The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth – the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. The resident population of lions, cheetah, elephants, giraffes, and birds is also impressive. There’s a wide variety of accommodation available, from luxury lodges to mobile camps. The park covers 5,700 sq miles, (14,763 sq km), it’s larger than Connecticut, with at most a couple of hundred vehicles driving around.
Never ceasing to amaze visitors with its never-ending plains, stark vegetation, and magnificent wildlife, it’s no wonder that year after year the Serengeti remains one of the best places in the world to visit.
But what you may actually see on your safari in the Serengeti depends largely on when you choose to visit. Pick the wrong month and you could be stuck huddled in a car waiting out storm after storm.
The Dry season
The Serengeti National Park is so popular to visit not only for the stunning wildlife, but because you get great weather almost year round.
The best weather in the Serengeti is from June to October—the dry season. This is when the animals are active and the sun shines down every day. The daily temperature at this time of year can reach highs of 30 Celsius and go as low as 15 Celsius with little rain—so bring sunscreen!
Dry weather means sparse vegetation and easier viewing on your safari, and there are also fewer bugs in the air. But beware, this also means higher prices and larger crowds on your visit.
The Rainy season
The rainy season in Tanzania is the least popular time to visit. The Serengeti’s rainy season is from November to May. The worst months of March, April and May can mean week-long rainstorms and low visibility for wildlife—not a great time to take a safari.
However, the months leading up to the wettest can mean lush greenery and short, beautiful rain or thunderstorms along the grassy plains.
It is hot and muggy, though, with average rainfalls of 90 millimetres and temperatures at 20-25 Celsius each day. If you’re willing to brave a bit of bad weather, you get rewarded with less crowds in the park.
The wettest months of the year are the thriving home to many bugs, too. Malaria season in Tanzania is when the mosquitoes have a chance to grow, so it is best to either avoid the wet months altogether or be mindful of this fact and plan accordingly for your visit.
Plan ahead! Safaris in Tanzania and the Serengeti can sell out quick during the most desirable months of the year. Shop around and ask lots of questions of your potential tour operators and find one that fits your style.
The gorgeous Serengeti is known for the “Big Five”, which were once the most prized animals for trophy hunters.
Now, they are the most highly desired animals to see on a safari in the Serengeti. The animals now hunted down with camera lenses are lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos.
If you want a photograph and a look at these animals, then any time of the year other than the rainy season is a great time to visit. You can catch them near watering holes, playing as families, or on the prowl for their next meal.
If wildebeests are the reason for your trip, the calving season is a true sight to behold. This is the real beginning of the cycle of their yearly migration, where the calves are born from January to March.
The best time to see the stunning, ferocious wildebeest migration is in June to October. Almost two million of these enormous animals rattle the grounds of the Serengeti during this time, traveling from the Serengeti National Park to the Maasai Mara National Reserve located in Kenya.
Catching a peek into the daily, dangerous lives of wildebeest can mean a chance at seeing crocodiles, hyenas, and lions as well.
Depending on where you are going in the region makes a big difference on where the wildebeests will be. Any good tour operator knows the herds movements and can adjust their tour accordingly so that you can catch a glimpse of these stunning creatures in action.