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This article is about a National Park; for the geographic location see Serengeti
Serengeti National Park*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Serengeti National Park Entrance Sign
State Party Flag of Tanzania.svg Tanzania
Type Natural
Criteria vii, x
Reference 156
Region** Africa
Inscription history
Inscription 1981  (5th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
Map of Tanzania showing all Nationalparks

The Serengeti National Park (2°19′58″S 34°34′00″E / 2.33278°S 34.5666667°E / -2.33278; 34.5666667) is a large national park in Serengeti area, Tanzania. It is most famous for its annual migration of over one million and a half white bearded (or brindled) wildebeest and 200,000 zebra.

Contents

History

The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains which they knew as “endless plain” for over 2000 years when the first European explorers visited the area. The name Serengeti is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area. German geographer and explorer Dr. Oscar Baumann entered the area in 1892. [1] Baumann killed three rhinos during a stay in the Ngorongoro crater.

The first Briton to enter the Serengeti, Stewart Edward White, recorded his explorations in the northern Serengeti in 1913. Stewart returned to the Serengeti in the 1920s, and camped in the area around Seronera for three months. During this time he and his companions shot 50 lions.[2]

Because the hunting of lions made them so scarce, the British decided to make a partial Game Reserve of 800 acres (3.2 km2) in the area in 1921 and a full one in 1929. These actions became the basis for Serengeti National Park,[3] [4] which was established in 1951. The Serengeti gained more fame after the initial work of Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael in the 1950s. Together they produced the book and film Serengeti Shall Not Die, widely recognized as one of the most important early pieces of nature conservation documentary.

As part of the creation of the park, and in order to preserve wildlife, the resident Maasai were moved to the Ngorongoro highlands. There is still considerable controversy surrounding this move, with claims made of coercion and deceit on the part of the colonial authorities.

The Serengeti is Tanzania's oldest national park and remains the flagship of the country’s tourism industry, providing a major draw to the “Northern Safari Circuit”, encompassing Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha national parks, as well as Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Geography

The park covers 14,763 km² (5,700 square miles) of grassland plains and savanna as well as riverine forest and woodlands. The park lies in the north of the country, bordered to the north by the national Tanzania and Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Masai Mara National Reserve. To the south-east of the park is Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the south-west lies Maswa Game Reserve, and to the western borders are Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, finally to the north-east lies Loliondo Game Control Area.

Human habitation is forbidden in the National Park with the exception of staff for TANAPA, researchers and staff of Frankfurt Zoological Society, and staff of the various lodges and hotels. The main settlement is Seronera which houses the majority of research staff and the park’s main headquarters, including its primary airstrip.

The park is usually described as divided in three regions:

  • Serengeti plains: the endless, almost treeless grassland of the south is the most emblematic scenery of the park. This is where the wildebeest breed, as they remain in the plains from December to May. Other hoofed animals- zebra, gazelle, impala, hartebeest, topi, buffalo, waterbuck- also occur in huge numbers during the wet season. Kopjes are granite florations which are very common in the region, and they are great observation posts for predators, as well as a refuge for hyrax and pythons.
  • Western corridor: the "black cotton" (actually black clay) soil covers the swampy savannah of this region. Grumeti river is home to enormous Nile crocodiles, colobus monkey, and the martial eagle. The migration passes through from May to July.
  • Northern Serengeti: the landscape is dominated by open woodlands (predominantly Commiphora) and hills, ranging from Seronera in the South, to the Mara river in the limit with Kenya. Apart from the migratory wildebeest and zebra (which occur from July to August, and in November), the bushy savannah is the best place to find elephant, giraffe and dik dik.

Wildlife

As well as the migration of ungulates, the park is well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife, particularly the "Big Five", named for the five most prized trophies taken by hunters:

  • Lion: the Serengeti is believed to hold the largest population of lions in Africa, due in part to the abundance of prey species
  • Leopard: these reclusive predators are commonly seen in the Seronera region
  • Elephant: the herds are recovering from population lows in the 1980s caused by poaching, and are largely located in the northern regions of the park
  • Black Rhinoceros: mainly found around the kopjes in the centre of the park, very few individuals remain due to rampant poaching
  • African Buffalo: still abundant, but numbers have been reduced due to disease

The park also supports many further species, including cheetah, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, topi, eland, waterbuck, hyena, baboon, impala, African wild dog and giraffe. The park also boasts about 500 bird species, including ostrich, secretary bird, Kori bustard, crowned crane and marabou stork.

