Best Time To Go To The Serengeti
About The Serengeti
Home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wildlife, the Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s flagship conservation area and a must-do for first-time and returning safari goers alike. Meaning “endless plains” in the Maasai language, the Serengeti National Park is arguably one of the finest national parks in Africa as well as one of the most celebrated wilderness areas in the world.
Stretching along a vast plateau between the eastern arm of the rugged Rift Valley and the huge expanse of Lake Victoria, the Serengeti National Park covers an immense 14 800 km² (5 700 square miles) on Tanzania’s northern border with Kenya. Besides being declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also Tanzania’s oldest game reserve. It boasts one of the oldest ecosystems on earth with a thriving vegetation that has remained largely untouched for millions of years.
While the Serengeti is renowned for its diverse and abundant wildlife, it is best known as the site of the annual Great Migration, when an estimated three million antelope – mostly wildebeest — migrate to Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve. Described as one of the most magnificent spectacles in the natural world, the Great Wildebeest Migration follows the seasonal rains, spending the dry season in the woodlands of north western Kenya and the wet season on the south eastern plains of Tanzania.
There is no doubt that a visit to the Serengeti should be on every wildlife and nature lover’s bucket-list.
Overview of The Serengeti
Best time to go
June to February (Areas are best at different times) | January – February (Wildebeest calving) | June – September (General wildlife viewing & a chance of see the wildebeest crossing of the Grumeti River (June-July) or the Mara River (September)
June to October (Little to no rainfall & mild temperatures)
March and April (Peak of the Serengeti’s Wet season)
Most of the year | July – March is a particularly popular period in the Serengeti | The Serengeti will be especially crowded around the Seronera area
April & May | Lower rates may apply at certain camps, lodges, and reserves across the Serengeti
14,763km² / 5,700mi²
1,140-2,099m / 3,740-6,886ft
Tanzania | East Africa
Serengeti Great Wildebeest Migration | African Big 5 | Vast diversity of wildlife & birdlife
June to October
November to May
When To Go To The Serengeti
When to visit the Serengeti is one of the most frequently asked questions when planning a trip to this premier African wilderness destination. Its winning combination of magnificent game viewing, vast rolling grasslands, diverse landscapes and golden savannahs makes the Serengeti the perfect year-round safari destination.
The Serengeti’s open plains and mild climate means that the vegetation is never too dense to enjoy amazing wildlife sightings or embark on an exhilarating Serengeti adventure. Not to mention, the region’s two short rainy seasons (November – December and March – April) are rarely too unpleasant and will hardly ever disrupt or interfere with your trip, game viewing or safari experiences.
Despite being a pristine, must-visit year-round destination, the Serengeti has two distinct seasons:
- Dry Season (Winter): June to October
- Wet Season (Summer): November to May
Each season offers visitors a unique experience as it pertains to wildlife and birdlife sightings, climate, park conditions, surrounding scenery, vegetation, and safari experiences.
As most people (both local and international) travel to the Serengeti to witness its incredible diversity of wildlife and exciting not-to-be-missed Great Wildebeest Migration, the Serengeti’s dry season (from late June to October) is considered the best time to visit the Serengeti National Park.
**Tip: For first-time safari goers, the best time to go to the Serengeti and Tanzania is typically during its dry season, June – October, as wildlife are far easier to track and spot, resulting in exceptional wildlife sightings and encounters.
Dry Season in The Serengeti
Prime time for wildlife sightings as game viewing is at its peak
The heart of the Great Migration is in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti during June & July | From August – October the heart of the Great Migration is in the Northern Serengeti
Optimal visibility for wildlife sightings as the thick bush thins out & the vegetation becomes sparse
Wildlife are far easier to spot as they gather around water sources, waterholes, and rivers
Clear skies with mild-moderate day-time temperatures & minimal rain
August & September are the best months to see the spectacular wildebeest river crossings in the northern Serengeti
Fewer mosquitos due to the low rainfall | Risk of malaria is at its lowest
The Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti National Park is at its absolute best during the dry season
**Tip: While Tanzania in its entirety offers great wildlife sightings and game viewing throughout its dry months (June – October), not to mention the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater which boasts incredible wildlife viewing right throughout the year, Tarangire and Tanzania’s southern and western circuit parks are regarded as the best visited during the dry season.
