The Great Wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration

The Serengeti ecosystem is a geographical African region, spanning the Mara and Arusha Regions of Tanzania. The protected area within the region includes approximately 30,000 km2 (12,000 sq mi) of land, including the Serengeti National Park and several game reserves. The Serengeti hosts the world’s second-largest terrestrial mammal migration, which helps secure it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.

The Great Wildebeest Migration – the annual migration of giant herds of grazers across Northern Tanzania and Kenya is a 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 undoubtedly one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.

Great Migration Safari

  • You can see the Great Migration in Tanzania all year round. It is an ongoing event in which wildebeest migrate in a circular motion around the Serengeti National Park. 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 best times to visit the Wildebeest in Tanzania

  • July – October: This is when the wildebeest is in the northern Serengeti plains, and you can see up to thousands crossing the great Mara River. As the sight of the wildebeest crossing is so dramatic, it is considered by many the most desirable time to see the migration.
  • December – March: The wildebeest is currently 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 together, as they always come south for calving season.
  • The rest of the year: 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!

Although we try to be as comprehensive as possible, something quite difficult to express on paper is much easier to explain over the phone, so please give us a call for a simple overview of the migration’s route.

Wildebeest facts: why do the Wildebeest Migrate?

The wildebeest migrate around the Serengeti and into the Masai Mara to follow the rainfall. For their calving from December to March, they always begin their cycle in the Southern Serengeti area of Ndutu and follow wherever the grass is greener. While we have a good idea of where the wildebeest should be at any given time of year, it 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.

 Wildebeest in Serengeti

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 greener pastures. The animals follow a clockwise movement through the Serengeti following the rains for the lushest of grass. The five hundred kilometers is dangerous, with many predators such as lions, cheetahs, and crocodiles preying on the animals. It is a truly fantastic spectacle.

Although we do our best to be as informative as possible, it is always best to give us a call and chat with an expert who can give you the low-down on where the wildebeest is right now.

When does the Great Wildebeest Migration happen in Tanzania, and when is the wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara, Kenya?

Throughout the year, the wildebeest herds have been in Tanzania. For a short time of the year, some of the herds are in Kenya. This period is from July to October when the wildebeest always cross the Mara River in Tanzania between Kogatende and the Lamai wedge (the land between the Mara River and the border to Kenya). The herds sometimes cross the Mara River from one side of the Masai Mara to the other (all in Kenya). So, the famous river crossings are most likely seen in Tanzania. Tanzania also has far fewer tourists on any one crossing, so we would always recommend basing yourself in northern Serengeti instead of the Masai Mara to catch the wildebeest crossing the Mara River.

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