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Adventure Activities in Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park, a World Heritage Site (1981), offers perhaps the most classic of African game-reserve experiences. A safari in this iconic wildlife sanctuary should be on every nature lover’s bucket list. It is Tanzania’s oldest national park, and, to boot, a significant earner for the country in foreign exchange.
The Serengeti is famed for its annual migration of herbivores – one of the most stunning of natural phenomena. More than a million wildebeest – as well as 250,000 zebra, and thousands of gazelle – move from the hills in the north to the plains in the centre and south, for the brief rainy season during the months of November and December, before turning north and west after the longer rainy season (April, May and June), towards the permanent watering holes in those areas of the park, in a spectacle that has little compare in the natural world. To top it all, here you’ll spot the “Big Five” game animals of Africa – the lion, African leopard, African elephant, black rhinoceros (endangered) and the African buffalo.
Travellers usually club a visit to the Serengeti with ones to Arusha National Park, Lake Manyara National Park, Tarangire National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area – a tour known as the Northern Safari Circuit. Not only is the Serengeti, along with the Ngorongoro and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve (across the border in Kenya), home to the greatest migration phenomenon on Earth, there are also very few places on the planet that boast a more diverse collection of wildlife.
And being an icon of wildlife and conservation, Serengeti National Park has featured prominently in the works of authors Ernest Hemingway and Peter Matthiessen, as well as film-makers Hugo van Lawick and Alan Root.


The name Serengeti derives from the Maasai expression, “siringet”, which translates, roughly, as “the place where the land runs on forever”. The Serengeti ecosystem goes back a couple of million years – this place is as old as the planet itself. Not surprisingly, it is known as the “Cradle of Mankind”.
Several millennia on, after a few hunt-happy Englishmen shot the local lions (almost) into oblivion, the British administration created a small wildlife sanctuary of 800 acres (3.2sq km) in 1929, extending it eight years later. The game reserve as it exists today was established in 1951, though controversy still surrounds the 1959 eviction of the Maasai within the park’s area – to conserve the local wildlife, the colonial authorities were suspected of coercing the villagers out of the park and into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
After Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) won independence from the United Kingdom (1961), Serengeti National Park, unfortunately, went into decline. A lack of willpower and organizational endeavour badly affected the park’s functioning in the 1960s and 1970s, a period when rampant poaching resulted in an alarming decline in the population of elephants and rhinos. In the 1980s, however, the park authorities – helped by funds pumped in by generous overseas donors – were able to rein in the poachers considerably. More effective supervision also helped restore morale among rangers, wardens and – more importantly – the anti-poaching staff.
The malaise of poaching hasn’t gone away altogether. Tensions over land between the park authorities, trying to manage resources for wildlife, and the villagers/pastoralists, sticking to their traditional way of life, persist. The challenge remains, as it does everywhere else where wildlife has to share space with man, on how best to accommodate the interests of both in as satisfactory and sustainable a way as possible.


The Serengeti National Park lies in the Serengeti bionetwork, in the Mara, Arusha and Shinyanga provinces of Tanzania, towards the north of this east African country. This ecosystem (an area of 30,000sq km) encompasses the park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve (south), the Grumeti and Ikorongo game reserves (east), the Maasai Mara Game Reserve (just across Tanzania’s northern border, in Kenya), and the Loliondo Game Controlled Area (west).
In total, the park has an area of 14,750sq km, made up of three distinctive ecosystems – the Serengeti plains, the Western Corridor and Northern Serengeti. The plains, the classic African savannah, form the major part of the Serengeti landscape, the scrub-covered area that many associate with the national park. The Western Corridor is predominantly savannah though it is also noted for its marshes (here, the River Grumeti flows). The Northern Serengeti features forests and hills.
Serengeti National Park accounts for 14 percent of Tanzania’s total land area.


The Serengeti ecosystem has two rainy seasons – the short one in the months of November and December, with short, sharp showers; and the longer one between March and May, during which there is heavier, and prolonged, rainfall. Throughout the year, daytime temperatures barely budge from 27C-28C, while nights are pleasantly cool (though nights can be chilly in the Ngorongoro Crater, and in the higher altitudes of the park area, with temperatures touching freezing point). Boasting a moderate climate, Serengeti National Park makes for an ideal year-round destination – as long as one avoids the wet months of April and May.

Flora and Fauna

The legendary migrations of wildebeest and zebra aside, the Serengeti is also famous for its population of lions, known to be the largest in Africa: There are estimated to be around 3000 lions in the sanctuary. And beyond the ‘Big Five’, you can also spot baboons, hyenas and many different species of antelopes such as (in the grasslands) the topi, gazelle, lesser kudu, eland, oribi, oryx, hartebeest and steenbock, (in the woods) the impala and dik-dik, and (in the marshes) waterbuck and reedbuck. One is also likely to spot endangered species such as the black rhino, wild dogs and the cheetah.
The Serengeti plains are home to the wildebeest and other quadrupeds like zebra, buffalo, gazelle, impala and hartebeest. In and around the Grumeti can be seen the imposing and indomitable-looking Nile crocodile, as well as the colobus monkey. In the bushland of the Northern Serengeti, you’ll come across elephants and giraffes, as well as the cute-looking klipspringer (another species of antelope, usually spotted on small hill-like mounds, or “kopjes”) and the olive baboon.
The Serengeti has close to 500 bird species, among them the martial eagle and African fish eagle, ostrich, crowned crane and the Kori bustard, besides many species of waterbirds and waders, including the marabou stork, lesser flamingo, black-winged pratincole, white-winged black tern and plovers (black-winged and Caspian).

How to reach

The nearest airport to Serengeti National Park is Kilimanjaro airport, near the town of Arusha, which is well connected to all the major Tanzanian cities (only a handful of international airlines fly directly to Kilimanjaro airport). Light aircraft fly from Arusha to two airstrips in the Serengeti, in the centre and in the west of the park. The journey from Arusha by road is around 325km, and takes roughly eight hours.

Getting Around

Where to go

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