Administration and Protection

As a result of the biodiversity and ecological significance of the area, the park has been listed by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites The administrative body for all parks in Tanzania is Tanzania National Parks or TANAPA.

Myles Turner was one of the Park's first game wardens and is credited with establishing anti-poaching defenses. His autobiography, My Serengeti Years: the Memoirs of an African Game Warden provides a detailed history of Serengeti National Park's early years.

References

  1. ^ Dr. Oscar Baumann
  2. ^ Stewart Edward White
  3. ^ Serengeti
  4. ^ Serengeti, Heartbreak on the Serengeti - National Geographic Magazine
  • Homewood, K.W. and Rodgers, W.A., Maasailand Ecology: Pastoralist Development and Wildlife Conservation in Ngorongoro, Tanzania, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991 ISBN 0521400023
  • Turner, Myles, My Serengeti Years: the Memoirs of an African Games Warden, New York: W. W. Norton & Co Inc, 1988 ISBN 0393025764

External links

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : East Africa : Tanzania : Northeast Tanzania : Serengeti National Park
Thompson gazelles, Serengeti
Thompson gazelles, Serengeti

Serengeti National Park [1] is a large conservation area located in the north of Tanzania. The park flows over into neighboring Kenya where it's known as the Masai Mara.

Understand

The park is but one of several conservation areas within the Serengeti region of East Africa, though a vitally important one. As well as conserving wildlife, flora and iconic landscapes, Serengeti National Park has emerged as a major traveller and tourist destination, many making the journey there to engage in safari. The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai language, meaning 'endless plains'.

History

Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the 30,000 km² region. Its unique ecosystem has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Peter Mattheissen, filmakers like Hugo von Lawick and Alan Root as well as numerous photographers and scientists.

The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.

It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.

Over 90,000 tourists visit the Park each year.

Wildlife

Wildlife viewing in the Serengeti Ecosystem with its Great Migration is tremendous! Nowhere on earth is there a sight rivalling the spectacle of 1.5 million hoofed animals on the march. Serengeti has the highest concentration of large mammals on this planet and is famous for its 2,500 lions, the highest concentration found anywhere! Unlike in Kenya (and with the exception of the Ngorongoro Crater), you rarely see other tourists or vehicles on a game drive in the Serengeti National Park.

Wild animals can be dangerous and you should not wander off on your own, especially at night, while on safari (in Swahili simply means "journey").However most animals are rather frightened by humans and will flee instead of attacking unless cornered or provoked. Keep a sensible distance and treat them with respect.

Birding

Early and late daylight hours are usually the best times to observe the more than 518 species of birds which have been identified in the Serengeti. Some of them are Eurasian migrants who are present in the European winter months from October to April.

Climate

The Serengeti falls into the classic bimodal rain pattern of East Africa. The short rains are concentrated in November/December, the long and heavier rains in March - May. Mean monthly maximum temperatures are relatively uniform throughout the year being constant around 27 to 28 degrees centigrade (or 75 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit) at Seronera. At Ngorongoro Crater the nights can be very chilly due to altitude.

Any time other than during the long rains in April and May is a perfect time to be on Safari in Northern Tanzania. Game viewing and the number of other tourists varies widely according to the seasonal concentrations of wildlife . Most Safari operators will adjust their itineraries accordingly.

Get in

The nearest international airport to the Serengeti is Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha. KLM is currently the only international airline that flies directly into Arusha (on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from Amsterdam). Other airlines such as Swissair will fly into Nairobi, Kenya (from Zurich) or Dar-es-Salaam, from where you can get a connecting flight to Arusha.

