Central Serengeti 2023 Trip Report

Zebra in the central Serengeti

The Central Serengeti is one of the most productive wildlife photography areas anywhere in Africa. The landscape is predominantly vast open plains with scattered acacia thickets, some small slow moving rivers and the most amazing rock formations, called Kopjes (pronounces copies).

Our hope for the safari was to photograph predators in these wide open spaces, and on top of these rocks. We were extremely spoilt on this safari, viewing 87 lions, 2 leopards and 5 cheetah in just 4 nights!

Rocks in the central Serengeti
Rocks in the central Serengeti

Our first afternoon in Central Serengeti was a long one. We had driven from Karatu that morning, via the Ngorongoro Crater. When we arrived in the park, the first sighting we had was of this beautiful Tawny Eagle with a very full crop.

Eagle in the central Serengeti
Eagle in the central Serengeti

Other common species we saw on the drive in were plenty of Thompsons Gazelles and a herd of around 200 zebra that were coming to a waterhole to drink.

Gazelle in the central Serengeti
Gazelle in the central Serengeti
Zebra in the central Serengeti
Zebra in the central Serengeti
Zebra in the central Serengeti

As we approached the waterhole there was a small pride of 4 lions who were fast asleep. As the zebra herd approached, they lions realised they had a chance for an easy dinner and got into position. We did not have to wait very long before chaos erupted around us and the lions made a kill.

Zebra being chased by lions in the central Serengeti
Zebra being chased by lions in the central Serengeti
Zebra being chased by lions in the central Serengeti
Zebra being chased by lions in the central Serengeti

Early the next day we headed out to explore what this amazing place had to offer. We were treated to a beautiful sunrise before finding a huge hyena den. The pups were all out and about, watching a hot air balloon float overhead filled with guests.

Giraffe at sunrise in the serengeti
Giraffe at sunrise in the serengeti
Hyena pup
Hyena pup
Korhaan
Korhaan

After searching all the Kopjes for lions without success, we headed out to the open plains where we had an awesome sighting of a cheetah and her cub. they were originally staring at a herd of gazelle, but with no cover and a large distance between them they soon lost interest and began to play.

Cheetah photographed by lance van de Vyver
Cheetah photographed by lance van de Vyver
Cheetah photographed by lance van de Vyver
Cheetah photographed by lance van de Vyver
Cheetah photographed by Kirstin van de Vyver
Cheetah photographed by Kirstin van de Vyver
Cheetah photographed by lance van de Vyver

After eating breakfast out on the plains we headed back to camp to have a rest and do some editing. On our way however, we bumped into two different prides of lions hiding up in the shade.

Lion photographed by lance van de Vyver
Lion photographed by lance van de Vyver

In the afternoon we headed out once again in the direction of the Kopjes and where we had left the cheetah. A large herd of zebra had arrived and were running across the road, giving us great opportunities to pan. We also came across the same pride of lions from earlier, still lying in the shade. unfortunately the cheetah mother and cub had moved off.

Zebra in the central Serengeti
Zebra in the central Serengeti
Lions eye
Lions eye

The next day we once again checked the Kopjes in the morning with no success. We did however find two old looking cheetah males who were surrounded by hyena. The population of hyena in these parts of the world actually have a direct influence on the cheetah numbers, as the cheetah are often unable to hide their kills from these opportunists.

Old cheetah male
Old cheetah male
Elephant herd tanzania
Elephant herd tanzania

In the afternoon we decided to head in a completely different direction and check out the lower regions where the rivers are. Our first sighting was of a very cheeky young baboon and its family, before we rounded a corner and found a lion cub in a tree, waiting patiently for its mother to return.

Baboon baby
Lion cub in a tree
Lion cub in a tree
Lion cub in a tree
Lion cub in a tree

After photographing the cub for a while, we decided to go searching for the pride in the direction the cub kept staring. Soon after we found two large males on the other side of the River and decided we would try and cross to view them. As we got to the crossing point however, we found that the males were on their way to the rest of the pride, who had just taken down three zebra in the reeds of the river.

Big male lion
Big male lion
Big male lion
Big male lion
Big male lion
Big male lion
Lark in morning light
Lark in morning light

In the next morning drive we went back to where all the lions had made the three kills. The cubs had joined up with the pride, but the visibility was very bad. We got lucky at one point with a lioness climbing a tree before we moved off towards a huge herd of zebra and wildebeest that had arrived into the plains over night.

Lion in a tree serengeti
Lion in a tree serengeti
Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest in the migration
Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest in the migration
Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest in the migration
Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest in the migration
Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest in the migration
Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest in the migration

Here we spend the rest of the morning photographing the huge numbers of animals, awestruck on the sheer size and numbers within the herd.

Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest in the migration
Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest in the migration

On the afternoon drive we once again headed towards the Kopjes. Before we got there we found a huge bull elephant picking leaves from the very limit of his reach, and a small breeding herd where the babies were suckling.

Elephant stretching up
Elephant stretching up
Elephant baby drinking
Elephant baby drinking

Arriving at one of the more scenic Kopjes we were pleasantly surprised to find a lioness on top of one of the rocks. The scenery was absolutely stunning and all we had to do was wait for her to wake up before capturing some very pleasing images.

Lions on rocks kopjes serengeti
Lions on rocks kopjes serengeti
Lions on rocks koppies serengeti
Lions on rocks koppies serengeti
Lions on rocks kopjes serengeti
Lions on rocks kopjes serengeti

Sadly our time in the Central Serengeti had come to an end. As we drove onto our next destination, Ndutu, we once again came across a young cheetah who was on the hunt. We were only with her for a few minutes when she singled out a young gazelle and took it down right in front of us…. a fitting end to a magical 4 days.

Cheetah Stalking
Cheetah Stalking
Cheetah with kill
Cheetah with kill

If you would like to join us in the Central Serengeti, we are returning there in February 2024. Trip details can be found in the button below.

Tags :
Lions,migration,Photography,plains,Safari,wildebeest
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