Serengeti National Park Highlights
Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa. At 14,763 sq km, the Serengeti is an epic place, and it's renowned for its predators, especially lions, leopards and cheetahs, with plenty of elephants in residence, too. A few black rhinos around Moru Kopjes offer a chance to glimpse all of the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo), although the rhinos are very rarely seen. It’s also an incredible birdwatching destination, with over 500 species to spot.
Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the 30,000 km² region. The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
Pros & Cons
The Wildebeest Migration
Every year, over 2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle migrate from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. If you're there at the right time, you can spot herds of wildebeest and zebra stretching to the horizon.
The Serengeti is famed for its annual wildebeest migration, when some 2 million hooves cross the open plains, as more than 1,500,000 wildebeest, 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson's gazelle join the trek for fresh grazing. Predators follow the migration and sightings of big cats hunting is particularly exciting. Spotted hyena, golden and black-backed jackal are never far off either. Big herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and many antelope, such as eland, topi, kongoni and impala are resident at any time of the year. All three big cats are easily seen. Lion are often found on a kill. Cheetah are very common on the southeastern plains, while leopard can typically be found lazing in one of the big trees along the Seronera River.
Best Time for Wildlife Viewing
The Serengeti offers amazing wildlife viewing throughout the year. June and July are the best months for seeing the migration and a possible crossing of the Grumeti River. The more famous river crossings of the Mara River can be witnessed around September in the north of the park. February is the best month for the wildebeest calving. The dry months from June to October offer the best general wildlife viewing..
Weather & Climate
Conditions in the Serengeti are rarely taxing in the daytime during the Dry season (June to October), when the temperature stays nice and warm. It’s a different story at night, when the mercury can take a deep dive. The heat creeps up a few degrees during the Wet season (November to May), though the odd cold front can introduce a chill. It never gets very hot, but it is consistently cool to cold at night and in the early mornings. Don’t forget to take warm clothing. Serengeti's Dry season is from June to October. There are two Wet seasons. The ‘short rains’ are from November to December, and the ‘long rains’ are from March to May. During the Wet season, it rarely rains all day, but afternoon thundershowers can be expected.
Afternoon temperatures are usually around 25°C/77°F. Most days have a fine, clear sky. It gets cold at night with minimum temperatures around 14°C/57°F. June, July, August & September – Occasional cold fronts are possible, with temperatures close to freezing. It’s usually cold early in the morning. October – The short rains might start at the end of October if they are early.
As in the Dry season, temperatures are moderate during the Wet season. Afternoon temperatures are usually around 26°C/79°F, and night temperatures are around 15°C/59°F. November & December – 'Short rains' – An unpredictable period of about a month of rains occurs sometime between October and December. The rains will be unlikely to interfere with your safari. January & February – There tends to be a dry spell between the short and long rains. The exact timing is unpredictable. March, April & May – 'Long rains' – These are the wettest months. It tends to rain most days, although seldom for the whole day. It is often cloudy. In April and May, cold fronts might bring colder peak temperatures.