If you wonder what the best time to visit Serengeti is, you’ve come to the right place. For some, it’s when the world-famous Great Migration takes place; for others, it’s when there’s little going on and the vegetation’s thick.
Neither claim is wrong.
What we’ll help with in this guide, however, is to find the right time to visit Serengeti for you personally, depending on your weather preferences, budget, crowd expectations, and the activities you can engage in once you’re there.
Why You Should Visit Serengeti National Park in 2023
We believe everyone should visit Serengeti once in their lifetime, and there are many reasons to do so. Of course, you need to enjoy safaris and embrace your inner adventurer, but we promise you, it’s all worth it.
So, here are some further specific reasons to encourage you to embark on your own Serengeti adventure sooner rather than later:
- Serengeti National Park has been a Unesco Heritage Site since 1979. Being home to some of the largest animal herds, Serengeti is truly an African wonder.
- Although safari experiences are never cheap, Serengeti has something for everyone’s budget. From dynamic outdoor activities such as hot air balloon safaris, luxurious tents, and having dinner in the middle of the park to budget campsites and basic food options, Serengeti can accommodate a wide range of travelers. We dive deeper into potential Serengeti expenses in the FAQ section, so stick with us.
- Bird watching is a big deal in Serengeti too. In fact, the park is said to feature more than 500 bird species. Here are some popular ones: the Kori bustard, the secretary bird, the African Fish Eagle, and ostriches. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the world-famous “Serengeti specials” — birds you can’t find in any other place on the planet, such as the red-throated tit, the grey-throated spurfowl, rufous-tailed weaver, Schalow’s wheatear, and Schalow’s turaco.
- Serengeti is home to a plethora of exotic animals, such as giraffes, elephants, lions, buffalos, zebras, and leopards. But what makes the park spectacular is its annual wildebeest migration. Imagine witnessing more than six million animals scampering through the park at the same time! It’s the largest annual animal migration of its kind in the world.
- You can get to know the so-called Masaai tribe. Your Serengeti quest won’t be complete unless you get the chance to observe and mingle with the locals. Learning a few things about their lifestyle and culture won’t just enrich your African experience but also your life in general.
- The Serengeti National Park has the only active volcano in the entire area. Having its last recorded eruption back in 2007, the OI Doinyo Lengai, or “Mountain of the Gods,” is known for its special carbonatite lava.
- The park’s ecosystem has remained almost completely unchanged for million years. That’s how well-preserved the Serengeti National Park is. Its landscape is a mesmerizing mixture of woodlands and grasslands.
Overall Best Time to Visit Serengeti
The overall best time to visit Serengeti is either in January and February or during the June–September period.
January and February’s temperatures vary between an average high of 82.4°F and an average low of 59°F. Marking the beginning of the calving season, January is one of the best months for a safari.
The Ndutu Plains area is very attractive at this time, as it boasts abundant wildlife-watching opportunities. If you hope to see some baby animals, February is the time to do so.
Note that the heat this month can be too much, though, but the amazing wildlife sightings compensate for it. Plus, you can always do game drives early in the day or later in the evenings.
As there are no drastic fluctuations in temperatures throughout the entire year in Serengeti, June and September see similar climates. There are average temperatures ranging between a maximum of 80.6°F and a minimum of 55.4°F.
June is also the month with the shortest days in the entire year, with 12 hours of daylight. June is an awesome month to take advantage of the nice weather before the peak tourist season arrives.
The skies are clear, the days drier and warmer, and there’s a lot of excitement in the air — what more can you ask for an awesome safari experience? That said, the park begins receiving more and more tourists, so key areas may quickly become crowded.
Also, booking in advance secures you the accommodation you want. September is enjoyable — the short grass makes animal viewing a piece of cake, and the blue skies assist travelers in taking the best photos ever.
All in all, while the June–September period is quite crowded, the park’s large enough to accommodate all visitors, and your guides and drivers can always find emptier areas to help you enjoy the park the way you should.
Cheapest Time to Visit Serengeti
The cheapest time to visit Serengeti is from early November through mid-December. If you’re eager to visit Serengeti while sticking to a budget, this is the time to secure attractive accommodation rates.
As November marks the beginning of on-and-off rains (nothing that waterproof clothing can’t solve), the park becomes quiet, and campsites are emptier than usual.