Some of Tanzania’s Southern circuit parks include Ruaha National Park, Mikumi National Park, Selous Game Reserve, and Nyerere National Park. Whereas Gombe National Park, Katavi National Park, and Mahale National Park are a few of Tanzania’s top Western circuit national parks.
Serengeti Monthly Dry Season Highlights
- As the herds of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope move from the Western Corridor into the Grumeti – crossing the Grumeti River – over the month of June, both the Grumeti and Western Corridor of the Serengeti are prime must-visit regions / destinations during this period.
- Lovely day-time temperatures, clear skies, lush landscapes, and witnessing the Great Migration herds’ crossing of the Grumeti River makes June a wonderful month to visit / travel to the Serengeti.
- In the beginning of July, the Great Migration herds continue to move northwards, crossing the Grumeti River in the west of the park.
- Towards the end of July the Great Migration herds will start their dramatic crossing of the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti.
- River crossings are undoubtedly some of the most highly anticipated and dramatic scenes of the Great Migration. If you decide to visit the Serengeti in July, you will have the opportunity to witness the Grumeti River crossings, as well as the more dramatic Mara River crossings in the north of the park.
- In addition to sensational river crossing scenes, July’s ideal weather and dry vegetation makes wildlife spotting incredibly easy. This allows for truly magnificent wildlife sightings and encounters.
- The Northern Serengeti boasts thrilling scenes of thousands of animals making the crossing over the Mara River as they move across the border into Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park during the month of August.
- August is the prime time to witness the dramatic Mara River crossings of the Great Migration (which are among the most intense and jaw-dropping moments of the Great Migration). This undoubtedly makes August one of the best months to travel to the Serengeti.
- The Northern Serengeti is the best region to travel to in September to see the Great Migration herds crossing the Mara River into Kenya.
- September offers travelers and avid wildlife enthusiasts the opportunity to witness beyond thrilling Great Migration Mara River crossings of millions of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope in the Northern Serengeti, with fewer tourists and far less onlookers / spectators and safari vehicles around than the month of August.
- September is the best month of the year to see resident game in other areas of the park – This ensures an all-around exceptional wildlife and safari experience.
- As October marks the end of the Serengeti’s dry season, you will still be lucky enough to find some of the Great Migration herds in the Northern Serengeti. This gives you the opportunity to catch the last of the river crossings in the Northern Serengeti.
- Often during October (depending on when the rains start), the herds of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope begin to move back down into the Serengeti from the Masai Mara, passing through the Loliondo Game Controlled Area (a concession outside of the park’s northern section).
- October’s very dry and thin vegetation makes it an excellent month for spectacular resident game sightings.
Wet Season in The Serengeti
Lush greenery & beautiful surrounding scenery due to the high rainfall
The Serengeti National Park (as well as Tanzania’s surrounding national parks & reserves) are filled with new-born wildlife
Bird watching is at its best as migrant birds are present & in breeding
Prime time for predator action & sightings due to the wildebeest calving period & abundance of new-born wildlife
Despite wildlife being better and easier to spot in the dry season, the Serengeti’s wet season boasts equally remarkable wildlife sightings
The Serengeti’s wet season coincides with its low season, this means lower rates all around & less crowded parks, resulting in optimal crowd-free wildlife & birdlife sightings
Late January to February is the best time to see the wildebeest calving in the Southern Serengeti, making it a very special time & a remarkable sight to see
Except for March, April & May, rains are mostly short afternoon showers & seldom interfere with your trip and safari experiences
Serengeti Monthly Wet Season Highlights
- There may still be some animals crossing the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti at the start of November.
- For the most action and big herd movements, make your way to Seronera Valley in the Central Serengeti where millions of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope are on the move towards the fresh grass in the south of the park.
- While November is a rainy month (signifying the start of the wet season in the Serengeti), it usually only rains in the afternoons. You will still have the opportunity to enjoy superb game viewing opportunities and encounters.
