My love affair with Tanzania is an old one now and I have seen it in all weathers, seasons and extremes.
On my most recent journey, I was reminded , once again, how huge and powerful the Serengeti system is. From the footsteps of the early hominids near Oldupai gorge to the ancient migration routes of wildebeest and zebra, time has been influencing the Serengeti. Although I think most people can appreciate its size, I was struck again by the area’s strong seasonality.
In February you can visit the short grass plains at the foot of Ngorongoro crater and be staggered by the sheer number and diversity of animals calving, eating, hunting and nesting. In May those same plains will offer you only an occasional Grants gazelle or lonely elephant. No sound at all, no movement except the long grass and the odd ear or tail. Similarly, the stunning Musabi plains of the western corridor are teaming with rutting wildebeest in June and July and are otherwise silent with only distant journeys of giraffe hinting at life. Delve into secret valleys (only the best of guides know them – and we know only the best of guides) and you will find waterbuck, large herds of elephant and perhaps the shy serval.
Seronera in the centre of the park, on the other hand, is an anomaly as it offers year-round water and the best leopard sleeping trees in the Serengeti. If you are in this area you have to look up! Always! You will see either a twitching tail or a descending vulture – both worth taking note of. Similarly, the life-sustaining Grumeti river which plays host to the migration in July is a small haven for all wildlife throughout the year.
I visited the far northern Wagukuria area in May and had to catch my breath. It is so beautiful with endless views over the Masai Mara, broadleaved woodlands (unlike anywhere in the Serengeti) and high stands of golden Themeda grasslands. Grasslands waiting for the animals who flock to the Mara River from August through to October.
So, I have to reiterate that you really do need an expert to help you plan your Serengeti holiday as there are such great differences throughout the year.