The northern region of the Serengeti is a vast pristine area of wooded rolling hills interspersed with open grassy patches and large granite outcrops. This region extends north about 55 miles from Seronera in the central Serengeti to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. Most visitors to the Serengeti never see the northern region. It is only rarely visited and remains an unexplored and untouched wilderness packed with stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife.
We find it ironic that the most popular game viewing regions in East Africa are the Central Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Marareserve in Kenya. Thousands of visitors a year flock to these two great areas, which belong to same ecosystem. Located right in between these two areas is the northern Serengeti, which receives very few visitors.
Wildlife concentrations are a little lower in the northern Serengeti and the thick woodlands do make game harder to see but this is more than compensated by the beautiful landscapes and the fact you will have the majority of wildlife sightings all to yourself.
Home to the enormous migratory herds during the dry season (July to Nov). The Northern Serengeti remains an unexplored wilderness packed with stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife. The most captivating highlight of this area is undoubtedly the massive herds of migratory wildebeest and zebra during the dry season. However, the North Serengeti also supports an abundance of resident wildlife including lion, elephant, hippo, giraffe, crocodile and the rare oribi antelope.
Great Migration crossing the Mara River
Northward migration from July – Nov
Rare oribi antelope & black rhino
Big cat viewing in ancient Lobo Valley
Game viewing in central Serengeti is at its best during the dry season (June – November) as resident animals are more concentrated in the immediate area due to the lack of water on the plains. Resident herbivores include impala, buffalo, hippo, warthog, topi, hartebeest and giraffe. Resident carnivores include lion and leopard.
In addition to the resident wildlife, significant concentrations of migratory animals are found in the Central Serengeti during the dry season including cheetah, Thomson’s gazelle and hyena.
During the wet season, there is still plenty of resident animal action but most of the migratory gazelles, cheetahs and hyenas have left for the plains. There are 12 documented resident lion prides within a one-hour game drive radius from Seronera. All these prides are resident and can be seen year round. The Seronera Valley in the Central Serengeti is also one of the best areas in Africa to spot the elusive leopard.
Attractions in Central Serengeti
Witness the most amazing wildlife spectacle in Africa at the Mara River.The Mara River is most famous for the legendary wildebeest crossing, a dramatic event, which is featured in countless wildlife documentaries. One of Tanzania’s best kept secrets is the fact that nearly half of the Mara River is situated in the North Serengeti versus the Masai Mara’s segment in Kenya. While there are hordes of vehicles just a few miles upriver in the Masai Mara, the Serengeti side is virtually devoid of tourists.
Lamai is a triangular shaped watershed area just north of the Mara River.Lamai’s fresh water and verdant grasslands serve as a critical refuge for the wildebeest and zebra during the dry season. In fact, the majority of the migration usually resides here from July until November. It’s one of East Africa’s best secrets that during the dry season, the secluded Lamai Triangle holds more of the migration then the more heavily touristy Masai Mara game reserve just to the north in Kenya. Lamai was added to the park in 1965.
Permanent water sources sustain an abundance of wildlife in Lobo Valley. The spectacular Lobo Valley offers the best big cat viewing opportunities in the North Serengeti. Lions, leopards and cheetahs abound. Lobo, a pristine valley scattered with woodlands, open plains, ranges of hills and studded with spectacular granite kopjes, is a remarkable place of great beauty and solitude. Some the world’s most ancient rock formations estimated at 2-3 million years old can be seen here.
Upper Grumeti Highlands
Verdant acacia woodlands support a myriad of herbivores in these woodlands. Giraffe (the national emblem of Tanzania) dominate the Grumeti woodlands as they feed exclusively on the tender leaves of acacia trees. The main feature in this area is the Grumeti River, which flows across the top half of the Serengeti before emptying into Lake Victoria. A distinctive gallery forest lines the banks of the Grumeti River. This lush habitat supports species such as hippos, monkeys, baboons and fish eagles.
Wogakuria is a special region full of unexpected wonders. Wogakuria’s relatively open grasslands are strikingly different from the heavy woods that envelope the rest of the North Serengeti. This allows for the highest concentration of cheetahs in the North Serengeti, while the surrounding broad-leafed woodlands sustain the rare and beautiful oribi antelope. The centerpiece of this region is the beautiful Wogakuria Kopjes, home to old buffalo bulls and the surefooted klipspringer antelope.
Ample shade and fresh water are magnets for an abundance of animals.Bologonja is a lush and idyllic spot hidden away in the remote reaches of the North Serengeti. Many varieties of colorful birds can be found here including kingfishers, hoopoes and rollers. Bologonja’s flourishing resources support some unusual antelope species including the mountain reedbuck and steenbok. The nearby Larelemangi salt lick is a haven for wildlife and large herds of buffalo and elephant are regular visitors.
The Seronera region, as the most popular area of the park, has a wealth of lodging options ranging from budget-friendly through to mid-range and up to all-out luxury, with some of the park’s best high-end properties. Budget travellers can camp under the stars at the rustic Seronera Campsite, while travellers looking for mid-range options will find affordable lodges and camps – many of which are family friendly and offer the full range of amenities such as WiFi. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury camps: there are mobile camps which move with the Great Migration herds (and don’t scrimp on comfort, with proper beds, hot bucket showers and private butlers), beautifully designed lodges with private infinity pools and activities such as guided meditation sessions in the bush, bush picnics and stargazing.
The park headquarters are also based in Seronera (close to the airstrip), where there’s a visitor information centre, a curio shop and a café.
The Seronera gets particularly busy during the most popular months of June and July and October to April and sightings can be overpopulated. If escaping the crowds is your priority and you’re travelling in these months, consider booking your lodging in another part of the park.
Some of the lodges and camps offer short walks in the bush of two to four hours with Maasai guides, who’ll teach you about the smaller creatures and the plants that you miss on game drives. If walking is something you’d like to experience, do some research on lodges that offer this activity.
Seronera is accessible by road on a six-hour drive from both Arusha and Mwanza, but the easiest option to access this part of the park is to fly into the Seronera airstrip and stay at a lodge that caters for fly-in travellers: they’ll come and pick you up from the airstrip and provide game drives in their vehicles.