Moru Kopjes, situated in Central Serengeti and located around 32 miles northwest of Naabi Hill, is the exclusive dwelling to the black rhino population within Serengeti National Park. The park, during the 80s, made efforts to resuscitate this species that was once on the brink of extinction. Nevertheless, poaching of the animal’s horns has dwindled the population in recent years. A few of the critically endangered animals still dwell in the area, which is kept under watch by armed anti-poaching rangers. Although black rhinos are solitary creatures, Moru Kopjes remains the most suitable location for individuals yearning to see them.
Additionally, the area also serves as home to several other animals such as lions, elephants, and leopards. For those intrigued by the park’s relationship with the Masai community, a visit to Gong Rock and the well-known Masai rock paintings in the area is recommended. Black rhinos live in the region throughout the year. However, if visitors wish to increase their chances of spotting other animals like wildebeests and zebras, it is recommended to visit Moru Kopjes between July and November when the Great Migration takes place in the Central Serengeti.
Moru Kopjes is sandwiched between the Seronera and Ngare Nanyuki rivers and is accessible by car or safari vehicle. It is located on the eastern side of the region, and Serengeti Sopa Lodge is situated approximately 18 miles away. Although Moru Kopjes is free to visit 24/7, conveniences such as restrooms, convenience stores, and gift shops are not available in this area of the park. Visitors can learn more about Moru Kopjes and the animals dwelling throughout the park by visiting the Serengeti National Park website. The rock formations at Kopjes are quite scenic and fascinating from a geological perspective. They are composed of ancient granite referred to as “Moru” in the Maa language, which is the language spoken by the Maasai. Moru means “old,” and over the centuries, the rocks have eroded due to atmospheric and biological factors. The rocks we see today are large reddish boulders, and the reason for their typical hue is because of the iron present in them undergoing oxidation.
The Kopjes are always open for visitation throughout the year because there are always excellent opportunities to see fascinating sightings. This is due to the presence of constant water sources that attract herbivorous and carnivorous animals, particularly during the dry season. The Kopjes are popular with big cats, particularly lions, leopards, and cheetahs, as they are excellent vantage points for spotting prey. The Moru Kopjes are located southwest of the Central Serengeti, where the River Mbalageti Valley begins. In this area, there is an abundance of water, shade, and grass for grazing. This region is the only location within the Serengeti National Park that still has a population of black rhinos, which have been decimated by poaching in past decades. Visitors have a chance of spotting the critically endangered animals with a bit of luck.
Furthermore, the Serengeti Rhino Project has a visitor’s center at Kopjes where individuals can learn interesting facts about the beautiful animals and the conservation policies that are being employed to save them from extinction. The Kopjes are located in a transitional zone, with low-grass pastures to the south and east.
If you are planning to visit Tanzania, you should not miss the opportunity to explore Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the famous Great Migration of wildebeests and zebras. One of the most interesting places to see in this vast wilderness is the Moru Kopjes, a series of rocky outcrops that stand out in the savannah landscape. In this article, we will take a closer look at this natural wonder and discover why it is worth a visit.
Location of the Moru Kopjes
The Kopjes are located in Central Serengeti, in a transition zone between low-grass pastures to the South and East and the wooded area of the Serengeti National Park to the North and West. The Moru Kopjes cover a vast area and are easily visible from a distance. Over millions of years, erosion has shaped and partly disintegrated the Kopjes. Many euphorbia candelabrum trees grow in the area, reaching toward the sky.
Can you climb the Moru Kopjes?
Visitors can get off their vehicles and stand on the kopjes, but they need to be careful of potentially dangerous animals such as lions, cheetahs, and snakes.
Best time to visit the Moru Kopjes
During the Great Migration in April and May, or November and December, the kopjes offer a breathtaking view of wildebeests and zebras running or grazing. The sounds of the animals fill the air, including the wild grunts of wildebeests and the giddy chortles of zebras.
May is the month of wildebeest mating, and it’s common to see male wildebeests madly dashing about rounding up females and chasing off other males. The males establish frequent mobile territories, and each one attempts to retain as many passing cows as possible. Mating occurs in a few days, and the synchronized calving takes place in February on the Southern plains of Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The Moru Kopjes also offer natural caves used by the Maasai for sheltering their livestock until 50 years ago. The caves have paintings on their walls left by the Maasai, including a coloured shield, an elephant, and people. The colours used are all natural, and it’s thought that young Maasai warriors, called moran, who wandered for several years, created them.
A couple of hundred feet away from the paintings is the gong rock, a large rock with circular holes that may have been used as a communication device. The area is home to many herbivores, including elephants, giraffes, black rhinos, buffalos, impalas, waterbucks, Topi antelopes, and warthogs, as well as many carnivores such as lions, leopards, and hyenas.
To the North-East of Moru Kopjes is Lake Magadi, a shallow, salty lake that attracts greater and lesser flamingos. The Kiswahili word “Magadi” means “soda,” and the lake’s shallow waters dry up through evaporation at the end of the dry season, leaving behind a white encrustation of salt crystals. Lake Magadi is also a great place to witness predation, as lions use the bordering swamp grasses to hide and ambush animals as they come to drink.
How to get there
Moru Kopjes is located in the Serengeti National Park, which can be accessed via several different gates. The closest airstrip to Moru Kopjes is the Seronera Airstrip, which is just a short drive away. Alternatively, visitors can enter the park by road through the Naabi Hill Gate or the Ndabaka Gate.
