Trips to see the Great Migration.
WHAT IS THE MIGRATION?WHEN DOES IT HAPPEN?
JANUARY - MARCHAPRIL - MAYJUNE - MID JULYMID JULY - OCTOBERNOVEMBER - DECEMBERTRIPS TO SEE THE GREAT MIGRATION
The actual movement of the wildebeest occurs over a 12 month cycle starting in January in the southern Serengeti running through to December when they return and start all over again. See below a more detailed guide on what the herds are doing when and when is the best time to go.
Every year the Serengeti Masai Mara ecosystem see millions of wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra migrate through parts of Tanzania and Kenya in search of the best food and water in time with the changing seasons. Generally following a similar path they head north from Tanzania into Kenya, never straying too far from water. If you mention the migration to any wildlife enthusiast dramatic images of thousands of wildebeest running and jumping across the Mara River desperately trying to evade the jaws of the ferocious crocodiles certainly spring to mind, although the classic vision of the migration is in fact a very small part of a much bigger wildlife spectacular.
INTRODUCING THE GREAT WILDEBEEST MIGRATION
From mid December/January through to March the wildebeest of the southern Serengeti start their calving season. It is estimated that as many as half a million wildebeest calves are born during this period with as many as 8000 being born on any one day. This period sees the start of the first rainy season in the south Serengeti and like most animals in the wild it is always best to give birth at this time as rates of survival are far higher. The south Serengeti is also a great place for the mothers to give birth as the grass here is enriched with high levels of calcium and magnesium which helps with their milk production – plus the short grasses are safer as there aren’t as many lurking predators disguised in the long grass.
Yes. The calving season in the south Serengeti can be an amazing thing to observe – this is the classic image of the Serengeti’s endless plains dotted as far as the eye can see with wilderbeest. The sheer numbers of them as well as the chances of seeing the resident apex predators in action is although not for the faint hearted certainly an exciting thing to witness! Our picks for where to stay to see the Migration from January -March:
Maigration Map and Seasonal spot
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Southern Serengeti Lodges & Campsite Accommodation
This period is known as the onset of the long rains and the herds start moving towards the central part of the Serengeti in search of fresh grass. They tend to split into various large groups, some beginning to head to the Western Corridor of the Serengeti towards Lake Victoria and others remain in Central and North Central Serengeti around the Seronera River. As the circle of life needs to continue this is also when the wildebeest start to mate again as their gestation period can be up to 9 months in length.
It is not a good time for the concentrations of other animals as the rains have meant there are water sources all over the Serengeti, while in the dry months the animals tend to concentrate around the remaining watering holes. Also, with the rains comes the long grass, making game viewing a little harder. However in terms of seeing the migration it is a great time. You will also get to see plenty of the other animals, as they don’t disappear, but rather that they are scattered. Another plus for this time of year is that there are fewer people in the park and the hotel rates are upto 50% cheaper. You do however need to be aware that rain is likely. Our picks for where to stay to see the Migration from April - May
Central Serengeti Lodges & Campsite Accommodation
The herds are now split, with the majority in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti by the Grumeti River; where many cross the crocodile infested river, making for some amazing wildlife viewing. The other large herds are now in the North Central Serengeti heading towards the Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara. The vision of the migration over this period is the long lines of wildebeest as they head towards the north.
Serengeti western Corridor Lodges & Campsite Accommodation
Continuing north, some of the smaller herds will be reaching the Masai Mara by as early as late June, early July. The larger, or mega-herd obviously takes a bit longer and generally reaches northern Serengeti / Kenya’s Masai Mara in August. It is over this period that the wildebeest need to cross the Mara River in order to get across the to the lush grass of the Masai Mara. The herds keep crossing at various points of the Mara River and many of these crossing points are in the Serengeti as well as the Masai Mara. It is the Mara River that bears witness to some of the most spectacular crossings of the migration.
The vertigo-inducing banks can be the first downfall (literally) of the wildebeest – although once they’ve cleared that they then have the second challenge of getting to the other side without being snapped up by the lurking hungry crocodiles in the water. Once this obstacle has been passed there is the steep banks on the otherside that they now need to climb up - not an easy feat having crossed a river and now fighting with the other hundred wildebeest trying to get out. The majority die by drowning rather than being eaten by crocodiles. Despite the dangerous conditions most of the wildebeest actually make it to the other side unscathed. This is the classic all-action part of the migration. It certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted and as amazing as it is, it does show nature at its most brutal.
Yes! This is prime migration season, a great time to visit the Serengeti or the Masai Mara and certainly a good time to game watch at the Mara River. Note that generally the busiest crossing period is between August and October. Our picks for where to stay to see the Migration from mid July - October:
Serengeti & Maasai Mara Lodge & Camping Accommodation
Witness the Great Wildebeest Migration on Our Pop Roof 4X4 Luxury Safari Land Cruise
Trips to see the Great Migration
Many of our Safari Holidays visit East Africa at either the start or end of the tour. Out Best of Kenya and Tanzania Moonlight Tours Expedition Safari visits both the Serengeti and the Masai Mara so if you plan your trip well then you have a great chance of seeing some of the migration. Our Gorilla Trek and Tanzania spends time in the Masai Mara before heading north to Uganda for some Gorilla trekking and later south to the Serengeti. Our Absolute Africa does all this and more including Zanzibar, Chobe National Park and Kruger National Park.
Lodge accommodated safaris to see the Great Wildebeest Migration
All of our East Africa lodge accommodated safaris visit either the Masai Mara, Serengeti or both. Those wanting to concentrate on the migration in the Serengeti will like our Tanzania Wildlife Week and if the migration in the Masai Mara is what you really want to see then Kenya Wildlife Week is for you. If however you want the ultimate East Africa lodge accommodated safari then why not mix up the two on our Kenya and Tanzania Trails which heads to both the Serengeti and Masai Mara!
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Moonlight-Tours-Expedition Contact Details
Tanzania, postal Code Arusha
P:+255 (0)769 927 462 (Booking)
P:+255 (0) 692 580 536(Booking)
H: Monday - Sunday: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM East Africa Time
Superior guide Your guide will be pleasant and personable; they're an established safari guide with at least 3 years of bush experience. They will have conversational English, and will be able to correctly identify virtually all species of animals and most birds – and also have some knowledge of their behaviour. They'll have a good understanding of the local cultures, and often speak some of the local languages. They will generally admit what he doesn't know, and use references to try and find out the answers. Superior guides are used in all of the trip ideas mentioned here.