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When is the Best Time to See The Great Migration







It’s dawn in Northern Tanzania. The sun is trying to peel itself up from the horizon and you are standing in your safari Land Cruiser, eyes fixed on a sweeping yellow-orange landscape just as little dots begin to pepper the savannah. The day warms, you get closer, and those dots become animals, wildebeests, several hundred thousand of them.


Your heart beats faster as the day gets hotter and the herds get larger, rougher, faster. This unified mass of shaggy, four-legged creatures moves like some enormous shadow across the landscape and you are stuck in awe at the sight of it all. You’ve never seen anything close to this before—The Great Migration. Each year an estimated 2.5 million blue wildebeest—a name derived from the Afrikaans “wild beast”—begin their ‘wild-immigration’ clockwise movement en masse in and around the


Serengeti National Park and Masaai Mara National Reserve, in search of fresh grass and water. Now before identifying the optimal time for you to experience this Natural Wonder of the World, it’s helpful to first understand the wildebeest’s cycle of life and death:


New beginnings (January-February)

The story begins after the November rains subside and fresh, new grasses emerge. Wildebeests move into the Serengeti plains to the south and the calving begins. Half a million offspring are born in this short timeframe; they literally hit the ground running within the first two minutes of life. Why? Because jackals, hyenas, and other predators know this is calving season. Easy prey.


Central Serengeti (March-April)

The herds are on the move at this point, into the central part of the Serengeti plains. The wildebeest herds swell in size as they follow grassy nutrients, and this takes them west and north towards Kenya and the Maasai Mara National Reserve.


Westward Movement (May-June)

This is when things get interesting. Upwards of 1.5 million wildebeest—not including a quarter-million zebras and gazelles—make their way north. Imagine if every single resident of Manhattan decided to walk north. By May they drift into the western corridor, and in June, you can witness crocodile-choked crossings of the Grumeti River, the kind of drama when over a million ungulates try to cross a river.


Northern Spreading (July-August)

From here we being to experience a diffused populations arrive into the northern territory, some through the heart of Serengeti and Masai Mara. The Mara River affords one of the best photography opportunities for mass crossings.


Circle Begins (October-November)

By October the rains return to the Serengeti, recharging water holes and starting the cycle of grass regeneration. As the migration returns south, many wildebeests are already carrying the next generation in their bellies, and with that, the circle is complete. Life and death forge onwards.


The Takeaway:

Joining the Great Migration and its circuitous survival dance is a spectacle unrivalled anywhere on Earth. Your best chances to experience big populations and big drama are during the northern migrations, anywhere between June and July. But calving season is a sight to behold, too, between January and February. The entire process is dynamic and unpredictable. Better go see it for yourself.
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