation Area intended to accommodate the traditional land use interests of the Maasai people in a multiple land use area.[7] In 1981, the Serengeti National Park covered 12,950 km2 (5,000 sq mi), which was less than half of the Serengeti.

The Serengeti gained fame after Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael produced a book and documentary titled Serengeti Shall Not Die in 1959.

Best time to Visit Serengeti:

The best time to visit the Serengeti is from January to February or from June to October. However, the Serengeti’s density of wildlife offers a spectacular safari experience no matter what time of the year you visit. The park’s open plains and mild climate mean that vegetation is never too dense to see animals, and the region’s two short rainy seasons from November to December and March to April are rarely too unpleasant.

Month by Month Guide for Travelling to the Serengeti:

Visiting the Serengeti from January to March

January is when the rolling plains of the Serengeti are a lush shade of emerald, there is hardly any dust, and the game viewing is excellent. The Ndutu Plains area is very popular during this period as the landscape is greener than other parts, with year-round resident wildlife such as elephant, giraffe, and various antelope species.

It’s the wildebeest calving season during February which makes this the best time to go to on a Serengeti safari to witness the many herds giving birth to their young. The wildebeest, zebra and gazelles making their annual migration through the Serengeti National Park can be viewed in their thousands.

March marks the end of the green season as the ‘long rains’ begin. The Serengeti enters a low season period when there are less safari crowds, and the migratory herds begin to leave the Ndutu region in the south and head west. The humidity rises during March, but this is the best time to go to the Serengeti for great rates on accommodation.

Travelling to the Serengeti from April to June

The Serengeti starts to see fewer visitors around April, which is mostly due to the humidity and wet weather during the month. It’s not generally considered the best time to visit the Serengeti, but it can be an ideal time to get off the beaten track and explore the remote corners of the park.

There is very heavy rainfall throughout May and the camps and lodges in the Serengeti are relatively quiet. This is not the best time to visit the Serengeti for a safari unless you make your way to the central and western regions of the park to follow the Great Migration.

June is the start of the popular dry season and is the best time to go to the Serengeti just before the peak safari season. This is when the Great Migration starts moving north, the dry conditions prevail across the land, and there is a slim chance of occasional afternoon thundershowers.

Visiting the Serengeti from July to September

Many visitors flock to the Serengeti from July to September to witness the Great Migration. River crossings are a spectacle during these months – quite often panic ensues within the herds as crocodiles waiting to pounce attempt to snatch them as they make their way across. There are more safari vehicles in the Serengeti National Park during this period than any time of the year.

August is peak season and generally considered the best time to witness the dramatic river crossings from the northern Serengeti into the Masai Mara. This is the best time to visit the Serengeti for prolific wildlife encounters as the herds are easier to spot and there are many predators around – you’ll see some of Africa’s big cats on the hunt!

September is still very busy with visitors in the Serengeti National Park, especially on the Kenyan and Tanzania borders as the herds of animals travel over the Mara River in smaller batches. The southern parts of the park are quieter during September.

Travelling to the Serengeti from October to December

By October the plains of the Serengeti are mostly parched, but the dry season is now coming to an end. Although the Wildebeest Migration’s herds have made their way into Kenya, game viewing in the Serengeti National Park is still nothing short of spectacular.

November is the beginning of the ‘short rains’ in the Serengeti National Park and is a quieter, low season. The rains bring fresh grasslands for grazing in the southern areas and it’s a good time to take advantage of lower rates.

The rains continue and the scenery changes from dry dusty plains to rolling grasslands. The cycle of the Great Migration in the Serengeti continues in December. The migrating herds make their way to the southern plains of the Ndutu region where they prepare for the breeding season. The temperatures and the humidity begin to rise for the wet summer months. The festive season can be very busy, so it’s advisable to book your accommodation well in advance.


Parking for Serengeti Safari:

Tanzania Safari Travel Documents
  • Passport: with minimum 6 months validity.
  • Visa: Also Available on Arrival
  • Travel insurance
  • Credit card
  • Cash dollars
Tanzania Safari Clothing List
  • Tanzania, during the dry season of January- February sees little to no rainfall. So, best to pack some jackets.
  • For the wet seasons of March-May, you must pack heavy jackets, scarves, and safari boots.
  • But if you’re planning Tanzania Safari Holidays during the dry seasons of June to October, there will be a lot of humidity. 
  • Overall, long sleeve shirts and trousers are your best friend. It is not only perfect for colder nights but also serves well to avoid mosquitoes.
Must Pack Clothes for Safari Tanzania
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Rain jacket
  • Warm sweater
  • Socks
  • Hat
  • Dinner outfits and cocktail dresses(If you’re a she)
  • Sarong
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunglasses
Tanzania Safari Footwear

No matter what, your footwear is bound to get dirty on Safari Tanzania. Therefore we advise you to select sturdy, comfortable, and waterproof shoes. Here are some nice and comfy options you can consider.

  • Safari Boots
  • Sneakers
  • Trail runners or hiking shoes if you’re planning to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.
  • Flip-flops
  • or Sandals
Toiletries for Tanzania Safari

Toiletries packing is the same as any other trip. Pack what you need, the usual things like soap, lotions, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, and other essential items.

