LAST UPDATED: 5/13/23 – Serengeti National Park Safari Guide
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is one of the most famous wildlife habitats in the world. This large park in Northern Tanzania, along with its sister park (the Masai Mara) in Kenya, plays a pivotal role in the great wildebeest migration.
This great migration, which also features zebra, gazelle, and other grazing animals, brings over two million grass feeders thru the parks as they follow the rains each year. It is quite an unbelievable spectacle to behold while on a Serengeti National Park safari.
The Great Migration is a Must-See Wildlife Event
It is because of this migration, and its sheer volume of migrating animals, that the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania has become so famous. The park provides visitors with a front-row seat to see the migration and all of the drama that unfolds with it.
These migrating wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and other animals have to cross rivers that are infested with large Nile Crocodiles, navigate savannas that are teaming with ambushing lions and leopards, outmaneuver aggressive clans of Spotted Hyenas, and outpace the lightning-fast cheetahs that hunt on the open plains of the parks. All in search of fresh grass that sprouts after the rainstorms that they instinctively follow.
This is what makes going on a Serengeti National Park safari so special, and why it is a place that I will never forget. In few other places in this world can you see nature at its most beautiful, and at its most cruel. The sheer number of animals that live in and migrate thru the park gives visitors an almost unprecedented opportunity to see the wildlife they came to see.
See the “Big Five” of Africa
In our short, two-day Serengeti National Park safari, we were able to see both a mother lioness protecting her newborn baby cubs in a thicket, as well as the rest of her pride feasting on a fresh wildebeest kill that they had made. These experiences are what make the Serengeti National Park such an amazing wildlife destination.
If you are looking for a great place to go on a safari in Africa, then your search should start with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya. These parks provide visitors with the ability to see the “Big Five” animals of Africa (lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard), as well as a plethora of other amazing wildlife. And if you plan your visit right, you might get to see the great migration unfold in this amazing place!
Tanzania Entrance Requirements
Before you can even start to think about your Serengeti National Park safari, you need to make sure that you can meet the Tanzania entrance requirements.
If you don’t meet the requirements, you will not be allowed entry into the country. This will put a huge damper on your safari plans. To assist you in ensuring you meet the requirements, I have outlined the passport and VISA requirements for you to review.
Tanzania Passport Requirements
One of the most important Tanzania entrance requirements you need to consider when planning your trip is Tanzania’s passport requirements.
According to the US State Department website, your passport needs to be valid for at least 6-months after your date of arrival. So, if your passport is set to expire within 6-months of your arrival date, you will need to renew your passport before you travel to Tanzania.
Tanzania VISA Requirements
You will also need to purchase a VISA to be allowed into Tanzania. This VISA can either be purchased ahead of time via as an e-VISA or be purchased upon arrival at your port of entry. The cost of a 90-day VISA for Tanzania for a US Citizen is $100 USD. For a summary of the Tanzania passport and VISA requirements, please refer to the table below.
|Passport Validity||Blank Pages Required||Visa Requirement|
|At least 6-months beyond arrival date.||1-page.||US citizens must purchase a VISA. The VISA cost is $100 USD and can either be purchased as an e-VISA or purchased upon arrival.|
Important Note: I am not a medical doctor and do not have any medical experience. The information provided in this section is a summary of information that I got from the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States for travel to Tanzania. I am providing you this information to help bring awareness of the necessary vaccinations to you. However, consultation of my guide should not replace a discussion about your travels with your doctor or a travel medical clinic.
Before you leave for your trip to Tanzania to go on your Serengeti National Park safari, you need to make sure you have all of the proper vaccinations. Not only to protect yourself, but to protect others. In fact, depending on where you are visiting from and whether you are making any stops before visiting Tanzania, you might not even be allowed in the country without the proper vaccinations.
Travel Vaccination Advice
You may have questions on what immunizations you will need and what to look out for when you go to get them. In this case, I have included some general guidelines from my experiences below.
- Most specialized travel clinics will not accept insurance, so you will have to pay for your travel consultation and immunizations and then request reimbursement from your insurance company later.
- Some immunizations aren’t accepted by every insurance company, so check with your insurance provider before getting your immunizations.
