Top 5 Things To Do In The Serengeti

The Serengeti is one of the most famous and widely visited national parks of Africa and here you can experience some of the most spectacular wildlife viewings in the world. But there are also plenty of other activities you can enjoy in the Serengeti between game viewing drives.

The Serengeti matches most people’s dream idea of an safari in Africa with the numerous species of wildlife, vast golden plains adorned with kopjes and umbrella trees, groves of the weird Kigelia Africana, otherwise known as the sausage tree and watering holes filled with crocodiles and huge hippos.

To get the most out of your time in Africa it is important to plan well, given the sheer size of the interesting areas to visit and the time needed to fully enjoy what a tour has to offer.

Below you will find my tips on the top five must-see activities to enjoy in the Serengeti.

1. Allow as much time as possible for game drives

It is probably fair to say that for most visitors, the highlight of a visit to the Serengeti is the experience of viewing the wildlife in its glorious natural habitat. Famous for the migration of wildebeest and bird watching opportunities, this really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most tourists. But what many do not account for is the sheer size of the area – you simply cannot cover everything in a few days, and to try means you will miss out on some amazing views. So allow as much time as possible for game drives and leave as early as possible to maximize your day.

2. Visit the Serengeti Visitor Center

The Serengeti Visitor Centre is well worth a visit. Here you will find a guided walking path with very helpful and informative signs and exhibits describing the ecosystem of the Serengeti and the wildlife. Wildlife you will likely come across when walking the path includes unusual birds, vibrantly colorful agama lizards and cute little rock hyraxes.

The center has a picnic area, restrooms, and a coffee shop. You can also buy souvenirs. You will find the Visitor Center in the Seronera area. It is open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

3. Visit a Maasai Village

The Serengeti ecosystem is home to the semi-nomadic Maasai tribe, who live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania along the Great Rift Valley. They are a well-known people in East Africa as they live within many of the more famous game parks. The Massai live an old-style way of life, marked by their distinctive traditional attire. Most of the Maasai villages welcome visitors and the tribes people are happy to demonstrate their customs and lifestyle. A visit to a Maasai village will usually last about an hour. Visitors are typically shown the village school, a boma dwelling which is a round construction made of sticks, cow manure and mud, and if you are lucky a dancing ceremony. After tourists may purchase crafts created by the villagers.

4. Experience the Great Migration

The Serengeti is the background for one of the world’s most eminent natural spectacles: the Great Migration. Herds of over a million wildebeest, zebras and gazelle move in a pattern throughout the year which is somewhat predictable. Some people think the migration is a once a year event, summed up by a river crossing, but the beast actually migrate throughout the year, as the seek fresh grazing pastures and fresh water. The precise timing migration depends on the rainfall pattern during the year.

Here’s an  idea of the migration cycle: From January to March the wildebeest reside in the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area and southern Serengeti area grazing and calving.  During April and May the herds begin to move in a northwesterly direction looker for greener grass. May is generally the start of the mating season also known as “the rut”. When June comes, the herds are looking to move to the western side of the crocodile-infested Grumeti River, and throughout July and August they move in a northeast direction towards the Mara River and the border of Kenya. This is the time of the dramatic Mara River crossings when many animal lose their lives to crocodiles. From September to December the herds graze in the Maasai Mara in Kenya before slowly migrating in a southwestern direction returning to Tanzania to restart the process.

If you are interested in seeing the migration, contact us and we will give you details of how to maximise your chances of seeing the herds. Regarding the river crossings, timing is not always predictable so if this is high on your list make sure you plan enough time in the area to improve your chances of seeing it.

5. See the Serengeti from above

Perhaps the most marvelous way to see the Serengeti is with a bird’s eye view floating in a hot air balloon over the plains at dawn. During a balloon ride you can witness the sunrise over the “endless plains” before lowering to treetop level to view the herds before they seek cover to escape the hot daytime heat. After landing, you’ll be treated to a glass of champagne and a full English-breakfast with. This is a wonderful but experience but it does come with a price tag of $499 per person. You can find out more at Serengeti Balloon Safaris.

Asilia Africa – Book with us

With an impressive portfolio of 20 camps to its name, Asilia Africa believe that world class travel can – and must – go hand in hand with improving livelihoods and conserving nature. The camps are set in some of the most iconic habitats in Kenya and Tanzania to give guests an unparalleled and honest safari experience, whilst their personal service and expert guides ensure an adventure like no other.

Asilia has a long history of investment into the areas surrounding each camp, ensuring fragile areas are protected with a view to turning them into sustainable economies and the safeguarding of vast ecosystems so that the wild animals who call them home continue to survive and thrive. This commitment is evident throughout Asilia’s camps and allows guests to truly feel a part of the conservation.

