DISPATCHES FROM EXOTIC LANDS
When it comes to African wildlife safaris, fewer destinations are higher on travellers’ hitlists than the Serengeti. A tailor made Serengeti safari tour will showcase the Africa of your imagination – vast open savannahs, umbrella shaped acacia trees, khaki-clad guides driving rugged 4x4s across the terrain, and of course a staggering amount of wildlife. Tempted by a Serengeti safari? Head to our blog 10 Reasons a Serengeti Safari Tour is a ‘Do Before you Die’ Experience for inspiration.
With regards to wildlife, the Serengeti has featured on countless documentaries and given the impressive densities of key species, its easy to see why.
Here is just a handle of the species you might expect to see in the Serengeti:
The Serengeti is host to the dramatic Great Migration, where millions of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles march across the plains seeking green pastures and favourable breeding grounds. Between June and October the cross the Mara River – an epic event when clouds of dust fill the air, hooves pummel the earth and raucous grunts and splashes fill the air as the herds take the plunge.
For more information on how to time your Serengeti safari to perfection visit our blog: When to visit the Serengeti
When the migrating wildebeest cross the river there are hungry crocodiles lying in wait. Watching the river seethe and explode while the wildebeest struggle against the dragging current and the snapping jaws is a sight that can barely be watched, but will never be forgotten
There are some 3000 lions in the Serengeti, making it a stronghold in Africa. You’d be very unlucky indeed to travel to the Serengeti and not see one! The males are particularly impressive with long, thick manes and the size of the prides, sometimes numbering up to 40 individuals, indicates just how successful these mighty predators are.
Buffalo are a key ‘Big Five’ species – a term originally coined to refer to the five most dangerous species to hunt on foot. They can live in herds of a few hundred but have been known to congregate in thousands in the Serengeti which is a sight to behold! Gathering in large herds is one of their many defences against predators, but males often break off to form small bachelor groups. Famously grumpy and perhaps feeling vulnerable, the lone buffalo is a formidable beast that most would prefer not to meet on foot!
This iconic species features in every child’s alphabet book and seeing them in their natural is utterly charming. Like the wildebeest, 250,000 zebras travel in an endless cycle around the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, following the rains and endlessly pursued by predators. Their social structure sees dominant stallions partake in spirited squabbles with rival males, biting, kicking and shouting at one another.
Hyenas often surprise safari goers with their plucky character and unexpected allure. As Africa’s most common, versatile and intelligent large carnivore it is highly likely that you will see one. The spotted hyena is regularly seen hunting in the Serengeti, where clans are more than capable of bringing down a zebra. They are also resourceful scavengers, using powerful jaws to chew through every last scrap of a carcass. If you are very lucky you may also see a solitary striped hyena, although these are very shy and far rarer than their spotted cousins.
In the Serengeti, these 7 ton giants roam the plains and disappear into the bush with astonishing ease. Elephant are abundant in the Serengeti and can be found in most areas where we operate. Watching the matriarchs guide their charges through life in the bush is a captivating insight into highly complex, social world.
Leopards are known to be elusive. They are secretive, incredibly stealthy and perfectly camouflaged when lying along the branch of a tree high up in the canopy, often not moving until night falls. The Serengeti has around 1000 leopards and their elegance and beauty makes them a favourite for most safari goers. The fact that they are challenging to see makes a sighting all the more rewarding.
Nothing says ‘Serengeti safari’ like a cheetah scanning the surrounding plains from the top of a termite mound. In mid December the southern grasslands host the wildebeest birthing season and this is prime cheetah territory, when there is ample opportunity to watch these impressive predators in action.
In the mid-1970s, the Serengeti National Park had a black rhino population of about 700 animals, but rampant poaching meant just a handful of individuals remained by the early ‘80s. In 2019, nine black rhino were safely reintroduced to widen the genetic pool and bolster the greater Serengeti-Mara ecosystem’s rhino population, and every year the chances of seeing one grows. They are still an incredibly rare sighting in the Serengeti, but with an experienced guide by your side, you might just get lucky!
In addition to all these key species, there are a whole host or rare and mysterious creatures that you may just spot on your Serengeti safari. Keep your eyes peeled for wild dogs, serval (including unusual black melanistic varieties), bat-eared fox, aardvarks, aardwolves and even pangolins!