Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s oldest national park and remains the prime destination for tourists visiting our country. So special, the BBC devoted an entire year to capture its majesty. And now we invite you to come an expereince it for real. The Maasai call it, ‘siringet’ – the place where the land runs on forever, and from which the name is derived.
The park is famous for its abundance of wildlife and high biodiversity. Migratory and resident wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, topi, giraffe, waterbuck, impala, warthog and hippo are abundant. Perhaps the most popular animals are the Big Five. They include: lion, African leopard, African bush elephant, Eastern black rhinoceros and African buffalo. Other carnivores include cheetah, hyena, jackals, African golden wolf, honey badger, serval, mongooses, otters and the East African wild dog.
There is also an array of primates such as baboons, vervet monkey and patas monkey. Other mammals include aardvark, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, ground pangolin, crested porcupine, hyraxes and cape hare. Some rarely seen species of antelope are also present, like klipspringer, bushbuck, lesser kudu, fringe-eared oryx and dik dik.
Serengeti (taken from a personal account by Richard Leakey)
It is not a place but many places, linked in a vast natural ecosystem where great herds of wildlife have annual migrations, taking care of their feeding needs over the changing seasons. Few places that I know have the same impact; for me, this area within its vastness represents the most special destination. I reach for words: spectacular, thrilling, awesome, beautiful, extraordinary.
The great migrating herds of wildebeests and zebras are probably the single most impressive sight, although, the endless plains, fantastic clouds, and kaleidoscope of natural colours are pretty hard to best. Early in the year, usually late February, early March, the plains near Olduvai and Ngorongoro Crater are green with fresh grass and bright with wildflowers. Rainwater collects in clear reflecting pools and several hundred thousand wildebeests drop their calves.
There is constant movement, all day, all night. The animals are noisy, but it is a concert, like the grunts of the gnus, the high-pitched bark of the zebras, the songs of the grasshoppers and cicadas, the roar of the lions, and the excited laughs of the feeding hyenas. The birds, all sizes and brilliant colours, singing and feeding, add richness and fine texture to the grand stage. Sound and activity are everywhere. The ground seems to be alive. It invigorates and recharges the spirit of our humanity right at its ancient roots.
The sounds, the smells, the changing light, the constant theatre of primal Africa – the whole powerful experience of the Serengeti always remains vivid in memory. As a teenager I witnessed Masai warriors spearing lions in revenge for attacks on their precious cattle, and I watched lions disembowelling unlucky warriors. I marvelled at the speed of the cheetah, I saw lions hunt and rhinos fight, I rescued orphaned wildebeests, and I was horrified by the savagery of hunting packs of hyenas.
What can compare with such a place? Whichever part of the greater Serengeti you visit, be it Kenya’s Masai Mara or the great plains of Tanzania beyond the 2,000-foot-high walls of Ngorongoro Crater, the spectacle is superb, and with roads, lodges, and camps, anyone can share it, but be careful: Don’t drive off the roads abd don’t frighten the animals… Be kind to the Serengeti; listen to its systems, respect its bounty, and leave it as you find it.
Sources: www.nationalgeographic.com/traveler/articles/1010serengeti and BBC Earth-Serengeti