Seronera River in Serengeti National Park : Explore the area of the park where the southern plains and the northern woodlands meet and where the Seronera River draws wildlife all year. If you want to spot a leopard, look up at the sausage trees that line the river’s edge, or look for lions looking for a place to rest in the shade. There are half-day and full-day game drives available in this region, so your knowledgeable Focus East Africa Tours driver-guide can customize your game drive to your preferences. In the Maasai Kopjes, a little further south, you might be able to see a cheetah if the grass isn’t too long between April and November.
With its waterways, seasonal swamps, and lion-spotting opportunities, it is without a doubt one of the best locations in the Serengeti National Park to see cheetahs and lions. Leopards are frequently seen perched on the branches of the sausage trees that line the Seronera River. From here, they usually drag their prey to a protected area where other predators cannot get to it.
According to some studies, this is one of the regions (Seronera River) in all of Africa with the highest concentration of leopards. On the other hand, people frequently see lions along the river, always skulking and waiting to pounce on prey that comes to drink.
The Maasai Kopjes pride, the Makoma Hill pride, the Campsite pride, and the Seronera pride are among the lion prides that are being studied and monitored here as part of the Serengeti Lion Project.
The enormous Nile crocodiles, which live in the river and frequently stand motionless on its banks with their mouths open to control their body temperature, are also there. Hippos can also spend their days submerged in water, with only their large nostrils and ears usually visible. At night, however, they come to the surface to graze on the grass that grows along riverbanks.
Visitors to the Retina Hippo Pool are allowed to get out of the jeep and walk around the pool to observe the hippos, who are crowded together and frequently fight for dominance of their territory.
Birdwatchers frequent the Seronera River all year long to see a variety of birds, including herons, egrets, gray-crowned cranes, Egyptian geese, turacos, kingfishers, hoopoes, and rollers. Waterbucks, vervet monkeys, and reedbucks are additional creatures that can be frequently seen.
THE AREA OF CENTRAL SERENGETI:
- Seronera Valley
- Seronera River
- The Retina Hippo Pool
- Moru Kopjes
- Masai Kopjes
- Makoma Hill
- Turners Spring
- Simba Kopjes
- Long Grass Plains
WILDLIFE VIEWING NEAR SERONERA
With good reason, most safari game drives concentrate along the Seronera River: lion sightings are frequent, and the riverbank is home to one of the densest populations of leopards in the entire world. There aren’t enough tall trees for these elusive animals to be well hidden, making the sausage trees and umbrella thorns among the best places in Africa to look for leopards. In recent years, several lion prides in the area have frequently hung out in the trees, especially when it rains. A truly unique sight!
In the kopjes close to Seronera, lion sightings are common. Lion and cheetah sightings are particularly good in the Moru Koppies. Around 25 black rhinos live there as well; they are the offspring of a herd of seven that migrated there from Ngorongoro. Cheetah sightings are common in the vast plains south of the Seronera River, also referred to as the Serengeti Plains. The plains running immediately southeast from Seronera, which are made up of open grassland and a few koppies clusters, are ecologically connected to the Ndutu and Ngorongoro Crater Areas. Elephants, spotted hyenas, and cheetahs can all be found in the plains west of the Seronera River that rise toward the Kamuyo Hills.
The small, salty Lake Magadi, which receives its water from the Mbalageti River northeast of Moru Koppies, is frequently home to large numbers of aquatic birds, including thousands of flamingos when the water level is appropriate. Up to 100 hippopotamuses can be found in the Retina Hippo Pool, which is located 15 kilometers north of the park’s main entrance near the meeting point of the Seronera and Grumeti rivers.
SERONERA VISITOR CENTER
The superbly constructed Seronera Visitor Center is a great place to go after an early morning game drive. Combining a fun information trail around a nearby kopje with ongoing exhibits, displays, and wildlife video screenings at lunch is a real treat. Additionally, there is a store selling drinks and snacks, as well as a picnic area where semi-tame rock hyraxes, birds like hoopoes, and the cuddly Fischer’s lovebirds look over your lunch. A booklet with the information presented on the trail, as well as a leaflet with a map and thorough descriptions of the various game drives around Seronera, is available in the center’s gift shop. The staff can usually provide you with information on current predator sightings and road conditions, and several park wardens are stationed here to address more specific questions.
SERONERA GAME DRIVE TRAILS
Here is a quick summary of the main trails: Most have numbered road intersections that match those on the visitor center leaflet. Starting at Seronera Hippo Pool, the Seronera River Circuit (junctions 1–26) travels along the river and offers views of lions, leopards, crocodiles, and waterbuck, as well as hippos, giraffes, vervet monkeys, baboons, and numerous birds. The circuit can be combined with the Kopjes Circuit, which circles the Maasai, Loliondo, and Boma Kopjes counterclockwise (junctions 52–62; enter at junction 18 on the east bank of the Seronera River). On the rocks, climbing is not permitted. Hyena, zebra, ostrich, warthog, gazelle, topi, and hartebeest can all be found along the Hills Circuit (junctions 27–29), which travels through grassland to the forested foothills of the Makori and Makoma Hills west of the Seronera Valley.
