When the British colonial administration established the Serengeti National Park in 1951, no one knew that the park would go on to become the best safari Park of Africa.
Forming Serengeti National Park following the partial game reserve which had been formed between 1921 and 1929 for the sake of protecting lions which had been hunted illegally making them scarce.
In a certain period prior to the formation of the game reserve, about 50 lions had been shot in a period of no more than 3 months. This was scary, unimaginable and something had to be done.
The British colonial administrative found out that nothing could help to protect Serengeti National Park lions who at the moment I am writing are approximated to be over 2500 than forming an authority to protect the park.
But how did Serengeti came into attention and who were the first people to live in this magnificent land?
History of Serengeti National Park
To know this, I must take you through the history of pre-Serengeti where we will see the origin of the name as well as the very first history about this oldest National Park of the country.
The Maasai Societies of East Africa had been grazing their livestock in terms of Nomadic farming and to find a consistent greener pasture for their herds they had to shift from place to place, region to region, and even country to country.
Their searching for reliable pasture and water for their herds, Maasai found themselves moving all the way from Southern parts of Kenya to Tanzania where they reached the extremely plains of Serengeti and settled there.
Maasai was extremely surprised with the Serengeti, its size, and the way it had fertile unfinished grass for its livestock. In contrary to their prior experience, the water was unlimited and they could stay at Serengeti for so long without facing any lack of greener pasture.
Trying to keep on moving from a place to place within the area, they realized that they could see the end of this park, let alone reach it, it’s when they simply branded the land as Siringeti, meaning the place where the land runs on forever.
First Over-sees visitors to the Serengeti
It has been documented that the German geographer Dr. Oscar Bauman was the first white man to arrive in the park in 1892. During this time the area was not yet a park but Maasai had already been grazing their livestock for more than 200 years.
Bauman, who was also a photographer is also known to be the first European to discover the lake Eyasi, Ndutu, and Manyara who went ahead to drawing the Map of the most part of Tanganyika before joining Hans Meyer in 1888 to climb Kilimanjaro before their attempt was halted when they were both held hostages and ransomed during the Abushiri revolt.
On the other hand, the first American to set the feet on Serengeti land was later in 1913 when Stewart Edward White who was an American writer, novelist, and spiritualist arrived in Serengeti and went on to write a lot about this magnificent park and open it to the world.
In his book, Rediscovered Country, Stewart had the following to say about Serengeti National Park
“Never have I seen anything like that game. It covered every hill, standing in the openings, strolling in and out among groves, feeding on the bottomlands, singly, or in little groups. It did not matter in which direction I looked, there it was; as abundant one place as another.
Nor did it matter how far I went, over how many hills I walked, how many wide prospects I examined, it was always the same. During my stay at the next two camps, I looked over fifty square miles. One day I counted 4,628 head! And suddenly I realized again that in this beautiful, wide, populous country, no sportsman’s rifle has ever been fired.
It is a virgin game country, and I have been the last man who will ever discover one for the sportsmen of the world. There is no other available possibility for such a game field in Africa unexplored. I moved among those hordes of unsophisticated beasts as a lord of Eden would have moved.” Rediscovered Country (1915) by Stewart Edward White
Rediscovered Country (1915) by Stewart Edward White
In the early years of 1920’s, Stewart visited the park for the second time this time being accompanied by his friends who were more interested in hunting lions rather than anything else. In only 3 months they had already shot nearly 50 lions before the British colonial administration intervened and made the area the game reserve, and later national park.
Plants and Animals in Serengeti National Park
The most important thing I would like you to note when digging dip about the flora and fauna of the Serengeti National Park is that the type of vegetation is what determines the plants and animals to inhabit the area. Let’s see the vegetation of Serengeti below;
Southern Serengeti vegetation– This is renowned for low grasslands and in this area, this area, very few trees grows. Nevertheless, this area is characterized by highly fertile soil which in return nourishes herbs which are so loved by wildebeests especially during the calving season.
Due to the low grass in Southern Serengeti, the animal viewing is at its best especially from December to April.
Northern Serengeti Vegetation – Unlike Southern Serengeti, in this area there are the scrub savannah, bush savannah and a good number of acacia trees.
It is understood that Serengeti has more than 55 species of acacia, forming the beautiful scenery that the world is dying to experience!
Wow, we have covered a lot of ground so far. From forming of Serengeti National Park, earliest visitors to the park, the origin of the name as well as the Serengeti national park vegetation. The next in the store is the animals.
You’re going to be shocked to find out that Serengeti itself has more than 2500 lions, about 1,000 leopards, more than 5,000 elephants, around 53,000 buffalo, more than 200 cheetahs, and…ladies and gentlemen, more than 1.5milion wildebeests.
