The Great Wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration and 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. They move because of searching for green pasture, in a regular pattern. This is surely one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.

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TANZANIA WILDEBEESTS GREAT MIGRATION SAFARI HOLIDAYS

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  Wildebeest Migration Facts: 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 time 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.

Wildebeest facts: Why does the Great Migration occur & why do the Wildebeest Migrate?

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 type of Migration the Wildebeest make

The migration undertaken by the wildebeest is an annual event which 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.

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

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 Safari Holidays: where to stay for The Great Migration Tanzania

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.

The annual Great Wildebeest Migration dates & seasons: a month by month explanation of the Serengeti Wildebeest Migration

Wildebeest Migration facts: December to March

The Southern Serengeti’s huge grass plains extend into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. From December to March the Serengeti Migration congregates in large herds around Lake Ndutu in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. When it reaches the area the herd splits up and spreads out leaving wildebeest herds as far as the eye can see.

Wildebeest Migration facts: April to May

This is the rainy season in Tanzania. The Wildebeest migration moves north into the plains of the southern Serengeti with front runners stretching out to the Western Corridor and center of the park at Seronera.  Asilia’s Dunia Camp is a great option at this time as are any of the central Serengeti hotels such as the Serena or Sopa.  Early herds may well have pushed up to the Grumeti River Camp.

Wildebeest Migration facts: June and July.

June is a mating season for the herds, so can be very noisy if you catch many together. By June there are wildebeest herds spread from the Western corridor through the heart of the park. One group tends to head West into the Western Corridor and crosses the Grumeti River before leaving the park and entering the exclusive Singita Grumeti Reserves.  This herd will then head up through the Ikorongo game reserve on the Serengeti’s Western corridor before the front runners arrive in the Kogatende area in July.  The other herds head directly to the north of the Serengeti, passing straight up the middle through Seronera, Lobo, and up to the Bologonja river area near the Eastern border with the Loliondo reserve at Kleins.  Late July will see any of the Kogatende permanent lodges having good herds, Serengeti Lamai Camp being the places to go towards the end of July.

Wildebeest Migration facts: August through to October

From August through to October the herds are in the Northern Serengeti at Kogatende Masai Mara. River crossings often happen daily here.  With only a fraction of the visitor numbers that flock to the Mara, Kogatende is an exceptional destination. Given that the herds are simply following local rainfall, some move north, some move south… and many move in both directions on the same day. The sprawling mass moves in a circular fashion throughout these months – and as a result, this is a fantastic time of year to see the herds.

People who do not aware of the specific movements of the Migration often make the mistake of assuming the herds head north from June, cross into Kenya and stay there until October, only returning in November when the pastures are all grazed. This would be a logical thought, but it is simply not the reality! You will see at the river crossings, they may cross over, then suddenly cross back the other way – it is not a structured single mass movement but a series of hectic snap decisions “to cross or not to cross”! Wildebeest Migration facts

If one wildebeest takes the leap of faith, many may cross too, and similarly if one decides to turn back and cross over again, many will most likely follow suit; there may be 10 which decide to cross or 10,000. This means that there are excellent opportunities to see a crossing in Tanzania due to the number of different crossings (and various crossing points along the Mara River), and due to the fact that they are always in the northern Serengeti from July – October (as opposed to them only sometimes being in the Masai Mara at this time!).

Wildebeest Migration facts: November

In late October and November, the herds start their second Great Migration south towards the fertile lands of the Ndutu plains where the rains will have rejuvenated the grasses since the herds were last there earlier in the year. This can be a tricky time to catch the mega herd, as it covers vast distances every day. However, this is not set in stone as one of our team caught this mega crossing in November a few years back…

By the beginning of December, the herds are returning to Ndutu to calve, and the whole process is ready to start all over again.

We must reiterate…. wildebeest are not the most predictable of animals!  The Migration is also entirely dependent upon rain, with the herds constantly searching for fresh grasses. As a result, it is a challenge to predict with any confidence where the herds will be during any particular week, and therefore to decide where best to stay. Choosing a permanent camp or mobile camp for your Tanzania safari via SELESA SAFARIS LTD  that is located in the ‘right’ area for the time of year will clearly increase your chances, but there are no guarantees.

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