- November is a great time to travel to the Serengeti if you want to see the full spectacle of the Great Migration herds on the move.
- At the start of December the Great Migration herds can be found / spotted in the Seronera region of the Central Serengeti. Towards the end of December, they are concentrated in the Southern Serengeti and Ndutu Region.
- December is a good month to catch / witness the herds on the move from the Central Serengeti region to the Southern Serengeti.
- Depending on the rain, the calving season may begin towards the end of December. This will give you the incredible opportunity of witnessing the young in their natural habitat.
- While December falls within the Serengeti’s wet rainy season, the afternoon thundershowers usually clear up quickly, causing little to no disruption to any safari experiences or wildlife adventures.
- The higher rainfall transforms the plains of the Serengeti into a lush green paradise, making for excellent photo opportunities and stunning surrounding scenery, greenery, and vegetation.
- The best place to be during January in the Serengeti is the Southern Serengeti and the Ndutu Region as this is where the herds of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope will congregate to take advantage of the lush green plains to graze and calve.
- Falling between the “long” and “short” rainy seasons, January sees lush, green, beautiful landscapes in the Serengeti, The thicker vegetation does however make game viewing more challenging.
- January marks the official start of the Wildebeest calving season in the southern Serengeti and Ndutu region (the calving season can however start a bit earlier or later depending on the rain). The Serengeti’s calving season is when thousands of baby wildebeest are born on the Serengeti plains every day.
- January is a great time for bird lovers to visit the Serengeti as numerous migratory bird species are present in the park.
- February is peak wildebeest calving season. If you’re eager to see baby wildebeest being born, February is the prime time to visit the Serengeti.
- The increased number of newborn wildlife (as well as newborn wildebeest in this case) in turn results in high predator activity and sightings.
- February is one of the best months for birdwatchers in the Serengeti, as the migratory species are out in full force.
- The Ndutu Region is the best region of the park to visit in March. As the peak of the wildebeest calving season takes place in February, the herd of migratory wildebeest is significantly larger during this period, including giant herds of wildebeest and their new calves. The increase in new-born wildlife (specifically new-born wildebeest) results in much higher predator presence and activity, as they pick on the vulnerable young and abundance of new baby animals.
- The month of March boasts lush, beautiful landscapes and great bird watching opportunities. The thick vegetation and high rainfall during this period does however make game viewing far more challenging.
- In the Ndutu Region of the Serengeti National Park you will not only have the opportunity to see the massive herds of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope that constitute the Great Migration (Including their new-borns / calves), but witness thrilling predator activity and potential kills.
- While calving season has ended, the massive herds of wildebeest can still be found / spotted in the Southern Serengeti and Ndutu Region, sustained by the lush grass on the plains.
- During April, the herds of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope start moving northwards. You can find / see them on the move in the Seronera / Central Serengeti region too.
- An extra bonus is that the Serengeti National Park is extremely quiet during the month of April, which gives you the amazing opportunity to enjoy exceptional wildlife and birdlife sightings without any of the large crowds, safari vehicles, and masses of onlookers and visitors around.
- The Central Serengeti is the best region to visit during the month of May as the Great Migration herds are on the move through the heart of the park.
- Towards the end of May, the herds have moved into the Western Corridor of the Serengeti.
- Although game viewing is not at its best during this period, you can still enjoy incredible scenes and jaw-dropping sightings of the Great Migration herds on the move as they migrate.
