Where to Go in the Serengeti
The Best Safari Areas in the Serengeti
At almost 15 000 square kilometres (5 790 square miles), the Serengeti is an enormous park with distinct regions that each offer a different game viewing experience. You will need to choose carefully where and when to go on a safari in the Serengeti, especially if you want to see the annual Wildebeest Migration. The herds move in a clockwise direction around the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem (roughly the size of South Carolina) and their concentrations are dictated by the seasons, available water and fresh grazing.
Characterised by rolling, tree-studded grassy plains, this is the most accessible part of the Serengeti National Park, which means it can get a little busy during the high season (about July to October).
From about November to March, colossal herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle move into the southern Serengeti to graze on fresh grass and give birth. This means that the predators, especially lion, leopard and cheetah, take every opportunity to hunt easy prey.
The heart of the Serengeti National Park delivers superb game viewing throughout the year and is home to a great selection of safari camps and lodges. The area offers good access to all the Wildebeest Migration hotspots and supports a high density of plains game, leopard, cheetah and lion.
The region’s Seronera River Valley creates a natural boundary between the grassy plains of the south and the wooded hills of the north, making it one of the richest ecosystems in the Serengeti. Lion and cheetah are common here, and leopard sightings occur regularly.
A region of diverse habitats and a broad range of wildlife, the Eastern Serengeti is a popular pit stop during the Wildebeest Migration calving season (between February and March). The area generally sees fewer tourists than the rest of the national park and delivers excellent big cat sightings, especially cheetah.
The Grumeti River runs through the Serengeti’s Western Corridor and is home to gigantic Nile crocodiles and hippos. Convoys of wildebeest arrive on the banks of the Grumeti around May and June to kick off the Migration’s main event: the perilous river crossings.
This is one of nature’s most thrilling (and bittersweet) events to witness, as many of the valiant wildebeest are snatched by hungry crocs.
If you’re looking for great year-round game viewing combined with away-from-the-crowds luxury accommodation, we recommend the privately owned Grumeti Reserve. It borders the western Serengeti and lies directly on the Wildebeest Migration’s path, giving you front-row seats to all the action. It’s a quiet reserve with few safari camps and lodges but plenty of plains game and predators like lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena and crocodile.
With over 400 recorded species, the Grumeti region is also great for birding. Its riverine forest is a good place to spot colobus monkeys. And since Grumeti is a private reserve, visitors at the area’s lodges can go on guided nature walks and night game drives – activities not usually allowed in the Serengeti National Park.
Less crowded than the rest of the Serengeti, the north of the park is characterised by green rolling hills and thickly vegetated granite outcrops (kopjes). The region offers good year-round game viewing and sets the stage for the Mara River crossings during the Wildebeest Migration around July or August.
This is when dramatic scenes ensue, as tens of thousands of animals plunge into the river in a desperate attempt to reach the other side before enormous crocodiles home in on them u2013 book your accommodation well in advance to guarantee ringside seats. It is also a great place to go on a hot-air balloon safari for a bird’s-eye view over the wildebeest herds, and a good area to see elephant and giraffe.