There is so much more to the Serengeti than the Great Migration. These endless plains contain valleys, hills and woodland as well as the open plains that seem to stretch out forever. Every time of year offers something different, something special. However, the Great Migration seems to be the only thing on the itinerary. The Serengeti is more than this single spectacular event, and I urge you to take time to explore as much as you can in the Serengeti. This is important in Africa, to slow down and spend some time exploring; you will be well rewarded.
The Tanzanian Parks authority claim that over six million hooves thunder across the plains during the Great Migration. This, sadly, is the world’s last surviving migration on such a grand scale. This is understandably why it dominates every Serengeti safari.
Do not despair if the time of your visit falls outside the Great Migration or if the rains that trigger it off fail. If you sit at the Grumeti River and not a single wildebeest attempts to cross, do not feel disappointed. The Serengeti has so very much more to offer – you will never be disappointed.
The Serengeti is Tanzania’s oldest park and offers arguably the best game viewing in the whole of Africa. The park has great heads of buffalo, small herds of elephant, giraffe, eland, topi, impala, Grant’s gazelle, with leopards in the acacia lining the Seronera Valley; lion prides abound, especially in the Lobo hills in the north; and there is a high density of cheetahs in the south-eastern Serengeti. There are three types of African sachal, spotted hyena and a myriad of small predators such as the aard-wolf and the beautiful serval cat.
There are also reptiles, amazing insects (including over a hundred species of dung beetle), and over five hundred bird species – from the great and ungainly ostrich to the majestic black eagle hovering over the Lobo Hills in the remote north.
The plains are scorched a rich golden colour, yet after the rains the Serengeti is green carpet with wild flowers everywhere. The flat pains are broken in places with deep valleys, wooded hills and rivers lined with fig trees and the flat-topped acacia.
The vastness of this park translates into 14,800km² (5,700 square miles). (Figures vary as to the exact size; this is the official size according to the Tanzanian government.) The park stretches north to Kenya and west to the huge Lake Victoria.
To get to the Serengeti you can drive from Arusha, passing Lake Manyara and driving across Ngorongoro Conservation Area and into the Serengeti. You are also able to fly by light aircraft into the Serengeti, although these flights are expensive.
Finally, I would urge you to resist the temptation to try and see as much as possible in a short a time as possible. You will end up with safari fatigue and hating your safari experience, for Africa is an experience best done at a slow pace. To see and experience more you must slow down. If you rush from place to place you will simply miss Africa; all you will have to show after your safari will be some nice photographs and maybe a “Hakuna matata” T-shirt.
Enjoy your safari and experience Africa and you will, no doubt, return to this amazing continent and to this wonderful country – Tanzania.