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Best Safaris: Serengeti

 

Serengeti National Park is a top safari destination and one of the best-known wildlife sanctuaries in the world. With over two million wildebeest, half a million Thomson's gazelle, and 250,000 zebra, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa. It is the unique annual spectacle of the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous, when vast herds surge from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains each October and November, and then make their way northwards into Kenya's Maasai Mara again after the long rains falling between March and June. The ancient instinct to move is so great that nothing can stop the stampede, although hundreds of animals drown each year in the broad Mara River.

The Serengeti National Park has an area of nearly 13,000 sq km, but its ecosystem, which additionally encompasses the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, the Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya is approximately the same size as Kuwait, and protects the greatest and most varied collection of terrestrial wildlife on earth. This ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. It lies between the shores of Lake Victoria to the west, Lake Eyasi to the south, and the Great Rift Valley to the east. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.

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.

The ancient landscape, originally formed by volcanic activity, has been weathered to create a variety of habitats, from open grass plains in the south to hilly, wooded grasslands in the north. The central savannah area is scattered with acacia tree, and to the west lies extensive woodland and black clay plains. 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. This unique combination of diverse habitats enables it to support more than 30 species of large herbivores and nearly 500 species of birds.

The large concentrations of plains game benefit the predators, and lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena thrive here. Elephant, hippo and crocodile can be found in, or near the water.

Numerous luxury game lodges and camps are found in and around the Serengeti, and any "Northern Circuit Safari" in Tanzania will include this safari destination, combined with safaris in the Ngorongoro Crater and other reserves in this exceptional ecosystem. Please contact us to discuss your safari vacation needs.


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