Things to do in Serengeti - on top of classic game drives
Looking to take your Serengeti safari to the next level? Beyond the classic game drive, there are plenty of add-on tours to experience the park in a whole new way. From hot air balloon rides to walking tours & rhino coservation safari, discover the unique tours you can't miss in the Serengeti National Park.
1. Hot Air Balloon Ride
Hot Air Balloon safari is the most popular add on activity in Serengeti. It can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers a breathtaking bird's eye view of the Serengeti Plains and its abundant wildlife.
Balloon Safaris start at 6 a.m. in the morning and are conducted in different regions of the park depending upon the season. They are conducted in Central Serengeti throughout the year, in Northern Serengeti they are conducted from July to October, in Western Corridor from June to October, and in Southern Serengeti/Ndutu from December to March.
Depending on your distance from the balloon site you will be Picked from your lodge between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. It will be quite chilly at this time so it is recommended to dress up a little warmly. At the location your pilot will welcome you and brief you about the ride, as you watch your balloon get inflated. Soon you’ll get into the basket and lift off into the air, rising high above the plains of Serengeti, while the sun rises over it.
Balloons come in different sizes and the baskets can usually hold from 8 to 16 individuals depending on the size. Unless you book the balloon on exclusive basis, there will be other clients sharing the balloon ride with you.
The entire ride in the air will last for about an hour during which the pilot will be navigating, moving from low and high and back to low altitude with the help of the coriolis force so that you will be able to appreciate the Serengeti ecosystem.
As you float silently over the savannah, you'll have a stunning panoramic view of the landscape, with its vast herds of wildebeest, zebras (when migration is in the region of where balloon safaris take place) gazelles, and other animals waking up and roaming below.
From your vantage point in the balloon, you may also be able to see predators such as lions and cheetahs stalking their prey, or an elephant or giraffe browsing in the treetops. Your pilot will guide the balloon over different areas of the Serengeti, pointing out interesting sights and providing commentary on the wildlife and ecosystem below.
Once the balloon ride is over, you will be given a certificate and breakfast will be laid out for you on a table in the midst of bush. There will be a Champagne toast for celebration as well. At the end you will be collected by your vehicle and taken back to the lodge.
The safari will cost 540$ per person. This fee is inclusive of the concession fee of 40$ charged by TANAPA.
While Balloon Safari is the most popular add-on tour in Serengeti and all of our past clients who did thist have given it 5 star reviews, you need to be aware of a few points before adding this to your itinerary.
It is not confirmed that you will see a lot of animals during this tour. Some tourists see a lot of wildlife during the hot air balloon ride, others don’t see that many. The ride is more about enjoying scenery, sunrise, landscape while you’re floating in the sky.
While the tour will be over before 9:00 AM and doesn't usually require an additional day to be spent in Serengeti, it will take up a chunk of your early morning game drive time. For clients who have only one night in Serengeti, we do not recommend this tour.
Lastly, at the cost of balloon safari, you can opt to extend your safari by one full day (and a bit more) with a good standard accommodation and get additional time for game drives.
So schedule these activities according to your priorities.
Where to do balloon safari in Serengeti?
Central Serengeti is a great location to do balloon safari throughout the year. The view of the Seronera valley below is breathtaking. From above, you'll see the Seronera River winding its way through the savannah, and you'll have a bird's eye view of the surrounding kopjes, small hills with unique ecosystems. The landscape below is alive with wildlife, and you'll be amazed at how much you can see from above. But when great migration is at Ndutu or at North Serengeti, we have a slight preference for balloon tours in these regions over Central Serengeti because of the opportunity of seeing vast herds from air(though not always guaranteed even during migration). When the balloon drifts over the migrating herds, the sights and sounds can be unforgettable. With the wildebeest, zebras, and other grazers moving in massive numbers below, the landscape itself might seem to be shifting!
Between Jan to Mid March, we recommend Ndutu for balloon safari
Between Mid July to October, we recommend North Serengeti for balloon safari
For rest of the year, we recommend Central Serengeti
2. Walking Tour
A walking safari in Serengeti can be an incredible and unforgettable experience for those who are looking for a more immersive way to explore the African savannah. Walking safaris offer a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna of the Serengeti, and to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the African wilderness in a way that is simply not possible from a vehicle. In Serengeti, the walking safari starts at 6:30 a.m. in the morning. The activity is directly booked with Tanzania National Parks Authority or TANAPA who also provide us with an armed ranger for safety.
You can choose to do either a short walk or a long walk. The short walking safari lasts for under 4 hours and costs USD 45 per person, whereas the long walking safari takes upto 6 hours and costs USD 60 per person.