Accommodation options near Moru Kopjes
There are several accommodation options like camps and lodges near Moru Kopjes in the Serengeti National Park, ranging from luxurious lodges to camping sites. Some of the best options for visitors to Moru Kopjes include the Seronera Wildlife Lodge, the Moru Under Canvas, Serengeti Heritage Camps, Acacia Luxury Camps, Nyota Luxury Camps and the Ndutu Safari Lodge.
Introduction to Moru Kopjes
The Moru Kopjes are a group of granite hills that are scattered around the Moru plain in the central part of Serengeti National Park. The word “kopjes” is a Dutch term that means “small hills,” and it refers to the characteristic shape of these formations, which resemble giant boulders rising from the ground. The Moru Kopjes are estimated to be about 550 million years old, and they have been eroded by wind and rain over the centuries, resulting in a unique landscape of rocky pinnacles, caves, and crevices.
Why Should You Visit the Moru Kopjes?
If you are a nature lover, the Moru Kopjes offer a fascinating glimpse into the geological history of Tanzania and the African continent. Here are some reasons why you should include the Moru Kopjes in your itinerary:
- Unique rock formations: The Moru Kopjes are unlike anything you have seen before, with their jagged edges, smooth surfaces, and hidden corners. You can spend hours exploring the nooks and crannies of the rocks and marveling at the shapes and colors.
- Abundant wildlife: The Moru Kopjes are not only a geological wonder but also a hub of wildlife activity. You can spot a variety of animals here, including lions, leopards, hyenas, elephants, giraffes, and many species of birds. The rocky terrain provides shelter and hiding places for predators and prey alike, making it an exciting place to observe wildlife.
- Cultural significance: The Moru Kopjes have a special place in the folklore and traditions of the Maasai people, who live in the vicinity of Serengeti National Park. The Maasai consider the rocks to be sacred and believe that they are inhabited by spirits and ancestors. By visiting the Moru Kopjes, you can learn more about the Maasai culture and their relationship with the natural world.
- Scenic views: The Moru Kopjes offer some of the best views in Serengeti National Park, with panoramic vistas of the plains, hills, and sky. You can climb to the top of some of the rocks and admire the scenery from above, or take a leisurely walk around the base of the formations and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.
- Birdwatching: Moru Kopjes is home to a variety of bird species, making it a must-visit destination for bird enthusiasts.
Exploring the Moru Kopjes: Tips and Advice
Before you set out to explore the Moru Kopjes, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Wear comfortable shoes: The terrain around the Moru Kopjes is uneven and rocky, so you should wear sturdy shoes or boots with good traction. Avoid flip-flops or sandals.
- Bring water and snacks: The Moru Kopjes are a remote location, and there are no shops or restaurants nearby. Be sure to bring enough water and snacks to last for several hours.
- Respect wildlife: While the Moru Kopjes offer excellent opportunities to see wildlife, it is essential to maintain a safe distance and avoid disturbing the animals. Do not feed or approach them.
- Hire a guide: If you want to learn more about the Moru Kopjes’ geology, history, and wildlife, consider hiring a local guide who is knowledgeable about the area. A guide can also help you navigate the terrain and find the best spots for photography or birdwatching.
- Plan for the weather: The weather in Serengeti National Park can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to check the forecast before your visit. The rainy season lasts from March to May and October to December, so if you are visiting during these months, be prepared for mud and slippery rocks. On the other hand, the dry season from June to September and January to February can be hot and dusty, so bring sunscreen and a hat.
- Be respectful of the environment: The Moru Kopjes are a fragile ecosystem, and it’s essential to minimize your impact on the environment. Do not litter, and avoid touching or removing rocks or plants.
Moru Kopjes: FAQs
What is the best time to visit the Moru Kopjes?
- The Moru Kopjes can be visited year-round, but the dry season from June to September and January to February is the best time to see wildlife and enjoy the scenery.
How long does it take to explore the Moru Kopjes?
- You can spend a few hours or a whole day exploring the Moru Kopjes, depending on your interests and energy level. It’s a good idea to plan for at least three to four hours to see the main highlights.
Is it safe to walk around the Moru Kopjes?
- The Moru Kopjes are generally safe to explore, but it’s important to be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Stay on marked paths and avoid climbing on steep or unstable rocks.
Can I camp or picnic at the Moru Kopjes?
- Camping and picnicking are not allowed at the Moru Kopjes, as it is a protected area. There are designated campsites and picnic areas elsewhere in Serengeti National Park.
Can I see the Great Migration from the Moru Kopjes?
- The Great Migration passes through the Serengeti National Park, but the timing and location of the herds vary depending on the season. It’s not guaranteed that you will see the migration from the Moru Kopjes, but it’s worth checking with your guide or park ranger for the latest information.
Is there an entrance fee for the Moru Kopjes?
- The Moru Kopjes are part of Serengeti National Park, and you need to pay the park entrance fee to access the area. The fee varies depending on your nationality and length of stay.
Moru, home to the black rhino
The Moru Kopjes are a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Serengeti National Park. Whether you are interested in geology, wildlife, culture, or photography, the Moru Kopjes offer something for everyone. With its unique landscape and abundant wildlife, this natural wonder is sure to leave a lasting impression on your Tanzania safari. So pack your bags, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to explore the Moru Kopjes!