Endless plains… the Serengeti

Endless plains… the Serengeti

Vishnu Rajamanickam | The word Serengeti is derived from the Maasai language, which means “endless plains” – making it an accurate explanation in itself of the beautiful and picturesque terrain that beholds the wanderer’s eye. The national park is a sprawling expanse of faded green grass pockmarked with trees across its stretch.

The Serengeti National Park is situated in Northern Tanzania, bordering Lake Victoria and spread over 15,000 km2. Historically, it had been the Maasai tribes that had lived in the region, tending their livestock in the plains and living on the edge, warding off lions and spotted hyenas on the prowl. But in the late 1950s, the British evicted the Maasai to live in the nearby Ngorongoro Conservation Area to preserve the national park, which has been mired with controversies till date.

Serengeti is considerably famous around the world, and contributes heavily to the Tanzanian tourism industry, with an excess of 350,000 visitors to the park every year. The national park holds over 2,500 African lions and more than a million wildebeests.

To a person from outside the African continent, an image that provides the essence of Africa is the one with thousands of animals crossing a river with crocodiles lurking in the waters, waiting to prey on the hapless animals. Such an event is commonplace at Serengeti and is known as the Great Migration, which happens every year from January to August.

Words would fail to explain the magnitude of this event – with the hundreds of thousands of wildebeests and zebras traversing the savannahs, in search of fresh grazing grounds and water sources.

And based on this event, there are a lot of adventure trails and safari tours that could be undertaken by visitors that could bring them up close to the animals. People could also opt to experience this from the skies, with hot air balloon safaris that provide spectacular eagle-eye views to the scenes.

Visitors to the park can get to sight all the different types of fauna, especially the Big Five animals while on these safaris. They also have the possibility of setting up tents and staying in lodges in the Seronera region. From the vantage points from Seronera, people can catch a glimpse of lions hunting zebras, leopards resting over tree branches after a meal and elephant herds teaching its young ones to drink water.

Also, people interested in the culture and heritage of the Maasai could visit their hamlets and spend time with the tribe. The Maasai live like nomads, and use their traditional survival skills with their lives being centered around cattle. They are also very welcoming and allow visitors to get a sense of their life for a small fee.

For the uninitiated, the Serengeti National Park is a timeless wonder, transporting them back to the Stone Ages; a time when the semblance of civilization and technology ceases to exist. The moments in Serengeti are fleeting, but the memories are eternal – the sights of the myriad of animals and the significance of their being would never be lost on you, even if the mud trails of your safari jeep are long gone.