The Southern Serengeti is a popular segment of the Serengeti National Park and ecosystem offering some of the best wildlife sightings. The name Serengeti means “endless grasslands” in the Masai language, and the park is home to vast grasslands that extend from south of Seronera to Olduvai and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Around 3 million years ago, a volcanic eruption covered the area in a layer of ash, which made it difficult for plants to grow. However, this has fostered the growth of herbaceous plants rich in nutrients thanks to the mineral salts contained in the soil.
During the rainy season, the grasslands turn green, but during the dry season, which has no permanent water sources, the grasslands dry out quickly. Shrubs and trees are rare and concentrated around the Kopjes, providing shelter and food for antelopes, hyraxes, and felines.
Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek, located in the far south of the Serengeti National Park on the border with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, are two seasonal salty lakes that serve as water reserves for herds of wildebeests and zebras from January to May. The lakes are surrounded by dense forests of beautiful acacias and grasslands.
Between December and May, the Great Migration comes to this area, and this is also the time when many cubs are born. Predators take advantage of the situation to snatch the newborns and eat them. Thomson gazelles are also abundant, followed by cheetahs from central Serengeti.
The South of the Park is home to many animals, including lions, elands, leopards, giraffes, elephants, caracals, hyenas, and jackals. Ndutu and Masek serve as a good base to explore the southern and eastern parts of the Serengeti, such as Olduvai, Gol, Naabi, Lagarja, Hidden Valley, Soito Ngum Kopjes, and Kakesio Plains.
Olduvai is a significant place for the history of humanity, as it confirms that human beings originated from Africa. Visitors can see the valley where our species originated, although the digging area is not accessible because of ongoing work by archaeologists. The museum in the area collects many remains found in the region.
During the dry season, when the Migration is not around, the landscape becomes dry and dusty, and many animals move away. However, some animals, especially in the forested area near Ndutu, live here all year round, making the area fascinating to visit.
The Hidden Valley, located to the East, is a secret area and difficult to reach because it is located far from the main roads. The valley is particularly rich in vegetation, despite the arid climate, and it is home to a great number of animals. Here, it is possible to see various species of birds, including raptors.
Soito Ngum Kopjes is another important site in the South of the Park. These huge granite rocks, also called “lion rocks,” are the perfect place for the big cats to rest, shelter and hunt.
The Kakesio Plains, on the other hand, are a vast plain area, especially rich in grasses and the preferred habitat of Thomson gazelles and wildebeests.
In this area, there are few lodges and camps, but they are very comfortable and offer breathtaking views of the endless grasslands. Most of them are tented camps or mobile camps, which are quickly assembled and disassembled and allow a close contact with nature. They are ideal for those looking for an authentic experience in the heart of Africa.
In conclusion, the Southern Serengeti is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. With its endless grasslands, rocky kopjes, and seasonal lakes, it is the perfect habitat for a great variety of animals, including lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and many more. The area is best visited during the dry season, from December to May, when the wildebeest migration is in full swing and the predators are at their most active.
In this article, we will take you on a journey to Southern Serengeti and give you an insight into what makes this place so special.
What is the Southern Serengeti?
The Southern Serengeti is a vast area of grasslands, savannah, and seasonal lakes located in the southern part of the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. It is known for its abundant wildlife, including the famous wildebeest migration, which takes place from December to May.
Most visitors enter the Serengeti from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is the most accessible area of the Park. From here, it is possible to reach the Southern Serengeti by car or light aircraft.
Wildlife in the Southern Serengeti
The Southern Serengeti is a wildlife paradise, home to a wide range of species. Here are some of the most common animals you can spot in this area:
- Wildebeests: the Southern Serengeti is part of the wildebeest migration route, and it is possible to witness thousands of these animals crossing the grasslands and the seasonal lakes.
- Zebras: zebras also follow the wildebeest migration, and they are often seen grazing together with their striped companions.
- Lions: the Southern Serengeti is a great place to spot lions, both resident packs and those that move to the area during the migration to hunt the herbivores.
- Cheetahs: cheetahs are the fastest land animals and are often seen chasing Thomson’s gazelles in the low grasslands.
- Elephants: these gentle giants can also be spotted in the Southern Serengeti, usually near the forested areas.
- Giraffes: these elegant animals are often seen grazing on the tall trees and bushes that dot the landscape.
The Wildebeest Migration
The wildebeest migration is one of the most impressive natural spectacles on Earth, and the Southern Serengeti is part of it. Every year, more than a million wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles move in search of fresh grass and water. This movement is not only a stunning show of nature’s power but also a fight for survival, as predators like lions, cheetahs, and hyenas wait for their prey.
Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek
Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek are two seasonal lakes located in the far South of the Serengeti National Park, on the border with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. These lakes serve as a water reserve for the herds of wildebeests and zebras when they rest in the area from January to May. The lakes are also home to a wide range of birds, including flamingos and pelicans.
Best Time to Visit the Southern Serengeti
The best time to visit the Southern Serengeti is from December to May, during the wildebeest migration. During this period, the area is teeming with wildlife, and the sightings are simply unforgettable. However, keep in mind that this is also the busiest time of the year, and the prices for accommodations and safaris are usually higher.
Where to Stay in Southern Serengeti
There are several accommodation options available in the southern Serengeti, including campsites, lodges, and luxury tented camps. Here are some of the best places to stay in southern Serengeti:
- Serengeti Sopa Lodge – This lodge is located in the Nyarboro Hills, overlooking the southern Serengeti plains. The lodge features 69 spacious rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant that serves international and local cuisine.
- Ndutu Safari Lodge – This lodge is located in the heart of the southern Serengeti and offers 34 cottages that are equipped with en-suite bathrooms, hot showers, and a private veranda. The lodge also has a restaurant and bar that serves delicious food and drinks.
