[well]Serengeti Quick Facts:
- Swahili word meaning “endless plains”
- Covers 12,000 Square miles (30,000 sq km)
- Continues in Kenya as the Masai Mara
- Home to the Serengeti Migration
7 Natural Wonders of Africa: Serengeti Migration
The Serengeti is not one of the 7 natural wonders of Africa, but it is home to the migration which was officially declared as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa on February 11, 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania. The migration is a shared wonder between the countries of Tanzania and Kenya. The majority of the migration is experienced on the Tanzanian side.
The name Serengeti comes from the Swahili word meaning “endless plains.” For some this conjures up an image of nothing but grass lands, however the it is so much more. These endless plains stretch over 12,000 squares miles (30,000 sq km) and feature a variety of habitats that include the expected grasslands along with kopjes, swamps, riverine forests, woodlands and hills.
The various habitats are what provide an opportunity for the Serengeti to be home to around 70 larger mammals and over 500 species of birds. The abundant and varying wildlife is what attracts visitors to this wonder of nature from Africa.
The Kenyan and Tanzanian governments have leveraged national parks, conservation areas, and game reserves to establish official protection over 80% of the endless plains affectionately known as the Serengeti. The national park in Tanzania goes by the same name, whereas the national park in Kenya is known as the Masai Mara.
The migration is the hallmark of the Serengeti featuring over 1.2 million wildebeests, over 800,000 zebras, and hundreds of thousands of gazelles, impalas, and other wildlife. The heart of the migration is the wildebeest and the zebra.
The Serengeti is also home to 6 of the Big Seven, which include the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, hippo and the crocodile. The only one of the Big Seven missing is the mountain gorilla. Some of the other wildlife calling the endless plains home include: cheetah, hyena, giraffe, eland, Thomson gazelle, impala, baboon, and the warthog. There are also hundreds of species of birds making this the complete Safari experience.
The migration is what attracts many people. One of the highlights occurs during the months of January and February when the wildebeests are giving birth. This is a short and concise window where all of the wildebeests give birth within a 2 to 3 week period. A second highlight occurs sometime during the months of September or October. This is another concise 2 to 3 week period where the wildebeests and zebras cross the Mara River into Kenya.
Crossing the Mara River is exciting for an couple of reasons. First, it is an amazing sight to see 1 million wildebeests crossing the river in a given moment. However this is also a challenging crossing as crocodiles wait to feast on these animals as they enter the water. Witnessing a crocodile capture and kill one of the wildebeest is an exciting encounter with nature.