The southern Serengeti including the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area consists of the famous Serengeti plains. These short grass and nutrient rich plains are home to the enormous migratory herds of wildebeest and zebra during the wet season. During the dry season, the southern plains are transformed into a semi desert and only a few hearty Grant’s gazelles and Thomson’s gazelles survive.
The green season is a wonderful time to be on safari in the southern Serengeti and the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Rain means game in the Serengeti and wildlife should be prolific on the southern Serengeti Plains. The southern plains encompass a massive area so it’s best to locate yourself in more than one area if time allows. The wildebeest migration will most likely be spread across the green plains of the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the southern Serengeti from December to May.
Home to the enormous migratory herds during the green season (Dec to Apr).
Grassy plains studded with granite kopjes extend endlessly across the scenically beautiful Southern Serengeti, which stretches from the bottom of the Central Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Maswa Game Reserve. It’s one of the best areas to see the animals of the Great Migration: visit between December and May to see the huge herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle arriving to calve, and then at the beginning of the dry season making their way northwards again in search of green grass. February is a particularly good month to visit the Southern Serengeti to see thousands of baby wildebeest taking their first steps on the savanna – and being targeted by hungry lion, cheetah and hyena, which are in abundance in the region.
The Southern Serengeti is a seasonal region, as during the dry season, from May to October, when the plains are parched and there’s not much left to graze, most of the herds have left the area.
Because much of the Southern Serengeti lies outside the national park, lodges and camps permit off-road driving, which is not allowed in the rest of the park.
Home to the Great Migration from Dec – April
The best wildlife viewing in the Serengeti
Stunningly beautiful landscapes
Favored area for filmmakers & photographers
Game viewing is spectacular during wet season in the southern Serengeti, as over two million animals will be spread across the open plains. In addition to the large migratory herds, predators will be abundant and easily seen. Cheetah densities will be at their highest as many have followed the migratory Thomson’s gazelles onto the southern and eastern plains.
Lions should be easily visible, both resident prides and the nomads which have followed the wildebeest and zebra onto the plains. The most abundant predator, the hyena, will be in large numbers as many clan members will have commuted to the plains from their den areas located along the woodland/plains border. However, the game-viewing highlight in the wet season will undoubtedly be the immense herds of migratory animals.
During the dry season (June to November) many of the animals have indeed dispersed but the southern Serengeti still remains a fascinating place. There are several resident herbivores in this area that are seen year round including Grant’s gazelle and giraffe.
Attractions in Central Serengeti
Kusini is a unique combination of habitats with grasslands fading into woodlands. Many different species are able to coexist in this area due to the overlapping of habitats. Besides the migratory animals, this area boasts an abundance of resident animals including elephant, giraffe, buffalo and two lion prides. However, the crown jewel here is a secret spot nicknamed ‘Kusini Crater’, a circular grassy plain completed encircled by dense acacia trees, which is known for large wildlife concentrations including cheetah
At the heart of the South Serengeti lies the world famous Ndutu. Offering consistently the best wildlife viewing during the green season, Ndutu is strategically situated at the center of the southern plains although the immediate area is blanketed with a forest of acacia trees. Since the 1960s, Ndutu had been a favorite destination for many distinguished authors, filmmakers and wildlife biologists. Researchers Jane Goodall and Hugo van Lawick used Ndutu as a base for much of their research.
The triangle is a beautiful stretch of plains is home to high densities of animals. During the green season, the short grass plains in this triangular shaped area are the feeding ground of a staggering number of migratory herbivores including wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and the carnivores, both great and small, which follow the migratory herds. Because there is no permanent water on these plains and because the grass withers at the onset of the dry season, much of wildlife can only subsist here during the green season
As the name implies, Hidden Valley is a secret spot that is far from any road.Hidden Valley, a depression and water catchment area in the plains, is located about 14 miles northwest of Ndutu. During the green season, a waterhole forms at the center of the depression and is a magnet for wildlife. It’s also a great area for predatory action and large clans of spotted hyenas are commonly seen wallowing in the muddy shores. Note that this valley is an ecologically sensitive area and from time to time access may be restricted.
Learn about archaeology, history and our ancient hominid ancestors at Olduvai Gorge. Olduvai Gorge is a canyon carved by water through the southern Serengeti plains. Its chief claim to fame is the rich treasure-trove of human and animal fossils that it has yielded. Few places in the world can match the Serengeti’s long human history and this fact has earned this part of Africa the title ‘Cradle of Mankind’. There is a museum and visitor’s center overlooking the gorge as well as a daily lecture by a department of Antiquities guide.
Towering above the Matiti Plains is a Serengeti landmark called Twin Hills.The beautiful Matiti plains that surround Twin Hills are home to huge female herds of wildebeest during the green season. This is the main plain that the wildebeest use for calving from January to March. Unlike most antelopes who seek cover when giving birth, pregnant wildebeest gather on the most open terrain available. Newborn calves can stand within 7 minutes. The Matiti plains are also a particularly good area to view cheetahs.
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.