Northern Serengeti: Everything You Need to Know

Wildebeest S

The Northern Serengeti offers a distinct landscape compared to the Central Serengeti. It features rolling hills, valleys, acacia woodlands, and riverine areas, rather than vast open grasslands you find in Central and Southern Serengeti. From July to October, wildebeests migrate to the Northern Serengeti in search of richer grazing grounds. Here they enocunter one of the biggest challenges in their joruney. The mighty Mara river! Mara River, which runs through Northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara becomes the setting for one of nature's most spectacular events: the wildebeest river crossing. The violent torrents of the river and the crocodiles waiting in ambush manage to nab and drown quite a few wildebeests. The wildebeests are aware of the dangers, and if you are present there you can actually hear the low nervous grunts of the wildebeests and feel the tension in the air.

Who do we recommend this park for?

We recommend North Serengeti for clients traveling between July to October and planning for 6 days or longer itineraries and to those who are okay with longer transfer times.

Huge herds of wildebeest and Zebras (the great migration) that gather here between July(anywhere between June 2nd half to Jly 1st half) to October are undoubedtly the biggest draw for this region. The experience of seeing mega herds is unlike any other wildlife sighting you might have during safari. If you are patient, with a bit of luck, you might see wildebeest herds crossing the Mara river and attacked by crocodiles.

There is more wildlife to be seen in North Serengeti apart from great migration but not as much in variety or numbers as you can find in Central Serengeti or other parks like Ngorongoro, Tarangire. So its not worth traveling all the way to North serengeti outside the migration season.

North Serengeti is quite far from Arusha and it takes about 11-12 hours to arrive by road. So we don't recommend North Serengeti in short itineraries, even during July to October season, unless you are planning to fly in and/or fly out from North Serengeti.

If your focus is primarily seeing big 5 or big cats only and not keen on seeing wildebeest herds, you can skip North Serengeti. Lastly, adding North Serengeti to your itinerary can make the tour expensive (compared to adding other parks) as Serengeti park fees is expensive and accommodations here are limited and charge higher than similar tier accommodations at other locations.


1. Wildlife

2. Birds

3. Vegetation

4. Sections of Northern Serengeti

5. Things to Do

6. Weather and Climate

7. When to Visit

8. Accommodations

9. Location and How to Reach

10. Fee Structure

11. Safari Tours

12. Frequently Asked Questions


Variety of habitats in this region support a variety of animals. Since the region has river Maara flowing through it, huge pods of hippos, and crocodiles are attracted to it. You are also very likely to find elephants, giraffes, and buffalos remain in this region throughout the year as well. You will also find other herbivores like topis, impalas and hartebeests scampering around. This region of Serengeti is also popular for spotting Oribis, a unique species of antelopes. But the northern Serengeti has its fair share of predators as well. Lions, Cheetahs, Leopards, hyenas, servals, even bat eared foxes, they all reside in this area. And of course if you are visiting from July to August, you will find the wildebeest migration in the region as well. Wildebeests are accompanied by zebras and gazelles as well, so the region really gets a boost in the wildlife population during those months.

However, since Northern Serengeti has hills and woodlands, they can hide the wildlife from your view.


The North Serengeti looks quite different from Central Serengeti and has more arid conditions as it receives less rainfall compared to the Central Serengeti. As a result, the vegetation in the North is sparser and dominated by short grasses, Acacia trees, and rocky outcroppings. Due to lesser variety of vegetation in the North Serengeti, it supports lower driversity of of wildlife species compared to the Central.



In the far northeast region of Lamai Wedge Triangle in Northern Serengeti, you are likely to spot some of the popular birds. Red-headed weavers, lovebirds, and rollers are commonly spotted.

Since the region sees deadly river crossings, and a lot of dead bodies wash up the banks of the river, the vultures are also attracted to the North. You will be able to spot a variety of vultures soaring above in this area. In the woodlands close to the river youcan also find king fishers, turacos, helmetshrikes and eagles.

