Tanzania · Serengeti National Park
The name ‘Serengeti’ comes from the Maasai language and appropriately means an ‘extended place’. This region encompasses the Serengeti National Park itself, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, the Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value.
Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the 30000-square-kilometer region. Its 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 2 million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
A unique combination of diverse habitats enables it to support more than 30 species of large herbivores and nearly 500 species of birds. Its landscape, originally formed by volcanic activity, has been sculptured by the concerted action of wind, rain and sun. It now varies from open grass plains in the south, savannah with scattered acacia trees in the centre, hilly, wooded grassland in the north, to extensive woodland and black clay plains to the west. Small rivers, lakes and swamps are scattered throughout. In the south-east rise the great volcanic massifs and craters of the Ngorongoro Highlands. Each area has its own particular atmosphere and wildlife.
It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200000 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.