Welcome to Tanzania! Among some of the densest and most diverse wildlife areas in the world, the Serengeti and its neighboring parks are a haven for all animals. While it cannot be guaranteed that you will be able to spot all these magnificent species on a safari, a hot air balloon ride is sure to increase your chances due to its advantageous bird’s eye vantage point.
Having built quite a reputation for itself, millions of nature lovers fly out to the region from all around the world for the chance to witness the incredible wildlife thriving in the bush. While enjoying a balloon ride over the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, or Grumeti Game Reserve, one may see a wide array of predators, herbivores, and even some endemic birds with the proper help from their pilot or guide.
Here are some of the Wildlife of the Serengeti you may spot on your next trip to Tanzania:
Famous for its majestic variety of predators, the national park and surrounding areas can offer quite a thrilling spectacle. The region also boasts two of the famous Big Five; the Lion and the Leopard. With the largest population of lions in Africa, the Serengeti alone is home to over 4000 of these regal creatures. Due to their beauty, stature, and elegant nature, groups of lions are usually called ‘pride’. These units can often reach up to over 40 lions in a single pride.
Lions are often spotted lounging around the tall grass of the bush or perched on the many indigenous Kopjes scattered around the endless plains of the Serengeti. One may be able to spot these great predators in action, especially during the calving season when the babies make for easy targets or during the Great Migration when millions of prey converge in a single column. While male lions can easily be identified by their beautiful golden manes, females will usually be seen walking alongside their cubs to protect them or looking for easy kills to feed to their children.
About 1000 leopards can also be found roaming and hunting on the grounds. These can easily be recognized by their spotted coat. Unfortunately, this characteristic also makes them masters of camouflage as they are able to easily hide in the yellowed grass and trees of the park and thus become quite hard to spot on regular game drives, although one may have a greater chance when searching from above. Compared to lions, leopards are solitary creatures and are rarely seen in large groups. Nevertheless, even small units, such as a mother and her cubs, are often coined as a ‘leap’ or ‘prowl’ of leopards due to their gracious and stealthy movements.
Among some of the fastest animals on earth, leopards can reach speeds of up to 58 km/h offering a great advantage when hunting in the wild. These elegant creatures are also known to be nocturnal animals meaning one may have equal chances of spotting them in the nighttime as during the day.
Other mammal predators usually spotted in the region are the cheetah, golden and black-backed jackal, the African wild dog, and the spotted hyena which are well-known to be cunning and highly capable hunters.
Last but not least, let’s not forget one of the most impressive carnivores spotted during hot air balloon safaris, the Nile crocodile famous for its deadly appearance during the Great Wildebeest Migration. These thick-skinned predators are often spotted during the Mara River crossing where many wildebeest, zebras, and other mammals meet their death trying to battle their way through the deadly waters. Renowned for their patience and wit, these crocodiles will wait hours or even days for the right moment to strike. If an unsuspecting prey ventures a little too close, this skilled hunter will create an almost inescapable hold with its powerful jaws and easily hold the animal underwater until it drowns. In comparison to other reptiles who typically lay their eggs and move on, the Nile crocodile is incredibly motherly towards its hatchlings and will guard and protect its young until the eggs are ready.
The Serengeti and its neighboring parks and reserves are also incredibly famous for their wide herbivore population. Every year, millions of Wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, and other mammals set off on an epic clockwise journey around the Serengeti and the Masai Mara region in search of fresh water and green pastures. Galloping with a seemingly single mind, these herds constitute the renowned Great Wildebeest Migration, the largest movement of animals in the world.
While having a similar appearance to the African buffalo, the wildebeest is a wild, migratory animal of smaller stature. The buffalo, also found in decent numbers around the park, is said to be one of Africa’s most dangerous mammals with almost no predator. While a daring lion may attempt to snatch away a calf once in a while, it must be ready to suffer the retaliation of a notoriously bad-tempered mother or sometimes the whole herd. Requiring around 65 to 70 liters of water every day, buffalos are often found around waterholes which makes them quite easy to spot.
Among other animals usually found playing near waterholes, the African elephant is a truly thrilling and majestic sight. Weighing up to 7 tons, these gentle giants are the largest land mammals in the world. While they are typically peaceful animals, elephants can be quite deadly when threatened due to their massive ivory tusks and the sheer weight and force of their body. While female elephants are usually spotted in close-knit herds around the plains, the males often leave the clan around 12 years old to roam alone or join other bachelors.
The Black and White Rhinos are also on the heavier side of the scale when it comes to the wildlife of the Serengeti. Unfortunately for the beautiful beasts, the large rhino horns are worth a lot of money on the black market where they are sold to make traditional medicine or as a trophy to display power and wealth. Due to poaching, the number of rhinos in the Serengeti has severely diminished, going from thousands to very few. While it remains critically endangered, multiple conservation efforts have been put into place over the years to protect the African rhinos.
While rhinos are scarce and may be hard to spot on a safari, you are almost always sure of seeing a few giraffes towering over the bush. Giraffes are magnificent and delicate animals. Known for their height and patterns of dark brown spots, these impressive mammals are an iconic part of the traditional Tanzanian safari background. They are often seen galloping in the tall grass or feeding off the thorny branches of the acacia tree. As a surprising fact about these beautiful creatures, giraffes are capable of sleeping for only a few minutes every day and can even rest while standing.
The wildlife of the Serengeti variety which you may spot while on a hot air balloon safari. Among other animals thriving on this mythical land, you may get the chance to see more hooved species such as waterbucks, Grant’s gazelles, elands, topis, and more. While venturing farther out into the riverine region, you could also encounter black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, and vervet monkeys among others.
During your flight, always keep an eye up to the sky so you might get the opportunity to see some truly special birds which can only be found in Tanzania. Among these endemic birds, you will find the Fischer’s lovebirds easily recognizable for their bright red, yellow, and green coat; the rufous tailed weaver, a type of gray-brown songbird with spotted feathers; and the gray-breasted spurfowl, well known for the featherless red skin around its throat and eyes.
If you can’t wait to experience the thriving wildlife of the Serengeti from a five-star hot air balloon safari, do not hesitate to contact us at Miracle Experience for the adventure of a lifetime.