The Serengeti is an ecosystem in Africa that spans 5,700 miles and is most famous for its vast plains. It’s one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and has the biggest migration in the world, making it one of the most impressive natural events you’ll ever witness.
The Seregneti has become synonymous with Africa, and chances are, if you’ve dreamed about Africa, you’ve dreamed about the Serengeti. The park is so wildlife rich that there are over 4,000 lions, 1,000 leopards, 550 cheetahs and some 500 bird species.
In this one National Park (granted, it’s a huge park!).
This is one of the best places on earth to observe African wildlife in their natural habitats, of which include riverine forests, swamps, kopjes, grasslands, and woodlands.
So, the main question becomes, how many days do you need for exploring the Serengeti? We recommend four.
How Many Days to Spend in the Serengeti: Plan a Four Day Itinerary
Why Four Days
The Serengeti has wide plains and a vast diversity of wildlife. At least a full four days on a game drive will allow you to watch and observe the animals without the experience being rushed.
With four days in your itinerary, you can go on eight game drives where you’ll see most of what a Safari in Tanzania can offer. Morning game drives tend to leave early before dawn, and late afternoon game drives then head out to take in animals leading up to dusk.
Depending on your safari option, you can either enjoy picnic lunches out in the parks, or return back to your lodge in-between game drives before the heat of the day (our preferred option, as you can rest inbetween in the pool!)
Animals are most active in the early morning, and late afternoon, which is why game drives are carefully planned around these times. 8 game drives should be plenty to allow you to see the wildlife you’ve traveled for.
Evening game drives are when most predators are out, and starting to become active before a night of hunting. If you feel like you want more out of your safari experience, you can also pack in night drives, where your guides take you out with powerful spotlights.
Between four morning drives, four evening drives, and the optional possibility of adding on night drives as well, 4 days is plenty of time to spend in the Serengeti for a classic experience.
How to Pick Your Safari Days in Serengeti
The number of days you can spend on Serengeti will depend on many things. Such as if you plan to visit other national parks as well. For instance, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Kilimanjaro is a popular circuit.
Doing so might mean you choose to spend fewer days since you’re likely to see similar animals and wildlife. But if you’re exclusively there for Serengeti, here are other factors you should consider:
#1 Your Budget
Just like any other trip, how long you can take your journey in Serengeti will mostly depend on how much you can spend. Knowing your budget is an important factor so you’ll be able to schedule your trip around your expected expenses properly.
As you may only get one chance at this, you need to decide whether you’re going to save and splurge, or settle for something within your price range. The price range on different safari experiences varies greatly, and you can spend as much or as little as you want.
For instance, if you’re passionate about adventure, and your ultimate dream safari is to sail over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon, it may be worth saving extra so the money you do spend is on a trip you actually want.
Self drive holidays are typically the most affordable, or you can base yourself at a Serengeti lodge and book your game drives individually, or you can easily book onto many group tours which are all inclusive and arrange everything.
Four day options work well for each of these; whether you choose to self drive, base at a lodge, or book onto a group tour.
#3 Your Physical Condition
Even if you have an unlimited budget, your body can still be against you if you force yourself to pack too much into a short amount of time. Which is why we recommend spending four days as a perfect balance for a Serengeti safari.
There are many fantastic activities you can take park in in the Serengeti, but be wary of your physical limitations, your dos and don’ts, and especially if you have any conditions that should be taken into consideration.
For instance, if you’re absolutely terrified of heights, and haven’t done well with hot air balloons in the past, it’s not worth putting yourself under stress and anxiety which could ruin the remainder of your days.
If you know you have a terrible back and physically can’t handle sleeping on the ground, make sure you save up to book a proper lodge vs camping out in the National Park. Four days is only enough time if you’re in good health to enjoy it.
If you need a certain amount of sleep each night to function properly, don’t pack your days too full, and push your limits with night drives. Prioritize your health above all else.
If you have only a couple of days in the Serengeti, we recommend being ready to spend up to six hours sitting in a safari vehicle. Yes, this may not be physically exerting, but should be taken seriously if you have spine related issues, claustrophobia, or deal with common issues like car sickness.
#3 Your Preferred Activities
Travelers tend to make the assumption that there’s only one type of experience when visiting the Serengeti, and they typically don’t think about shopping around for something that really matches their interests.
For most people, this is a trip that’s likely only going to happen once in your life, so it’s important to make it as epic as possible. You should sit down and create a list of what you want out of a safari experience by thinking about things like whether you want adventure, culture and history, camping vs luxury.
For instance, if you’re an adventure junkie, perhaps you would be into a full participation adventure, where you pitch your own tent in the wilds, and help out around the camp. You spend a few nights under a sky of glittering stars amongst the wildlife of Africa.
Keep in mind too that while you might want to do it all, pressuring yourself to do so could mean you end up sacrificing your most preferred activities.
#4 Your Mode of Transportation
If you plan to drive towards your destination, your travel time from Arusha to Serengeti can take about 8 hours. It’s important to consider this transit time when you’re planning how long you have in the Serengeti.
When we recommend four days in the Serengeti, we mean four full days, so by day 1 you would already be at your lodge, ready to take an early morning game drive. This means day 0 would be your transit day, so it’s important to budget / allocate time for this.
It’s important to remember too that the roads are not smooth in this part of the world, and many people suffer fatigue by the end of the drive into the park. If you need time to rest before taking on Serengeti, make sure you include the time you expect to use to settle down in your plans.
The easiest mode of transportation is flying to Serengeti and then going back by car to Arusha. You can land in Serengeti quickly and enjoy the beautiful scenery on your way back.
You can spend as many nights as you want in the Serengeti, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever be bored. But if you’re limited on time and wondering how many days is best for a classic safari, four days will be plenty of time.