Weather & Climate
Winter: June – October
- Average day-time temperatures: +/- 25°C/77°F
- Average night-time temperatures: +/- 14°C/57°F
June – September:
- Occasional cold fronts can be experienced during this time
- Temperatures can drop close to freezing during intense cold fronts
- Typically cold early in the morning
- Dry weather with minimal rainfall
- Temperatures gradually start to increase in September
- Cool and dry weather
- The short rains might start at the end of October if they are early
Summer: November – May
- Average day-time temperatures: +/- 26°C/79°F
- Average night-time temperatures: +/- 15°C/59°F
November – December:
- Short rains are common during November and December in the Serengeti
- The rain during this period is unlikely to interfere with your safari experience
January – February:
- Rainfall is unpredictable during this time
- There tends to be a dry spell between the short and long rains
March – May:
- These are the wettest months in the Serengeti with high levels of rainfall
- ‘Long rains’ are common during this period
- It tends to rain most days, however, it will seldom rain for the entire day
- It is often cloudy
- In April and May, cold fronts might bring colder peak temperatures
SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK & THE GREAT WILDEBEEST MIGRATION
The world-renowned annual Serengeti National Park Great Migration is undoubtedly one of the Serengeti and Tanzania’s top wildlife attractions, attracting both local and international wildlife enthusiasts alike. Deemed a wildlife and natural phenomenon, “The greatest show on earth”, and the most magnificent wildlife spectacle in the natural world, no other destination on Earth can offer a wildlife encounter to match the annual Serengeti Great Wildebeest Migration. Forming the centerpiece of most inaugural Tanzanian and East African safari itineraries, the Great Migration is a mind-blowing display of nature at her most extraordinary.
The Serengeti Great Migration is an ever-moving year-round circular migration which sees millions of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope run the gauntlet of predators as they migrate around / across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Traversing the open plains, following the seasonal rains in search of fresh grazing, the millions of wildebeest, antelope, and zebra move northwards into the neighboring Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, after returning south to the Serengeti National Park once again.
The roughly 800km trek that constitutes the Great Migration always follows the seasonal rains, perfectly coinciding with the timing / wet season’s (also known as the ‘green’ season) lush natural surroundings and thriving greenery, especially on the short-grass plains. These areas are also deemed safer during the Great Migration as predators can be spotted more easily, making it especially ideal for calving. However, as the plains dry, the wildebeest are forced to move on in search of fresh grass and greener pastures.
The Great Migration starts in the Southern region of the Serengeti National Park. The ‘start’ of the Great Migration coincides with the prime wildebeest calving season, as thousands of wildebeest calves are born within a couple weeks of each other. Due to the rapid rise in the number of newborn wildebeest, there’s an equally rapid increase in the number of predators, such as lions, leopards, and hyenas in the area who are constantly on the hunt for newborn wildlife.
When the drought starts to set in during the month of May and the dry season approaches, the huge herds of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and eland migrate north towards the Masai Mara in Kenya. This part of the Great Migration, similar to the others, is not without its risks as it involves the extreme and dangerous river crossing from the Serengeti National Park to the Masai Mara in Kenya.
Despite the sheer volume of wildlife, crossing rivers means facing approximately 3,000 crocodiles, patiently waiting for a kill, as well as the famous Serengeti lion population – by far the largest in Africa – right and ready to pounce whenever opportunity strikes. These dramatic scenes of huge herds on the move, crossing rivers and vast plains, pursued by predators looking for their next kill, are the stuff nature documentaries are made of.
With the beginning of the short rains in late October, the great migration makes its way back into the Serengeti National Park. By December, the herds trek past Seronera / Central Serengeti to return to their calving grounds once again, completing the year-round cycle / ever-moving circular migration.
Experiencing the annual Serengeti National Park Great Migration is a once-in-a-lifetime experience every avid safari traveler and eager wildlife enthusiast should have at the very top of their bucket list.
**Did you know that this awe-inspiring event is one of the last mass terrestrial animal movements left on the planet?
General Guideline: When to see the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti National Park
(These guidelines are subject to change as per seasonal rainfall)
|Calving||January to March||Southern Serengeti|
|Intense Big Cat Action||January to March||Southern Serengeti|
|Rutting||January to March||Southern Serengeti|
|Grumeti River Crossings||May to July||Western Serengeti|
|Mara River Crossings||July to September||Northern Serengeti|
|On the Move||October to December||Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara|
**Important Note: The above guidelines are approximate dates and places. The Wildebeest Migration is a year-round, circular journey and the river crossings cannot be predicted, although they generally occur between May and September.
