The Serengeti National Park forms the centre piece of the greater Serengeti conservation area that includes numerous reserves and concessions.
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park is one of the best-known
wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and symbolises the classic African safari. With
more than 2 million wildebeest, half a million Thomson's gazelle, and a quarter
of a million zebra, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa.
The Serengeti is also synonymous with the annual wildebeest and zebra migration.
The name 'Serengeti' comes from the Maasai language
and means an 'extended place'. The National Park alone covers an area of 12,950
square kilometres. The Serengeti ecosystem, which includes the Ngorongoro
Conservation Area, the Grumeti Game Reserve, the Maswa Game Reserve, the Maasai Mara
Game reserve (in Kenya) and numerous concession areas, is roughly the size of
Sicily. It lies between the shores of Lake Victoria in the west, Lake Eyasi in
the south, and the Great Rift Valley to the east.
Serengeti Wildebeest and Zebra Migration route map
Read more about the Serengeti Migration, including detailed maps and movement patterns and migratory routes: Migration route map
Our migration route maps show the where the migration is during each month relative to Serengeti National Park, Game Reserves or concession areas. As the migration path and timing is dependent on climatic conditions, the maps can only give a rough guide of the location at any point in the year.
Safari Routes in the Serengeti
The itinerary for a safari in the Serengeti and the Northern Circuit of Tanzania is very dependent on the time of year and the location of the migration at the time. Here are some sample routes that show the best locations by month including the lodges and camps in the area:
Best Serengeti Safari route in February
Best Serengeti Safari route in June
Best Serengeti Safari route in November
...more Serengeti Safari Routes
Featured Serengeti Safari lodge maps
Faru Faru River Lodge map, Grumeti Reserve
: Faru Faru River Lodge is built on a gently sloping hill, overlooking a waterhole and the Grumeti River
Grumeti River Camp map
: The remote Western Corridor of the Serengeti abounds with resident game all year round. Grumeti lies in the path of the migration which in a typical year arrives between June and July
Kirawira Camp map
: Kirawira Camp is an luxurious permanent tented camp, elegantly furnished throughout in the old 1920s safari style.
Kleins Camp map
: Kleins Camp is perched on the edge of the Kuka Hills, which straddle the northeastern border of the Serengeti.
Kusini Camp map
: Kusini is in an exclusive remote region of the Serenget and provides guests with a secluded and unobtrusive position that curves naturally with a group of Kopjes
Migration Camp map
: Migration Camp is a comfortable camp in a remote location in the northern Serengeti.
Ndutu Safari Lodge map
: Ndutu Safari Lodge is the only permanent lodge in the short grass plains of Ndutu.
Nomad Loliondo Camp map
: The Loliondo Safari Camp moves within the Loliondo area on the eastern border of the Serengeti National Park.
Olakira Camp map
: Olakira is a luxury 8 tented mobile camp that operates in the southern and central Serengeti.
Sabora Plains tented camp map, Grumeti Reserve
: Sabora Plains Tented Camp is beautifully decorated in grand campaign style representing a return to the golden ages of the 1920s and 30s.
Sasakwa Camp map, Grumeti Reserve
: Sasakwa Lodge is situated on the top of Sasakwa Hill, with awe-inspiring views over the Serengeti plains.
Sayari Mobile Camp map
: Sayari Camp is a seasonal mobile camp that follows the wildebeest migration through the Serengeti.
More about the Serengeti
A unique combination of diverse habitats enables it
to support more than 30 species of large harbivores and nearly 500 species of
birds. Its landscape, originally formed by volcanic activity, has been
sculptured by the concerted action of wind, rain and sun. It now varies from
open grass plains in the south, savannah with scattered acacia trees in the
centre, hilly, wooded grassland in the north, to extensive woodland and black
clay plains to the west. Small rivers, lakes and swamps are scattered
throughout. In the south-east rise the great volcanic massifs and craters of the
Ngorongoro Highlands. Each area has its own particular atmosphere and wildlife.
