Serengeti National Park in Tanzania covers 1.5 million hectares of savannah and holds the largest annual migration of mammals in the world, with over one million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of gazelles and zebras traveling north-south and back.

History

Serengeti national park was established in 1951 after an earlier decision by the British to make a game reserve in the 1920s because of the scarcity of lions because of hunting.  In 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Serengeti Wildlife

Serengeti National Park is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world.  It covers 12,000 square miles and is home to millions of mammals.

Wildebeest Migration

The wildebeest migration on the Serengeti has been called the 8th Wonder of the World.  Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest calves are born every year within a few weeks of each other.  When it rains, the herds start moving north for the annual rut (mating).  The lakes in the south and the rivers along the journey can be obstacles. Tens of thousands of wildebeest die in the journey from the calving area in Tanzania to lower Kenya, due mainly to drowning, exhaustion or predation.  Lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and crocodiles await the migration every year.  After they cross the Mara River, they feed until the rain begins again and they start their journey south to repeat.  They are joined by zebra, gazelle and a few other animals.

 

Climate

The climate is usually warm and dry except for a short rainy season at the end of the year and a long rainy season from March to May.

 

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit is either in January through February or June through September.  These times avoid the two rainy seasons: November to January and March to May.  In January and February, you can witness the wildebeest calving in the south.  In June and July, there is a chance to see the wildebeest migration cross the Grumeti River.  In July and August, the wildebeest will be crossing the Mara River as they move toward the Masai Mara National Reserve north of the park in Kenya.

Seronera

A small settlement in the heart of the plains that is an important host to tourists during the wildebeest migration.  It is a day’s drive from most of the Serengeti’s regions.  The camp is easily accessed by the Seronera airstrip.

 

Travel to Tanzania

Visitors from the United States normally go through Amsterdam or Istanbul to get to Kilimanjaro International Airport in northern Tanzania (southeast of Serengeti National Park).  Airlines to consider include Delta / KLM, American Airlines / Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and a few others.  You can expect roundtrip airfare to cost roughly $1000 to $2000 per ticket.  Coastal Aviation, Regional Air and several other airlines will fly to Seronera Airstrip, the Serengeti airport.

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