Serengeti National Park
Serengeti Tanzania: Safari to the annual migration of Wildebeests on the plains – a phenomenon not to be missed!
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Tanzania - The Serengeti
Serengeti Tanzania National Park covers 14,763 sq. km of endless rolling plains, which reach up to the Kenyan border and extends almost to Lake Victoria. The park is flourishing with magnificent wildlife. An estimated 3 million large animals roam the plains. People of the Maasai Tribe called it Siringitu – ‘the place where the land moves on forever.’ The Serengeti is known as one of the best wildlife sanctuary in the world.
Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within this area. It’s unique environment has enthused writers, filmmakers as well as numerous photographers and scientists. The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth, the main characteristics of climate, flora and fauna have hardly changed in the past million years.
Serengeti is renown for the migration of animals. Every October and November, more than a million wildebeest and about 220,000 zebras travel south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short tropical rains, and then journey west and north after the long rains in April to June. The animals’ ancient instinct to move is so strong that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back. The Wildebeest migrate through a number of parks, reserves and protected areas and through a variety of habitat.
The Serengeti boasts large herds of antelope including Patterson’s eland, Klipspringer, Dik dik, Zebra, gazelles, lion, impala, leopard, cheetah, hyena and other larger mammals like the rhino, giraffe, elephant and hippopotamus. Nearly 500 species of birds have been recorded in the park. The Serengeti is an opportunity for one of the best game-viewing in Africa.
Migration in the Serengeti
The wildebeest migration, like a discernible thread, embraces and connects the Serengeti’s ecosystem much as it has done for at least two millions years.
Every year, with some seasonally dictated variations in timing and scale, one million wildebeest leave the southern Serengeti’s short grass plains in search of the grass and water they need to survive.
During their annual pilgrimage they will travel some 2.000 miles devouring 4.000 tons of grass a day. A quarter of a million will be born, many will die.
The migration is in the southeastern Serengeti on the short-grass plains after the short rains which have nurtured fresh grass. This month and December are the peak months for zebra birth.
The short-grass plains are the main feeding ground for some two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle. Predators lurk close by, feeding on the newborn. This is the main month for wildebeest calving.
Beginning of the long and heavy rains. Clouds, growing in intensity, appear from the south and occasional lightning illuminates the night sky. The short-grass plains’ pastures are nearing exhaustion and the newborn can keep up with the herds.
Heaviest rainy month. Wildebeest are almost evenly scattered on the short-grass plains.
Good forage still available but water begins to be a limited factor. Now the vast herds begin to coalesce with columns containing hundreds of thousands stretched over many km as they had across the woodland zones into the Western Corridor where new food and water has been generated by the rains around Grumeti.
Rains come to an end and the herds leave the black-cotton-soil plains, crossing the Grumeti River where many wildebeest drown every year providing food for the crocodiles who lurk at crossing points. In a normal year they will be in Seronera/Moru kopjes area.
The migration now heads northwest briefly leaving the park as they enter the Grumeti Controlled Area, with a small portion of the herd heading towards the Lobo area. Visitors should note that morning temperatures have fallen sharply.
The migration and the ever-attendant predators trailing now cross the Ikorongo controlled Area. The various branches of the migration begin to meet up. The migration in a normal year should now be in the northern Serengeti and entering Maasai Mara. It is still cold in the mornings.
The migration has now entered Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve just across the northern border from the Serengeti. Temperatures begin to rise and the skies are blue by day.
This is the driest month in the Serengeti with the bulk of the animals briefly absent in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve where there is always plentiful water and better grazing for the plains animals at this time of year.
As if sensing the oncoming short rains with clouds gathering in the sky, the migration begins its trek back home to the Serengeti. Flame trees are beginning to blossom and migrant birds start to arrive.
The migration increases its pace as it heads towards Serengeti’s southern plains where the short rains are generating the grass. It follows the Loliondo boundary of the park and the zebra begin to give birth.
The history of human inhabitation revolves largely around the history of the African people, from the hunter-gatherers who wandered the plains, to the people of today who protect it as a main destination for travelers. The Serengeti’s history has been virtually ignored, except Olduvai Gorge, where the Leakey family discovered fossils of human and animal ancestors dating back to almost two million years, and which is part of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area.
Tsetse flies in the woodlands, and sleeping sickness, guaranteed that the Serengeti was spared of European settlement, and with it the distinction of the wildlife that other African countries were subjected to.
When to visit
The Serengeti’s climate is warm and dry. The tropical rainy season is from March to May, with short rains from October to November. The Serengeti is lush and green after the rains, but a steady drying up follows which inhibits plant growth and encourages the animals to migrate in search of waters.
With altitudes ranging from 920 to 1,830 metres average temperatures vary from 15 degrees to 26 degrees Celsius. The coldest temperatures are experienced from June to October.
Exciting walking safaris
unforgettable balloon ride in the Serengeti
Lodges and Camps in the Serengeti
Seronera Wildlife Lodge
Lobo Wildlife Lodge
Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge
Serengeti Sopa Lodge