For centuries, the vast wilderness of the Serengeti
Plains remained virtually uninhabited but about hundred years ago the nomadic
Maasai came down from the north with their cattle. The first European to set
foot in the area was the German explorer and naturalist Dr. Oscar Baumann, who
passed by as an agent of the German Anti-Slavery Committee on his way to
Burundi. He was followed by his compatriots who built Fort Ikoma in the north
which was used as an administrative centre until it fell to the British in 1917.
The first professional hunters came in 1913. They
found the wildlife plentiful, especially the lions, but saw no elephants. Seven
years later, an American arrived in a strange new contraption known as a Ford
motor-car and news of the wonders of the Serengeti had reached the outside
world. Because the hunting of lions made them so scarce (they were considered
'vermin'), it was decided to make a partial Game Reserve in the area in 1921 and
a full one in 1929. With the growing awareness of the need for conservation, it
was expanded and upgraded to a National Park in 1951. Eight years later the
Ngorongoro Conservation Area was established in the south-east as a separate
In the open grass plains during the rainy months
from November to May hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and Burchell's zebra
congregate. The area is the starting point for one of the great wonders of the
world: the Serengeti annual migration. Towards the end of May when the grass
becomes dry and exhausted, the wildebeest start to mass in huge armies. All is
far from peaceful, for it is the rutting season and each male tries to establish
a stamping ground. Eventually, after several dummy runs, the animals begin their
trek in a column several miles long to the permanent waters in the north of the
Park. After moving westwards, the migration divides by some uncanny instinct,
one group turning north-east and the other due north. Once started, little stops
the stampede: hundreds often drown at a time in the broad Mara river in the
north. This mass movement has a following of carnivores, always ready to
dispose of the weaklings
The river crossings happen at any time during this time of year, but are
elusive, rapid and unforgettable experiences. The wildebeest are easily spooked
by real or imagined threats. Patient waiting near a herd by the river may only
produce a puff of dust as they turn on their heels and run away. Or maybe the
herd is just not ready to cross the river and they are milling around
contentedly. But if everything is right then, there is utter and extraordinary
chaos as the herds struggle to get to the other side of a major river filled
Although outnumbered eight to one, the zebra join
in the migration, maintaining their family units of about a dozen members, each
with a dominant stallion. Their yelping bark combines with the bleating of the
wildebeest to give the typical sound of the migration. Lion, cheetah, hyena and
hunting dog follow the wildebeest and zebra, making sure that only the fittest
survive. In November, when the grazing is finished in the North, this army of
animals surges back to the now green pastures of the south, where they calve and
mate before starting the entire cycle again. Normally, the best time to see the
animals here is during January and February.
Heading north into the Park, the grass becomes
noticeably longer, and it is usual to see Grant's and Thomson's gazelles, as
well as the occasional small groups of topi and kongoni. Ostriches and secretary
birds stalk the grass, while a family of warthog often scurry away. Out of the
vast sea of grass also rise great granite outcrops, known as 'kopjes', which
have their own range of vegetation and wildlife.
Towards Seronera, the Park headquarters, the
landscape becomes more varied. Hills rise out of plains criss-crossed by small
rivers. Umbrella acacia trees appear, elegant and serene, contrasting with the
twisted commiphora trees.
Cheeky hyraxes and lizards play on the rocks and a
profusion of birds - superb starlings, lilac-breasted rollers, barbets and
ring-necked doves to name but a few - fill the air with their songs. But all
around is some of the wildest bush in Africa. Giraffes nibble the tender leaves
of the thorny acacias, buffalo lumber along, and all manner of game - Thomson's
and Grant's gazelles, impala, topi and kongoni - graze nervously. At night the
soaring cough of the leopard and the whooping laugh of the hyena interrupt the
incessant ticking of the cicadas. And then there are famous black-maned lions of
Seronera. No longer hunted like vermin, a pride of up to twenty can often be
seen in a tawny heap.
