West Serengeti & Grumeti
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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
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.