- Serengeti Migration Camp – This luxury tented camp is located in the Lamai Wedge, a remote area in the northern Serengeti. The camp features 20 spacious tents, each with its own en-suite bathroom and veranda. The camp also has a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar.
- Kusini Safari Camp – This camp is located in the south-central part of the Serengeti and offers 12 spacious tents that are equipped with en-suite bathrooms and private verandas. The camp also has a restaurant and a bar.
- Lake Masek Tented Camp – This camp is located in the Ndutu area, close to Lake Masek. The camp features 20 luxury tents that are equipped with en-suite bathrooms, hot showers, and private verandas. The camp also has a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar.
The Importance of Southern Serengeti for Wildlife Conservation
The Southern Serengeti is a vital area for wildlife conservation, particularly during the Great Wildebeest Migration. The Migration is a natural phenomenon that sees millions of wildebeests, zebras, and other herbivores move across the Serengeti plains in search of fresh grazing land and water. The Southern Serengeti is a critical part of this process as it provides a vital breeding and calving ground for the wildebeests.
The Southern Serengeti also plays a crucial role in the conservation of other animal species. The area is home to a wide variety of animals, including predators like lions, cheetahs, and leopards, as well as grazers like gazelles, giraffes, and buffaloes. The region’s diverse habitats, including grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands, provide a range of niches for different animal species to thrive.
FAQs about the Southern Serengeti
- When is the best time to visit the Southern Serengeti? The best time to visit the Southern Serengeti is between December and May, during the Great Wildebeest Migration.
- What animals can I expect to see in the Southern Serengeti? The Southern Serengeti is home to a wide variety of animals, including wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, leopards, buffaloes, and elephants.
- What is the Great Wildebeest Migration? The Great Wildebeest Migration is a natural phenomenon that sees millions of wildebeests, zebras, and other herbivores move across the Serengeti plains in search of fresh grazing land and water.
- What is the significance of the Southern Serengeti during the Great Wildebeest Migration? The Southern Serengeti is a vital breeding and calving ground for the wildebeests during the Migration, making it a critical part of the process.
- Is the Southern Serengeti open all year round? Yes, the Southern Serengeti is open all year round, but the best time to visit is during the Great Wildebeest Migration.
- How can I get to the Southern Serengeti? Most visitors enter the Serengeti from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the Southern Serengeti is easily accessible from there.
The Southern Serengeti: Where Nature Thrives
The Southern Serengeti is one of the best places to experience the African wilderness in its rawest form. The region is dominated by vast grasslands, scattered acacia trees, and rocky outcrops. It is a landscape that has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years, providing a perfect habitat for a wide variety of wild animals. Here are some of the highlights of the Southern Serengeti:
1. The Wildebeest Migration
The annual wildebeest migration is one of the most famous events in the African wildlife calendar. Every year, around 1.5 million wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles move in search of fresh grazing and water. The migration takes place between the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and it is a spectacle that you don’t want to miss.
2. Big Five Game Viewing
The Southern Serengeti is home to all the African big five animals. Visitors can go on a game drive and see lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos in their natural habitat. It is a rare opportunity to witness these majestic creatures up close and personal.
3. Hot Air Balloon Safari
For a unique perspective of the Southern Serengeti, visitors can take a hot air balloon safari. The balloon ride offers an incredible bird’s eye view of the Serengeti plains and wildlife. It is an unforgettable experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
4. Bird Watching
The Southern Serengeti is also a paradise for bird watchers. The region is home to over 500 bird species, including the colorful lilac-breasted roller, ostrich, and the martial eagle. Visitors can spot a variety of birds while on a game drive or nature walk.
FAQs about the Southern Serengeti
When is the best time to visit the Southern Serengeti?
The best time to visit the Southern Serengeti is during the dry season (June to October) when wildlife viewing is at its peak.
How do I get to the Southern Serengeti?
Visitors can fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport or Julius Nyerere International Airport and then take a domestic flight to the Serengeti. Alternatively, they can drive from Arusha, which takes around 8 hours.
Is it safe to visit the Southern Serengeti?
Yes, it is safe to visit the Southern Serengeti. However, visitors should follow the park rules and guidelines and listen to their guides to avoid any potential danger.
What kind of accommodations are available in the Southern Serengeti?
There are various accommodation options available in the Southern Serengeti, including lodges, tented camps, and mobile camps.
Yes, visitors can go on a walking safari in the Southern Serengeti with an experienced guide. It is a great way to experience the wildlife up close and personal while also getting some exercise.What should I pack for my trip to the Southern Serengeti?
What should I pack for my trip to the Southern Serengeti?
Visitors should pack light, breathable clothing suitable for warm weather, including long-sleeved shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes. It is also important to bring a good pair of walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
Can I see the wildebeest migration in the southern Serengeti?
Yes, you can see the wildebeest migration in the southern Serengeti, usually between December and April.
What activities are available in the southern Serengeti?
The southern Serengeti offers a range of activities, including game drives, walking safaris, and hot air balloon safaris.
Are there any budget accommodation options in the southern Serengeti?
Yes, there are several budget accommodation options available in southern Serengeti, including campsites and basic lodges.
The Southern Serengeti is a vital area for wildlife conservation, particularly during the Great Wildebeest Migration. The region’s diverse habitats provide a range of niches for different animal species to thrive, making it an important part of the ecosystem. The area is also significant for the history of humanity, with the Olduvai Gorge serving as a testament to our origins. If you are planning a safari in Tanzania, be sure to visit the Southern Serengeti and witness the incredible natural spectacle of the Great Wildebeest Migration.