Wildlife & Birdlife in The Serengeti
The Serengeti is renowned for its exceptional year-round game-viewing, superb Big 5 encounters & famous Great Wildebeest Migration
The Serengeti Wildlife
Boasting some of the best year-round game viewing in Africa, witnessing the Serengeti National Park’s vast diversity of wildlife is undoubtedly one of the top reasons why wildlife lovers travel from all corners of the globe to visit this African wilderness gem.
While the Serengeti is famed for its annual wildebeest Great Migration, when millions of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and eland cross the open plains and rivers, joining the trek for fresh grazing, the Serengeti National Park is home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.
The Serengeti is home to the iconic African Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), and is renowned for its array of predators. Huge herds of elephant and buffalo, families of giraffe, prides of lions, coalitions of cheetahs, solitary and leap leopards, black rhinos, hundreds of small mammals and primates (including vervet monkeys, olive baboons, caracals, wildcats, and genets), as well as an abundance of antelope (such as eland, topi, kongoni and impala) can all be frequently spotted in the Serengeti.
The riverine forests of the Serengeti National Park are a favorite spot for hippos and crocodiles, while cheetahs are very common on the south-eastern plains and leopards can typically be found lazing in one of the big trees along the Seronera River.
Spotted hyenas and golden and black-backed jackals are also regularly spotted in the Serengeti while the endangered African wild dog is a rare, but remarkable find.
The Serengeti Birdlife
Beyond being a globally acclaimed wildlife and safari destination, the Serengeti National Park is a renowned bird lover’s paradise. Boasting more than 500 recorded bird species, the Serengeti attracts avid local and international birding enthusiasts alike. From November to April several remarkable migratory birds can be spotted in the Serengeti, making it a real treat for birders.
The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is deemed one of Africa’s Endemic Bird Areas. This means that the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is regarded as important land for habitat-based bird conservation containing restricted-range bird species, hosting five bird species found nowhere else in the world.
These endemic bird species are easy to locate within their restricted range. The grey-breasted spurfowl is common in the Seronera area. In woodland areas, parties of Fischer’s lovebird draw attention to themselves, and the rufous-tailed weaver is a fascinating bird placed in its own genus. The other two endemics are the Usambiro barbet and the grey-crested helmet-shrike.
Some of Serengeti’s other birding highlights include watching marabou storks searching for juicy morsels in freshly burnt grass, male ostriches displaying for females, and pairs of crowned cranes calling to each other. Birds such as the blue-cheeked Cordon Bleu, raptors flying the thermals and pink flamingoes at Lake Manyara are other common, yet equally spectacular Serengeti bird sightings.
Notable birds in the Serengeti National Park include:
- Fischer’s lovebird (locally common |Endemic to Tanzania)
- Grey-breasted spurfowl (Locally common | Endemic to Tanzania)
- Kori bustard (Common)
- Rufous-tailed weaver (Locally common | Endemic to Tanzania)
- Secretary bird (Common)
Birding specials & real treats for avid birders in Serengeti National Park:
- Black-headed gonolek
- Fischer’s lovebird (Endemic to Tanzania)
- Green-backed woodpecker
- Grey-backed fiscal
- Grey-breasted spurfowl (Endemic to Tanzania)
- Grey-crested helmet-shrike (Near endemic – Tanzania & neighboring countries)
- Hildebrandt’s starling (Near endemic – Tanzania & neighboring countries)
- Red-capped robin-chat
- Rufous-tailed weaver (Endemic to Tanzania)
- Rüppell’s vulture
- Southern ground hornbill
- Schalow’s turaco
- Usambiro barbet (Near endemic – Tanzania & neighboring countries)
- Verreaux’s eagle
- Yellow-throated sandgrouse
Best time for bird watching in the Serengeti National Park
While bird watching in the Serengeti is great year-round, the absolute best time for bird watching in the Serengeti National park is during November through to April (wet season). Not only is this when European and north African migratory birds are present, but it is the prime nesting season for resident birds, making it much easier to spot various bird species in their breeding plumage.
Serengeti Vegetation & Scenery
The Serengeti National Park’s array of habitats, vegetation, and landscapes are equally as vast and diverse as the Serengeti itself. Meaning “endless plains” in the Maasai language, the Serengeti National Park is renowned for its infinite grassland plains and open savannahs. However, in reality, the Serengeti ecosystem is so much more varied than that.