On a walking safari in the Serengeti, you get a different perspective of the park. You might notice the little things that you couldn’t notice from your vehicles. You will be looking for tracks left by animals such as elephants and wild cats with the help of your guide. You will also notice little insects like the dung beetles and ant lions that are an important part of the ecosystems. Since there would be no noise created by the vehicle the sounds of the wild would also become more prominent. You may also come across a wide variety of wildlife, including big cats, elephants, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest and other species. You will also have the opportunity to examine the flora up close and might come across bones lying on the ground, and your guide will share information on these sightings.
To make the most of this walking safari, please ensure that you wear an appropriate and comfortable outfit. Since you will be walking for four hours at least, on dusty, bumpy trails, please make sure that you wear comfortable sneakers, trainers, or walking shoes. It would be a good idea to use your old sneakers instead of buying a new pair, as they will get very dusty and dirty after walking for so long. Further, ensure that your bottoms cover your legs entirely, and are not black or dark blue. A good, comfortable pair of cargos or trousers will do. Bare legs and dark colours like black and blue attract tsetse flies that can ruin your experience.
To have a safe walking safari, please follow the rules and guidelines set by your park ranger. They will also be carrying a gun for protection.
It must also be noted that the minimum age for a walking safari in Serengeti is 12.
Overall, a walking safari in the Serengeti can be an unforgettable and truly unique experience that allows you to connect with nature in a way that is not possible from the confines of a vehicle. However, it's important to take appropriate precautions to ensure your safety and maximize your enjoyment of this amazing adventure.
3. Rhino Tracking in Serengeti
The Moru Kopje in Central Serengeti houses some of Tanzania’s last black rhinos. This is the only place in Serengeti where you will have chances of finding them. Therefore, a special Rhino Safari is conducted in this region to help the tourists find and appreciate these beautiful creatures. The safari also does the role of spreading awareness about the importance of black rhinos in its environment and the measures being taken by the government to protect them.
If you wish to go on a Rhino Safari, you may inform us and we will arrange one for you through the Serengeti Tourism Department. Since the region has been separated for Serengeti Rhino Project, vehicles arranged by tour operators are not allowed for the rhino safari. You will be taken to the Moru Ranger Post, and transferred into a government vehicle which will be an open jeep. Journey to the Moru Ranger Post will be like any other game drive. Your guide will help you spot a variety of animals. You should be able to easily spot some of the antelope species such as topis and gazelles. At the post, you will be greeted by your guides who will be in touch with the rangers out in the field looking for rhinos. The rangers that will be accompanying you for the tour will visit the region early in the morning before your safari to locate the rhinos and figure out what areas to visit to get the best views of Rhinos. In addition to that, your guides will also be in touch with the rangers out in the Rhino territory who will constantly provide information on the locations of rhinos. Once the locations have been verified, you may board your 4x4 and head into the Moru region. On the way, your guide will regale you with stories of rhinos and the culture and history of this region. Many rangers working here have seen the vulnerable baby rhinos grow up into confident adults. They have a deep connection with them, appreciate their different personalities, and understand their behaviours. It will indeed be amusing to listen about their various quirky personalities.
During this tour, the chances of spotting rhinos is 95%! It will last from about 45 minutes to 2 hours depending upon your interest, and apart from rhinos you will also be able to spot animals such as cheetahs, lions, and maybe even leopards! To add to that, your vehicle will also be allowed to go off road to get a closer look at the rhinos.
The Rhino Safari costs 110 USD per person, for both adults and kids.
4. Additional Activities in Serengeti
Step out of the vehicle and take a hike at Naabi hill gate as you enter or exit Serengeti national park. You can hike to the top of hill from where you can get sweeping views of vast serengeti plains all around
Visit Seronera information center located about half kilometer from Seronera airstrip, in the heart of Central Serengeti. You can learn about the history and interesting facts about Serengeti national park, learn about migration, watch videos about Serengeti and can shop for souvenirs at curio shop or have a quick bit at the cafe with outdoor seating area. Its a good place to take a break in the middle of game drives or to stretch your legs or interact with other tourists.
Although not exactly inside Serengeti, on the way to Serengeti as you pass through Ngorongoro conservation area, you can consider doing a bunch of small activities inlcuding visiting Olduvai gorge musuem, Masai village visit. Read more about short tours you can do at Ngorongoro.
If you are staying outside the Serengeti in one of the reserves or wilderness management areas, you might be able to do night game drives (not possible for clients sleeping inside Serengeti) with your accommodation.