O Serengeti National Park is surely one of the best-known wildlife sanctuaries on the African continent. For me, a Serengeti safari was an old dream. Not only because it is a good place to see the big five, but for being an example in terms of environmental preservation in Tanzania. And here I was, about to achieve that goal!
Geographically, the park can be divided into three sections:
- The plains of the Center and South, Valley of Seronera, correspond to the area that the Maasai called Serengeti - the "land of infinite plains". It is the most visited region of the Serengeti, with a savannah environment dotted with acacias and lots of wildlife.
- Then there's the call West Corridor, where it pontificates the River Grumeti - a territory of forests and bushes more dense.
- And finally, the Northern Serengeti, on the border with Kenya's Masai Mara reserve, where you can watch the incredible crossing of the Rio Mara during the Great Migration of wildebeest. It is the least visited region of the park.
Like the overwhelming majority of visitors, given the days available and the time of year, I concentrated the safari on the plains of the Center and South of the Serengeti.
Protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Serengeti National Park shelters one of the largest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. More than a million wildebeests and zebras pass through the continuous large migration that annually makes them tread the park boundaries clockwise, with incursions to the nearby Ngorongoro and Masai Mara nature parks - the latter already in the Kenya.
During my safari in Tanzania, I spent four days exploring the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, not counting the descent to the crater. I think that was the ideal number of days!
My safari in the Serengeti
After to visit Lake Manyara, the next leg of my trip was to go on a safari in the Serengeti. On the first day, we left Arusha and crossed Ngorongoro towards the entrance of the Serengeti National Park.
We traveled very slowly and, at the time, I did not understand the reasons. It seemed to me that we were wasting precious time, but the idea of Kennedy, our guide, was not to enter the park too soon, since the authorizations have 24 hours long (ie, later in later could leave on the last day, giving time to return from the central plains).
It should have been 15: 00 when we finally got into the park, ready for the first afternoon of a long-awaited safari in the Serengeti. We continued on a continuous journey north to the central part of the park.
Throughout the day I saw hundreds of zebras and wildebeest; many gazelles, impalas and oryx; lions and their young, including a lioness on a tree; ostriches and eagles; hippos and crocodiles; buffaloes; a leopard on top of a tree; hyenas, jackals and mabecos; beautiful birds like the lilac-breasted Roller. a I fed you, therefore!
We arrived at Baobab Serengeti Camp it was past 19: 00. It was the place where one of the most curious moments of the safari in the Serengeti happened. During the night we heard the roar of several lions, which seemed to be very close to the tent, as if to remind us that we were in the wilderness. The curious thing is that, instead of majestic and frightening, the roars of the lions always ended with sounds similar to someone coughing delicately. Hilarious!
The next day we reversed the course of the safari and explored again the central plains of the Serengeti, but this time traveling towards the south of the park. We stopped at the Serengeti Information Center (nothing special), and we continued to see many giraffes, zebras and wildebeest; gazelles and other antelopes; lions and lionesses, including a male eating a small wildebeest; and even flamingos.
But the time of day was the first cheetah I saw, a species that would come to stand out as my favorite throughout the six day safari in Tanzania. I would have to end the night in Angata Migration CampTo tented camp located on the border between the Serengeti South and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The third day in the Serengeti was surely one of the best. For this much contributed the fact that we started very early. It was 5: 30 in the morning and we were ready to start the safari of the day.
Early in the game drive, we were alerted by radio to the imminence of a hunting by a cheetah. We went there, and waited. And we waited. Very. Time. The cheetah watched a group of impalas and was preparing to hunt them. We bet that something could happen and we were staying. You have to take chances. But the impalas moved away and the calico had to abort the attempt. Thanks for the moments of tension and expectation!
We should see another unique moment with another cheetah. At times, we found a cheetah that was calling for something. He paced up and down, screaming and screaming and screaming, as if looking for someone; until, suddenly, two other cheetahs came running toward him. "It's the brothers," Kennedy said. And there they were in jest, the three, celebrating the reunion.
Not far from the lodge, there was a very beautiful space full of flamingos, next to a lake. It was there that we had lunch - eventually having the company of a guide friend of Kennedy, with more than 20 years of experience. He apologized for the sustainable tourism and the advantages of environmental conservation, in a kind of mea culpa by the practices of yesteryear. "Before we were killing the animals because a rich man paid us; and did not realize we were was killing us. But fortunately now people are aware, "he said.
It is true. The Tanzanian authorities are making an effort to preserve natural resources, even if they realize that this is an economic advantage. And this environmental education effort has already villages Maasai: "Even the Maasai"He continued," they already agree not to kill animals [predators such as lions, for example] because the government pays them compensation whenever a predator kills their livestock. "
There was still time to see a lioness eating a zebra (again, I did not see the hunt); plus some groups of lions; jackals waiting for the lionesses to finish their meal; and even, surprised by the surprises, I saw a turtle in the Serengeti; before returning to the Angata Migration Camp.
The last morning in the area, and before Ngorongoro Crater, time for yet another game drive in the division between the Serengeti South and Ngorongoro. By this time, we were already full of soul, certain that in terms of wildlife and among all the parks I have ever had opportunity to visit, the Serengeti is indeed one of the most extraordinary places on the planet!
The Great Migration Route
The Great Migration of the wildebeest begins in the southern Serengeti between January and March, when about half a million calves are born. It is a time filled with action, with predators constantly hunting newborns.
By May, when the drought begins to hit the region, wildebeest herds head north toward the Masai Mara, crossing crocodile-infested rivers in search of green pastures.
With the beginning of the short dry season, in late October, the Great Migration returns to the Serengeti. When the month of December arrives, herds of wildebeest - accompanied by zebras and antelopes - are already crossing the Seronera region in the center of the Serengeti; returning later to the south of the park for a new season of births. And it all starts again!
How to organize a safari in the Serengeti
My safari was organized by Soul of Tanzania, and lasted for a total of six days, past Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. For all the practical details, including which company to choose, when and where to go, see the post about mine safari in Tanzania.
One of the best-known examples of hospitality in the Serengeti is Four Seasons Safari Lodge, from where we have surely seen pictures of a pool overlooking elephants very close to the hotel. But there are several other luxury hotels (and price to match) that are worth considering if this is your dream, as the extraordinary One Nature Nyaruswiga and Melia Serengeti Lodge. A bit less expensive but equally recommendable, the Mapito Tented Camp and another lodge very interesting.
For my part, I slept in the Baobab Serengeti Camp in the north of the Serengeti; and in the Angata Migration Camp, on the border between the south of the park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. I recommend both without reservation. Be that as it may, do not expect to find cheap hotels in the Serengeti.
A World Nomads offers one of the best and most complete travel insurance recommended by National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Other excellent and cheaper option is IATI Seguros, which has no age limit and allows multivariate insurance (including long-term travel) to any destination in the world. It's the insurance I use in my travels.
The Soul of Tanzania was kind enough to provide me with a six day safari in Tanzania at a reduced cost. I paid all the flights, park access fees and tips due to the guide.