Difference between revisions of "Serengeti National Park"
Revision as of 03:49, 2 June 2008
The park is but one of several conservation areas within the Serengeti region of East Africa, though a vitally important one. As well as conserving wildlife, flora and iconic landscapes, Serengeti National Park has emerged as a major traveller and tourist destination, many making the journey there to engage in safari. The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai language, meaning 'endless plains'.
The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains which they knew as “endless plain” for over 200 years when the first European explorers visited the area. The name Serengeti is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area. German geographer and explorer Dr. Oscar Baumann entered the area in 1892. Baumann killed three rhinos during a stay in the Ngorongoro crater.
The first Briton to enter the Serengeti, Stewart Edward White, recorded his explorations in the northern Serengeti in 1913. As he travelled south, he recorded: "We walked for miles over burnt out country... Then I saw the green trees of the river, walked two miles more and found myself in paradise."
He had found Serengeti. In the years since White's excursions under "the high noble arc of the cloudless African sky," Serengeti has come to symbolize paradise to many. The Maasai, who had grazed their cattle on the vast grassy plains for millennia had always thought so. To them it was Siringitu - "the place where the land moves on forever."Stewart returned to the Serengeti in the 1920s, and camped in the area around Seronera for three months. During this time he and his companions shot 50 lions.<ref>Stewart Edward White</ref>
Because the hunting of lions made them so scarce, the British decided to make a partial Game Reserve of Template:Convert in the area in 1921 and a full one in 1929. These actions became the basis for Serengeti National Park, Serengeti, Heartbreak on the Serengeti - National Geographic, which was established in 1951. The Serengeti gained more fame after the initial work of Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael in the 1950s. Together they produced the book and film Serengeti Shall Not Die, widely recognized as one of the most important early pieces of nature conservation documentary.
As part of the creation of the park, and in order to preserve wildlife, the resident Maasai were moved to the Ngorongoro highlands. There is still considerable controversy surrounding this move, with claims made of coercion and deceit on the part of the colonial authorities.
The Serengeti is Tanzania's oldest national park and remains the flagship of the country’s tourism industry, providing a major draw to the “Northern Safari Circuit”, encompassing Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha national parks, as well as Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Over 90,000 tourists visit the Park each year.
Two World Heritage Sites and two Biosphere Reserves have been established within the 30,000 km² region. It's unique ecosystem has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Peter Mattheissen, filmakers like Hugo von Lawick and Alan Root as well as numerous photographers and scientists.
The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.
Flora and fauna
The Serengeti falls into the classic bimodal rain pattern of East Africa. The short rains are concentrated in November/December, the long and heavier rains in March - May. Mean monthly maximum temperatures are relatively uniform throughout the year being constant around 27 to 28 degrees centigrade (or 75 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit) at Seronera. At Ngorongoro Crater the nights can be very chilly due to altitude.
The nearest international airport to the Serengeti is Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha. KLM is currently the only international airline that flies directly into Arusha (on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from Amsterdam). Other airlines such as Swissair will fly into Nairobi, Kenia (from Zurich) or Dar-es-Salaam, from where you can get a connecting flight to Arusha.
By car: The main access road into the Serengeti from Arusha passes the gate of Lake Manyara National Park, mounts the Rift Valley Escarpment, goes on through communal farming lands to the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area, drops down onto the plains past Olduvai Gorge to the east, and enters the Serengeti through Naabi Hill Gate. The distance is 325 km and the drive takes around eight hours. At Seronera and Lobo, garage facilities are available to refuel cars. Breakdown facilities, however, are virtually non-existent.
As of March '07 permit fees were $50 per person per day and $30 per person per night for basic camping. Additional fees for vehicles apply.