  • Sunscreen
  • After-sun lotion
  • Bug spray/ insect repellent with DEET
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Wet wipes
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Small hand towel

Medical Kit

Your Tanzania Safari Packing List is incomplete without at least a basic first aid kit. If it is the last minute, just take a small box and make an impromptu one

  • First Aid essentials: Band-Aids, Bandages, gauze, scissors, adhesive tape, Q-tips, and tweezers.
  • Antidiarrheal medications
  • Anti-malaria medications
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aspirin
  • Nose spray
  • Eye-drops (the air can feel dusty)
  • Plasters and anti-bacterial medicines

Tanzania Safari; Gadgets & Electronics

  • Camera
  • Charger
  • Batteries
  • Extra memory card
  • Flashlight
  • Phone
  • Universal plug converters
  • Binocular

Note: For better protection against dust and rain, pack some extra waterproof bags for your valuable electronics

Baggage for Safari Tanzania

  • Day pack
  • Large waterproof duffel bag
  • Backpack
  • Extra zip lock bags


Serengeti National Park Accommodation

There are a range of different accommodation options available in and around Serengeti National Park. A good safari tour operator will combine a series of lodges, hotels, and safari camps to offer a mixture of adventure and comfort.

Public Campsites: The park’s public campsites are pretty basic, offering few facilities. Whereas the more luxury permanent tented camps provided by some tour operators will allow you to have a private bathroom, with hot water for showers. You won’t find these luxuries in the public campsites, nor will you find toiletry items like soap or toilet paper.

Permanent Tented Camps: When you stay in the various Serengeti tented camps, you won’t feel like you’re sacrificing many essentials or comforts of a hotel. Yet you still feel like you’re in the wild, where you can hear the cackling laughs of hyenas or the crackling limbs of elephants feeding on acacia through the canvas of your tent. Booking a Serengeti safari with a tour company also saves time because you won’t need to plan and cook meals or set up your tent and campsite. Staff are always there to assist with things you may need, and provide safety at night when predators become most active.

Lodges/Hotels: Including lodges and hotels in your safari itinerary gives you a chance to have laundry done, catch up on emails with Wi-Fi, and relax in refreshing pools. You can enjoy delicious restaurants that serve up locally inspired dishes, allowing you to sample seasonal produce. But the wildlife watching doesn’t end, as many luxury lodges offer watering holes with viewing decks where you can observe the many animals that they attract. Lodges and hotels often have libraries where you can gain a more thorough knowledge of the places and wildlife you have seen on your safari game drives through the parks and reserves.

Choosing a safari that provides accommodations with comfort and amenities is important for feeling refreshed each day, allowing you to focus on spotting wildlife and taking in the stunning landscapes. Having everything arranged for you during your stay allows you to travel stress-free, with an itinerary that is guaranteed to provide you with countless memorable experiences. Trying to “rough it” to save a few bucks during a Serengeti safari can easily wear you down quickly, especially when you aren’t used to full-day adventures in the outdoors day after day. Having a good night’s sleep and filling meals can do wonders for your body and mind.

Wildlife in Serengeti

One of the greatest wilderness areas in the world, the Serengeti supports a magnificent diversity and abundance of animals, from the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and black rhino (although these are rarely spotted) – to giraffe, Grant’s gazelle, impala, kongoni, topi and eland.

The Serengeti is famous for its predators: you can expect excellent lion and cheetah sightings (and exciting lion kills), and leopards are also regularly spotted. Other predators include serval cats, golden and black-backed jackal, African wild dog and spotted hyenas.

The Great Migration is the stellar highlight of the Serengeti’s wildlife: an annual circular movement of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle northwards into the neighbouring Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and back into the plains of Serengeti. This mass movement of animals is accompanied by predators picking off their kills, while the dangerous crossings of the mighty Mara River make for dramatic scenes of struggle and survival as animals battle strong currents and attacks by huge Nile crocodiles.

Four days; Serengeti is a huge national park so we would recommend minimum four days in order to properly explore it and find the wildlife. Being so large, you do need to spend time driving around looking for the Big Five, which takes time. Plus in four days you’ll experience different weather and a variety of safari experiences.

On average, a one-week safari in Serengeti National Park can cost between $2,500 USD (budget) and $7,500 USD (luxury). Booking a safari with TourRadar provides the advantage of eliminating expenses as most amenities and permits are included in the price of the tour.

YES! Overall, it is entirely possible to have an epic safari on both a high and low budget. If you don’t mind foregoing certain frills and sticking to a larger, easier-to-reach national park, then the low end offers a unique opportunity for adventure that certain seasoned travelers prefer.

The most convenient option is to fly from Arusha to one of the park’s seven airstrips. It is also possible to book an overland safari in a 4×4 safari vehicle from Arusha to Serengeti National Park and visit one or two other parks along the way.

Short answer: no. Public restroom facilities are few and far between within national parks. If the call of nature hits while you’re out on safari and you can’t hold it until you get back to camp, you’ll be paying a stop to the bush toilet.

The North of the Serengeti is hugely popular due to the high-quality campsites and also because it is by far the best place to see the herds of the Great Migration. The North is also the chosen region for safari aficionados because it’s one of the finest regions for a walking safari as well as driving.

The North of the Serengeti is hugely popular due to the high-quality campsites and also because it is by far the best place to see the herds of the Great Migration. The North is also the chosen region for safari aficionados because it’s one of the finest regions for a walking safari as well as driving.

“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa”  –  Hemingway 

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