Serengeti National Park came to public notice in 1901 when a troop of German soldiers was attacked by a raiding party of Maasai warriors. The Germans subsequently built a defensive structure called Fort Ikoma in the area, and maintained it until it fell to the British army in 1917.
In 1921 the British Administration declared a 350 hectare nature reserve near a village called Seronera, and now the Serengeti’s administrative centre to protect lions, and this was the start of the Serengeti National Park which was eventually formed in 1951.
The park came to international attention in 1957 when Bernard Grzimek, then President of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and his son Michael, wrote a book called Serengeti Shall Not Die and, in 1959, they made a wildlife film with the same title.
While the film won an Oscar at the annual American Academy Award presentations that same year, Michael was unfortunately killed in a plane crash while working on the documentary.
The Serengeti was called “Maasailand” by outsiders. The Maasai are an indigenous people known for being fierce warriors. They live among the wild animals and survive by eating game, birds, and their large herds of cattle.
The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains of eastern Mara Region, which they named “endless plains,” for around 200 years when the first European explorer, Austrian Oscar Baumann, visited the area in 1892.
The first Brit to enter the Serengeti, Stewart Edward White, recorded his explorations in the northern Serengeti in 1913. The name “Serengeti” is an approximation of the word used by the Maasai to describe the area, siringet, which means “the place where the land runs on forever”.
Serengeti National Park is located in north Tanzania and extends to south-western Kenya. The Serengeti encompasses Serengeti National Park and a number of protected game reserves and conservation areas maintained by the governments of Tanzania and Kenya.
The park covers 14,750 square kilometres of grassland plains, savannah, riverine forest, and woodlands. The park lies in north-western Tanzania, bordered to the north by the Kenyan border, where it is continuous with the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
To the southeast of the park is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, to the southwest lies Maswa Game Reserve, to the west are the Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, and to the northeast and east lies the Loliondo Game Control Area. Together, these areas form the larger Serengeti ecosystem.
Visa and migration information
Travellers to Tanzania require a valid Visa each time they enter the Republic. Visas can be obtained at any Diplomatic or Consulate Mission of the United Republic of Tanzania abroad, normally within one business day.
Visitors are urged to do so to avoid any possible inconvenience at point of entry in Tanzania. However, queues for these visas usually entail wasted hours spent at the airport. Alternatively, you may download your visa application from your local Tanzanian embassy website and submit these via post.
Applications require two passport-sized photographs, payment for visa fees and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the return of your passport, visa and other materials. More information about the visa application can be obtained from your nearest Tanzanian Embassy/Consulate.
It is possible, however, to obtain a tourist’s visa for a single entry at any one of the following four main entry points to Tanzania, subject to the fulfilment of all immigration and health requirements: Dar es Salaam International Airport, Zanzibar International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), Namanga Entry Point (Tanzania-Kenya boarder point), visitors must hold valid visa prior to arrival.