Lake Lagarja/Lake Masak, South Serengeti
From December to May, depending on the rains, the large herds are concentrated on the low lying grass steppe between Olduvai, Gol, Naabi and Lagarja. A base on Lake Masak or Lake Lagarja is then ideal because one can travel from there in all directions. Day excursions take one into areas that are little known so that you can enjoy in peace an animal paradise: for example Hidden Valley, the Soito Ngum Kopjes or the Kakesio Plains. You will enjoy the freedom of travelling cross country in order to be able to find the best places and thus have the chance to see rarer animals such as honey-badgers, wild cats, porcupines. In the right season, Southern Serengeti is not to be surpassed.
Moru Kopjes and Seronera, Central Serengeti
Here the savanna animals are joined by species that have adapted to living in the rocky cliffs. From here, or whilst in transit, you visit Seronera in the centre of the park searching for rare leopards and cheetahs. You can also enjoy the ever changing landscape with gallery forests, kopjes and water holes.
Lobo, North Serengeti
The North Serengeti is very different from the grassy plains in the South. As there is always water present the big herds retreat there in the dry season. In addition there are many species that live here permanently and you will also fairly regularly see elephants. A world for itself are the Bologonja Springs on the border to Kenya. The 'Corridor', West Serengeti
This is a special area which is seldom offered on safari tours. Long distances, poor communications (few vehicles are equipped with a radio) and the frequently difficult road conditions still keep away most visitors from this part of the Serengeti which stretches almost as far as Lake Victoria. An important aspect of the Serengeti is therefore lost to them. This area is very different from the other main zones of the park. In the dry season large stretches of the route westward can be practically empty of animals. The last quarter of the route is however ideally suited to be the home for thousands of animals the whole year round. Gnus and zebras who are resident here do not join their migratory relatives who pass through every year on their way northwards. Big herds of giraffes, buffalo, eland, topis, kongonis, impalas, waterbuck and Thompson's gazelles live here together with them. All the big cats and hyenas are present in a good number as well. A special attraction, that has become quite famous, is the crocodile population of the Grumeti River. This is particularly large at Kirawira, where the river does not dry up. The time spent at this life-giving water source can be among the most inter-esting. Here there are not only crocodiles and hippos to observe but also a large number of varieties of birds. Those tourists with a lot of time (or luck) will be able to discover the Black and White Colobus monkey in the crowns of the trees. On the wooded savannahs of the Ndabaka plains there is always something to see. You will always feel at peace at the calm pools and mysterious "korongos". During your excursions in this least visited part of Serengeti, you can stay at the most luxurious and exclusive camp near Kirawira, the "Kirawira Serena Camp", at Conservation Corporation's "Grumeti River Camp" (also very exclusive!) or at the cheaper, but good and charming new Speke Bay Lodge right on the shore of Lake Victoria (4 km outside the park, an hour's drive from Kirawira).
Take photographs! A good zoom and a large memory card make the results so good you'll be looking at the photos months and months later. (Save them on high quality image and you can do amazing things with your photo program when you get home!) Eat fresh roasted cashews, drink watermelon juice, try the tiny sweet bananas.
Wood carvings, tinga-tinga paintings, batik work, silk shawls, locally made jewelry, coffee. Sayari Camp had arrangements with locals to supply a little "gift shop" and the money goes right back into local programs.
Coffee, bungo juice, Tusker lager, Amarula!
In Your Wildest Dreams
Located in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti National Park, The Lodge offers the most exclusive safari living experience with at breathtaking panorama view of the Serengeti plains and the Mbalageti River. Where one of the main attractions is the annual migration of wildebeest and zebra, the Lodge Boosts 24 Luxury Chalet, 2 Luxury Suites & 14 Lodge Room, all rooms are furnished and finished to make the stay as comfortable, special and memorable as can be. All rooms are offering luxury in harmony with nature.
The Swimming Pool Deck, Bar and Restaurant, located on the tip of the hill with 360 degree view, is the perfect venue for relaxing after a day game viewing
Enjoy a relaxing and spacious wilderness experience!
Wild animals can be dangerous and you should not wander off on your own, especially at night, while on safari. However most animals are rather frightened by humans and will flee instead of attacking unless cornered or provoked. Keep a sensible distance and treat them with respect.