Booking a Safari in Serengeti Tanzania
Serengeti National Park is one of the most famous and diverse wildlife destinations in the world, home to the Big Five, countless other animals, and the spectacular Great Migration. In this post, we will guide you through everything you need to know about booking a Serengeti safari, from choosing the right operator to planning your itinerary.
Choosing the Right Safari Operator
Booking a Serengeti safari is not something you want to do on a whim. You need to do your research and find a reliable and reputable safari operator that can offer you a safe, comfortable, and memorable experience. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a safari operator:
- Experience: How long have they been operating in Serengeti? Do they have local guides who know the park well? Do they have a good track record of satisfied customers?
- Certifications: Are they licensed and registered by the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) and the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO)? Do they adhere to the park rules and regulations? Do they have insurance and emergency plans?
- Customer Reviews: What do previous clients say about their experience with the operator? Are they happy with the service, quality, and value? Are there any complaints or issues that you should be aware of?
- Sustainability Practices: How do they minimize their environmental impact and support local communities? Do they use eco-friendly vehicles and accommodation? Do they contribute to conservation and social projects?
One of the advantages of booking a Serengeti safari is that you have a wide range of options to suit your budget, preferences, and expectations. You can choose from different types of safari packages, such as:
- Budget Safaris: If you are looking for an affordable way to explore Serengeti, you can opt for a budget safari that offers basic but comfortable accommodation in tented camps or public campsites. You will share facilities with other travelers and enjoy meals cooked by your guide or chef. Budget safaris usually include game drives, park fees, and transfers.
- Luxury Safaris: If you want to indulge in a more exclusive and lavish experience, you can splurge on a luxury safari that offers high-end accommodation in lodges or resorts. You will enjoy spacious rooms or suites with private bathrooms, amenities, and views. Luxury safaris usually include game drives, park fees, transfers, meals, drinks, and extras like spa treatments or laundry services.
- Specialized Safaris: If you have a specific interest or goal for your Serengeti safari, you can look for a specialized safari that caters to your needs. For example, you can book a Great Migration safari that follows the movement of the wildebeest and zebra across the plains. Or you can book a hot air balloon safari that gives you a bird’s eye view of the park. Specialized safaris usually include game drives, park fees, transfers, meals, and activities.
Duration of the Safari
How long should you stay in Serengeti? The answer depends on your budget, time availability, and desired experience. However, we recommend staying at least four days to get a comprehensive wildlife experience. Here are some benefits of longer stays:
- You will have more time to explore different areas and habitats within the park, such as the central Seronera valley, the northern Mara river, or the southern Ndutu plains.
- You will have more chances to spot diverse animals and witness different behaviors, such as hunting, mating, or migrating.
- You will have more opportunities to enjoy other activities besides game drives, such as cultural visits, nature walks, or night drives.
- You will have more flexibility to adjust your itinerary according to weather conditions, animal sightings, or personal preferences.
A Serengeti safari can last from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your budget, time and interests. You will need to decide which areas of the park you want to visit, and what activities you want to do. Some of the popular attractions and areas within the park are:
- The Central Serengeti: This is the heart of the park, where you can find the Seronera River Valley, a year-round hotspot for wildlife viewing. Here you can see large prides of lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, hippos, crocodiles and many herbivores. The central Serengeti is also a good base for exploring other parts of the park.
- The Northern Serengeti: This is where the famous Mara River crossing takes place, usually between July and October. This is when thousands of wildebeest and zebra brave the crocodile-infested waters to reach the greener pastures of the Masai Mara in Kenya. The northern Serengeti is also home to other wildlife such as elephants, giraffes, buffaloes and antelopes.
- The Western Corridor: This is another route for the migration, usually between May and June. The western corridor follows the Grumeti River, where you can witness dramatic scenes of wildebeest and zebra crossing the river while avoiding crocodiles and hippos. The western corridor also offers scenic views of woodlands, hills and swamps.
- The Southern Serengeti: This is where the migration starts and ends, usually between December and March. The southern Serengeti is where the wildebeest and zebra give birth to their calves in the short grass plains, attracting predators such as lions, hyenas and cheetahs. The southern Serengeti is also a good place to see rhinos, ostriches and flamingos.
Besides game drives, you can also enjoy other activities such as cultural interactions with local tribes such as the Maasai or the Hadzabe, hot air balloon safaris over the plains, walking safaris with armed guides or bush dinners under the stars.
There are various accommodation options available within or near the park, ranging from budget campsites to luxury resorts. Some of the factors to consider when choosing your accommodation are:
- Location: Depending on which areas of the park you want to visit, you will need to find accommodation that is close to your desired destinations. Some lodges and camps are located inside the park boundaries, while others are outside but still within easy reach. You will also need to consider the seasonality of your accommodation, as some lodges and camps are only open during certain months of the year.
- Features: Depending on your preferences and budget, you will need to find accommodation that offers the features that suit you best. Some lodges and camps offer en-suite bathrooms, electricity, Wi-Fi, swimming pools, spas and other amenities, while others are more basic but still comfortable. You will also need to consider the size and style of your accommodation, as some lodges and camps offer private tents or cottages with views of the wildlife or landscape, while others are more communal or rustic.
- Proximity to wildlife areas: One of the main attractions of a Serengeti safari is being close to nature and wildlife. Some lodges and camps are located in prime wildlife areas, where you can see animals from your room or balcony, or hear them at night. Others are located in more secluded or remote areas, where you can enjoy more privacy and tranquility.