The Serengeti National Park essentially consists of four primary regions:
- The Southern Serengeti
- Western Serengeti
- Central Serengeti
- Northern Serengeti
Each of these regions are characterized by its own unique landscape and vegetation as well as varied wildlife attractions and seasonal highlights.
The Southern Serengeti is known for its vast, nutrient-rich, open plains and grasslands and granite kopjes spread out across the landscape. In addition to its endless grassland plains and open savannahs, a small seasonal lake called Lake Ndutu, also known as Lake Lagarja, can be found in this region. Surrounded by beautiful acacia trees, Lake Ndutu is considered one of the most scenic and game rich places in the Southern Serengeti, supporting an amazing diversity of wildlife and birdlife. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see incredible flocks of pink flamingos around the lake.
The Southern Serengeti’s vegetation makes it a prime game viewing destination with exceptional wildlife sightings guaranteed year-round.
The Western Serengeti, commonly known as the Western Corridor, is made up of Grumeti and Ikoma. This region of the Serengeti is known to be the ‘starting point’ of the annual Wildebeest Migration river crossing. The Western Corridor landscape is hilly and wooded, with large forests of acacia trees, infinite terrain, and several valleys, rivers.
Central Serengeti, often called Seronera, is the heart of the Serengeti National Park. Featuring several diverse ecosystems, including open grasslands, acacia forests and riverine areas, Central Serengeti is home to a large variety of wildlife and birdlife. It also boasts the highest concentration of wildlife in the Serengeti, resulting in the best year-round game viewing and wildlife encounters.
The popular Kogatende and Lobo areas form part of the Northern Serengeti. This region of the Serengeti National Park is the nearest to the Kenyan border as well as the iconic Mara River. This makes the Northern Serengeti one of the most sought-after destinations for local and global wildlife and nature enthusiasts alike, especially during the annual Serengeti Great Migration.
The northern region of the Serengeti is renowned for its stunning scenic landscapes, made up of hills, riverine forests, vast open plains, and rocky outcrops. The immense Mara River also cuts through this region of the Serengeti National Park, providing the iconic setting for the greatest river crossing and wildlife spectacle in the world – The Annual Serengeti National Park Great Migration – also regarded by many as “The World Cup of Wildlife”.
Several areas in the Serengeti National Park are also dotted with ‘koppies’, granite outcrops rising up from the plains.
Tips for Planning Your Serengeti Safari
- Plan your timing carefully: If you want to see the Great Wildebeest Migration river crossings on your Serengeti safari trip, make sure your itinerary and overall timing of your trip matches the movement of the herds.
- Book early: It is crucial to book your Serengeti trip (and all aspects associated with your trip) long in advance as well-located safari camps and lodges at the Wildebeest Great Migration’s hotspots get booked out early, often a year in advance.
- Choose your activities: The world-renowned Serengeti National Park boasts an endless variety of exciting safari experiences and adventures. Morning and afternoon game drives are an absolute must for anyone visiting the Serengeti. Some safari lodges offer travelers and eager adventurers a range of thrilling activities such as hot-air balloon safaris. Wildlife and safari experiences like night game drives and guided bush walks are also permitted in certain areas.
- Expect other visitors in high season: Many areas of the Serengeti are mostly quiet throughout the year, however, the Great Wildebeest Migration’s highlights, like the Grumeti and Mara River crossings, attract a large number of visitors from about May to August. Consider visiting during the Serengeti’s low or ‘Green Season’ (about November to March) if you want to escape the crowds, all while enjoying exceptional game viewing plus see the Migration’s mega-herds.
- Go private: If it’s luxury and exclusivity you want, then you should undoubtedly choose one of the Serengeti’s pristine private reserves.
Traveling To The Serengeti
Despite the Serengeti National Park being located in a rather remote corner of unspoiled Africa, the Serengeti, together with all of its wilderness wonders, are fairly easy to access.
There are two main ways to get to the Serengeti National Park, by air (via international air travel, domestic air travel, regional air travel, or private charter flights), or by road (via Serengeti drive-in safaris or Serengeti self-drive safaris).