The Songore River Circuit (junctions 30-34), which makes a loop into the plains south of the Seronera River, is the best route to take in conjunction with a drive along this circuit. During the dry season, Thomson and Grant’s gazelle, topi, hartebeest, ostrich, and cheetah are common. Last but not least, the Wandamu River Circuit (junctions 40–49) hugs the Wandamu River’s banks and covers terrain similar to that of the Seronera River Circuit.
THE CENTRAL PLAINS
The Serengeti ecosystem is centered on the undulating, semiarid Serengeti Plains. You can get a bird’s-eye view of the migration between January and April by climbing the kopje behind Naabi Hill Gate. This viewpoint and picnic area are particularly good in February and March, when literally hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle munch their way across the grasslands below. The alkaline soil, which contains volcanic ash that was laid down during the eruptions of Ngorongoro’s Crater Highlands and is therefore rich in minerals, appears to have something to do with the abundance of wildlife in the plains. This is made even more apparent by the annual cycle of rain and evaporation, which draws minerals to the surface. The three main ones are calcium, potassium carbonate, and sodium carbonate. Recent research has shown that these minerals are crucial for many animals’ diets, particularly lactating ones, which helps to explain why 80% of Serengeti wildebeest give birth on these plains.
There is still a lot of resident wildlife present, including lion prides, unusually large hyena clans (up to eighty strong), hartebeest, topi, warthog, and ostrich, even after the migration leaves the area and the Central Plains turn into a dusty and dry shimmer of straw. Although you can see secretary birds and Kori bustards throughout the year, the rainy season is when the birdlife is most abundant. The black-throated honey guide bird, which has a remarkable symbiotic relationship with the ratel (honey badger), is another bird to keep an eye out for. The honeyguide, as its name suggests, directs the ratel to beehives in trees that are home to wild bees, which the ratel then pulls down and opens while appearing impervious to stings. The honey is consumed by the ratel, and the honey guide also indulges in some beeswax.
TRAVELING TO SERONERA
Serengeti National Park is One of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders. Every travel enthusiast should put Seronera on their Africa Travel bucket list because of its game reserves, substantial lion population, varied landscapes and habitats, and second-largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world!
The destination is reachable via a number of routes. Visitors could travel by car from Tarangire, Manyara, or Karatu. The area can be reached by flights that land at a number of airstrips inside the park through the Maasai Mara or Zanzibar. The main hub for flights to the Serengeti is Arusha. Flights are a quicker option because drives can be monotonous or exhausting.
Before going on a Tanzania safari, it’s a good idea to make a packing list. Travelers should always have their essentials on hand, including identification, cash or credit, tickets, booking confirmations, mobile devices, and laptops. Prescription medications, sunscreen, insect repellent, extra batteries, a flashlight, hand sanitizer, extra masks and gloves, maps, binoculars, and sleeping bags (if required) must all be carried at all times.
It’s a good idea to dress in light-weight, light-colored, breathable fabrics because they are comfortable, don’t draw attention, and make less noise when you walk. White clothing is not recommended because it can easily become soiled from the dust. Mosquitoes and Tsetse flies can be attracted by dark-colored clothing. Layers, such as a fleece, scarf, or light jacket, are necessary for travelers to protect themselves from the cold (it gets colder at night), and sunglasses and hats are required for daytime sun protection. It is essential to wear relaxed sneakers so that you can easily walk around and explore the area. Flip-flops are also a requirement for travelers’ comfort at the end of the day.
The region experiences “big rains” from March to May, making these months the least desirable for travel. While prices are lower and bird watching is excellent during these months, rain may cause safaris to be canceled. The months of November through mid-December are the best for travel because the “little” rains do not interfere with outdoor activities or game viewing, the weather is pleasant, and the skies are clear. The dry season, which runs from June to October, offers the best opportunities for a safari trip to see wildlife.
Visitors can see the wildlife gathered in the Seronera River Valley at the watering holes where predators like leopards, hyenas, and cheetahs come to hunt. The magnificent Naabi hill, which is covered in acacia trees, is a great spot to see the Great Migration of the majestic wildebeests. Visitors can view the three big cats—lions, leopards, and cheetahs—as well as other amazing wildlife in Lobo Valley in the Northern Serengeti. This area is less expensive because it is less crowded, which also offers seclusion and privacy. From a safe distance, 200 hippos can be seen in the deep Retina Hippo Pool. More than 60 human fossils, as well as numerous prehistoric tools dating back more than two million years, can be found at Olduvai Gorge! Ancient footprints preserved in ash can be seen at Laetoli! The only black rhinos in the Serengeti can be found at Moru Kopjes, which is a must-visit location. Rangers working to stop poaching keep an eye on a small herd of the threatened animal. Travelers can visit Bologonja Springs for excellent wildlife viewing and bird watching, as well as to enjoy the calmness, serenity, privacy, and tranquility of the remote location. They can also visit Gong Rock to see the famous Masai rock paintings.