- Check with your regular doctor first, as often they can do a travel consultation for you and write you the necessary prescriptions for your immunizations, even if they aren’t able to give them to you. This way you can ensure that at least your travel consultation will be covered by your insurance up-front.
- Check with Walgreens or other drug stores that give flu shots to see if they have any of the immunization shots that you require before going to a specialized clinic that doesn’t accept insurance to get them. Walgreens is able to give you many of the immunizations necessary for international travel, and they accept insurance up-front.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website can be a great resource for answering any travel immunization questions that you have.
Tanzania Vaccination Recommendations
You will need to consult with your doctor or a travel clinic on recommended vaccinations before you leave. I have compiled a list below of some of what you might expect your physician to recommend.
- Antimalarial (Aralen, Qualaquin, Plaquenil, Mefloquine, or Doxycycline).
- Typhoid (either a shot, which is good for 2 years, or live virus pill, which is good for 4 years).
- Yellow Fever (be aware that some countries require a yellow fever vaccination if you are traveling from another country that is high risk, even if your stay in that other country was short).
- Hepatitis A & B (if you haven’t had them).
- Tetanus (if you aren’t current).
- Rabies (if you are going to be working in close contact with animals).
- Dukoral (gives you 3-month protection against travel diarrhea).
- Flu Shot
Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements
Depending on which country you are arriving from, you may need to have a Yellow Fever vaccination to enter the country. If you are travelling to Tanzania from another country in Africa, please use the US Centers of Disease Control (CDC) website to determine if you will be required to have proof of the Yellow Fever vaccination to enter.
What to Bring to the Serengeti
If you are going on safari for the first time, you might not know what to bring with you. To help prepare for your Serengeti National Park safari, I have developed several guides that you should review.
What to Expect When Visiting Africa for the First Time
First, my article on the “20 Tips for Those Visiting Africa for the First Time” will help get your prepared. The article outlines what you can expect when you visit Africa for the first time. It outlines what you should and should not do while visiting. It also gives you some tips on what to expect during your first visit to Africa.
Then, as you prepare for your trip, you will want to review my “Essential Safari Packing List”. This guide will ensure that you have all the gear you need for your safari. It also outlines what you should not bring with you.
Finally, my last article covers taking pictures while on safari. My “Tips for Photography on African Safaris” guide will help you take the best possible photos of your epic adventure. Not only does it include photography gear I recommend, but it also covers my recommended camera settings.
|The Essential Safari Packing List|
|Tips for Photography on African Safaris|
Getting to the Serengeti National Park
The Serengeti National Park is located in Northern Tanzania, right on the border with Kenya. In fact, the Serengeti National Park continues into Kenya, where it becomes the Masai Mara National Reserve. The huge area created by these parks, along with the Ngorongoro National Conservation Area that joins to the East of the Serengeti, makes one of the largest wildlife conservation areas in the world.
If you are planning on a safari trip to Tanzania and Kenya, there are other parks that we would recommend in addition to the Serengeti and Masai Mara.
The Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro Crater, which we wrote about previously, is one of the most unique wildlife areas in the world because it is an enclosed, protected wildlife sanctuary that is located in the crater of an extinct volcano.
Wildlife in the crater doesn’t migrate because there is water in the crater year-round, so it affords visitors some of the most predictable wildlife viewing experiences of any wildlife area in the world.
|Ngorongoro Crater Safari Guide|
Lake Manyara National Park
In addition to the Ngorongoro Crater, the Lake Manyara National Park is a unique and incredible wildlife park because of its abundance of animals and its unique tree-climbing lions.
It is a park that we visited during our trip, and we absolutely loved it. There are also the Tarangire, Arusha, and Mount Kilimanjaro National Parks in the area that is absolutely worth exploring.
|The Best Lake Manyara Safari Guide|
Depending on the length of your stay, you can combine many of these parks into a single safari vacation and get to see much of the beautiful wildlife areas in Tanzania and Kenya.
Recommended Serengeti Tours
We used Tanzania Choice Safaris for our safari, and we absolutely loved them. We have relatives who lived in country and had used them on multiple occasions and had a lot of really great things to say about them.
