Location: 335km (208 miles) from Arusha, stretching North to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the West.
Serengeti Plains is Tanzania's oldest and most popular national park. The park is famed for its annual Serengeti wildbeest migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson's gazelle join the wildebeest's trek for fresh grazing. Yet even when the Serengeti migration is quiet, the plains offer arguably the most scintillating big game-viewing in Africa: great herds of buffalo, smaller groups of elephant and giraffe, and thousands upon thousands of eland, topi, kongoni, impala and Grant's gazelle.
As enduring as the big game-viewing is the liberating sense of space that characterises the Serengeti plains, stretching across sunburnt savannah to a shimmering golden horizon at the end of the earth. Yet, after the rains, this golden expanse of grass is transformed into an endless green carpet flecked with wildflowers. And there are also wooded hills and towering termite mounds, rivers lined with fig trees and acacia woodland stained orange by dust.
As popular as Serengeti safaris might be, they remain so vast that you may be the only human audience when a pride of lions masterminds a siege, focused unswervingly on its next meal.
The spectacle of predator versus prey dominates greatest park during a Serengeti safari. Golden-maned lion prides feast on the abundance of plain grazers. Solitary leopards haunt the acacia trees lining the Seronera River, while a high density of cheetahs prowls the southeastern plains. Almost uniquely, all three African jackal species occur here, alongside the spotted hyena and a host of more elusive small predators, ranging from the insectivorous aardwolf to the beautiful serval cat. But there is more to a safari in the Serengeti plain than large mammals. Gaudy agama lizards and rock hyraxes scuffle around the surfaces of the park's isolated granite koppies. A full 100 varieties of dung beetle have been recorded, as have 500-plus bird species, ranging from the outsized ostrich and bizarre secretary bird of the open grassland, to the black eagles that soar effortlessly above the Lobo Hills.
How To Get There
Scheduled and charter flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara and Mwanza. Drive from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater.
What To Do (Activities)
Go on a migration safari, hot air balloon safaris, Maasai rock paintings and musical rocks. Visit neighbouring Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge, Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano and Lake Natron's flamingos.
When To Go
To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July. To see predators, June-October
Four lodges, four luxury tented camps and camp sites scattered through Serengeti plain; one luxury camp, a lodge and two tented camps just outside.