And that is not mentioning; Rhino, Giraffe, Zebra, Hyena, aardvark, aardwolf, Hippos, baboons, Dik-dik, Nile Crocodiles, uncountable species of birds, Monkeys, Gazelle, Impala, Hartebeest, Topi, Waterbuck, Hyrax, jackals, and Pythons.
Speaking about birds, for example, Serengeti national park is home for more than 500 species of birds like; Masai ostrich, secretarybird, kori bustards, helmeted guineafowls, Grey-breasted spurfowl, southern ground hornbill, crowned cranes, marabou storks, yellow-billed stork, lesser flamingo, martial eagles, lovebirds, and oxpeckers.
Serengeti voted the Best Safari park in Africa
For more than one occasion, Serengeti has been voted the best safari park in Africa due to its unmatched experiences. To become the top of Africa, SafariBookings conducted an in-depth analysis of over 2,000 reviews of safari tourists and acclaimed travel experts.
Here is how the results looked like;
|No.||Safari Park||Ratings based on more than 2,500 reviews|
|1||Serengeti National Park||4.90/5|
|2||Mala Mala Game Reserve||4.88/5|
|3||Mana Pools National Park||4.87/5|
|5||South Luangwa National Park||4.71/5|
|6||Moremi Game Reserve||4.66/5|
|7||Sabi Sand Game Reserve||4.64/5|
|8||Masai Mara National Reserve||4.61/5|
|9||Selous Game Reserve||4.60/5|
Table; the Top 10 Best Safari Parks of Africa
Things to do and see in Serengeti
Now, this is what sets Serengeti apart from the rest.
Serengeti has uncountable activities and all of them are unique in their own style. This has made Serengeti a park to visit the whole year round since there is time you’ll go there and feel disappointed. Let me highlight you the most epic things to do and see in Serengeti national park below;
- Birding to up to 500 species of birds
- Hot air balloon
- Game viewing
- Great wildebeest migration
- Calving experience
- Live predation
- Maasai rock paintings
- Walking safari.
Great Wildlife Migration
Every year, more than 1 million wildebeests migrate from Serengeti National Park to Maasai Mara Game Reserve. In this natural and truly a wonder of the natural world, wildebeests are accompanied by thousands of zebras and other ungulates chasing the greener pastures.
To help you understand the Great Wildebeest Migration, let’s go through the following frequently asked questions about this unique and fascinating phenomenon.
Animals are included in the wildlife migration
- Grants gazelles
- Thomson Gazelles
Parks covered by Migration
Ngorongoro Conservation Area – In the early stages of Migration when the herds are in Calving, they usually cape alongside the Ndutu area which is Northern Ngorongoro but in the Southern parts of Serengeti.
Once the calving season is over and the calves have already fed on the nutrients of the Ndutu area grass, a move to Central Serengeti is imminent.
Serengeti National Park – The most part of Migration is in Serengeti, both Central and North
Masai Mara Game reserve – after crossing the Mara River around August all the way to late October (sometimes the crossing goes all the way to early November) they’ll stay in Masai Mara Game reserve to before coming back to Serengeti as they’re needed in South Serengeti for Calving in February.
Best time to Visit Serengeti – when Can I see the migration?
Generally, you can see the Great migration almost the whole year. In fact, these wild animals use the circular movement is migrating around Serengeti for the full year so it will only depend on what event you’d like to experience in the migration.
Note: In this best time to visit the Serengeti guide, we’ll put much of our emphasis on the herds tracking. They are the main attraction in the park and once you see them, be sure that the big cats are around the looking to serve themselves with a kill or two.
A month by month guide to the migration
To get a better idea of the migration, let’s see a month by month guide which shows exactly where to find wildebeests at what months.
From December to March – After coming back from Masai Mara, it is within this period when calving starts. During these moments, wildebeests and their colleagues are found in the Southern Serengeti on the upper parts of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the place they consider the best for calving season.
In the Southern Serengeti, there are shorter grasses which makes it an ideal place to give birth as the openness of the plains makes it easier for the herds to see the predators.
Another reason that the herds prefer Southern Serengeti is due to the truth that the land is so fertile (following the remains of the volcanic ashes after the eruptions that later sunk to form Ngorongoro crater) with the grasses full of nutrients for the new babies.
The herds won’t leave this area before the calves have got enough nutrients from eating fresh Southern Serengeti grass which has a reputation of giving the young calves the stamina they need for the coming journey towards central Serengeti.
April and May
This is the period when some of the wildebeests and their colleagues start to move from Southern Serengeti towards other parts of Serengeti.
Nevertheless, South Serengeti along the Ndutu area is still the best place to be during this month where the herds can be witnessed in a bit dispersed way.
