The Serengeti in Tanzania is inextricably associated with the annual wildebeest migration in the imagination of most travellers in search of the ultimate African safari. However, once the wildebeest have moved on in their perpetual search for grazing, the Serengeti offers diverse and fascinating game viewing, from big predators to prolific prey, on its vast open plains and along its river banks.
Warm and fairly dry, January to March is a great time to visit the region with large herds of topi, zebra, eland, giraffe and Thompson’s gazelle starting to gather on the open plains. This is also the calving season and thousands of these animals, including big herds of wildebeest that stay behind, give birth over a period of a few weeks.
The concentrated herds attract the attention of predators, especially the big cats, and sightings of leopard and lion are common. Scattered rain showers freshen up warm days and produce bright green landscapes and crisp, clear skies conducive to beautiful photography. As it’s the end of the dry season, the Mara and Grumeti rivers start to recede forcing the animals to congregate close to available water sources which makes them easier to find.
The months of April and May are known as the season of the long rains, transforming the landscape as lush, longer grasses grow and rivers, lakes and pans start to fill up with water again. Large herds of herbivores, including significant breeding herds of elephant and buffalo, are common sightings. During this time, throughout the Serengeti there is greater exclusivity at wildlife sightings and increased flexibility when it comes to planning itineraries.
By May there is a sense of anticipation in the Serengeti as the migration could arrive at any time to seek dependable water sources and start grazing on the long, golden grasslands. Industry insiders consider it to be the most underrated month to visit with fewer people, prolific game sightings and mild, sunny days ideal for bush walks and picnics.
The dry season commences again in June and continues until the end of October. Considered high season in Tanzania, it is characterised by pleasantly warm, sunny days and easy game viewing due to the short grasses. September and October are fantastic months in the Lamai, with multiple daily Mara River migration crossings, increased predator action and excellent crocodile, hippo and hyena sightings.
In September and October, diverse game congregates along the Grumeti River and in pans, while river crossings by thousands of wildebeest and other migratory plains game are always a thrilling sight. October is Singita head guide Ryan Schmitt’s best time of the year in the Serengeti, due to the all-round excellent game viewing.
The short rains in November and December are characterised by brief, spectacular thunderstorms that give way to clear skies and amazing colour contrasts for photography. Awesome cheetah and lion sightings are common, there are large numbers of babies and youngsters amongst both predator and prey species, and migratory birds return to the newly green landscapes.
Discover the Serengeti through our monthly Wildlife Reports, which are written by the field guides themselves, and describe thrilling wildlife sightings, beautiful landscapes and unusual species. Please contact our Reservations team to find out more about visiting our six lodges and camps in Tanzania.