Wildebeest river crossing

Sections of Northern Serengeti

The Lamai Triangle farther up in the north, across the Mara river, is a wildebeest paradise. Lamai Triangle is the region which shares its border with Kenya, so animals arrive in this region to cross into Masai Mara of Kenya. But a study by Serengeti Research Institute has shown that only a small percentage of the migration crosses into Masai Mara. Many of these animals stay back within the borders of Tanzania animals find refuge in Lamai Triangle. The rolling plains and savannahs of this region are once again in contrast to the broken hilly terrain of the rest of the Northern Serengeti. You will find only a few acacias dotting the region. Perhaps that is why this region is abundant with herbivores. Besides Wildebeests and Zebras, you will find warthogs, giraffes, elephants, buffalos, topis, and Africa’s largest antelope, Eland. Lions and cheetahs also reside here but not in high numbers. This region is not visited by a lot of tourists, so you will find it less crowded. Your view won’t be disrupted by other vehicles. There are no proper trails in this region either, so you may move around more freely.

The Wogakuria section which is a bit to the North and closer to the Mara river, offers a completely different landscape compared to the rest of the Northern Serengeti. While most of the Northern Serengeti is broken, hilly, and covered in woodlands, Wogakuria has open plains that will spread out in front of you. The trees present in this region are different as well. A woodland composed of terminalia trees creates the fringe of the grassland here. The terminalia trees have really broad leaves that are not seen on most other trees within Serengeti. These woodlands are home to a unique species of antelopes in Tanzania called the Oribis. The open grassland on the other hand is a favourite of the Cheetahs. You will spot the cheetahs easily in Wogakuria as they are present in a high concentration here. The kopjes present in this region also provide shelter to klipspringers, and are a favourite hangout spot for the buffalos. Besides them, ostriches, gazelles, giraffes, and leopards reside in this area as well. Wogakuria can be explored on the way to Lamai Triangle.

Below the Lamai Triangle, south of the Mara river, there is also the Kogatende Ranger Post. Heavy illegal activities such as poaching used to take place in this section of Serengeti back in the 50s and 60s. So a station was built in the form of an ancient fort where the rangers could track down the poachers and remain protected. The ranger post still remains, and the guards are regularly stationed there as well. You may engage in a conversation with these rangers if they are free, and learn more about their mission, philosophy, history, etcetera.

The station has been built like a fort as it provided rangers with protection against the poachers.

Bologonja springs in the north eastern region of Northern Serengeti is a small but stunning section, with its lush forests and the bologonja river that flows through it. The trees also attract a lot of birds, and you are very likely to find rollers, kingfishers, hoopoes, and crowned cranes here. Since there is a lot of canopy, this region is also preferred by Vervet monkeys and Baboons. The water and grass here attract antelopes like reedbucks and steenboks. Because of the presence of trees, Leopards are also attracted to this region. They use their coats to camouflage amongst the woods here. However, since they are excellent at camouflage, it will be quite hard to spot them. Down the Bologonja stream there is also the Larelemangi salt lick. Salt licks are deposits of minerals on rocks or ground that animals lick to supplement their nutrition. In Bologonja, near the river valley, where the water seeps into the ground, the wet ground has been deposited with essential minerals. This deposition of minerals attracts large herds of elephants and buffalos who come to lick the wet ground to get all the essential nutrients.

