Going on safari in Serengeti National Park

As with all adventures, a successful Serengeti safari starts with planning your adventure.

Many questions come to mind as soon as you start planning a Serengeti safari; what should I bring on a safari? Do I need special gear and clothing? What about rain suits? Or a torch perhaps? We are happy providing you with some general information, although it will always depend on how you are traveling and where you are going. If you are flying in for a short stay, you won’t need to pack too much.

What does a typical safari in the Serengeti look like?

If this is your first safari trip (we feel your excitement!), you might be curious about what your safari days will look like. Although this can vary slightly from camp to camp, there is generally a day-plan most lodges follow, simply because the rhythm of wildlife and weather conditions are changeable. Don’t worry if you are not much of a morning person; there is plenty of time for napping later in the day. We can also guarantee that the minute you are awakened by the sound of birds and a far-off cry of a scavenging hyena, you will become an early bird yourself.

Drive-in, fly-in or combo safari?

Many roads lead to Serengeti National Park. So which one should you choose? This really depends on your wishes, needs and further travel plans. If you’re looking for a fast and convenient way to travel, or just have a few days to spend in the area, a fly-in safari is the option for you. If you’re planning to visit some other sites as well or looking to save some money on transportation, a drive-in safari is the way to go. A popular option is to combine these two, starting with a drive-in safari from Arusha, with an overnight stay at the Ngorongoro Crater along the way. From the crater it’s just an three hour drive to the Serengeti National Park. After your Serengeti safari you can fly out from one of the airstrips – saving you at least eight hours of driving to Arusha. More information on transportation modes may be found on our how to travel to the Serengeti National Park page.

Fly-in Serengeti safari

Upon arrival at one of Serengeti’s airstrips, a guide or tracker from the lodge will pick you up and take you to their property. Some of the more exclusive lodges even have their own airstrip; giving you the opportunity to maximize your time to enjoy the splendours of the savannah and the lodge. The coming days you will be exploring the Serengeti with one of the guides from the lodge.

Drive-in Serengeti safari

When choosing to book a drive-in safari a driver/guide from Arusha will take you to your lodge in the Serengeti in a 4x4 safari vehicle (and other places to visit -depending on your itinerary- along the way). In general, the driver/guide will also be your guide in the Serengeti and take you on the game drives through the park. However, at some of the more exclusive Serengeti lodges it is a requisite to go on game drives with one of the guides at the lodge, as they want to make sure that their high standards are met and you will have the best possible (safari) experience at their lodge.

Serengeti cuisine and sundowners

A four-course dinner of delicate dishes, with views over the vast plains, under a tree lit by lanterns, or fuelling up on freshly made macarons during a high-tea before the afternoon game drive. And how about unwinding after an exhilarating day with a buffet of appetizers and a glass of full-bodied African wine? Although the highlight of your safari is of course the wildlife viewing; what is a safari day without excellent meals in between your activities? You will be pleasantly surprised by the high standards the Serengeti lodges live by when it comes to drinks and dining, even though they’re all located in remote places. This will definitely be something to reminisce about once back at home. There is no lack of fresh produce, local specialities, as well as international dishes, sometimes with a twist personal to the chef. And it’s a reassuring thought that all meals, as well as coffee and tea and (often) local brand drinks, are included in the price.

We don’t want to ruin all the surprises your staff has planned for you, but dinner is often served at different locations throughout your stay. And how many times have you had dinner while watching giraffes having a juicy meal of tree branches themselves? To top it off, traditional singing and dance performances are often part of the dinner, as well as magnificent sunsets or a sky full of stars. Always be aware of that memorable moment, that can sneak up on you unexpectedly: maybe it’s when you’re sipping a freshly brewed morning coffee when you see the light of the sunrise slowly getting brighter and brighter. Or maybe it’s that one evening when you’re gazing up at the stars with a nightcap in your hand, realizing how incredibly small we are and how precious our planet is.

Dietary requirements and arrival

If you have any dietary requirements, please inform the lodge accordingly; the chefs are more than happy to oblige. Arriving late? Please call ahead to the lodge, so they can prepare a late night dinner for you and you don’t have to go to bed with a rumbling belly.

Serengeti safari packing list: We've got your bag

Congratulations: you've made the decision to take the trip of a lifetime. Once on your safari, you don’t want to be distracted by packing inconveniences or other irrelevant obstacles.