From Seronera, the road to the west runs parallel
to the Grumeti river, crossing extensive cotton soil plains. The riverine wood
along its banks supports many black and white Colobus monkeys while
exceptionally large crocodiles take to its waters. In open clearings and on
hills, a herd of roan antelope or Patterson's eland sometimes appear.
To the north, the landscape gradually becomes more
hilly and wooded. Damaged trees show that this is becoming elephant country,
while buffalo, zebra, giraffe and gazelles abound. Another beautiful lodge built
on a kopje takes its name from nearby Lobo hill, which appropriately means in
Maasai the 'place belonging to one man'. With magnificent views over rolling
plains, it must be one of the most haunting and remote places on earth.
Most visitors enter the Park from the south-east,
dropping down from the escarpment of the Ngorongoro Highlands onto the open
short grass plains. The road passes by the Olduvai Gorge, where Dr. and Mrs.
Leakey found the 1.75 million-year-old remains of Australopithecus boisei
('Zinjanthropus') and Homo habilis which suggest that our species first
evolved in this area. To the west, the Gorge reaches Lake Ndutu where a safari
lodge is attractively set amongst trees by the water's edge.
The Serengeti's climate is usually warm and dry.
The main rainy season is from March to May, with short rains falling from
October to November. The amount of rainfall increases from about 508mm on the
plains in the lee of the Ngorongoro Highlands to about 1,200mm on the shores of
Lake Victoria. All is lush and green after the rains, but a gradual drying up
follows which restricts plant growth and encourages the animals to migrate in
search of permanent waters. With altitudes ranging from 920 to 1,850 metres -
higher than most of Europe - mean temperatures vary from 15 degrees to 25
degrees Celsius. It is coldest from June to October, particularly in the
Game Reserves and Private Concessions in the Serengeti eco-system
The Serengeti is not fenced and is surrounded by a
number of huge reserves and private concessions. Together with the National Park
these make the greater Serengeti eco-system. They act as a buffer for the National Park and most are in the path of the annual migration, which
make them critical to the region.
The main reserves are the Grumeti Game Reserve,
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, Loliondo Controlled Area, Lake
Natron Controlled Area, Mount Wa Mbu Game Controlled Area, Ikorongo Controlled
Area. The Masai Mara Game Reserve (in Kenya) also forms part of this huge eco-system.
Grumeti Game Reserve
Grumeti Game Reserve is a 340,000 acre (140,000 Ha) reserve held as a concession by the billionaire Paul Tudor Jones. The concession comprised of Ikorongo Game Reserve, Grumeti Game Reserve and Fort Ikoma Open Area. The reserve is on the western border of the Serengeti includes part of the Grumeti River. The wildebeest migration crossing the Grumeti River is one of the highlights of the annual migration. The migration normally moves through this area towards June and July. The reserve also has exceptional resident game throughout the year and has some of the most luxurious lodges in East Africa namely, Sasakwa Lodge, Faru Faru River Lodge and Sabora Plains Camp.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Read more about Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Maswa borders the south west part of Serengeti and is an extension of the Serengeti ecosystem. The reserve consists of river valley thickets, acacia parkland and open plains, making it an ideal walking area.
Loloindo Game Controlled Area
The large Loliondo Game Controlled Area, bordering the Serengeti to the east, is known for its unspoilt Maasai culture, spectacular natural beauty and great variety of animals. Loliondo offers unique freedom of movement: while the National Park rules do not allow activities such as night drives and walking safaris, these are all possible in Loliondo. The large, private concession areas, shared with small settlements of the nomadic Maasai tribe, offer breathtaking landscapes: the towering Gol Mountains, the deep Sanjan and Olkarien Gorges, wild bush with roaming elephants and the active Ol Donyno Lengai volcano. Ancient rock paintings prove there was life before the arrival of the first Maasai warriors.