Lobo Valley on the eastern side of Northern Serengeti is a tapestry of various topographies. There are valleys, woodlands, open grasslands, hills, kopjes, and various rivers that sustain life here. When the migration is moving back towards the south, it lingers around a bit from September to November in the Lobo Valley. So you can easily find wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, munching on the fresh grass of the plains during those months. Since this region has woodlands, it is also a preferred territory of the leopards. You might be able to find them lurking amongst the yellow branches of acacia, monitoring their surroundings. Cheetahs are present in this sector too, and are mostly spotted in the open grass plains. And of course, Lions are present here too. Lobo Valley in fact has one of the largest prides of lions, and you are sure to find them resting under the trees or sprawled out on the granite kopjes. When the migration is present in this region, the activity of all the three big cats increases, as more game lures put more predators. But, buffalos, gazelles, klipspringers, impalas, steenboks, live in this region throughout the year as well. So there is plenty of food and water for the big cats, and the herbivores at all times. To add to all these animals, Lobo Valley also has a high concentration of elephants. But many researchers have noted the elephants present in this region to be more aggressive. They might engage in fake charges with their ears spread out, making loud noises, and moving their trunks, but they don’t really harm anyone. In case, things do get dangerous, your trained armed ranger will be with you for protection.

Close to the Lobo Valley, on the western side, there is also the Upper Grumeti Woodlands. There is a part of the Grumeti river that cuts across northern Serengeti. The nutrients brought in by the river have allowed a lush woodland to grow on its banks in this region. You will be able to find palms, figs, mahogany, tamarinds in these woodlands. Such a place is preferred by animals like vervet monkeys and even colobus at times. In the trees close to the banks, you will be able to spot birds like turacos, kingfishers, and fish eagles. In the river you will be hippos splashing about, and crocodiles sunbathing on the banks. Besides the woodlands close to the banks, the entire region is populated with different species of the acacia trees. You will find whistling thorns, green thorns, and flood plain acacias. Herbivores find refuge amidst these woods. There are gazelles, topis, buffalos, giraffes, and even impalas present here. And since there are plenty of trees, the leopards of course silently pad across in this region. Lions and cheetahs stalk this region too.

Things to Do

Mara River Crossing

The most popular thing to do in Northern Serengeti is watching the Mara river crossing. From July to September, Wildebeests and Zebras arrive in the North and prepare to cross the river. The activity mostly reaches an all-time high around mid-July and August. The animals realise they must cross the river in order to reach the greener regions even though it is infested with crocodiles. Sitting in your vehicle near the crossing point, you can feel the fear and the tension in the air as they prepare to enter the dangerous waters. And the chaos that ensues as the animals battle the raging currents and crocodiles creates a natural phenomenon like no other. It makes for quite a unique experience, indeed.

Hot Air Balloon Safari

Another popular activity that takes place in North Serenheti is the Hot Air Balloon Ride. Since the landscape of this region is different from the rest of the Serengeti, a Hot Air Balloon ride will give you the opportunity to admire the beautiful slopes, hills, and winding rivers from up above in the sky. One of the other highlights of a hot air balloon safari is the chance to spot wildlife from above. You might see elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, and many other animals as they go about their morning activities. The view from the balloon is also perfect for spotting the wildebeest migration, as you'll be able to see the herds from a distance.

The Hot Air Balloon Safari will start early in the morning, around 6 a.m., and depending on your distance from the launch site, you will be picked up from your accommodation between 4:00 and 5:30 a.m.

Walking Safari

A walking safari in the north Serengeti will be an immersive and exciting way to experience the unique landscapes and of course wildlife of North Serengeti. You will be able to get up close and personal with the natural environment, and will be led by experienced guides who will provide insights into the ecology, behavior and habits of the wildlife and vegetation.

In the North, the Walking Safri is conducted in the Kogatende region, close to the Mara river. If you select this activity, we will book a safari for you through TANAPA, who will provide you with an experienced park ranger. The safari will start early in the morning around 6:30 a.m., and will last for at least four hour. A fpur hour walking safari will be a short walk, while anything above it will be considered a long walk.

During the walking safari please ensure that you wear comfortable sneakers you can walk for hours in, and bottoms that cover your legs completely. Further, your clothes should not be black, blue or other such darj colours as they attract tsetse flies which can get really annoying.

Weather and Climate

Serengeti has a moderate climate that is mostly pleasant. While the weather is pleasant in the afternoon, it does get cold during the night and early mornings so it is advisable to carry warm clothing with you.

