The word “Serengeti” means endless plain in the nativa Maasai language. This famous park is home to the “great migration” from mid October through early August. Covering a massive area of 9,173 sq. miles,. this is Tanzania’s largest national park and undoubtedly the best known wildlife sanctuary in the world.
It is 335 kms from Arusha, stretching north to Kenya and bordering Lake Victoria to the west. Vegetation is grassy plains, savannah with acacias, wooded hills and mountains are the backdrops for an extraordinary concentration of animals which reaches its peak during the wildebeest migration which generally takes place between December to May in the south of the park and from June to October to the west and the north.
A million wildebeest each driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling their instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life: a frenzied 3 week bout of territorial conquests and mating: survival of the fittest as 40 kilometres long columns plunge through crocodile infested waters on the annual exodus north. This is also a very good time to see the cats.
Over three million large game animals inhabit these rolling grasslands, which the Maasai people call Siringet, meaning “endless plains”. In the open grass plains during the rainy months from November to May hundreds and thousands of wildebeest and zebra congregate. The area is the starting point for the Great Migration. Toward the end of May when the pastures become dry, the wildebeest start to gather en mass and move north to the permanent water sources found there. Usually they then move westward first and finally when they have exhausted the grazing lands, they turn north east in a stampede not stopping until reaching the broad Mara river. After a treacherous crossing they enter into the Maasai Mara in Kenya.
This broad stream of vast herds provide easy prey for the great predators and it is not unusual to see lion, leopard, hyena and cheetah following in their wake. And the extensive grasslands are interspersed with kopjes rocky outcrops like islands rising above the savannah, each with its own wildlife community. Rivers flow through the park, providing habitats for a great variety of birds, mammals and reptiles.