We will try to answer all your questions about what to pack and how to pack it. Although it depends on how you are travelling and where you are going, there are some general guidelines. If you are flying in for a short stay, you don’t need to pack too much. Do note that smaller chartered planes allow 12 to 15 kg for carry-on luggage, and soft bags are strongly recommended. Also, don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.

What clothes to pack for a Serengeti safari?

You don’t need an entire new wardrobe when going on a Serengeti safari (but if you need an excuse to shop, we won’t stop you of course). Just leave your brightly-coloured clothes at home, and don’t pack too much.

  • Bring light fabrics and loose-fitting clothing that dries fast, in tranquil colours. Laundry is offered daily in most camps, so you don’t have to worry about not having any clean clothes.
  • Pack a warm sweater (or jacket) and a scarf. Temperatures plummet in mornings and evenings; warm clothes during a game drive are a necessity. If you still find yourself shivering during a game drive, camps also provide ‘bush babies’ (you will soon find out what those are) and blankets.
  • Shorts for men and women are perfect for a safari drive or bush walk, but (light) longer trousers are preferred in rural villages.
  • It is accepted to dress casually in safari camps.
  • A 'squashable' hat and sunglasses with good (polarized) UV protection are essential during your trip.
  • Leave all your trendy camouflage or military-themed clothes at home: in Africa this is not considered appropriate and the police might question you.
  • Wear lightweight footwear with ankle support if possible. Make sure the shoes feel comfortable and that you can walk on them for a while. We recommend trying them at home for some longer walks to make sure they don’t hurt your feet.
  • Bring a few pairs of thin socks that dry fast, rather than one pair of thick socks. Wearing several layers of thin socks is often more comfortable. Visit an outdoor speciality store to get more information on socks.

Tools, tools, tools: what tools to bring on a Serengeti safari?

Handy tools are an important part of a successful safari. Most lodges don’t hesitate to provide anything you need, but picking and bringing your own tools is fun too. So what should you bring? Here are a few items we always find useful during our own trips.

  • Your own binoculars (to view animals from your private deck or wherever you may be).
  • Your own camera for those amazing pictures (of course!).
  • A cheap (waterproof) watch (leave expensive jewellery at home).
  • Sunblock and lipsalve with high UV protection.
  • High-quality insect repellent.
  • Camps often provide water bottles, but you can bring one yourself, too, to limit plastic waste.

Tips for amazing safari photos

A resting lion under a tree, opening his mouth for a long yawn… and click! You just made an amazing safari shot. We don’t need to tell you that the Serengeti is a paradise for photographers. To create these beautiful memories, we would like to help you become an even better photographer. Therefore, we would like to provide you with some of our tips.

For great results, use a (digital) SLR camera with one or more lenses. For photography of wild animals, a lens with a minimum range of 200 mm is crucial, preferably a 300 mm lens. For landscape photography, a wide-angle lens (18 mm or less) is recommended. Pretty portraits can be shot with lenses with a fixed focal length (usually a 50 mm lens provides good results) and large aperture. If you don't feel like carrying heavy bags of photo equipment on your Serengeti safari: a 18-200 mm zoom lens can make beautiful shots, and pretty much all subjects are within range. Important during your Serengeti safari is protecting your equipment: because you will probably drive on unpaved roads, dust easily gets into the car and may damage your camera. Make sure a quality dust-free bag always protects your camera.

A few words on safety during your safari

Going on a safari is very thrilling and exciting, but just as with any other trip, it comes with potential safety issues.

Although you probably won’t drive yourself during your Serengeti safari, you should know that in game reserves and national parks with big game it is absolutely prohibited to get out of your car, unless accompanied by armed rangers or/and guides. Unfortunately, each year travellers ignore this rule, despite the serious consequences.

Usually, a guide in a special safari vehicle will pick you up from a small airstrip. Once you are in the lodge, pay attention to the briefing provided by your ranger or accommodation staff. The staff always knows what game is currently roaming in the vicinity of the lodge.

Many lodges in the Serengeti are unfenced; wildlife can freely enter the premises and will do so. Therefore, you are not allowed to walk unaccompanied around the lodge after sunset. Would you like to go to the main building, restaurant or bar? Just call the reception and they will send someone to escort you from your room.

Again: if you have any concerns, reach out to us and we will answer all your questions.

Further reading