The Great Wildebeest Migration – the annual migration of giant herds of grazers across Northern Tanzania and Kenya is a truly spectacular event. Over two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles move through the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in search of green pasture, in a regular pattern. This is surely one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.
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 Serengeti Migration
July – October: 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 times to see the migration.
December – March: 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.
The rest of the year: In November, April, May and June the migration are “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! Although we try to be as comprehensive as possible, something that is quite difficult to express on paper is a lot easier to explain over the phone, so please do just give us a call for a simple overview of the Migration’s route.
The wildebeest migrate around the Serengeti, and into the Masai Mara for the sole purpose of following the rainfall.For their calving from December – March they always begin their cycle in the Southern Serengeti area of Ndutu and follow wherever the grass is greener…
Whilst we have a good idea of where the wildebeest should be at any given time of year, it really does depend on where the rain falls. The wildebeest are notoriously unreliable, as although they generally all head from south to north Serengeti and back around again, they often zig-zag along the way, making it sometimes impossible to predict where the big herds will be at any given time.
The migration undertaken by the wildebeest is an annual event that sees one and a half million wildebeest accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebras and numerous other antelope species as they search for pastures greener. The animals follow a clockwise movement through the Serengeti following the rains for the lushest of grass. The five hundred kilometres is fraught with danger with many predators such as lions, cheetahs and crocodiles preying on the animals. It is a truly amazing spectacle. Although we do our best to be as informative as possible, it really always is best to give us a call and chat to an expert who can give you the low-down on where the wildebeest are right now.
Throughout the entire year, the wildebeest herds are always in Tanzania. For a short time of the year, some of the herds are in Kenya. This time period is from July – October when the wildebeest are always crossing the Mara River in Tanzania between Kogatende and the Lamai wedge (the land between the Mara River and the border to Kenya). The herds are sometimes crossing the Mara River from one side of the Masai Mara to the other (all in Kenya). So the famous river crossings are most likely to be seen in Tanzania. Tanzania also has far fewer tourists on anyone crossing, so we would always recommend basing yourself in northern Serengeti as opposed to the Masai Mara to catch the wildebeest crossing the Mara River.
Great Migration – Kenya Migration and Serengeti Migration The Tanzania/Kenya border and where the Mara River cuts through each country. The popular misconception is that the river acts as a border of the two countries, but as you can see this is not the case! Instead of crossing the river from Tanzania into Kenya, the wildebeest only ever cross in between Kogatende and the Lamai Wedge (Tanzania to Tanzania), or in Kenya from the Masai Mara into the Masai Mara (Kenya to Kenya).
If you would like to safari at the heart of the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra, the best approach is to book one of the Serengeti’s famous mobile camps. The mobile camps are erected at set locations throughout the year and often move either two or three times a year depending on where the herds usually are at that particular time.
Two mobile camps, in particular, set themselves apart from the others for their commitment to keeping up with the herds – Nomad Tanzania’s Serengeti Safari Camp and & Beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas. These are the two mobile operations which we consider truly mobile and will be located near or amongst the herds at any time of the year as they move to more than two locations (which is the standard route of most the other mobile camps). That brings us to the mobile camps of Alex Walker’s Serian, Asilia’s Olakira, Ubuntu and Kimondo which move twice a year and offer superb mobile operations from July to November, and from December through to March. For the rest of the year, these fabulous camps are closed.
If going mobile is a little too adventurous for you, then the Serengeti has various permanent lodges that will offer all the creature comforts you need together with a good location to see the herds on your Tanzania safari. Here is an overview of the movement of the herds, and the best permanent lodges to stay at for each time of year.