By car: The main access road into the Serengeti from Arusha passes the gate of Lake Manyara National Park, mounts the Rift Valley Escarpment, goes on through communal farming lands to the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, drops down onto the plains past Olduvai Gorge to the east, and enters the Serengeti through Naabi Hill Gate. The distance is 325 km and the drive takes around eight hours. At Seronera and Lobo, garage facilities are available to refuel cars. Breakdown facilities, however, are virtually non-existent.

By plane: Internal flights by small aircrafts from Arusha to the Seronera Airstrip in the heart of Serengeti or to Kirawira Airstrip in the Western Corridor cost 135 US$ per person one way. The cost of charter flights varies widely. Limit your baggage to 10 - 15 kg (25 - 30 pounds) per person. It is advisable to carry your luggage in soft bags rather than hard sided suitcases.

Fees/Permits

Park fees can be very expensive in Tanzania. If you book your trip through a travel agent they are generally included in the overall trip cost. In Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation area the park fee is US$ 50 per person per day, for camping US$30 per tent per day and US$ 30 per vehicle per day. There is a number of definite "don'ts" in the Serengeti. These include approaching too close and disturbing animals, making an unacceptable noise, picking flowers or destroying vegetation, discarding litter, exceeding 50km/h speed limit, bringing pets or firearms into the Park, and going off the roads within 16km of Seronera.

See

Lake Lagarja/Lake Masak, South Serengeti

From December to May, depending on the rains, the large herds are concentrated on the low lying grass steppe between Olduvai, Gol, Naabi and Lagarja. A base on Lake Masak or Lake Lagarja is then ideal because one can travel from there in all directions. Day excursions take one into areas that are little known so that you can enjoy in peace an animal paradise: for example Hidden Valley, the Soito Ngum Kopjes or the Kakesio Plains. You will enjoy the freedom of travelling cross country in order to be able to find the best places and thus have the chance to see rarer animals such as honey-badgers, wild cats, porcupines. In the right season, Southern Serengeti is not to be surpassed.

Moru Kopjes and Seronera, Central Serengeti

Here the savanna animals are joined by species that have adapted to living in the rocky cliffs. From here, or whilst in transit, you visit Seronera in the centre of the park searching for rare leopards and cheetahs. You can also enjoy the ever changing landscape with gallery forests, kopjes and water holes.

Lobo, North Serengeti

The North Serengeti is very different from the grassy plains in the South. As there is always water present the big herds retreat there in the dry season. In addition there are many species that live here permanently and you will also fairly regularly see elephants. A world for itself are the Bologonja Springs on the border to Kenya. The 'Corridor', West Serengeti

This is a special area which is seldom offered on safari tours. Long distances, poor communications (few vehicles are equipped with a radio) and the frequently difficult road conditions still keep away most visitors from this part of the Serengeti which stretches almost as far as Lake Victoria. An important aspect of the Serengeti is therefore lost to them. This area is very different from the other main zones of the park. In the dry season large stretches of the route westward can be practically empty of animals. The last quarter of the route is however ideally suited to be the home for thousands of animals the whole year round. Gnus and zebras who are resident here do not join their migratory relatives who pass through every year on their way northwards. Big herds of giraffes, buffalo, eland, topis, kongonis, impalas, waterbuck and Thompson's gazelles live here together with them. All the big cats and hyenas are present in a good number as well. A special attraction, that has become quite famous, is the crocodile population of the Grumeti River. This is particularly large at Kirawira, where the river does not dry up. The time spent at this life-giving water source can be among the most inter-esting. Here there are not only crocodiles and hippos to observe but also a large number of varieties of birds. Those tourists with a lot of time (or luck) will be able to discover the Black and White Colobus monkey in the crowns of the trees. On the wooded savannahs of the Ndabaka plains there is always something to see. You will always feel at peace at the calm pools and mysterious "korongos". During your excursions in this least visited part of Serengeti, you can stay at the most luxurious and exclusive camp near Kirawira, the "Kirawira Serena Camp", at Conservation Corporation's "Grumeti River Camp" (also very exclusive!) or at the cheaper, but good and charming new Speke Bay Lodge right on the shore of Lake Victoria (4 km outside the park, an hour's drive from Kirawira).

