The Serengeti is 14,763 square kilometers, which to give some perspective, is larger than Ohio, Belgium or Wales. The Serengeti National Park, or just Serengeti, was founded because the area was used for hunting lions and this led to a vast depopulation of the animals. The British colonial administration in Tanzania created a partial game reserve of around 3.2 square kilometers (800 acres) in 1921 and made it a full game reserve in 1929. This was the foundation of what will one day become known as the Serengeti National Park, which was officially established in 1951. In 1981 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while the migration is lauded as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The Serengeti National Park is where safari goers come to truly experience an African safari, the park is featured on many National Geographic shows, the park is rich with wildlife, endless plains and sunrises and sunsets that make the heart go wild. The park is known for its huge wildlife populations. White-bearded wildebeest, zebras and gazelle migrate annually during the great migration from the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania to the grasslands of the Maasai Mara in Kenya in search of fresh grass and water.
Of all the unforgettable places you can visit in Africa, the Serengeti has that certain something. It’s impossible to forget the Serengeti. The wide open plains where wildebeest and zebra are so often seen, the unbelievably stunning sunsets, and the annual migration are all sights to behold while visiting here.
Serengeti Great Migration Season
December – March (South Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ndutu)
This is known as calving season. This is the beginning the wonder of the world, the annual migration. Large number of wildebeest and Zebras gather here for green and nutrient grazing coming from volcanic soil of South Serengeti and Ngorongoro Area famous known as Ndutu. Wildebeest have synchronized birthing, which means that about 90% of calves are born within a three-week period. With such a sudden and massive surge of available food, predators do not make any significant dent in the new-born calf population. Wildebeest calves can run minutes after they are born and within three days, they are strong enough to keep up with the herd.
April – June (Central Serengeti and Western Serengeti)
This is the period that the wildebeest, after having feasted on the short green grasses of the southeastern Serengeti and after having giving birth to their offspring, start getting ready for their 800 kilometer long trek. The actual starting date may be anytime between late April and early June. This is the time to you may have the privilege to see one of the greatest natural phenomena in the world: more than a million marching animals in a column up to 40 kilometers long. During the migration, the herd will move towards the Western Corridor, where they will face the first major obstacle: crossing the Grumeti River. Many animals don’t survive the crossing as they are being awaited by the area’s population of oversized crocodiles ready to feast. The herd may congregate on the southern bank of the river and stay there for up to two weeks before crossing the river.
July – September (North Serengeti and Masai Mara)
Following the rainfalls, the migrating animals move north and will stay in the Masai Mara National Reserve and the Northern Serengeti. Nothing stops the stampeding hordes. Tempted by greener pastures, the wildebeest arrive at the Mara River around July and cross over onto the Masai Mara plains. During these three months many animals cross and re-cross the Mara River several times following periodic rain showers. Crossing points form bottlenecks in which thousands of animals perish through trampling or drowning. Not surprisingly, hyenas, lions, leopards, crocodiles and even cheetahs capitalize on this glut of fresh meat. Typically, the wildebeest remain in the Masai Mara until October when they start returning to the Southern Serengeti.
October – Mid December (Northern to Loliondo, Lobo area South Serengeti)
Crossing the Mara River north bound means that, at one point, the herd needs to cross the river one more time before commencing the trek back in a southern direction. This usually happens in October, but sometimes earlier. In this period the herd will cross the northern plains and Lobo area. This section of Serengeti National Park is little-visited, so if you are looking to see the migration in relative quietness, this would be the time. The wildebeest return to the short- grass plains and calving ground around Ndutu in late November to December. And from here,the army of animals returns southward to the replenished grasslands of the southern Serengeti, thereby completing the migratory cycle.
Let the great migration in this dynamic ecosystem moves you.
Best time to visit Serengeti
All Year around, The dry season (from late June to September) offers the best wildlife viewing in general- with the wildebeest migration as its absolute highlight. The timing of the migration varies every year (the best chance of seeing it is during June and July) while the wildebeest calving is from late January to March.
Weather and climate in Serengeti
The climate in Serengeti is usually moderate and pleasant. 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.
How to get to Serengeti National Park
Although Serengeti located in a rather remote corner of our planet, Serengeti National Park is easily accessible.
Most travelers start their Serengeti safari adventure at Kilimanjaro International Airport, bustling Arusha or Mwanza City. From here you may either travel to your preferred lodge by means of a short transfer flight or by safari vehicle. It is also possible to combine the two and enjoy the best of both worlds!