That said, the month still provides visitors with phenomenal game spotting, and the lush landscapes are to die for. That said, the thicker vegetation and taller grass make spotting young animals a bit more difficult.
The Great Migration cycle resumes in this season, but more about it in a minute.
November and December have temperatures fluctuating between an average high of 80.6°F and an average low of 59°F. December also has the longest days in the entire year — an average of 12 hours of daylight.
Least Busy Time to Visit Serengeti
The least busy time to go to Serengeti is in the March–May period. The long rains and humidity deter visitors from coming to the Serengeti National Park, which makes it the least busy time to visit.
March, April, and May see fluctuating temperatures between an average high of 82.4°F and an average low of 59°F. April is the month with the most rainfall, with rain falling for 21 days.
April and May are also the months with the least sunshine — seven hours of sunshine on average. These months see fewer safari vehicles, which means there’s less chance of vehicles scaring off the animals.
The rain helps the flowers bloom, awakens the park, and there’s lush vegetation everywhere. Mosquitos make themselves known, so an insect repellent in this period is nigh mandatory.
A lot of animals are on the move too, and without the large crowds, you’ll feel like you have the entire park and wildlife-watching opportunities to yourself.
That said, the vegetation gets quite thick some time in April and May, so spotting animals then may be somewhat challenging.
If you’re into birdwatching, March is a great month to do so (fun fact: the park is home to more than 500 bird species). Also, if you visit in any of these months, prepare to be highly flexible with your plans.
As the frequent downpours can impact when and how you move in the park, you may have to time the game drives between heavy rainfalls. But perhaps such spontaneity is just what you need to add a bit of excitement to your African adventure.
Worst Time to Visit Serengeti
While the Serengeti is awesome all year-round (alongside the challenges that come with each season), if you aren’t a fan of crowds and people — and vehicle-packed parks — avoid going in July and August.
In fact, these two months see more safari vehicles in the park than any other month in the entire year — the main reason being the Great Migration.
Visitors in the summer months are attracted to the Serengeti National Park like a moth to a flame in anticipation of seeing some of the greatest predators in action.
There’s an influx of visitors, and the park isn’t the only location that’s buzzing — campsites are also full, so booking in advance is mandatory. However, visiting in these two crowded months has its perks too.
As herds begin crossing the Grumeti River, there are fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. The clear skies exude a dream-like atmosphere, and mosquitoes aren’t that big of a deal.
A hot month, July sees temperatures running between an average low of 55.4°F and an average high of 77°F. In August, the temperatures vary between a minimum of 57.2 °F and a maximum of 78.8°F.
Finally, although there’s a plethora of safari vehicles in the Serengeti National Park, if you have an experienced guide/driver, they’ll know how to navigate the park chaos in a way that will allow you to make the most of it.
Things to Consider
Your Serengeti adventure can be one of the most impressive experiences you’ve ever had — but preparation is needed:
- Although you’re free to drive through the park yourself, we suggest going with a guided safari option, as it will not only save you money, but it’s also much safer to leave things to the professionals.
- Tipping is somewhat expected on a safari (most suggest around $10 a day for your guide).
- Pick your safari tour operator based on reviews and credible recommendations. Your safari guide can either break or make your Serengeti experience, and no one wants to have to deal with the former.
- While there are lodges that provide sophisticated accommodation, they often charge a lot — if you feel like adopting a more adventurous approach, we advise you to pitch your tent at one of the campsites, save some money, and enjoy your African itinerary by being close to nature. Tip: if you decide to try the camping option, make sure to ask for permission from the TANAPA (Tanzania National Parks) before you get there to avoid any unpleasant situations.
- Most camps have WiFi, but sometimes, it may be available only in the main areas.
- Once you’re in the park, understand you have access only to basic things such as food and shelter, for instance, and most resources are quite scarce. In other words, buying items is naturally out of the question. So ensure you pack everything you need — from SPF creams to batteries and bandages.
- When you join a safari tour, listen to your guides at all times. Following their advice and instructions is key to a danger-free safari experience. Safari tours aren’t completely risk-free, and sometimes, it takes one tiny mistake, such as leaving the car when you’re not allowed or being tempted to feed an animal, to put you and the rest of the visitors in great danger.
- Pay attention to your clothes. Especially the colors — earth tones and khaki colors are the best. Stay away from black and blue, as they attract annoying tsetse insects. Also, if you don’t want to end up with burned shoulders and rosy cheeks, pack a hat and layered clothing. The nights get chilly too.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some fun facts about Serengeti?
