Serengeti Africa is an ecosystem that spans the border between northwestern Tanzania and southwestern Kenya. The area in Kenya is called the Maasai Mara. The Mara section is marked by rolling savannahs dotted with acacia trees and is fed by permanent rivers. Serengeti National Park is made up primarily of vast grasslands and has no permanent rivers. It encompasses the Maswa Reserve, Loliondo, the Ikorongo and Grumeti Controlled Areas, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Nearly 90,000 tourists journey to this amazing park, venturing on Serengeti tours and safaris to see African wildlife in one of the most breathtaking locations in Africa.
The ecosystem of Serengeti Africa is driven by short rains that fall in October and November, and long rains in April and May. Following the patterns of these rains is the phenomenon that makes Serengeti National Park known to many - the great migration. Over a million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras, followed by smaller antelopes and a host of predators, make a large circuit throughout the year between Kenya and Tanzania in search of water and grass. During the dry season, the Serengeti begins to dry up, and the herds munch their way north into Kenya arriving sometime in late June and early July. They remain here until the rains begin in the south in September or October. It is the two annual crossings of the Grumeti and Mara Rivers along the countries border that are the most dramatic.
Beyond the migration, the Serengeti National Park is known for a host of other wildlife, one of the largest natural collections of animals on the planet. Serengeti Africa is filled with hippos and crocodiles in the rivers, towering giraffe, a variety of antelope, hyenas and jackals, mongoose and warthogs, ostriches, swift cheetahs, tortoises, monitor lizards, monkeys and baboons, and hundreds of species of birds from buzzards and vultures to eagles and hawks. If you're lucky, a Serengeti safari will yield a glimpse of the Big Five. At one time, the most feared and most souoght-after animals by hunters, the Big Five are now the animals every safari wants to see - lions, leopards, rhinos, African buffalo, and elephants.
A Serengeti safari is best between October and June, although you may wish to skip the months of the long rains (April and May). Many safari participants arrive at Tanzania's Kilimanjaro International Airport and head out on a Serengeti safari from the cities of Arusha or Moshi. A significant number of others arrive overland from Kenya. A serengeti safari usually also includes a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater and perhaps Lake Manyara. Sometimes they might start with a climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro and end with a few day on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar.
Many safaris in Tanzania, will also include visits to parks in Kenya. Almost all Serengeti tours are part of an all-inclusive safari package that utilizes professional driver-guides who are fluent in English. Unless you are an experienced adventure traveler (and a decent mechanic), it is not recommended to venture into the vast expanse of the Serengeti on your own in a rented vehicle. However you go, visiting the Serengeti National Park is a wonderful experience that will yield lifelong memories for all.