Each of Asilia’s camps offer guests a different safari experience, from Rekero Camp with its unparalleled views of the migration thundering across the river outside to the laid back Matemwe Lodge set overlooking a coral fringed lagoon on the coast of Zanzibar Island. The company’s award winning flagship camp Sayari is renowed for extraordinary wildlife sightings in a luxurious setting, affording guests dramatic views over the Northern Plains of the Serengeti, this camp is ofter voted one of the top safari escapes on the planet.

For the next 6 weeks are offering the 4th night free on new bookings in Tanzania and the 3rd night free in Kenya. Valid for bookings between 1st September – 15th October 2016, for travel prior to 31st March 2017. Here are the details:

Tanzania:
Every 4th night free in Tanzania: Offer excludes Olakira Migration Camp and Namiri Plains, alternative suggestions are Kimondo Migration Camp and Dunia Camp.

Kenya:
Every 3rd night free in Kenya: Offer excludes Ol Pejeta Bush Camp.

Property Specials:

Matemwe: “Stay 7, Pay 5” & “Stay 4, Pay 3”: at Matemwe Main Lodge, Retreat or Beach House.
Rubondo Island: “Stay 3, Pay 2”: At Rubondo Island Camp as a stand-alone offer.
Kwihala Camp: “Stay 3, Pay 2”: At Kwihala Camp as a stand-alone offer.

In addition – Asilia have upgraded and made improvements including…

A smoother ride to the Highlands

The road to our newest camp The Highlands, has been widened and completely resurfaced with morum so it is now a good gravel road for the final 7km into camp. Travel to the camp, and to and from the Ngorongoro Crater, is now a considerably less bumpy experience!

No more waiting!

Asilia now have a dedicated member of staff permanently stationed at the Ngorongoro Gate and Kogatende to assist with park fees for all Asilia guests, including Full Board guests staying at third party properties, as well as those going to Asilia properties, eliminating waiting around times for all Asilia guests.

A shady spot

Guests departing Kogatende airstrip in the Northern Serengeti will now be able to relax in the shade with a cold drink whilst they wait for their plane with the addition of a tent next to the main building. Check out Luxury Safari Tours

What You Need To Know About Travel To Africa

A trip to Africa is on a lot of bucket lists. For many of us in the United States, the continent seems majestic and mysterious yet dangerous and uncharted. Much of what we know about Africa is what we see in the media, a land of lions and giraffes, war and poverty. The Africa I know and love is a land of beauty and wonder that I have now dedicated my life to sharing with travellers.

My travel company, kilimanjaro safari tours Africa, has been sharing the wonders of Africa with those eager to travel and explore the continent’s beauty, wildlife, wilderness and culture for 25 years. Many of those we work with are planning a first trip to Africa and have a plethora of questions, from where to stay, when to go, what to pack and more.

I’ve chosen a list of 10 most frequently asked questions that I’m often pressed with from those with a desire to travel to Africa. We pride ourselves on our knowledge of the land and culture and strive to educate travelers on the essence of Africa.

When should I start planning for a trip to Africa?
We encourage our clients to plan their African safari as far in advance as possible; several months at a minimum to ensure a better selection of camp availability. This is especially important if they are planning to travel during the Southern Africa safari “high season” months of July through October.

How much does it cost?
Most of the African safaris and African holidays organized for our clients are 100 percent customized to their individual interests, timeframe and budget. The rates for the destinations we offer cover a wide range and typically vary significantly from the “high season” (generally July through mid-November) to the “low season” (generally November through June).

Is travel to Africa safe?
Africa’s biggest enemy is the international media who represent all 46 African countries as a single entity and not as unique and individual countries with their own characteristics.

It would come as a surprise to many people to find out that there are in fact areas that are worse off in more developed countries than in the “dangerous” African countries. No country can claim to be 100% safe, and so as with travel to any new or unknown destination, it is advisable to take certain standard security precautions. Visitors should take the same precautions as they would normally take in any other destination worldwide. Keep an eye on your purses, wallets, passports, money and cameras when walking in a crowd. Avoid walking in the cities at night and place valuables in your hotel safe. Choosing a knowledgeable operator such as Eyes on Africa as your specialist Southern African tour operator is the best move you could make.

While staying at African safari lodges and tented camps you are typically far removed from human settlement and crime in the camps is virtually nonexistent, in fact, we have never heard of it and have been traveling to the camps for years. Plan your Safari Holiday in Africa

Where in Africa should I visit? What animals will I see?
First, let’s define the regions. In terms of wildlife safaris, Southern Africa includes South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia while East Africa is essentially Kenya and Tanzania. Meanwhile, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of the Congo, all destinations popular for gorilla tracking safaris, are generally considered Central Africa. Malawi and Zambia are also sometimes classified as Central Africa.

