THE GREAT WILDEBEEST MIGRATION
Each year Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara play host to the world’s greatest natural spectacle, the Great Wildebeest Migration. Between the open plains of the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, massive herds of wildebeest and zebra migrate to greener pastures as the seasons change and the circle of life and death continues. Predators follow the Wildebeest Migration closely, waiting for an opportunity to strike as the great herds traverse across their different territories.
There is no real beginning or end to a Wildebeest’s journey, life is an endless pilgrimage, a constant search for food and water.
The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. However, it is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebra flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back. The Wildebeest travel through a variety of parks, reserves and protected areas and through a variety of habitat.
Africa Uncovered says...
Witnessing the great migration is a phenomenal experience. We tend to favour the small tented camps that move a few times a year shadowing the migration. These camps tend to have the best locations away from the crowds and are often perfectly placed to maximise your chances of seeing the massive herds.
A Guide to the Great Wildebeest Migration
Please note that this is a natural event and there are a number of factors such as rain and availability of food that influences the timing of the migration in its various stages. Like all pure wildlife experiences nothing can be guaranteed. The below is simply a general guide based on past behaviour patterns of the great wildebeest migration.
January to March
From January to March the great herds are usually spread out over the vast short grass plains of the Southern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservancy. The wildebeest also tend to have their young over a very short period in February. This is a great time to be on safari in Tanzania as not only do you have the opportunity to see the great herds spread out over the plains, but the herds are also in the South and so in close proximity to the other excellent Northern parks of Tarangire, Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater.
April & May
The long rains tend to start in March and continue until the end of May and with the onset of the rains the Migration begins heading North. The Great Migration Herds tend to split in 2 groups. One group heads West to the Grumeti Region and the other group heads due North passing through the beautiful Moru Kopjes region and in to the central Seronera region.
June to Mid July
The central Serengeti, Seronera area is a fantastic place to see the predators, especially the huge Lion prides and the area explodes with activity around early June when the migration makes its way onto the fresh grasslands. A Serengeti Safari is excellent in the Seronera area at this time.
The Western Corridor (Western Serengeti) is a more exclusive safari area and a prime location for the migration from mid June to July, before these massive herds also head North East for the Mara River and the Masai Mara.
July to October
The massive herds start to accumulate on the banks of the crocodile infested Mara River from mid-July. Even though by September most of the herds have crossed over the Mara River and into the Masai Mara, many herds cross back and forth over the Mara River and so the Northern Serengeti at this time is still a great place to be. Seeing the massive herds in the Masai Mara is also an awesome experience.
November to January
The herds tend to remain in this region up until mid October/November when the herds start heading south again and finally reach the open plains of the southern Serengeti by January.
Witnessing this most unbelievable of natural wonders has to be the most remarkable safari experience there is, but good planning and local knowledge is essential in maximising your experience. This is where an Africa Uncovered specialist consultant can assist you in planning an unforgettable safari to the Serengeti and/or Masai Mara to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration.