Stretching across to Lake Victoria, the Western Corridor (or West Serengeti) is a remote, little-visited area of the national park famed for the thrilling river crossings of the Grumeti River during the Great Migration between May and July. A huge valley bordered by hills that ends in Lake Victoria, the Western Corridor is made up of open savanna, woodlands, floodplains and riverine forest which are home to a great diversity of year-round wildlife, including elephant, giraffe, hippo, giant Nile crocodiles, rare Colobus monkeys and the localised kongoni antelope.
Flanking the Western Corridor is the unfenced Grumeti Game Reserve, a 138 000-hectare private concession which serves as a wildlife corridor for the animals making the migration between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti in June and July. The concession not only offers superb migration sightings with few other vehicles around but also lush, green landscapes of woodlands, rivers and rolling hills, as well as year-round leopard and lion populations.
Seeing the enormous herds of the Great Migration making crossings of the Grumeti in June and July is an excellent reason to visit this part of the Serengeti.
While these river crossings are less well known than the Mara River crossings to the north – where the river is more dangerous, wider and has more viewing points – the Grumeti River, which is the first big obstacle for the herds to tackle, still offers some exciting sightings, with the added benefit of fewer tourists at the crossing points.
There are only a few places where you can do walking safaris in the Serengeti, which makes the walking safaris offered in the Grumeti Game Reserve particularly special. Spend hours on foot in the bush with a guide, not only tracking animals and learning about birds and insects, but also discovering fascinating medicinal and cultural uses for indigenous plants.
Visit a local Maasai community to see how people from the tribe live on the edges of the Grumeti Reserve. You’ll get to meet with subsistence farmers and their families and learn about what daily life is like – such as how villagers need to invent non-invasive ways to prevent elephants from trampling their crops.
Hot air ballooning is offered seasonally (from the beginning of June to the end of August) in the Western Corridor. A magical sunrise flight in a gently gliding balloon is an unforgettable way to see the Serengeti’s spectacular landscapes and wildlife from a bird’s eye perspective.
Great Migration crossing the Grumeti River
Northward migration from May – July
Rare colobus monkeys & huge crocodiles
Large herds of elephants & giraffes
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
The stunning Musabi Plains offer superb off the beaten path game drives. Musabi is an expansive area of plains roughly half way down the Western Corridor and is the favored breeding ground of the topi antelope. The surrounding area is covered in verdant acacia woodlands, which support a myriad of herbivores. Giraffe (the national emblem of Tanzania) dominate the woodlands as they feed exclusively on the tender leaves of acacia trees. Elephants are also found in large numbers here
Mbalageti River Valley
Mbalageti lies right on the thundering the path of the Great Migration. The Mbalageti River Valley links the plains to the woodlands and forms a natural corridor that the great wildebeest and zebra migration follow each year. During both the northward and southward migrations, this valley offers phenomenal game viewing as it lies directly on the main wildebeest and zebra migration route. The valley is also home to the Serengeti’s most striking and powerful raptor, the Martial Eagle
The Ruwana Plains offer the best predator viewing in the West Serengeti.There are two resident lion prides that inhabit the Ruwana Plains, and cheetahs can be seen here as well. However, the dominant predator found here is the spotted hyena. Several large clans of hyena maintain territories within Ruwana and can frequently be seen hunting or battling with neighboring clans. The Ruwana waterhole is a unique spot to witness both lion and hyenas hunting especially in the dry season.
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.