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Bologonja Springs View Full Tanzania Map

Bologonja Springs is a lush and idyllic spot hidden away in the remote reaches of the Northern Serengeti. The water from these springs form the headwaters to the Bologonja River, which meanders northwest across the wide-ranging landscape of the Northern Serengeti until it unites with the splendid Mara River. The springs and surrounding canopy forest encompassed by the Bologonja River area are stunningly beautiful. Ample shade and fresh water are magnets to both migratory and resident animals during the dry season. Vervet monkeys shriek from the tree tops and baboons playfully romp under awnings of leafy foliage. One has the chance to see many varieties of colorful birds here including kingfishers, hoopoes, rollers and the elegant crowned crane. Bologonja's flourishing resources also support some unusual antelope species including the mountain reedbuck and steenbok. Steenboks are a charismatic little antelope that are seldom seen in the Serengeti except for the Northern reaches of the park and they are commonly misidentified as oribi or even reedbuck. Steenboks can be recognized by a triangular black patch on the tip of the nose; this signature smudge adds charm to the little antelope's appearance. Bologonja Springs is roughly a 1-hour scenic drive just north of Migration Tented Lodge and Lobo Wildlife Lodge.

Bologonja Springs is also the site of the Bologonja park gate. Just ten miles to the north of this area is Kenya's Masai Mara game reserve. Prior to the border closure in 1977, it was actually possible to drive freely between the Serengeti and Masai Mara. This restriction is an inconvenience for those travelers wishing to conduct both a Tanzania and Kenya safari during the same trip; however, the border closure has also helped to keep the Northern Serengeti incredibly pristine. While there are hundreds of vehicles just a few miles to the north in the Masai Mara game reserve, the Serengeti side is an isolated wilderness virtually devoid of tourists. Throughout the North Serengeti, one is able to witness the same caliber of game viewing without hordes of other vehicles and the resulting solitude sets the stage for a much more intimate and rewarding experience.

Stewart White was one of the first explorers to discover the Northern Serengeti and Bologonja Springs. In 1913 Stewart wrote: 'The Bologonja was indeed a clear stream, running over pebbles and little rocks, shadowed by a loft vine hung jungle of darkness and coolness, little gray monkeys and brilliant birds. Yet twenty steps brought us into the open, where we could see the rolling green hills with their scattered little trees, and distant mountains here and there to the north, and the high noble arch of the cloudless African sky. And the game. Never have I seen anything like that game. Black herds of wildebeest like bison in the park openings, topi everywhere, zebra, hartebeest, tommy, Oribi, steenbok, impala, reedbuck and others.'

Besides its inherent scenic splendor, the main highlight of the Bologonja Springs area is the Bologonja salt lick (also called the Larelemangi salt lick). This salt lick is located just a couple miles downstream from Bologonja springs and is a special haven for wildlife. In contrast to the lush springs and canopy forest, this salt lick consists of about 1.5 acres of bare, wet earth on a seepage area near the river valley. This salt lick is evidently a permanent feature as Steward White noted it in 1913. This area is a particularly good spot to see large herds of buffalo and elephant as both species seem to be regular visitors.

Myles Turner wrote in 1966: "The Larelemangi salt lick lies in one of the Serengeti's great buffalo areas, and some herds numbered over 1,000 animals. In December 1963, I decided to camp at Larelemangi. I was awakened by an extraordinary, far-away rustling noise, like distant surf. As the noise grew closer, I realized that the rustling was an immense herd of buffalo. As the herd converged on the rocky ravines which led into the salt lick, the noise changed to an incredible grunting, snorting, clashing of horns and thunder of hooves. For the next hour I watched entranced as buffalo rasped at the salt with their rough tongues. Eventually, an old lion arrived and roared across the valley, and as one, the buffalo took off in splendid confusion, the noise of the stampede gradually fading into the distance."