Since Ndutu has resident cats, in the April cats viewing becomes another excellent experience in the Southern Serengeti. Along with the previous months of March and February, this zone of Serengeti National Park offers an amazing live predatory action.
From May, most of the herds will go on and continue their mission to reach North Serengeti, however, this is the best time to experience the migration at the central Serengeti.
As the other herds move all the way to the Western corridor around the Grumeti area, again in May, just like in the previous month usually experiences heavy rains around all parts of Serengeti, this forces herds to disperse so during this time you’re not likely to see herds in large concentration.
Nevertheless, wildlife viewing is fantastic during these two months around the Seronera area, the central Serengeti.
June and July
As you can tell, the gestation period for the wildebeests is roughly 9 months. For them to give birth in February, this is their time for mating and you can find this happening at a very large number.
As the rainfalls start to cool, these two months are the best to experience the herds spreading across all the Central Serengeti and Serengeti Western corridors.
Cat life is also at its best here as the Seronera River usually attracts enough prey which is always a good thing to the cats.
Again, during June and July, as some of the herds tend to head to the Western Serengeti, you may be rewarded by the small crossings of the Grumeti River as the herds leave the park to enter the Singita Game reserve.
In July, there is no better place to be than the Kogatende area. While it’s fair to say that during this period herds can be seen anywhere around Central, West, and Eastern Serengeti.
August, September to October
While Migration can be experienced the whole year round, this is arguably the best time.
With fewer rains, these months are when the herds cross the Mara River almost daily and in a very huge spectacular group.
Kogatende area is again the best place to be during these months as it gives you the best opportunity to see the herds crossing in crocodiles infested Mara River while the big cats monitoring the situation closely in sidelines, waiting for a proper prey.
While there have been a lot of theories about the river crossings, but the truth is this is not something that can be explained logically. Wildebeests and co know naturally what to do and at what time.
If they sense that the rainfall is about to start on the next side of the river, they are likely to cross. A few days later or even just a matter of hours after crossing the river, these herds may decide to cross back depending on how they read the weather.
Furthermore, it isn’t necessarily that the herds will head to the North after they have stayed in the central and western corridor of Serengeti. Some of the herds may well decide to go back to the South or head all the way to the north and cross the river. The main determinant here is the direction of the rainfall.
As the rains start in Southern Serengeti in the plains of Ndutu area where the herds were lastly seen at the start of the year, you can tell the way the fresh grasses are longing to be consumed by the newly born babies as early as February.
With also the rains heading to the South, this is the time when the herds start to herd south as they are needed to be at the right place for the calving, come early February.
During November, you may still be lucky to see some crossings, depending on the year.
In 2019 for example, the magnificent crossings were somehow experienced all the way up until the mid of November.
As I have mentioned, again and again, there is no rule of thumb for the wildebeest’s migration, what we know at the moment is that the rains are the main determinant. There might be the other reasons that the wildebeests know themselves but really, this natural event is worth tracking and I would advise if you need to explore it at its fullness, find a way to visit when you have a no a very pressing timetable.
Serengeti safari cost
Now you know almost everything about the best safari park of the continent, you might be wondering, how does it cost to visit Serengeti?
Well, the answer is, there is no fixed price.
Travelers may pay different costs to visit Serengeti depending on the following;
- The number of days in a Serengeti safari.
- Number of people in your group, the more people in a group will reduce cost per person through cost-sharing
- Nature of the accommodation
- Time of the year – In the low season (April & May) you are likely going to get the best deals for your Serengeti Safari
- The model of your experience
- Transport in and off the park will influence Serengeti safari cost
Where to stay in Serengeti
Depending on your budget and safari style, you have a wide variety of choices when it comes to mid-range to luxury accommodations in the Serengeti national park.
To give you an idea of the accommodations, you may stay at, Osinon camps and lodges which is owned by Earthlife Expeditions, Serengeti bush camps, Mbugani camps, pure camps just to name a few.
Well, we have covered a lot of ground in this world-renowned safari park of Africa. Until now, I strongly believe that you know a thing or two about;
- The history of Serengeti
- Origin of the name
- Flora and Fauna in Serengeti national park
- Serengeti National park vegetation
- Things to do and see in the Serengeti National park
- Best time to visit Serengeti
- Where to stay in the Serengeti National Park
- And the cost to visit Serengeti.
Planning for a Serengeti Safari
So are you ready to start planning your Serengeti safari? We’re here to help you. Let us know your safari plans and we can help you choose the best options around your budget, style, and interest.
P.S. Did you view the above-featured itineraries? They may not be exactly what you need but they are a sneaky preview to what you can expect on your Serengeti Safari included tour. They’re there to inspire you. If you need something more personalized, we can help you build a new itinerary that will match your safari style and budget.