Serengeti Migration Safari

THE GREAT SERENGETI WILDEBEEST MIGRATION

One of the most sought-after experiences for wildlife and nature enthusiasts, the Great Migration is the ever-moving circular migration of over a million animals across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. The ever-moving columns of wildebeest, joined by a host of companions, follow an age-old route in search of grazing and water. This journey takes them across the plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya, all the way south into Tanzania, through the Serengeti to the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, before circling up and around in a clockwise direction. Along the way, high drama is always present, as thousands of animals are taken by predators, and thousands more are born, replenishing the numbers and sustaining the circle of life.

The Great Wildebeest Migration

Every year, around 1.5 million wildebeest; 350,000 Thomson’s gazelle; 200,000 zebra; and thousands of eland and other ungulates (hoofed animals) participate in what has been called ‘the greatest show on Earth’, The Great Wildebeest Migration.

The three groups of migrant grazers have different grass-eating habits: as one group eats the top of the tallest grass, the next group will eat away some of the medium-height grass, until finally it is almost completely eaten, and the herds move on. This means each group sticks to their own kind with only a small overlap in their distributions. The grasses of the plains have the highest protein content in the whole of the Serengeti, as well as being high in calcium.

It is unclear how the wildebeest know which way to go, but it is generally believed that their journey is dictated primarily by their response to the weather; they follow the rains and the growth of new grass. While there is no scientific proof of it, some experts believe that the animals react to lightning and thunderstorms in the distance. It has even been suggested that wildebeest can locate rain more than 50km away.

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Great Migration Safari Holidays: the basics

You can see the Great Migration in Tanzania all year round – they migrate in a circular motion around the Serengeti National Park as such it is an ongoing event. Below we will dissect where the wildebeest usually are at different times of the year.

The Great Wildebeest Migration is rarely in the Masai Mara Kenya; the herds only ever venture there as an extension of their grazing lands in the northern point of Tanzania if they need to for fresh pastures. You can only find the migration in Kenya within a few months of the year when they head towards the border, and even then, most of the herds are still mulling around the northern parts of the Serengeti anyway…

The Annual Migration overview: the best times to visit The Wildebeest in Africa

This is when the wildebeest are in the northern Serengeti plains, and you have a chance of seeing up to thousands crossing the great Mara River. As the sight of the wildebeest crossing the so dramatic, it is considered by many the most desirable time to see the migration.

Currently the wildebeest are in the southern area of the Serengeti, more specifically in Ndutu which is actually in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and it is calving season. Along with the river crossings, this is a real highlight of the wildebeest’s journey and a fabulous time to see the herds congregate on the dramatic sweeping plains of the south. February is the only time of year when you are almost guaranteed to see the big herds all together as they always come south for calving season.

In November, April, May and June the migration is “in between” locations and as such these months are slightly transitional times to see the herds. November is the short rains, April and May are the long rains and as such the grass is green in these months across the Serengeti, so the wildebeest are more dispersed than in the prime time of July – October and December – March. Thus, you don’t get as many of those condensed big herds which people get excited about!