From the moment the cobbled boots of a European explorer kicked up dust in East Africa the plains of Serengeti have captured the imagination and defined the quintessence of wild Africa.
Nowadays this iconic region falls under the protection of the Serengeti National Park, which is part of the spectacular family of national parks and conservancies that makes Tanzania such a spectacular all round destination. The region that the Maasi termed Serengit – or Endless Plain – in fact is covered by a number of different parks and conservancies, overlapping into Kenya, and including the extraordinary Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, the eruptions of which layered ash across a vast swathe of the landscape creating the characteristic plains.
Despite its fame Serengeti has not been spoilt or over exploited. Travel through the park is still satisfyingly rough, accommodations both simple and tastefully understated, and the overwhelming sense of space and absence of human influence lend an authenticity to this park that in every respect justifies its reputation.
The Park was established in 1951. It is Tanzania’s largest and oldest national park. It fundamentally comprises the feature rolling plains, but is also fringed with low hills sprinkled with rocky outcrops, and sweeping bushveld country to the north.
The park covers and area 5 790 sq miles, hoists 70 species of larger mammal and some 500 bird species. The annual migrations are the largest of their kind, and represent one of the Ten Natural Wonders of the World. The phenomenon involves more than 2 million individual animals annually.
The character of the plains is defined by season. The season of greatest drama is when the rains clear the skis and green the plains, when the region is replete with life and migrating birds arrive in vast flocks. When the plains dry the colors alter to dun colored grasslands and lingering dusty haze. Animal life diminishes leaving only the hardy and the perennial.
During this time animals retreat to regions of permanent water, and it it here were the most concentrated sighting occur.
Access to the park is usually via Arusha. The Musoma Road leading from Arusha climbs over the shoulder of Ngorongoro Crater before veering northwest across the southern plains towards the park’s center at Seronera.
When to Visit
There is no perfect time to visit Serengeti. The principal events that draw visitors to the region are: the massed migrations of wildebeest that take place during the November to May wet season when the fresh grass on the plains attracts a vast influx of these creatures: The massing of vast herds of wildebeest and Zebra on the southern plains during the dry months from June to September: and the spectacle of calving that takes place usually in February.