Best Things To Do in Serengeti National Park
The main attraction here is the wildlife. Serengeti National Park houses the highest concentration of large mammals in the world, so you're bound to spot giraffes, elephants, hippos and, of course, lions. You'll also come across more than 500 species of birds, including ostriches and flamingos. But while seeing one or two animals at a time may be exciting, nothing beats seeing them in a pack. The Great Migration is the Serengeti's main draw: This voyage of more than one million wildebeest, zebras and other hoofed animals is one of the world's largest wildlife spectacles. When you tire of gazing at grazers, head to Moru Kopjes to mingle with rhinos or to the Retina Hippo Pool to watch these massive mammals splash about.
Updated August 2, 2018
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The primary reason to visit Serengeti National Park is to witness The Great Migration. Considered one of the world's largest animal migrations, The Great Migration involves more than one million wildebeest, zebras, gazelles and a variety of other animals traversing the Serengeti annually in search of food and breeding grounds. From December to June (the Serengeti's wet season), the animals head south to Naabi Hill and Southern Serengeti. As temperatures rise and the dry season sets in, the herd travels through the Seronera River Valley and the Western Corridor before crossing the Grumeti River and moving north to the Lobo Valley and Bologonja Springs. After several months of grazing in greener pastures, the hoofed menagerie turns around and starts the process over again.
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Encompassing a sizable portion of Central Serengeti, this vast valley teems with wildlife. The valley's river keeps the vegetation plentiful, supporting herbivores throughout the year. Wildebeest, zebras, elephants, giraffes, gazelles and many other species can be spotted here on any given day. The large amount of prey also draws the highest population of predators. The golden grassland rustles with the movement of roaming lions, cheetahs and hyenas. This is also one of the best places to find the park's elusive leopards.
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Although it's not technically a part of Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is worth a visit if you're in the area. Flanking the eastern edge of the Serengeti, the site houses the Ngorongoro Crater – the world's sixth-largest intact volcanic caldera – and Olduvai Gorge. This UNESCO World Heritage site, which sprawls across more than 32,000 square miles, is also where more than 25,000 animals and thousands of Masai pastoralists reside.
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Situated in Eastern Serengeti by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Naabi Hill serves as Serengeti National Park's main entrance. After paying your entrance fee (or stopping so your safari guide can fill out paperwork), you can stretch your legs on Naabi Hill's walking trail, which offers some of the best views of the Serengeti. This acacia-covered hill also acts as the home base for a pride of lions and welcomes millions of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles during their annual Great Migration to Eastern Serengeti to breed and find food.
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If you're spending time in Northern Serengeti, a trip to the Lobo Valley should be at the top of your list. It was this sprawling area that American conservationist Stewart White described as a "paradise" back in 1913. Along with the Seronera Valley, the Lobo Valley is one of the only places in the park where all three big cats – lions, cheetahs and leopards – roam. Giraffes, elephants and baboons are also regulars in the Lobo Valley, and from July through November, millions of wildebeest, gazelles and zebras come to the area during The Great Migration.
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Situated in Central Serengeti about 32 miles northwest of Naabi Hill, Moru Kopjes is home to Serengeti National Park's only black rhino population. Though the park made strides to bring this creature back from extinction in the 80s, poaching of the animal's horns has caused this species' population to decrease in recent years. A small herd of the critically endangered animal still resides in the region and is closely monitored by armed anti-poaching rangers. Black rhinos are solitary animals, but if you're hoping to catch a glimpse of these endangered creatures, Moru Kopjes is the place to go.
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Catching The Great Migration as it crosses the Grumeti River near the Western Corridor's Kirawira region is a must for avid nature lovers, although those with weaker stomachs may want to steer clear. This particular section of the river is known for its large crocodile population; the crocs anxiously await the migrating herd's crossing for a guaranteed meaty feast. Yet despite the obvious danger, the wildebeest and zebras will stop at nothing to reach their final destination. Other animals you'll find swimming in the river and drinking from its water include elephants, hippos and monkeys.
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You're bound to stumble across hippos at other Serengeti watering holes, but nothing can compare to the spectacle of the Retina Hippo Pool in Central Serengeti. Situated where the Seronera and Orangi rivers converge, the Retina Hippo Pool consists of a deep puddle of water with roughly 200 sloshing, playing hippos.
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Not all safaris require a four-wheel-drive vehicle; in fact, one of the most popular safaris requires no wheels at all. Since 1989, Serengeti Balloon Safaris has helped park visitors take to the skies to spot animals and watch the park's famous Great Migration. The company's fleet of eight-, 12- and 16-passenger hot air balloons carries travelers annually across Central Serengeti (and seasonally through the Western Corridor and Southern Serengeti) to give them a bird's-eye view of the park. The safari guide collects visitors at 5 a.m. so that the balloons and their passengers can rise alongside the sun. Flights last about an hour, after which passengers gather, surrounded by the park's lush plains, for a sparkling wine toast and an "Out of Africa" English-style breakfast.
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Tucked away in the northeast corner of the Serengeti near the border of Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve, the verdant Bologonja Springs attracts hundreds of animals with refreshing waters and verdant canopies. The Bologonja River's headwaters are almost always devoid of tourists, meaning you'll have a superb view of the region's monkeys that occupy the leafy surroundings in solitude. The springs also draw larger mammals like elephants and giraffes, as well as a variety of birds and antelope species like the mountain reedbuck and steenbok.
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