They were very courteous, well organized, and extremely knowledgeable about the parks and the wildlife. We would absolutely recommend them for anyone considering a safari in any of the national parks in Tanzania. If you are looking for a safari tour for the Serengeti National Park, here are some good ones I can recommend:
Best Time to Visit the Serengeti
Before you decide when to take your Serengeti National Park safari, I would suggest thinking about when you want to go. There is never really a bad time to visit the Serengeti. However, depending on what you want to see, some months are better than others. The information in this section of my guide will give you all the information you need to make this decision.
Average Temperature (℉)
The climate around the Serengeti National Park is typically very moderate and pleasant throughout the year. It never gets scortching hot like it does in Botswana and Zimbabwe, but it does get hot.
In the mornings and evenings, it is consistently cold throughout the year. You will need to bring a jacket with you for early morning game drives and evenings. Good news is, Tanzania uses closed safari vehicles, so the morning game drives won’t be that cold.
Average Precipitation (Inches)
The dry season in the Serengeti is from June until October. Most people believe there is only one wet season, but there are actually two. There are short rains from November until December.
Then, the long rains last from March until May. This is what most people refer to as Tanzania’s wet season. During the wet season, you’ll rarely see it rain all day long. However, you will consistently see afternoon rain showers.
Best Months of the Year to Visit
What the “best” months of the year to visit will largely depend on what you want to see. For instance, do you want to see the wildebeest migration at its height? Or, are you more interested in seeing baby animals? Perhaps you want to see some crocodile activity at the river crossings?
These are the ultimate factors you will want to consider. However, if you ask me, there are some months that are better than others. For information on which months of the year I think are best to visit the Serengeti, please see the chart below.
|= Excellent||= Good||= Fair||= Poor|
The Seasons in the Serengeti
If you are interested in seeing baby animals, the wildebeest calving season is between January and February. The period of time between June and September is great for general wildlife viewing and you have a great chance of seeing wildebeest and other animals do river crossings of the Grumeti River in June and July and the Mara River in September.
|Best Time:||January-February (calving), June-September (general)|
|Peak Season:||Most of the season, but especially July-March|
|Low Season:||April and May|
|Best Weather:||June thru October|
|Worst Weather:||March and April|
During the wet season, which is typical during the months of March and April, the area can get quite a bit of rain. These are the storms that the herds of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and other grazing animals follow to take advantage of the fresh grass that grows after the storms. If you are looking to see the wildebeest migration at its height, visiting during the months of June and July are your best bet.
The Great Wildebeest Migration
The wildebeest will be heading from the heart of the Serengeti on their way North towards the Masai Mara in Kenya. These months typically have the best weather as well. If you would like to understand the wildebeest migration and where the animals will typically be during certain parts of the year, I have included a map below that gives you an overview of the migration.
June to October (The Dry Season)
- Best time to see the wildebeest migration. They tend to be in the Western part of the park between June and July and in the Northern part of the park between August and September.
- The animals are typically easier to see because the vegetation isn’t as thick, and the animals tend to gather around water sources.
- This time of year typically has the best weather.
- The park is the most crowded.
- Mornings and evenings can be quite cold because this is the wintertime in Tanzania.
November to May (The Wet Season)
- Late January into February is the best time to see baby animals as this is the wildebeest calving season. It is also a great time to see predators in action as they tend to target the young wildebeest.
- The animals can be more difficult to spot because water is plentiful, so there is no need to congregate around water sources, and the vegetation is the thickest.
- April and May are the low seasons, so the park is less crowded, and the rates are the lowest.
- Migratory birds are typically in the park, so it is the peak season for bird watching.
- March thru May is the peak of the wet season, but storms typically occur in the afternoon, so there is still time to go on safari early in the day.
Where to Stay in the Serengeti
One of the most memorable experiences we had while on our Serengeti National Park safari was our experience camping in the park. If you are planning on going on safari in Africa, I would absolutely recommend that you spend at least one-night camping.
Camping in the Serengeti is an Amazing Experience
|Camping in the Serengeti National Park|
There is absolutely no better way to get an authentic safari experience and really feel like you are part of the environment. I wrote about our night camping in the Serengeti National Park in an article that I linked below.
It was such a surreal experience to sit by the campfire, drinking a hot beverage and chatting with other like-minded adventurers, in the middle of one of this world’s most infamous wildlife sanctuaries.