Here are some fun facts about Serengeti:
- Serengeti has many kopjes — rock formations created from exposed granite.
- Serengeti is home to the Big Five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo.
- The Serengeti National Park is very diverse, and as such, it features at least four globally endangered or threatened species, including cheetahs, elephants, wild dogs, and black rhinoceros.
- The name Serengeti comes from the Maasai word “siwingit,” which means “endless plains.”
- Back in 2013, the Serengeti Migration was officially named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
- During the migration from Tanzania to the Massai Mara Reserve, it’s estimated that around 250,000 wildebeest die as a result of hunger, thirst, exhaustion, or predation.
Do I need malaria pills for Serengeti?
With malaria being present in Serengeti, it’s wise to take all the precautions to protect yourself as much as possible. Pack antimalarial medication, wear long sleeves at night, as this is when mosquitos are much more active, and don’t forget an insect-repellent, preferably a DEET-based one.
Is Serengeti National Park expensive?
How expensive your Serengeti National Park experience gets depends on your travel style and budget. However, certain expenses are fixed, such as the park’s entrance fee. That said, the fee depends on the period you visit, your age, nationality, and so on. For more details, we suggest visiting the above-mentioned website.
On the whole, you should plan to spend approximately TZS316,176 ($134) per day during your stay. You’ll need around TZS98,931 ($42) for meals and TZS53,573 ($23) for transportation for a single day. The hotel price for a couple costs TZS287,150 ($122) on average.
To identify your travel style and calculate your potential Serengeti expenses, use the following three categories and find the one you belong to:
- TZS138,824 ($59) – for budget-minded travelers;
- TZS315,294 ($134) – for mid-range spenders;
- TZS605,421($257) – for tourists with no budget restrictions whatsoever.
Finally, do note that these figures are approximate and may change over time.
What are the natural threats in the Serengeti National Park?
The Serengeti National Park is at risk of human population growth, industrialization, and poaching, threats both to the wildlife and as well as the inhabitants in the area.
While everyone knows that poaching is one of the greatest threats to Africa’s national parks, the Serengeti being no exception, few are aware that the destruction of the wildlife habitat also has dire consequences for the park’s overall structure.
Some unfortunate examples include the loss of bird species, the reduction of the wildebeest population by an unbelievable 75%, and the extinction of the roan antelope, to name a few.
Such changes may affect the distribution of natural resources and create serious wildlife-people conflicts.
What wild animals live in Serengeti?
Serengeti boasts an abundance of wildlife, including:
- Grant’s gazelle
- Serval cats
- African wild dog
- Spotted hyenas
- Golden jackal
- Black-backed jackal
- The Big Five we mentioned previously.
How much time do you need at Serengeti Park?
You’ll need to spend at least four days in the park to see most areas and experience Serengeti in all its glory. That said, the more you stay, the more you get to see and explore.
Also, it depends on the period you’re visiting. If you’re visiting during the Great Migration, you’ll probably wish to see more. That way if you miss any of the sights, or a day isn’t ideal for wildlife watching, you’ll have other days to compensate.
If you’re coming when there’s not much going on, chances are you can see most things in a shorter period of time. Your budget plays a crucial role too.
So, When Should You Visit Serengeti?
Planning a visit to Serengeti comes with a lot of details, so let’s briefly go through the most important information:
- All things considered, the absolute prime time to go to Serengeti is in January and February or during the June-September period. Visiting in any of these months secures you excellent safari conditions, awesome weather, and taking awesome photos.
- If you’re trying to go easy on your wallet, consider visiting anytime from early November through mid-December. This is when you can find the best accommodation deals.
- If you wish to have a more intimate safari experience without the large crowds and vehicles, visit Serengeti in the March-May period. Although the heavy rains and intense humidity are the reasons behind the reduced number of visitors, nature is at its prime, the lush is sublime, and the park blossomed.
- The worst time to visit Serengeti is in July or August. The biggest drawback to going in this period is that there are way too many visitors — the park gets quickly crowded, and animals can get scared by the number of vehicles. However, witty guides can always find a way to provide visitors with a laid-back game drive, as they know the areas like the back of their hands.
Now that you know what the best time to visit Serengeti is, alongside weather conditions, different budget options, and crowded times, start planning your African journey today to see all that this picturesque park has to offer!