Do

Take photographs! A good zoom and a large memory card make the results so good you'll be looking at the photos months and months later. (Save them on high quality image and you can do amazing things with your photo program when you get home!)

Buy

Shopping in the Serengeti naturally is extremely limited due to the absence of human settlements. In Arusha, however, and other major towns you will find curio markets where you can buy all sorts of carvings, masks, Maasai spears, textiles, drums, tinga-tinga paintings, batik work, silk shawls, locally made jewelry, coffee, etc. The Arusha Heritage Centre offers a large variety of souvenirs and crafts. Also, The Sayari Camp had arrangements with locals to supply a little "gift shop" and the money goes right back into local programs.

Tipping

Tipping at restaurants (at your discretion) is 10%. We recommend tipping US$5 for each traveller per day at lodge based safaris; US$ 10 per day for your driver guide and US$5 each per day for the camp staff when camping on mobile safaris.

Eat

Eat fresh roasted cashews, drink watermelon juice, try the tiny sweet bananas.

Most visitors are surprised by the quality and the variety of the food available on safari. No matter whether you are staying in a lodge, a tented camp or a mobile safari camp, you will be served freshly prepared food according to international tastes and standards. Bottled water can be purchased at all the lodges and camps and is provided by all Safari Operators. Non alcoholic drinks are often included in the all inclusive rates. It is wise to stick with bottled drinks.

Drink

Coffee, bungo juice, Tusker lager, Amarula!

Sleep

If you go on an organised Safari with a tour operator you will mostly sleep in mobile camps. Here facilities are more limited. The tents usually have simple beds with lining and duvets, camping toilets and showers depending on the Safari Operator.

Many lodges and tented camps operate their own generators or solar lighting systems providing intermittent electricity.

Safari Lodges

The term and the concept of the Safari Lodge are of Tanzanian origin. Here you will find buildings of exciting design, specially build to fit in with the wild landscape of the parks, yet with all the amenities of a luxury hotel, such as swimming pools and fine food. As you eat, drink, laze by the pool or sit on your private veranda, you will be able to observe game, often at only a few yards distance.

Luxury Tented Camps

The are a few Luxury Tented Camps in the Serengeti offering an absolutely unique Safari experience. The tents usually offer fully equipped en-suite bathrooms, private verandas and elegant furniture. At night you can listen to the wild sounds of the Serengeti cuddled up in a warm and comfortable bed!

Camping

A much cheaper alternative is to stay on one of the Serengeti's nine campsites. If you wish to stay at them you must obtain permission from TANAPA or the nearest park warden.

  • Serengeti Migration Camp, +255 27 2500630 (), [2]. Hidden among the rocky outcrops or kopjes of the vast, internationally renowned Serengeti plains is a camp that exudes a decadence reminiscent of old Africa. The Serengeti, is synonymous with low impact high action game viewing in a landscape untouched since the dawn of time. Richly furnished throughout, the camp provides a haven of sumptuous indulgence among the raw splendor of the surrounding bush. It’s spacious tents have been carefully placed to provide privacy and blend into nature’s architecture, overlooking the Grumeti River and its resident hippos. Surrounded by a 360 degree verandah deck and with a capacious, 45 square metre, internal floor space, each guest pavillion is a private sanctuary. The split level lounge, cigar bar, restaurant, sundecks and swimming pool are perched among the outcrops and overlook the vast and rugged landscapes that are home to the world’s greatest mammal migration.  edit
  • Kensington Camps (Kensington Camps), [3]. Kensington Tented Camps bring together the breathtaking beauty, teeming wildlife and cultural splendor of Africa in an intimate and elegant setting. Echoing with the sounds of the herds, rustling grasslands and crackling campfires, these exclusive camps offer the privacy of only 8 tents. Each camp is strategically located to host guests as they discover and follow the wildlife migration and clients can transfer conveniently between camps as part of a day’s game drive.  edit

Stay healthy

Health care is limited in the region, but if you have a problem seek help with your lodge. For more serious emergencies, you may end up in Nairobi, or being evacuated to your home country.

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