Being woken in the middle of the night by a clan of hyenas passing thru our camp was both thrilling and exhilarating, to say the least. If I had to point to one experience on my safari adventure in Tanzania as the most memorable, it would be the night that we camped.
Now, before you start to worry about safety, let me assure you that the accommodations are very safe and secure. These aren’t the typical camping tents that you sleep in while on a camping trip.
These are thick canvas tents that have a bathroom and shower inside. As long as you follow the proper safety guidelines and not leave your tent when it is dark, you are perfectly safe sleeping in these tents.
It may not have all of the luxuries you might be accustomed to back home, but nothing beats being out in the middle of the Serengeti and among the very wildlife you came to see. It is truly an amazing experience that I absolutely recommend to anyone who is considering going on safari in the Serengeti National Park.
Campsite and Lodging Recommendations
Below you will find a detailed map of the Serengeti National Park and the surrounding park and conservation lands. The map includes plenty of lodge and tented camps that you can consider when going on safari in the area.
Pro Tip: Make sure you decide which parts of the Serengeti and surrounding areas you want to see first and then look into the accommodations. In most cases, your safari operator will have recommendations for lodges and camps in the areas that you will be visiting and will make the arrangements for you.
Accommodations in the Central Serengeti
Accommodations in Mara – The Northern Serengeti
|Bologonya Under Canvas|
|Buffalo Luxury Camp|
|Lemala Mara Camp|
|Serengeti Bushtops Camp|
|Nasikia Mobile Camp|
|Lemala Kuria Hills|
Accommodations in Lobo – The Northern Serengeti
Accommodations in the Western Serengeti
|Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp|
|Kirawira Tented Camp|
|Mbalageti Tented Camp|
|Serengeti Soroi Lodge|
Accommodations in the Ikoma Region
|Faru Faru Lodge|
|Sabora Tented Camp|
|Eco Lodge Africa|
|Serengeti Simba Lodge|
|Ikoma Bush Camp|
|Robanda Tented Camp|
Serengeti National Park Fees
Important: Make sure you read the section below carefully so that you understand how long your permit for the Serengeti National Park is good for. I have read a lot of stories about people who had their trips ruined because they did not properly understand the rules.
In order to enter the Serengeti National Park, you must purchase a permit. The permits are obtained on a per person basis, and they are good for 24 hours.
This is important when considering when you are going to enter the park. Should you enter the park at mid-day, you will be expected to exit the park at mid-day the next day. If you stay past the 24 hours allowed by your permit, you will need to pay for a permit for an additional full day.
In most cases, your safari operator will take care of purchasing your safari permits for you and will handle the logistics of when you enter and need to leave the park. However, if you are planning on doing a self-drive thru the Serengeti, please check the Tanzania Parks official website for the current fees.
The Wildlife You Might See in the Serengeti
The landscape in and around the Serengeti National Park is truly remarkable in-and-by-itself, but the main reason people flock to go on a Serengeti National Park safari is to see the wildlife.
And let me tell you, the wildlife does not disappoint. With the large numbers of migrating animals and all of the predators that congregate to feast upon them, there is no shortage of wildlife in on the savannas of the Serengeti.
When you are on a Serengeti National Park safari, you can expect to see most, if not all, of the animals that you came to Africa to see. In addition to the “Big Five” animals of Africa, which include elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and buffalo, you have a good chance of seeing spotted hyenas, cheetahs, hippos, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, and many of the other grazing animals that Africa is known for.
The Serengeti is a Great Place to See Predators
If you are looking to see some action, a Serengeti National Park safari also provides you a great chance to see some predator action first-hand year-round, but this is especially true during the calving season in late January and February and during the height of the great wildebeest migration.
When we were on safari in the Serengeti, we got to see lions feasting on a wildebeest, which was a very surreal experience. It was sad to see a life lost, but we were happy to see that all of the little lion mouths would be fed that day.
The Serengeti is a big place and there is so much to see, so make sure you communicate with your safari guide. If you let them know which animals you are really interested in seeing, they will be able to put you into a better position to see those animals.
In addition to their years of experience guiding and tracking these animals, they also have two-way radios that they use to communicate with other drivers and share information about what is happening throughout the Serengeti.
Serengeti Safari Tips
When you are on your Serengeti National Park safari, where animals are abundant, it is easy to get lost in the experience. Being on safari is such an amazing experience and you should enjoy every single second of it. However, if you aren’t careful, you might not get everything out of the experience that you could have.