Most travelers and adventurers start their Serengeti safari trip at either Kilimanjaro International Airport or the bustling Arusha Airport. From there, they will either travel to their preferred/pre-booked lodge via a short transfer flight or by means of a 4×4 safari vehicle. It is also possible to combine the two travel options and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Getting to Serengeti National Park by air
International air travel
As most safaris and transfer flights to Serengeti National Park start from the town of Arusha, the best way to get to the Serengeti is to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) (the recommended point of entry) or Arusha Airport (ARK). The Kilimanjaro International Airport is situated about 46km/29mi from Arusha and approximately 200 miles / 320 kilometers from the park’s southern entrance.
There are a couple of international flight options to the Serengeti, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (daily), Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines (a few times per week). Kilimanjaro International Airport also has daily connections with Nairobi (NBO) in Kenya, which offers more international flight possibilities.
Additional airlines such as British Airways, Emirates and others fly into Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR), just outside of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania’s capital) and then fly to Arusha Airport or Kilimanjaro International Airport. If you do happen to fly into Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam, it might require you to spend an extra overnight as well as take an additional domestic flight on a small regional airline which may have added luggage restrictions.
Regional air travel
Flying from Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha Airport is the favoured route for a Serengeti fly-in safari. From there it will take approximately 1 – 5 hours to fly to one of seven airstrips within the Serengeti National Park. All regional flights to the Serengeti are operated by local airlines such as Grumeti Air or Coastal Aviation. Once you’ve landed at the airstrip, the lodge staff will pick you up and transfer you to your desired final destination. Depending on your chosen lodge, 45 minutes to 2 hours should be allocated for road transfer to your Serengeti lodge.
It is also possible to fly from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport (NBO) or Wilson Airport (WIL) to Kilimanjaro International Airport. When travelling from the Lake Victoria area, the favoured airport is Mwanza Airport (MWZ). There are also direct flights from the Serengeti to Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and other national parks in Tanzania such Lake Manyara and Tarangire.
Serengeti fly-in safaris (private airstrips)
If you’re looking for an even faster and more convenient way to get to the Serengeti National Park, a scheduled or private charter flight is definitely the way to go. Some of Serengeti’s more exclusive lodges have their own private airstrip and are able to arrange direct scheduled and/or private charter flights from Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha Airport directly to their airstrip.
Getting to Serengeti National Park by road
Besides traveling to the Serengeti National Park by air, the park is also accessible by road. There are two main ways to travel to the Serengeti by road / vehicle – Serengeti drive-in safaris & Serengeti self-drive safaris.
Serengeti drive-in safaris
The most popular way to travel to Serengeti National Park by road is by booking a drive-in safari. In general, the drive-in safaris start from the town of Arusha. As it will take approximately eight hours to travel from Arusha to the Serengeti National Park, an overnight stay at one or more wildlife sites en route is usually part of your safari itinerary.
Serengeti self-drive safaris / Self-driving to the Serengeti
*Note: While it is possible to self-drive to the Serengeti National Park, it is not wildly recommended.
When traveling to the Serengeti National Park by road, a 4×4 vehicle is required to successfully navigate and access all roads, regardless of the time of year. The total trip distance to the Serengeti is approximately 325km/202mi and will take you roughly eight hours. It is a bumpy ride, and careful planning is necessary when deciding to self-drive.
**As the trip to the Serengeti takes you through some stunning locations and wilderness regions, including the Ngorongoro Conservation area, a popular option is to fly one way and drive the other way, taking in an overnight stop to visit the Ngorongoro Crater and other surrounding areas. Coming from the crater, the distance to the Seronera/Central area in the Serengeti is about 140km/90mi, and the driving time is approximately three hours.
**Tip: Considering all of the above-mentioned options, the easiest and most convenient way to get to the Serengeti National Park is to fly from Arusha to one of the park’s seven private airstrips. Booking an overland safari in a 4×4 safari vehicle from Arusha to the Serengeti and visiting one or two other parks along the way is another popular and equally exciting option. Of course it’s also possible to combine these options, that way you get to experience the very best of both experiences.