The Serengeti is one of the most iconic national parks in Africa and offers an incredible wildlife-filled safari experience. Endless grass plains and rising boulders provide a picturesque backdrop. Home to one of the highest predator densities, the Serengeti is teeming with wildlife. Its large size and fenceless borders have left it an open wilderness where one of nature’s most remarkable events, the great migration, still occurs today.
A common false perception is that the migration occurs at a specific time each year. In fact, the dynamic movement of herds of wildebeests, zebras, and other antelope occurs throughout the year. Their movement is driven by access to water and green pastures. Incredible predator/prey dynamics and risky river crossings take center state as they make their way.
There is a combination of permanent lodges and mobile-tented camps to cater to everyone’s traveling preferences. Idyllic lodges are located in prime locations along the ancient migration paths, and mobile camps move with the migration to provide up-close access to the herds. When the great migration draws most visitors to one section of the park, the vast remainder offers an exclusive safari experience away from the crowds. Whether following the migration or escaping the crowds, the Serengeti is sure to deliver an incredible safari experience!
The Serengeti typically experiences two rainy seasons. The heavy rainy season lasts from March until May, and the short mild rainy season lasts from November to December. November’s rains occur at the end of a prolonged dry season and bring intermittent mild showers, clear skies, and relief to the parched terrain. The short dry season from January to February is marked by good weather with a slight chance of showers. This precedes the long rains from March to May. Some camps in the Serengeti close during the heavy rains when logistics become more difficult. Their reopening in May is marked by lush, green growth before the region transitions into the dry winter season. From June to September the region moves into the dry winter season with cooler temperatures, especially at night.
The Serengeti is home to one of the most incredible wildlife spectacles on this planet. Massive herds of wildebeests, zebras, and other antelopes follow ancient migratory paths shaped by life-giving rains and survival instincts. This special journey remains unimpeded by human encroachment and provides visitors with the chance to witness earth’s largest mammal migration.
Herds of elephants travel great distances through the Serengeti, towering giraffes glide across open plains, and circling vultures reveal the presence of successful predators. The Serengeti is home to one of the highest concentrations of predators and is one of the best places to see cheetahs in Africa. Lions, leopards, and hyenas are always eager to make the most of the abundant prey. When migratory herds move away, predator hunting tactics shift. They become dependent on resident prey, such as warthog or buffalo.
The path of the migration depends on seasonal showers that bring fresh green grass to the plains of the Serengeti and Maasai Mara. This movement is getting more and more difficult to predict with changing weather patterns.
Each year begins with the wildebeest calving and raising their young in the rich grass plains of Ndutu in southeastern Serengeti. By April, the wildebeest have depleted the nutritious grass and must move on with their young. Over the next several months their path takes them north through Central Serengeti into the western corridor.
Depending on the year’s rains, they continue north, arriving on the Mara River’s banks between August and September. Local intermittent showers cause the herds to move between Kenya’s Maasai Mara and the northern Serengeti. During this time, they can cross the river multiple times as they follow localized rains.
By November, reproductive instincts prevail and the herds begin their journey south to return to their calving grounds in the southeastern Serengeti by the start of the new year.