Serengeti National ParkMap

The Serengeti National Park forms the centre piece of the greater Serengeti conservation area that includes numerous reserves and concessions.

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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 unit.

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 with crocodiles.

Game Viewing
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 evenings.

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 Reserve
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.