Millions of years ago, the Serengeti was a great inland sea. Today it is more than 5,000 square miles of flat grasslands, lovely kopjes hills and a few woodlands. At any time of the year it has more resident game than any other protected park in Africa, and during the first half of the year it is home to the Great Migration, a movement of about two million animals. The whereabouts of the great herds is extremely weather-dependent, and of course nothing in the wild is ever guaranteed, but a visit to the Serengeti in the first half of the year has excellent chances of encountering the world’s last greatest herds of animals.

Even in areas far away from the locus of the migration, the Serengeti is a hotbed of activity, and its prairie character makes game viewing remarkably easy. Literally everywhere is the Thomson’s gazelle — more than a million. In the marvelous kopjes, or rocky outcrops, tiny worlds quite different from the great plains attract klipspringer and dassies, and provide the perfect lookouts for cheetah and lion. Along the few rivers like the Seronera, lines of grand acacia trees provide home territories for the Serengeti’s famous leopard — the largest, if not the most beautiful in the world.

The Serengeti is more than just an animal preserve. For centuries it was the main home of Tanzania’s Maasai, and visitors can travel to the famous sacred Ngong Meeting Rock of the Maasai and explore ancient Maasai cave paintings.

Resting atop the Serengeti is Kenya’s Maasai Mara, divided only by an invisible border although tourists are not allowed to cross, here. Immediately below the national park is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Together, these three ecosystems seamlessly connected encompass more than 7,000 sq. miles of the greatest wildlife area on earth.