The far north of the Serengeti National Park is where you'll find the wildebeest migration between August and October. The Mara River - bristling with crocs - divides this wild part of the Serengeti from the Masai Mara in Kenya and it's here that you'll find the herds when the southern plains get too dry.
The northern section of the Serengeti runs from just north of Seronera (Banagi Hill) right up to the Kenyan border north of the Mara River. Though there is still a great feeling of space here, this area feels and looks quite different to the south and west. This is an area of gentle undulations cut by numerous streams which reveal the underlying granites in the area.
In the east there are two main ranges of hills; the Kuka and Lobo Hills, square shouldered, with flat tops and rising to over 7000ft. Despite the vast scale of this area, the numerous belts of woodland and streams mean that the country is revealed to you in small sections as you drive through it. It makes it a fascinating place to explore as, in contrast to the southern plains, you never know what lies around the next corner.
The area round Lobo and the Grumeti River, generally a smaller affair here at its upper reaches than the river that flows through the western corridor, has consistently good resident game throughout the year. It's is an excellent place to find lion or leopard lying up in the riverine forest along the river lines or flaked out on the rocks amongst the kopjes in the morning. We've also had some good cheetah sightings in these areas and very occasionally wild dog creep into this part of the park from their denning sites in Loliondo.
As elsewhere in the Serengeti, the main highway is an ugly scar, which no doubt helps the parks traffic get about efficiently, but although you can see plenty of game from these roads, it's well worth disappearing down some of the little loops and taking your time to meander slowly, stopping often. Along the river lines there are some magnificent riverine trees, such as figs and mahoganies where there's good bird life - especially Turacos (Hartlaub's and Ross'), various kingfishers and fish eagles posted at intervals along the rivers like sentinels.
As you leave Lobo and head north towards Bologonja, there are a series of springs and seeps along the base of the Kuka Hills where we've had excellent sightings of elephant families coming to drink. There are always good sightings of giraffe to be had in this area and good populations of plains game and herds of buffalo can often be seen.
Peeling off west towards Kogatende the area becomes increasingly remote. A lot of people don't realise that a good stretch of the Mara River lies well within Tanzania and cuts right through this northern area of the Serengeti. A stunning region of kopjes, open plains, sporadic woodland and riverine vegetation, it's very similar and absolutely contiguous with Kenya's Maasai Mara a few kilometres to the North.
The Park authorities have only recently reasserted their control over the wholesale poaching activities that blighted this area over the recent past. As such it retains an edgy, frontier like feel whilst offering a wonderful varied game experience throughout the year. Seizing on the opportunity to offer a Maasai Mara experience without the congestion, several excellent camp options have already started up here and we reckon now is the time to enjoy this jewel of an area.
One of the sights people particularly hope to see is the wildebeest crossing the Mara River, most likely between July and October, depending on weather, as the herds actually spend a good deal of time crossing the Mara back and forth in search of the best grazing. It's an impressive sight to see hundreds of thousands of animals plunging into fast flowing water and braving some very large crocodiles in the process. That said, actually finding a crossing is very difficult and largely a matter of both luck and patience as a herd may look as though they're about to cross, only to decide on an apparent whim to turn round and go home.