When you think of the quintessential African safari, chances are, the landscape you imagine is the Serengeti. Its endless plains, rimmed by the escarpments of the Great Rift Valley, present the iconic “Out of Africa” imagery. Depending on the time of year, the plains can appear as vast golden carpets of dust and scrub, or undulating waves of green grass. Umbrella-like acacia trees seem to spread horizontally against the wide blue sky. Lions doze on the rocky outcroppings known as kopjes. And the watering holes attract all manner of birds, giraffe, hippos, antelope, zebra, and more. Here is where the vastness of the land, and the teeming wildlife who inhabit it, flood the senses with the primal allure of Africa.
The “land that moves on forever”
In the Maasai language, the word “Serengeti” means “the land that moves on forever,” and moving is exactly what this land is known for. With an area encompassing 12,000 square miles across northern Tanzania and southern Kenya (where it’s called Maasai Mara), the Serengeti hosts the world’s greatest terrestrial mammal migration. Every year, 1.2 million wildebeest move across the plains in search of richer pastures, followed by 750,000 zebra, 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle, and predators including lion, hyena, cheetah, and leopard. Imagine riding in a safari vehicle, surrounded by wildebeest as far as the eye can see. During the calving season, usually between late January and February, the spectacle is even more overwhelming, as more than 500,000 new foals are dropped within a 6-week period. Almost immediately after being born they are able to stand and run – and run they must, for lion, hyena, and other predators are waiting to pick off this easy prey.
Masai Mara: the Kenyan Serengeti
In Kenya, where the Serengeti is called the Masai Mara, the herds eventually reach the Mara River, where they often face a dramatic dilemma: ford the crocodile-infested river, or risk attack by the many predators lying in wait on the shore.
During your Vantage Heart of Africa: On Safari in Kenya & Tanzania trip, you’ll follow this amazing parade on daily game drives through variable terrain, often attended by elephant, giraffe, and fascinating birds. A sighting of any one of these creatures would be thrilling enough, but here as nowhere else on earth, the sheer volume of creatures boggles the mind.