What makes Serengeti National Park Unique? The Serengeti is one of the world’s most iconic national parks, located in Tanzania’s extreme north, one of the world’s most diversified countries, both environmentally and culturally. The term Serengeti conjures up pictures of vast, acacia-studded grasslands, riverine forest, and endless woodlands populated with herds of grazing herbivores and hunting carnivores. The Serengeti National Park has earned and maintained its global renowned for its richness of species and high biodiversity for good reason.
The word Serengeti is an abridgement of the Maasai word Siringet, which means “the place where the land runs forever,” and the Serengeti’s vast expanse makes it a unique and vital ecosystem in Tanzania and Africa. This huge environment, which covers 1.5 million hectares (about the size of Connecticut), is home to the world’s largest density of big mammals, over 500 bird species, and the Great Migration. In 1981, it was also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Brief History of Serengeti
The Maasai had been grazing their sheep, and cattle on the open plains of the eastern Mara region for nearly 200 years when Austrian Oscar Baumann (the first European explorer) reached the area in 1892. Stewart Edward White was the first American to visit the Serengeti, and he documented his adventures in the Northern Serengeti in 1913. In the 1920s, he returned and stayed for three months in the Seronera area, where he and his comrades hunted and shot 50 lions. The British colonial authorities established a partial game reserve of 800 acres (3.2 km2) in the area in 1921 and a full game reserve in 1929, as a result of lion hunting. The Serengeti National Park was established in 1951 as a result of these measures.
Bernhard and Michael Grzimek are among the few conservationists who have had such a long and public engagement with the Serengeti. They spent several years monitoring the Serengeti’s wildlife, focusing on areal observation and counts of large-scale annual migrations in order to alter the national park’s bounds. Serengeti Shall Not Die, a best-selling book by Grzimek, was instrumental in the establishment of the Serengeti National Park.
The Maasai people were displaced from the Serengeti to what is now known as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as a result of Grzimek’s influence in the Serengeti Region during the 1950s and 1960s. The widely held belief that creating a haven for animals would leave no room for humans, who were eventually transferred, was incorrect. Above all, the Grzimek men are known for their unwavering dedication to establishing and conserving the Serengeti that we all cherish. The Serengeti Visitor Centre in the Seronera region is a good place to learn more about their work.
What Makes Serengeti Special?
The Serengeti is Tanzania’s oldest park and the country’s most famous tourist attraction. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park, and Arusha National Park are all part of the northern safari circuit. The Serengeti ecosystem is not limited to one African country; it includes the Serengeti National Park and other reserves in Tanzania, as well as the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.
The Serengeti is home to the world’s oldest ecosystem. Two rainy seasons (April to May and a shorter season in November and December) disturb the country’s otherwise mild and dry climate. When compared to other parts of East Africa’s lowland desert areas, where temperatures can be sweltering, the Serengeti’s weather is a welcome break. The Serengeti grasslands’ higher elevation ensures pleasant weather throughout the year.
What Do You Get to See and Experience in your safari to Serengeti?
The Serengeti and surrounding areas, which are made up of grasslands with scattered trees, rock outcroppings, wetlands, and rivers, support a diversity of fauna found nowhere else on Earth. In fact, one of the reasons Tanzania is continuously chosen as the best safari country in the world is because of the wildlife. Hundreds of bird species, as well as large mammals and reptiles, can be found in the Serengeti habitat.
You’ll see a diverse herbivore population in addition to the Big Five (Lion, African Leopard, African Bush Elephant, Eastern Black Rhino, and African Buffalo). Every year, millions of hoofed creatures migrate across the Serengeti in search of water and grass to graze on, a phenomenon known as the “Great Migration.”
The Great Migration
The annual Great Migration of over 1.8 million wildebeest, almost half a million gazelles, and nearly a quarter million zebra begins in the Serengeti’s south (Ndutu Plains) in January and March, with the birth of over half a million calves. When thousands of calves are born each day, the air is thick with fresh life and activity, and predators are continuously hunting for infants. Predators and scavengers such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, hyenas, and other predators and scavengers accompany the herds, so keep a watch out.
The mammoth herd migrates north to the Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara as the drought approaches in late May. Crossing the Mara River, however, exposes migrants to crocodiles and the famous Serengeti lion population, which is calmly waiting for a kill.
The herds return to the Serengeti with the start of the short rains in November, and by December, they have trekked past Seronera to return to their calving grounds in the Ndutu Plains in the south, where their migration began, and the circle is complete. Witnessing the Great Migration is a mind-boggling experience, as the animals spread across the boundless plains like ants as far as the eye can see. It’s no surprise that the Great Migration is one of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders.
WILDLIFE IN SERENGETI
Due to the number of prey species, Tanzania has the world’s greatest lion population, and Serengeti National Park may be the world’s largest lion sanctuary (with a population estimated at 3,000). The Serengeti’s greatest population of big mammals is the wildebeest, which numbers approximately 1.8 million individuals. The Serengeti is home to more than 300,000 Thomson and Grant’s gazelles, 200,000 zebra, tens of thousands of topi, Coke’s hartebeest, Masai giraffe, waterbuck, impala, warthog, and hippo.
The Big Five (Lion, African Leopard, African Bush Elephant, Eastern Black Rhino, and African Buffalo) can be seen here, as well as several rarely observed antelope species such as common eland, dik-dik, klipspringer, roan antelope, bushbuck, lesser kudu, fringe-eared Oryx, and others. You can see some of the region’s 500 bird species while on your Serengeti safari.
SCENERY AND LANDSCAPES OF SERENGETI
The Serengeti National Park is split up into three regions: the Serengeti Plains (endless grasslands), the Western Corridor (renowned for its black dirt covering the savannah), and the Northern Serengeti (characterized by open woods and hills).
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is to the southeast of the Serengeti National Park, the Maswa Game Reserve is to the southwest, the Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves are to the west, and the Loliondo Game Controlled Area is to the northeast and east. The Serengeti ecosystem encompasses all of these locations.
HOW DO YOU GET TO THE SERENGETI AND WHERE DO YOU STAY?
The Serengeti is normally accessed via automobile or by plane (flying from Kilimanjaro or Arusha airport into any of the Serengeti’s airstrips), depending on the overall length of your Tanzania Wildlife safari. Some of the more luxurious safari lodges, on the other hand, have their own small craft airstrips that can accommodate private flights. The Serengeti provides everything from budget tented camps to high-end luxury lodges, so there’s something for everyone.