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Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world. With more than two million wildebeest, half a million Thomson’s gazelle, and a quarter of a million zebra, the park remains a resting place for the “big 5 and surely one of the greatest concentrations of plains game in Africa. The Serengeti is most famous for its animal migration to the Masai Mara – over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras migrate south from the northern hills to the southern plains every September – November.
The seemingly unending savannah plains of the park are home to Africa’s most famous animals as well as a cast of lesser known but no less interesting animals.
Serengeti National Park is most famous for the Great Migration that sees more than 2 million animals migrating north into the Masai Mara before returning to the Ngorongoro region, the park is no less fascinating at any other time of the year. It is the best place in East Africa to spot lions and leopards in the wild, and is home to the entirety of the ‘Big Five’.
Serengeti National Park is home to more than 9000 hyena, almost 3000 lions, and more than a thousand leopards, the park is a great place to see predators going about their grisly but essential business.
Perhaps most startling about the park is just how ever present the animals are. Your entire drive will be accompanied by game-viewing, meaning there’s never a dull moment.
It is important to appreciate the sheer size of the Serengeti when planning to visit the park, as it is often divided into North, South, East, West, and Central. Each region offers a different game drive experience as well as different accommodation options, and the Great Migration passes through some regions more than others.
Serviced by everything from basic budget camp sites to the luxurious lodges and tended camps in Serengeti, the sheer scope of the park means it can be explored in a single day or over the course of weeks.
The Serengeti National Park is located in a remote corner of our planet in the north of Tanzania. Even though this is one of the few places left where nature’s ancient rules and seasonal cycles have been more or less unaltered, the Serengeti is fairly easy to access. The most convenient option is to fly from Arusha to one of the park’s seven airstrips. It is also possible to book an overland safari in a 4×4 safari vehicle from Arusha to the Serengeti National Park and visit one or two other parks along the way. Of course it’s also possible to combine these options; book a one way Serengeti overland safari and fly back to Arusha. More information on the different safari possibilities may be found on going on a safari in Serengeti National Park.
The recommended point of entry is Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) which lies between the towns of Moshi and Arusha. The airport is located about 200 miles from the park’s southern entrance. There are a couple of international flight options such as KLM (daily), Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines (a couple of times per week). Kilimanjaro International Airport also has daily connections with Nairobi (NBO) in Kenya, which offers more international flight possibilities. Additional airlines such as British Airways, Emirates and others fly into Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam (DAR). Please note that arriving at Dar es Salaam may require an extra overnight and a domestic flight on a small regional airline with luggage restrictions.
The favoured route for a Serengeti fly-in safari is by flying from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK). From here it will take approximately 1 to 5 hours to fly to one of seven airstrips within the Serengeti National Park. All flights are operated by local airlines such as Air Excel, Coastal Aviation or Regional Air. Once landed at the airstrip, the lodge staff will pick you up and transfer you to your final destination where a cold drink will be ready and waiting (please allow another 45 minutes to 2 hours for road transfer – depending on the chosen lodge).
It is also possible to fly from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport (NBO) or Wilson Airport (WIL) directly to one of Serengeti’s airstrips. When travelling from the Lake Victoria area, the favoured airport is Mwanza Airport (MWZ). There are also direct flights from the Serengeti to Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and other national parks in Tanzania such Lake Manyara and Tarangire.
Looking for a faster and even more convenient option to get to the Serengeti? A scheduled or private charter flight is the way to go. Some of the more exclusive lodges have their own airstrip and are able to arrange direct scheduled and/or private charter flights from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or Arusha Airport (ARK) to their airstrip.
The most popular way to travel to Serengeti National Park by road is by booking a drive-in safari. In general the drive-in safaris start from the town of Arusha. As it will take approximately eight hours to travel from Arusha to the Serengeti National Park, an overnight stay at one or more wildlife sites en route is usually part of your safari itinerary.
Although not recommended, the Serengeti National Park is accessible when travelling by (rental) vehicle. Please keep in mind that careful planning is necessary when driving by yourself through the Serengeti National Park. A 4×4 vehicle is required to be able to access all roads throughout the year. Petrol is sold at Seronera in the Southern Serengeti Area but driving is not permitted in the park after 19:00.
There are four main entry and exit points:
Naabi Hill Gate (06:00 – 18:00): Main and most heavily trafficked access gate if coming from Arusha; 45km from Seronera.
Ndabaka Gate (06:00 – 18:00): Main gate for Western Corridor; 1.5 hour drive from Mwanza and 145km from Seronera – last entry at 16H00.
Klein’s Gate (06:00 – 18:00): In the far north-east, it allows a loop trip combining Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Lake Natron – the latter just 2 to 3 hours from the park. Last entry at 16:00.
Bologonya Gate: en route to / from Kenya, but the border is closed and unlikely to open soon.
Entrance / Conservation fees for Serengeti National Park in 2018
Of or above the age of 16 – US$ 60.00 per person per 24 hours (excl. 18% VAT)*
Between the age of 5 and 15 – US$ 20.00 per person 24 hours (excl. 18% VAT)*
Children below the age of 5 – free of charge*
* Subject to change.
Proof of identification is mandatory at the entry gate.
Fees at the gates can only be paid by Mastercard, Visa or Tanapa (Tanzania National Parks) Smartcard. Cash or other cards are not accepted.
All fees are for single entry.
Holders of a Directors’ Pass are not allowed to be accompanied by visitors.
Fee once paid is non-refundable.
Expatriates / residents and their dependants living in Tanzania must have one of the following documents: resident permits Class A, B, C, exemption certificate, temporary pass attached with government receipt plus acknowledgement letter, diplomatic passport or ID.
EAC Citizen refers to nationals of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda & South Sudan.
Nationals of other EAC member states must produce their passport at the entry gate.
It is important to point out that the Serengeti National Park’s entrance/conservation fees are normally included in the rate when booking an organised safari package.
Most international travellers require a visa when arriving in Tanzania, which can be arranged upon arrival at one of the major airports. However, queues for these visas usually entail wasted hours spent at the airport. Alternatively, you may download your visa application from your local Tanzanian embassy website and submit these via post. Applications require two passport-sized photographs, payment for visa fees and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the return of your passport, visa and other materials. More information about the visa application can be obtained from your nearest Tanzanian Embassy/Consulate. The current Tanzanian visa rates are US$ 50.00 to US$ 100.00* for single entry – depending on your country of origin. *Subject to change.