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The northern region of the Serengeti is a vast pristine area of wooded rolling hills interspersed with open grassy patches and large granite outcrops. This region extends north about 55 miles from Seronera in the central Serengeti to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. Most visitors to the Serengeti never see the northern region. It is only rarely visited and remains an unexplored and untouched wilderness packed with stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife.
We find it ironic that the most popular game viewing regions in East Africa are the central Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara reserve in Kenya. Thousands of visitors a year flock to these two great areas, which belong to same ecosystem. Located right in between these two areas is the northern Serengeti, which receives very few visitors. Wildlife concentrations are a little lower in the northern Serengeti and the thick woodlands do make game harder to see but this is more than compensated by the beautiful landscapes and the fact you will have the majority of wildlife sightings all to yourself.
The northern Serengeti supports a good number of resident herbivores including hippo, giraffe, eland, topi, impala and Thomson’s gazelle. This area is home to the largest remaining concentrations of elephants in the Serengeti. These graceful giants were poached heavily in the 1980s and less than a hundred remained by 1987 in the northern Serengeti. With the world ban on the ivory trade imposed in 1989, poaching came to an abrupt halt. Since the ivory ban was enacted, elephant numbers have been slowing rising in the northern Serengeti through immigration from the Mara, natural recruitment and from expansion of agricultural communities outside the park forcing those animals inside the Serengeti. The great buffalo herds of the north faced a similar fate but they too are returning and a few large herds are usually sighted around Lobo in the northern Serengeti.
Predators are also abundant in the northern Serengeti, though not to the extent seen in the Central Serengeti. The thick bush and woodlands of the northern Serengeti do make it more difficult to spot predators. However, lions and hyenas are regularly seen. Cheetahs are distributed fairly thinly in the northern woodlands but they are commonly seen since they are active during the day. Leopards are spread fairly constant throughout the woodlands but they are more elusive here in the northern Serengeti.
The northern woodlands of the Serengeti ecosystem are home to the enormous migratory herds of wildebeest and zebra during the dry season. However, the great herds usually reside in the extreme north of the park spilling over into the Masai Mara during the height of the dry season. The smaller wildebeest herds can usually be accessed with game drives to the extreme north. The zebra herds are more dispersed and are more easily seen. Game viewing is at its best it the northern Serengeti when the great herds are migrating through the area to and from the Masai Mara and the extreme northern Serengeti. The northern migration usually makes its way through the northern Serengeti in late July and early August appearing on the Mara watershed in Kenya in early August. The southern migration through the northern region usually takes place in mid to late October. However, the exact timing of these events fluctuates from year to year and is entirely dependent upon current rainfall patterns.