Travel to Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. The most famous features of the Serengeti ecosystem are the spectacular concentration of plains animals, found nowhere else in the world, and the annual wildebeest migration. The park adjoins other reserves, such as the Ngorongoro conservation area to the South and the Masai Mara (in Kenya) to the North, making a huge total area in which the wildlife can continue its age old cycles of life and death protected and undisturbed.

The terrain of the park varies from the short and long grass, open plains in the south, the acacia savannah in the central area, the hilly, more densely wooded northern section, and the extensive woodland and black clay plains, dominated by the central ranges of mountains in the western corridor.  The plains are dotted with rocky outcrops known as “kopjes”, and there are several rivers running through the park, notably the Seronera River in the central area, the Grumeti River in the Western corridor and the Mara River in the north.

Apart from the wildebeest and zebra, you can expect to see a large variety of animals.  Gazelle varieties include the tiny Dik Dik, Thompsons, Grants, Topi, Waterbuck, Kudu and many others.  Hippos will be found in their pools at any time of year. Elephant will frequently be seen but the population here is migratory, and the numbers in different areas will vary from season to season.  There are huge herds of buffalo and a large population of giraffe. The rhino, alas, is virtually extinct in the Serengeti, and the visitor will be unlikely to see one here.

Apart from the bigger game, there are some enchanting little creatures around such as mongoose, bat eared foxes and rock hyrax.  There are not many monkeys and apes in the Serengeti, but you will see baboons and black faced vervet monkeys, particularly near the lodges.  The Serengeti predators, made famous by many films and documentaries, include lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena.

The birds of the Serengeti are just as spectacular and varied as the animals- there are several types of eagles and vultures, Ostrich, Secretary Birds, Kori Bustards, Hornbills, Guinea Fowl as well as a host of smaller birds. There have been almost 500 species of birds recorded in the park, including several that migrate from Europe and Asia in the winter months.

Overview

Tanzania boasts the most impressive National Parks and game reserves in all of Africa. The plains and savannahs of Serengeti National Park are considered “the” spot on the continent to see wildlife up close. Nearby, the Ngorongoro crater teems with wildebeest, gazelle, zebra, lions, leopards, cheetahs and even the elusive white rhino. Not to be forgotten, the Selous Game Reserve is larger than Switzerland.

People

Tanzania’s population is concentrated along the coast and isles, the fertile northern and southern highlands, and the lands bordering Lake Victoria. The relatively arid and less fertile central region is sparsely inhabited. So too is much of the fertile and well watered far west, including the shores of Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa (Malawi). About 80% of Tanzanians live in rural communities.

Zanzibar, population about one million (3% of Tanzania’s population), consists of two main islands and several small ones just off the Tanzanian coast. The two largest islands are Unguja (often referred to simply as Zanzibar) and Pemba. Zanzibaris, together with their socio-linguistic cousins in the Comoros Islands and the East Africa coast from modern-day southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, created Swahili culture and language, which reflect long and close associations with other parts of Africa and with the Arab world, Persia, and South Asia.

Tanzanians are proud of their strong sense of national identity and commitment to Swahili as the national language. There are roughly 120 ethnic communities in the country representing several of Africa’s main socio-linguistic groups.

Language

Kiswahili & English

History

Coastal and island Tanzania organized into city-states around 1,500 years ago. The Swahili city-states traded with the peoples of the interior and the peoples of the Indian Ocean and beyond (including China). Many merchants from these trading partner nations (principally from inland Africa, the Arab world, Persia and India) established themselves in these coastal and island communities, which became cosmopolitan in flavor.

The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama explored the East African coast in 1498 on his voyage to India. By 1506, the Portuguese claimed control over the entire coast. The coastal peoples rose up against the Portuguese in the late 1700s. Their resistance was assisted by one of their main trading partners, the Omani Arabs. By the early 19th century the Portuguese were forced out of coastal East Africa north of the Ruvuma River and the Omanis moved in.  British influence over the Sultanate steadily increased in the 1880s until Zanzibar formally became a British Protectorate in 1890.

German colonial interests were first advanced in 1884. In 1886 and 1890, Anglo-German agreements were negotiated that delineated the British and German spheres of influence in the interior of East Africa and along the coastal strip previously claimed by the Omani sultan of Zanzibar. In 1891, the German Government took over direct administration of the territory from the German East Africa Company and appointed a governor with headquarters at Dar es Salaam. The Maji Maji rebellion of 1905-07 united the peoples of the Southern Highlands in a struggle to expel the German administration. The German military killed 120,000 Africans in suppressing the rebellion.

German colonial domination of Tanganyika ended after World War I when control of most of the territory passed to the United Kingdom under a League of Nations mandate. After World War II, Tanganyika became a UN trust territory under British control. Subsequent years witnessed Tanganyika moving gradually toward self-government and independence.

In 1954, Julius K. Nyerere, a school teacher who was then one of only two Tanganyikans educated abroad organized a political party—the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). TANU candidates were victorious in the Legislative Council elections of September 1958 and February 1959. In December 1959, the United Kingdom agreed to the establishment of internal self-government following general elections to be held in August 1960. Nyerere was named chief minister of the subsequent government.

In May 1961, Tanganyika became autonomous, and Nyerere became Prime Minister under a new constitution. Full independence was achieved on December 9, 1961. Julius Nyerere, then age 39, was elected President when Tanganyika became a republic within the Commonwealth a year after independence. Tanganyika was the first East African state to gain independence.  The Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar adopted the name “United Republic of Tanzania” on April 26, 1964.

Travel Guide

Currency

The unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (Tsh) and there are no smaller denominations. It’s best to carry as little cash as possible when travelling to avoid further inconvenience if anything should be lost or stolen.

Weather

Tanzania has a tropical climate along the coast but it gets temperate in the highlands.
April & Mid – May = Long rains (Green Season)
June – Sept = Cool season
Nov – Dec = Short Rains
October – March = Hottest season
The range of Temperatures in Tanzania is fairly limited and always hot, running from 77 to 86 degrees F on the coast while the rest of the country apart from the highlands run from 71 to 80 degrees F.

Health Requirements

A yellow fever vaccination is required only for persons from, or those who have visited yellow fever endemic countries.  Malaria Precautions are necessary.  Please speak to your doctor for further advice.

Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are required for travel to Tanzania. U.S. citizens with valid passports may obtain a visa either before arriving in Tanzania or at any port of entry staffed by immigration officials.  U.S. passports should be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date the visa is obtained, whether it is acquired beforehand or at the port of entry.  Also, foreigners may be required to show their passports when entering or exiting Zanzibar.

Credit Cards

Major Credit Cards may also be acceptable in some large Hotels.

Electrical Appliances

240 Volts AC, 50 – 60 Hz

Water

It is best to only drink bottled water.

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