Serengeti National Park
How big: 14 763km²
Best time to go:  for migration: December - July; for predators June - October
Where is it: In northern Tanzania, near Arusha
Why visit?
 


SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK (In Detail)
The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai word "Siringet" referring to an "endless plain." It was first inhabited by ancient hunter gatherers and pastoralists.
The central Serengeti was declared a Game Reserve in 1929. In 1951, the Reserve became Tanganyika's first National Park which included the Ngorongoro Crater. Further alterations took place in 1959 in the Park, part of the Serengeti plains and the highlands were removed and added to the Ngorongoro Conservation area, while extensions to the north and south were included to provide more protection to the wildebeest migration.
Covering 14,763 square kilometres, the Park is roughly the size of Northern Ireland making it Tanzania's largest national park.

Grumeti - Western Corridor
In a typical year, the migration arrives between June and July having left the dry plains in the south. Here the migrants mix with many resident herbivores, including topi, giraffe and buffalo and a resident population of wildebeest. It is the giant Nile crocodiles in the river that has made this area famous. Growing up to 6 metres in length, they are inextricably linked with the great migration.
The Serengeti would not be the same without the beautiful rock outcrops known as kopjes. Also known as inselbergs, the intriguing rounded shapes of these ancient granite rocks are the result of cracking and erosion from exposure to sun, wind and rain.
They provide shelter and capture water for a wealth of wildlife and plants.
The main groups of kopjes are: Barafu, Gol, Maasai, Loliondo, Simba and Moru.
Moru Kopjes are outstanding for their size and profusion of resident wildlife. There are early Maasai paintings still visible at Moru, and a special rock used for making music. Gol and Barafu kopjes provide important habitat for cheetah and are used by wildebeest in the wet season. Maasai and Loliondo kopjes provide outlooks for resident lion and large cobras. Simba kopjes support a great variety of animals and birds including giraffe, baboon and lion for which they are named.

Northern Wooldland - Lobo: Wildebeest move through the northern woodlands in most years from June-December to feed on the longer grasses that persist in this area. Although an interesting place to visit all year round, it is best from June through December when the migrants occur.

The plains (shortgrass) were formed 3-4 million years ago when ash blown from volcanoes in the Ngorongoro highlands covered the rolling landscape. The southern grass plains are some of the most productive and nutritious natural grasslands in the world. When the short rains start in November, the wildebeest move south from the northern woodlands. Wildlife's most amazing spectacles occur during February/March, for 3-4 weeks, 90% of the female wildebeest give birth, flooding the plains with thousands of newborn calves each day. The wildebeest may remain on the plains for several months. When the rains stop, the plains dry out rapidly forcing the herds to migrate west and north. Their departure in May/June marks another great spectacle. The southern plains are best visited from December to May when the migrants are there.

The Seronera Valley is a transition zone between the southern plains and the northern woodlands. The most prominent is the Seronera River from which the area takes its name. With year-round water, this is the most reliable area to view wildlife. It is possible to see many of the Serengeti's resident wildlife including giraffe, buffalo, topi, hartebeest, waterbuck, impala, reedbuck, bushbuck, dikdik, hippopotamus, crocodile, warthog and diverse birdlife. Large prides of lion reside here, as well as clans of spotted hyena.