For many the name Serengeti is synonymous with safari and when deciding where to go on your African safari, it often ranks amongst the top destinations. Visiting Tanzania for the first time and skipping the Serengeti? Unthinkable.
But what is the excitement all about? And is it really worth going?
We’ll tell you why you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Serengeti when travelling to East Africa.
1. The endless plains
Despite being one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa, the Serengeti is so big, you won’t meet your colleague who stole your travel idea after a chat at the water cooler. Living up to its name, which translates to “endless plains”, the savannah stretches far and beyond of what your eyes can see, and your mind can fathom. If you are looking for a break from city life, this seemingly never-ending vastness across 15.000 square kilometres will give you space to breathe and to take a break from the world as you know it.
2. The Great Migration
Known as the “Greatest Show on Earth”, between one and two million herbivores follow the rains across the Serengeti and into Kenya’s Masai Mara in search of fresh green pastures each year. Take a few moments, just sit in your safari vehicle in silence and listen to the constant sounds of the wildebeest – their sheer number and the never-ending mooing, their intrinsic rhythm and coordination will leave you in awe.
While the Great Migration is best witnessed in the northern Serengeti between July and September, it is in fact a natural wonder to be seen year-round – it’s not as if the animals suddenly disappear. If you visit the Serengeti at the beginning of the year, head to the south and see young wildebeest embarking on the circle of life.
3. The great lion population
Tanzania and the Serengeti in particular, are one of the best places to see lions. It is estimated that more than 3000 lions call the Serengeti ecosystem home. Which means you don’t have to share “your” lion with ten other safari vehicles, but can confidently pass the crowds, take a turn and look for your very own and intimate lion encounter.
Find them readying for the hunt at dusk or dawn, feasting on their prey, playing with their siblings, but mostly – sleeping in the shade of an acacia tree or on top of one of the kopjes, small inselberge scattered across the landscapes.
4. The most spectacular accommodations – in their own right
When visiting the Serengeti you are spoilt for choice when deciding where to stay the night. From luxurious high-end lodges to budget public campsites, you’ll find what you are looking for.
One of the best ways to truly experience the wild, without sharing a toilet with strangers, are tented camps. They have a set-up of a lodge, including ensuite bathrooms, but instead of brick walls, only the tent canvas will separate you from nature. Falling asleep to the concert of the nightly bush is a luxury you will only fully appreciate once you’ve experienced it.
If you’re really feeling the bush, you can even overnight on private special campsites in a mobile explorer camp. Just you, your friends and the endless plains of the Serengeti – your only neighbours are the animals. The world can wait!
5. The hot air balloon safari
Floating across the savannah in a hot air balloon is certainly a more than valid reason for visiting the Serengeti. Leave the rest of the world behind – literally – and experience the most magical morning one can dream of. Hot air balloon safaris start early in the morning, around 5:30 am, which means you can continue with your regular game drives afterwards.
6. Its proximity to other national parks
The Serengeti’s ideal location is another reason to stop by at least once in your lifetime. It’s part of Tanzania’s Northern Circuit, a safari paradise in East Africa.
From the Serengeti, you can continue to the famous Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks. Alternatively, head over to Kenya and visit the Masai Mara, bordering the Serengeti. If you haven’t been able to catch the Great Migration in Tanzania, you may get lucky on a crossing-border safari into Kenya.
7. Did we mention the unforgettable sunsets?
If there was only one reason why you should visit the Serengeti, it would simply be the iconic African safari sunsets: