If you are looking for the most phenomenal natural spectacles in Africa, you can’t skip the Great Wildebeest Migration. Watching millions of wildebeests, being accompanied by large numbers of Zebra’s Thompson gazelles, and elands, as they move from south Serengeti to Masai Mara and back, gives the feel of the true essence of an African Safari. It is one of the greatest wildlife migrations on planet earth, one of Africa’s seven wonders, and an experience that you would want to watch annually.
These animals, migrate on a loop path from Tanzania to Kenya and back following the seasonal rains and fresh pastures. After the calving season at Serengeti between February and March, and the breeding season is April to May in the central Serengeti the Journey goes on to cross the Grumeti and Mara River up to late August, and between November and January, they are on the move to Serengeti again via the edge of Ngorongoro crater.
It is a tough journey with a lot of drama, as thousands are eaten by predators (Lions, Crocodiles as they cross the Mara and Grumeti Rivers, hyenas), and also thousands are born, compensating the numbers and the circle of life. This is life or death for these wildebeests. Despite all the obstacles, every year the migration happens and there is no proven record of how these animals know how to follow this route. It is only believed that they follow the pastures and weather.
When does it happen? There is a perception, that June to October, is the only time when the migration is on. This is because the crossing of Grumeti and Mara Rivers happens between this time and between this period, it is also a high safari season, but the animals are always on the move all year round as it is a circular movement. Some enthusiasts follow them round. For the wildebeests to cross the rivers, it is unpredictable, and sometimes guides and visitors spend days coming to witness them cross but they don’t though in the end they cross.
The migration is made of different events and depending on your interest you can travel any time of the year to witness, either to Serengeti or to Masai Mara. The table below summarizes the events, when and where they happen.
|Calving (Birthing) Season
|February to March
|Rutting (Breeding) Season
|April to May
|Western & Central Serengeti
|Grumeti River Crossings
|May to June
|Mara River Crossings
|July to August
|Northern Serengeti & Masai Mara
|On the Move
|November to January
|Masai Mara & Northern Serengeti to Southern Serengeti
By the end of the cycle, a wildebeest that will have completed the journey estimates 800 to 1000km. From the edges of Ngorongoro and Serengeti, the epic journey starts circling up around to Masai Mara and back in a clockwise direction.
These destinations are not only famous for the migration, you could plan your safari to either Serengeti or Masai Mara around the Migration or visit other areas of these parks that also offer unparalleled game viewing.
Let’s plan your safari to Kenya and Tanzania the witnessing these magical scenes.