In terms of landscapes and attractions, the regions are quite different. East Africa boasts Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti Plains/Maasai Mara ecosystem and the Ngorongoro Crater. Southern Africa includes Botswana’s Okavango Delta wetland, the Skeleton Coast and Namib Desert of Namibia, the miles of coastline with diverse habitats and the Kruger National Park of South Africa, the semi-arid Kalahari Desert of Botswana and northern South Africa and the lower Zambezi River basin including Victoria Falls along the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The wildlife species found in the two areas are essentially the same; most of the predators and plains game can be seen in both regions and only some birds and a few mammals and reptiles are distinct between the regions. East Africa offers herds of zebras and wildebeests in the hundreds of thousands. The annual migration between the Maasai Mara in the north and Tanzania’s Serengeti in the south is a spectacle unequaled anywhere on earth today. However, Botswana and Zimbabwe are home to 80% of Southern Africa’s 300,000 elephants and huge herds are a common sight along their northern borders.

The major differences between East Africa and Southern Africa for safaris are the density of tourists, the safari accommodations and the safari vehicles. East Africa, in general, has earned a reputation for a high density of tourists staying in hotel-styled lodges. The most common safari vehicle in East Africa is the mini-van with its pop-up roof, whereby passengers stand up to take pictures while peering out of the roof or sit in the enclosed vans. Conversely, Southern Africa is known for its luxury tented safari camps and huge tracts of wilderness areas with very low tourist densities, making for a private safari experience. The safari vehicles used here are modified, open-air Land Rovers which also add to the intimacy of the experience.

That said, there are a growing number of luxury lodges cropping up in East Africa, particularly in Tanzania and these lodges offer a far more exclusive experience than the large safari lodges which may have typified Kenya and Tanzania.

For the most part, Southern Africa is dominated by huge land concessions, which are owned or leased by luxury safari camp operators, and these concessions are for the sole use of the individual camp and its guests. With an average camp size of only 10-16 guests and only one or two vehicles for the entire concession, one can drive all day and not encounter anything but wilderness and wildlife.

What are the entry requirements?
All people traveling to the Southern African region require a valid passport that is normally valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. At present, holders of American passports do not require visas for South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. They do however require visas for Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia; all but Kenya’s may be purchased at the point of entry for a nominal fee. It is advisable to check with the consulate of the country that you intend to visit as requirements can change without notice.

Southern Africa has become very strict with regards to passport control requirements. There have been instances of visitors being deported due to non-compliance. Passports MUST be valid for at least six months after your return home date. We recommend a validity of nine months to prevent any problems in this regard. The passport entry requirement for any travelers entering South Africa is a minimum of two blank pages in their passport (in addition to the two endorsement pages in US passports). If however a guest should be traveling to more than one African country via South Africa, then the traveler must ensure they allow for sufficient pages for each country visited and also have the minimum of two blank visa pages for each re-entry into South Africa.

Should I take any medical precautions before going to Africa?
As vaccination requirements change on occasion, we recommend that you check with your local doctor or health department for the latest health precautions. The most important health consideration in Southern Africa is malaria and it is strongly recommended that prophylactics (i.e., oral tablets) be taken as a preventative precaution. You are not legally required to have any vaccinations unless you are traveling from a region where yellow fever is prevalent, in which case an inoculation will be required against the disease.

Should I get traveler’s insurance?
Yes. Insurance should include coverage of cancellation or curtailment of the trip to Africa, emergency evacuation expenses, medical expenses, repatriation expenses and damage/theft/loss of personal baggage, money and goods.

Is communication with the “outside world” possible while on an African safari?
For most people wishing to visit the remote parts of Southern Africa, getting away from civilization so to speak, is the major attraction and reason for going. As with electrical power, communication by phone, fax, etc. is out of the question given the remote locations of the camps. All camps do however have radio communications with their town/city offices in case of any emergencies. Most lodges in South Africa offer full telephone and internet services for those who do not wish to detach from the world completely.

What weather should I expect on an African safari?
In general, the climate in southern Africa is as near perfect as you can get with dry season temperatures similar to those of the Mediterranean, but without the humidity. Daytime temperatures average 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit but can get much hotter, especially in the months of October and November, just before the rains arrive.

During the winter period, June through August, nighttime temperatures in some areas can drop to freezing or below. Early morning game drives during these winter months can start out very chilly and you should bring a warm sweater, gloves and even a hat to cover your ears. However, by mid-morning the days will heat up dramatically. The rains occur each year during November through March, with the dry season stretching from April through October.

What types of food are served on an African safari?
Top-class British and European cuisine as well as some local dishes are served in the hotels, lodges, camps and restaurants. Most foreign visitors are very impressed with the quality and quantity of food provided while on an African safari. Some of the more up-scale camps provide food, presentation and service which rival that of a five-star hotel in any top city. The tables are elegantly set under the stars, under thatch or even in a boma, and we promise you will never go hungry.