Every year the battle for life and death is demonstrated with brutal force in East Africa. Over 1.5 million wildebeest, 300,000 zebra, gazelle and antelope make the journey across 1,800 miles of the endless plains of the Serengeti and the Masai Mara. By the time they reach northern Tanzania, over 250,000 of them are likely to have perished. This is the battle for survival and nature in all its beauty and brutality. The wildlife spectacle of a lifetime. This is the migration!
It is a common misconception that the migration can only be seen between July and September because that is the time when the famous river crossings are viewed. But the migration is an ever evolving feat with the herds moving through the year in continuous motion. There is actually more than one location for the river crossings and it takes weeks with the wildebeest crossing back and forth often in confusion.
Meanwhile vast herds stretch out before you as far as the eye can see so if you do not witness a crossing you will certainly not be disappointed with the experience. It is like being in an ocean of wildlife as your vehicle weaves between so many animals and to be swept up in it is thrilling and awe-inspiring.
So when is the best time to see the wildebeest migration and where can you see it?
You can see it anytime if you are in the right place but every month the experience is different depending on the location and season. We have prepared a calendar below to illustrate the general movements of the migration herds.
Of course there are never any certainties with wildlife. An ever changing climate and changes to the environment take their toll but the migration movements are generally regular and if you stay in a mobile camp you will always be in the right place since they are designed and moved to follow the migration.
January to March – FEEDING – herds spread out across the Southern Serengeti, Ndutu and Ngorongoro to graze and fatten up on the lush short grasses. CALVING – most wildebeest are born within a three week window.
Amazingly they learn to run alongside mum within minutes of being born….. predators are drawn from far and wide for easy pickings. By March the herds spread west with their young ready for their journey north.
April – May – RAINS – the herds move north through Seronera and towards the western corridor to grassier areas with full waterholes. Fattening up and gaining strength for their epic adventure. The seasonal and mobile camps close at this time of year but you can still view the herds from some properties; those which open offer excellent rates and you are guaranteed no crowds.
June – THE MORE THE MERRIER – gazelle, zebra and antelope join the throng as they make their way through the central Serengeti and the first crossings take place as the herds reach the Grumeti River. They gather and bunch on the south side of the western corridor before overcoming their first watery obstacle.
July – August – CONFUSION & CROSSING – as they herds continue to spread north they reach the border with Kenya. Crossing begins but confusion reigns with many animals crossing back and forth over a period of days. As soon as one jumps the rest follow, and so they behave going back and forth in confusion.
Panic seizes when they meet with the steep gorges some tumbling to their death and the waiting crocodiles ready to take their victims. The Mara River offers the most spectacular crossing due to the various pools and channels which cause the herds confusion and allow predators prime position.
September – October – ENJOY – the Mara plains become engulfed with vast herds of Wildebeest and predators. Watch in amazement as your game viewing vehicle weaves through the throngs of the migration as the herds continue to linger in northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara. Game viewing is mind-blowing!
November – December – RAINS & REST – the herds begin to head south again through the Western Loliondo and the Serengeti / Lobo areas in search of lush grasses after the rains. They can be seen in the south near Seronera, Ndutu and the Ngorongoro conservation area as the cycle begins again….