The name “Serengeti” is often said to be derived from the word “seringit” in the Maasai language, Maa, meaning “endless plains”.
The Serengeti is also renowned for its large lion population and is one of the best places to observe prides in their natural environment. Approximately 70 large mammal and 500 bird species are found there. This high diversity is a function of diverse habitats, including riverine forests, swamps, kopjes, grasslands, and woodlands. Blue wildebeest, gazelles, zebras, and buffalos are some of the commonly found large mammals in the region.
The Serengeti has some of East Africa’s finest game areas. Besides being known for the great migration, the Serengeti is also famous for its abundant large predators. The ecosystem is home to over 3,000 Lions, 1,000 African leopards and 7,700 to 8,700 spotted hyenas. The East African cheetah is also present in Serengeti.
African wild dogs are relatively scarce in much of the Serengeti. This is particularly true in places such as Serengeti National Park (where they became extinct in 1992), in which lions and spotted hyenas, predators that steal wild dog kills and are a direct cause of wild dog mortality, are abundant.
The Serengeti is also home to a diversity of grazers, including Cape buffalo, African elephant, warthog, Grant’s gazelle, eland, waterbuck, and topi. The Serengeti can support this remarkable variety of grazers only because each species, even those closely related, has a different diet. For example, wildebeests prefer to consume shorter grasses, while plains zebras prefer taller grasses. Similarly, dik-diks eat the lowest leaves of a tree, impalas eat the leaves that are higher up, and giraffes eat leaves that are even higher.
Altitudes in the Serengeti range from 3,020 feet to 6,070 feet (920 meters to 1,850 meters). The usually warm and dry climate is interrupted by two rainy seasons — March to May, and a shorter season in October and November.
What to do in Serengeti
- Game drive morning and night drives
- Guided Nature walks
- Meals in the Bush: Most of the good hotels can arrange dinner under the stars with well-set tables.
- Experience The Wildebeest Migration: Each year around the same time, the circular great wildebeest migration begins in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of the southern Serengeti in Tanzania and loops clockwise through the Serengeti National Park and north towards the Masai Mara reserve in Kenya. This migration is naturally caused, by the availability of grazing. The initial phase lasts from about January to March, when the calving season begins – a time when there is plenty of rain-ripened grass available for the 260,000 zebras that precede 1.7 million wildebeest and the following hundreds of thousands of other plains game, including around 470,000 gazelles.
- Bird Watching