Although ten times the size of Kenya’s Masai Mara (with which it is combined to form the huge Mara-Serengeti ecosystem), the Serengeti receives only a fraction of the Mara’s tourists, leaving much of the park wonderfully uncrowded and unspoilt. Derived from the Masai for “endless plains”, Serengeti National Park actually has a surprisingly diverse landscape, savannah being found only in the south and east towards the Ngorongoro crater.
The central Seronera area is hilly with granite outcrops (known as kopjes) and forested river valleys harbouring year-round wildlife. Up to the Kenyan border, the lightly forested northern Serengeti holds plenty of resident game and forms the crucial Northern Corridor during the migration. Following the Grumeti River almost to the shores of Lake Victoria, the Western Corridor is especially remote and attracts plentiful wildlife since it normally retains water throughout the dry season.
The Serengeti supports an exceptional diversity of large game throughout the year with elephant, hippo, black rhino, giraffe, buffalo, eland, Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles, Burchell’s zebra and many more. The migration swells these numbers by around two million and helps the Serengeti support some of the highest carnivore densities in the world with large numbers of lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena.
During the migration, the Grumeti and Mara Rivers have spectacular crossing points where the massing animals run the gauntlet of waiting crocodiles, lions and other hungry predators.