In order to make sure that you get everything out of your safari experience in the Serengeti that you possibly can, I have provided some general safari tips below for you to review.
Be Patient and Open Minded
When you are on safari, everything isn’t going to go according to plan. The weather, the animal’s behavior, and other factors are going to impact where you go and what you see.
It is really easy to get caught up in the safari experience and want to get the best pictures you possibly can. However, safety should always be the primary concern. To give you some help in how to remain safe while on safari in the Serengeti, I have outlined some general safety tips for you to review later in this guide.
Don’t Get Stuck Behind Your Camera
Everyone wants to get great pictures while on safari, and you should absolutely bring your camera and take a lot of pictures. However, if you spend your entire time in the Serengeti looking thru your camera, you are going to miss out on some of the experience. I would recommend setting your camera down every-once-in-a-while and just enjoy being in such an amazing place.
Ask Lots of Questions
Make sure you ask your guide a lot of questions while you are in the Serengeti. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to ask which type of animal you are looking at or why they are doing what they are doing, but your safari guide is there to answer these questions for you. And believe me, they enjoy answering these questions. Don’t get home and regret not asking those questions.
Be Conscious of Time
You are going to see some amazing things while you are on safari in the Serengeti. However, as I mentioned before, the time that your daily permit is good for is limited.
Don’t get too caught up in one place within the crater for too long as you might regret not having time to do other things later. By no means am I suggesting that you should rush thru the crater, but you might not want to linger watching one thing for hours-upon-hours either.
More than anything else, the best tip I can give you is to just have fun. Going on a Serengeti National Park safari should be a trip of a lifetime, and you should enjoy every single second of this adventure. Don’t get caught up on the little things that might go wrong. Before you know it you will be back at home and left with just the memories and pictures of your adventure. Make those memories great ones!
Safari Safety Tips
Being on a Serengeti National Park safari can be an amazing and exciting experience, but it can also be a very dangerous experience if you don’t follow the proper safety rules. In order to ensure that your safari experience is a memorable and safe one, I have outlined some general safari safety rules for you to review below.
Obey Your Safari Guide at All Times
The most important safari safety tip of all is to listen to your safari guide and obey them at all times. They are there to keep you safe, so let them.
Don’t Stick Anything out of the Safari Vehicle
It is never a good idea to stick anything outside of a safari vehicle. Whether this be your arms, your feet, or your camera as you try to get a great picture, keep them inside the vehicle at all times.
Don’t Make Frantic Movements
When you are in the safari vehicle, the animals tend to think of the vehicle, and everything associated with it as one homogeneous entity. However, if you make sudden and frantic movements, or do something else to make you stick out as apart from the vehicle, you may become an object of interest to them.
Never Get Out of the Vehicle
This point cannot be stressed strongly enough. Never, and I mean never, get out of your safari vehicle unless your safari guide explicitly instructs that it is safe.
Never Leave Your Tent or Lodge at Night
This is another point that I cannot emphasize strongly enough. You should never leave your tent or lodge room at night without a chaperone. The African bush can be a dangerous place, especially at night, so make sure you follow whichever procedures your safari guide gives you for getting assistance at night. If they don’t mention this, make sure you ask ahead of time.
Walk, Never Run
If you do find yourself outside of your vehicle and confronted by an animal (hopefully this never happens), then make sure that you stay as calm as possible, walk away slowly (never turning your back on the animal), and NEVER, EVER run away.
Be Careful Around Lakes and Rivers
Unless you are explicitly told by your safari guide that the waters are free of hippos and crocodiles, you should never attempt to swim in a lake, river, or pond. Even then, I would think twice about doing it. Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal, and crocodiles are not far behind on the list, so you always have to be safe when even approaching bodies of water.
Stuck in the Serengeti
It wasn’t all fun and games while we were on our Serengeti National Park safari. On our second to last day of safari, we managed to get stuck in the mud in the Serengeti. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. Check out the short video below to find out how it could have been much worse for us.
Serengeti Safari Photo Gallery
Serengeti National Park is one of the most amazing wildlife destinations in the world. Below is a gallery of just some of the wonderful pictures we were able to take while on our Serengeti National Park safari.