Serengeti National Park is a vast treeless plain with millions of animals living here or passing through in search of fresh grasslands. It’s most famous for the annual wildebeest migration but you can also see the Big Five here, and nearly 500 species of birds have been recorded on the Serengeti.Serengeti National Park is a World Heritage Site teeming with wildlife: over 2 million ungulates, 4000 lions, 1000 leopard, 550 cheetahs and some 500 bird species inhabit an area close to 15,000 square kilometers in size.
As the second largest national park in Tanzania, the Serengeti attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year. The best months for wildlife viewing in Serengeti National Park are between June and September. The wet season is from March to May, with the coldest period from June to October.
The annual migration of over 1.5 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelle takes place in May or early June. This migration is one of the most impressive natural events and the primary draw for many tourists.
Facts about Serengeti
- The Serengeti is one of the oldest and most scientifically significant ecosystems on the planet. Its weather patterns, fauna and flora are believed to have changed very little over a million years, giving the area a prehistoric feel
- Apart from rhinoceros, decimated by poachers, and hunting dogs, which are slowly declining, you will readily observe every species of African savanna mammal within the Serengeti. It is the best place in East Africa to see predators in action – because of the open grass plains where the grazing animals gather, predators are numerous and easily visible to the safari-goer.
- The Serengeti is home to the world’s largest movement of animals, often called the “Great Migration.” More than 1.7 million wildebeest, 500,000 zebra, and 200,000 antelope make their way from the Ndutu region of the southern Serengeti northward through the whole length of the “endless plains” to Kenya’s Masai Mara (a total of 500 mi / 800 km). This cyclical migration begins in March (after the annual birthing of the calves at Ndutu in February) and ends with their return in January, following the annual cycle of rains and fresh grasses. During this time around 250,000 wildebeest alone die from thirst, hunger, exhaustion, and predation.
- The Great Migration of the Serengeti was selected in 2013 as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. The others are the Red Sea reef system, Mount Kilimanjaro, Sahara Desert, Ngorongoro Crater, Nile River, and Okavango Delta. (Notice that three of the seven are in Tanzania.)
- The Maasai tribe had been grazing their cattle in the Serengeti plains for around 200 years when the first European explorers arrived. German geographer Dr. Oscar Baumann entered the area in 1892. The first Brit to see the Serengeti, Stewart Edward White, recorded his explorations in 1913. The first partial game reserve of 800 acres (3.2 sq km) was established in 1921 and a full one in 1929. These reserves became the basis for Serengeti National Park, which was gazetted in 1951
- The greater Serengeti ecosystem includes Serengeti National Park proper; Ngorongoro Conservation Area; Maswa Game Reserve; Loliondo, Grumeti, and Ikorongo Game Controlled Areas; and the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
- The name, Serengeti, is derived from the Maasai word siringit, meaning “endless plains.” An accurate description considering the whole ecosystem stretches over 12,000 square miles (30,000 square kilometers)!