The dry season is from June to October, and during this time temperatures can go as high as 25°C / 77°F, and as low as 14°C / 57°F.

The wet season is from November to May. Temperature can go as high as 26°C / 79°F and as low as 15°C / 59°F.

When to Visit

Game drives can be done in the region the entire year, as the big cats, elephants, giraffes, and many other herbivores and birds are permanent residents of this region. However, a great time to visit Northern Serengeti would be from mid-July to August, as the migration will be in the region giving a boost to the animal population in the North and you will get the opportunity to see the famous river crossings.


Section to be updated.

How To Reach North Serengeti

From Arusha, it takes about 11 hours to reach Northern Serengeti by road. Given the distance and driving conditions, we don't do this drive in a day. One option is to dive via Ngorongoro and Central Serengeti where we go game drives and rest at Central Serengeti on day 1 and then proceed to North Serengeti next day with enroute game drives. Other option is we drive to Lake Natron on day 1 where you can do flamingo walking tour in the evening and then drive to North Serengeti next day. If you are planning on driving, we recommend driving via Lake Natron one way and via Central Serengeti and Ngorngoro the other way, making it into a circuit instead of driving back and forth via Central Serengeti.

Flights are also a popular option to reach North Serengeti. During the migration season, there are multiple flights between Arusha/Kilimanjaro/Zanzibar and North Serengeti daily, both ways.


Entry fee for Serengeti depends on the visitor's nationality and age. For foreigners, park fee is $82 per adult per day. This park fee is valid for 24 hours. However, you must note that the park fees will also expire if you step out of the park before completing 24 hours.

If your accommodation is inside then a concession fee of $71 per adult per night will also apply.

Safari Tours

We offer various itineraries that include safari tours to Northern Serengeti. To view some of our popular tours, click here. (Section to be updated)


In which months do we recommend this region?

We recommend visiting Northern Serengeti from July to October, when the great migration is expected to be seen in this region.

How far is North Serengeti from Central Serengeti?

Northern Serengeti is about 5 hours away from Central Serengeti with enroute game drives. Without game drives it will take about 3 hours to reach here.

What do I see here apart from the Great Migration during the recommended months?

You will find all the famous animals like big cats, giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, hyenas, servals, impalas, and many more. However the numbers and variety will are usually not as rich you find in Central Serengeti.

How many days do we recommend spending in North Serengeti?

We recommend a minimum of 2 days and ideally 3 days to spend in North Serengeti during the migration season between July to October.

What are the odds of seeing Mara river crossings in North Serengeti?

Our guide stays in touch with his peers in the region and gets updates on wildebeests movement near the river crossing points (there are specific points along the river where they cross) and when he gets information that there are chances of crossing(wildebeest herds approaching the crossing points), he will inform you and take you to the crossing point. From there it depends on luck.

Sometimes it might happen right after you reach the crossing point or sometimes you might have to wait for a few hrs and the wildebeest just keep moving back and forth towards the crossing point and back, without crossing the river.

And river crossing might last for anywhere from 1-10 minutes, depending on the size of the herd. But when it happens, it will easily be worth the several hours of waiting and you will have an experience that you might remember forever.

Between 3rd week of July to end of September, we estimate that if you spend about 3 hrs on the river bank, then you have about 40% chances of watching a river crossing event. If you are in North Serengeti for 3 nights, you have very high chances of seeing some river crossing. Chances of seeing river crossing reduce in October.

How Does North Serengeti compare with Maasai Mara for safari?

How Does North Serengeti compare with Central Serengeti for safari?

Can you cover North Serengeti on a day trip from Central Serengeti?

Can you camp at a public campsite in North Serengeti?

Is North Serengeti recommended for seeing migration in early July?

In a tour covering Kenya+Tanzania between Juy to October, do you recommend visiting both Maasai Mara and North Serengeti?

Can I skip Central Serengeti and only visit North Serengeti?


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