Some examples of accommodation options in the Serengeti are:
- Tented camps: These are semi-permanent structures that offer a more authentic safari experience. They usually consist of canvas tents with beds, furniture and en-suite bathrooms. They may have electricity from generators or solar panels, but no Wi-Fi or air conditioning. They usually have a communal dining area and lounge where you can interact with other guests and staff. Some examples of tented camps are Kati Kati Tented Camp, Asanja Africa and Lemala Ewanjan.
- Lodges: These are permanent structures that offer more comfort and luxury. They usually consist of stone or wood buildings with rooms or cottages that have en-suite bathrooms, electricity, Wi-Fi and air conditioning. They usually have a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, spa and other facilities where you can relax and enjoy the views. Some examples of lodges are Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti and Singita Sabora Tented Camp.
- Luxury Lodges & Camps: These are the most exclusive and expensive accommodation options in the Serengeti. They usually consist of lavish villas or suites that have en-suite bathrooms, electricity, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, private pools, jacuzzis and other amenities. They usually have a gourmet restaurant, bar, spa, gym and other facilities where you can indulge in the finest service and cuisine. Some examples of luxury resorts are &Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas, Sanctuary Kusini Camp and One Nature Nyaruswiga Serengeti.
There are different modes of transportation available for a Serengeti safari, such as 4×4 safari vehicles or flying into airstrips near the park. Each option has its pros and cons, such as:
- 4×4 safari vehicles: This is the most common and affordable way to explore the Serengeti. You will be driven by a professional guide who will take you to the best wildlife spots and explain the flora and fauna along the way. You will also have more flexibility and control over your itinerary and pace. However, driving in the Serengeti can be long and bumpy, especially during the rainy season when some roads may be impassable. You will also need to pay park fees for each day you enter the park.
- Flying into airstrips: This is the fastest and most convenient way to reach the Serengeti. You will fly from Arusha or Kilimanjaro airports to one of the many airstrips near the park, where you will be picked up by your lodge or camp staff. You will save time and avoid the hassle of driving on rough roads. You will also have a chance to see the park from above, which can be a spectacular sight. However, flying in the Serengeti can be more expensive and less flexible than driving. You will also need to adhere to strict luggage limits and schedules.
To book a Serengeti safari, you will need to follow these steps:
- Contact safari operators: The first step is to contact one or more reputable safari operators who can offer you a customized Serengeti safari package that meets your needs and budget. You can find safari operators online or through referrals from friends or family who have been on a safari before.
- Discuss preferences and requirements: The next step is to discuss your preferences and requirements with your chosen safari operator. You will need to provide information such as your travel dates, number of people, budget range, preferred accommodation type, desired activities and areas of interest. You will also need to specify any special needs or requests such as dietary restrictions, medical conditions or visa arrangements.
- Receive quotes and itineraries: The next step is to receive quotes and itineraries from your safari operator based on your preferences and requirements. You will need to compare the different options and choose the one that suits you best. You will also need to check the inclusions and exclusions of each package, such as park fees, meals, drinks, tips, taxes and insurance.
- Make payments: The final step is to make payments for your Serengeti safari package. You will need to follow the payment terms and conditions of your safari operator, which may vary depending on the operator and the package. You may need to pay a deposit upfront to secure your booking, and pay the balance before or upon arrival. You may also need to pay by cash or credit card depending on the operator.
To enter the Serengeti National Park, you need to pay a park entrance fee of $70 per person per day, and a conservation fee of $50 per person per day. These fees are valid for 24 hours and can be paid at the park gate or online. If you want to do some special activities like hot air balloon safaris or guided walks, you may need additional permits that vary in price and availability. For example, a hot air balloon safari costs $599 per person and requires a reservation in advance.
- Travel Insurance: Traveling to the Serengeti involves some risks and uncertainties, so it is highly recommended that you secure comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellation, and emergency evacuation. You never know when you might get sick, injured, or face unexpected circumstances that force you to change or cancel your plans. Having travel insurance will give you peace of mind and protect you from financial losses. You can compare and buy travel insurance online from various providers.
- Health Considerations: Before you go to the Serengeti, you should consult your doctor and get the necessary vaccinations and medications for your trip. Some of the recommended vaccinations are yellow fever, hepatitis A, typhoid, tetanus, and rabies. You should also take malaria prevention pills and carry insect repellent and a mosquito net. In addition, you should pack essential medications for common ailments like diarrhea, headache, fever, and allergies. You should also drink plenty of bottled water and avoid raw or uncooked food.
- Communication and Connectivity: The Serengeti is a remote and wild place, so don’t expect to have reliable communication networks and internet connectivity everywhere. Some lodges and camps may offer Wi-Fi or mobile phone service, but they may be slow or limited. If you need to stay connected with your family or friends, you may want to bring a satellite phone or a portable Wi-Fi device. Alternatively, you can enjoy the serenity and beauty of nature without any distractions.
Terms and Conditions
When you book your Serengeti safari, you should review and understand the terms and conditions of your booking, including cancellation policies, refund policies, and liability disclaimers. Different tour operators may have different policies, so make sure you read them carefully and ask questions if anything is unclear. You should also check the validity of your passport, visa, and other travel documents before you travel.
The Serengeti is a spectacular destination that offers unforgettable wildlife experiences. By following these tips, you can prepare yourself for a smooth and hassle-free safari booking.