Wildbeest Migration | Serengeti Migration | Great Migration
It’s the mystery of life once it comes to this renowned nature event of the world, nothing to compare about on Earth! “The Wildebeest Migration”. This is one of the wonders of mother nature which happen yearly across the mighty Mara River. This phenomenon is the don’t dare to miss for millions of travelers across the world. The movement of millions of gnus and other animals including zebras, antelopes, birds chant the course from the Serengeti National park to Masai Mara by crossing the Mara River. This migration includes two governing state ecological zones. Wildebeest migration starts in Serengeti-Tanzania and continues to Masai Mara-Kenya.
A rewarding challenge to accept among the youngster’s animals living in Serengeti, though it is free to cross the river the deadliest crocodiles, the sharks of Mara river are always there to add the price tag. It’s the feast for the cannibals including lions, hyenas, cheetah, leopards few to mention. The buzzling number of prey invites all creatures living in Serengeti. Birds of all species roam along with this natural event in Tanzania.
Though the wildebeest migration is unpredictable, there is also no clear mark of when and how this journey started on Earth, there is no beginning and no end. An endless pilgrimage of African wildlife, a constant search for food and water. The only beginning is at the moment of birth. An estimated one million (1000,000) wildebeest calves are born during a six-week period early each year – usually between late January and mid-March. Thousands lose a life and give life to others, the massive and killer crocodiles feast on this river each year. Lions and other carnivores like Leopards are given millions of options for prey to hunt!
The migration takes the animals from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area although not into the Crater itself in the south of the Serengeti in Tanzania, up through the Serengeti and across into the Masai Mara in Kenya and back again. The journey is beset with danger: young calves are snatched by predators, the slow is brought down by a pride of lions, brave beasts break legs on steep river slopes, crocodiles take their share of the stragglers, and the weak and exhausted drown.
The well-known players of this migration include three groups of migrant grazers who have different grass-eating habits: as one group eats the top of the tallest grass, the next group will eat away some of the medium-height grass, until finally it is almost completely eaten, and the herds move on. This means each group sticks to their own kind with only a small overlap in their distributions. The grasses of the plains have the highest protein content in the whole of the Serengeti, as well as being high in calcium.
It is quite a mystery once it comes to know how the wildebeest know which way to go, but it is generally believed that their journey is dictated primarily by their response to the weather; they follow the rains and the growth of new grass. While there is no scientific proof of it, some experts believe that animals react to lightning and thunderstorms in the distance. It has even been suggested that wildebeest can locate rain more than 50km away.
When the drought comes in May, the herd moves north, towards the Masai Mara in Kenya, chomping down the high green grass, quickly followed by the gazelles and zebras. So the big question being asked by travelers around the world is how do you ensure to be there when it happens? The long and short of it is that you can’t. The migration is unpredictable. Though Mara River crossing activity is considered the climax of the migration period. Mara River crossing is an event that will take you through a range of emotions: anticipation, heartache, inspiration, excitement and so much more
Despite the unpredictable nature, we invite you to go through the recorded calendar for many years, though time to happen varies in some degrees you could grasp the whole cycle of the wildebeest migrations across the plains of Serengeti National park and Masai Mara.
In December, January, February & March
The Serengeti National Park / Ngorongoro Conservation Area is arguably the most impressive wildlife sanctuary in the world. During the period from December through March, the seemingly unending plains of the southern Serengeti and the Conservation Area are inhabited by enormous herds of wildebeest and zebra. The great herds graze on rain-ripened grass. We feel this is the best time to visit the Serengeti.
In the calving season (late January through mid-March when over 80% of the wildebeest give birth (over a period of a few weeks)) the herds concentrate on the Ndutu and Salei plains (Southern Serengeti / Ngorongoro Conservation Area) attracting the attention of predators like lions, cheetahs, and hyenas. During this period the migration is best observed from a luxury mobile camp in the Ndutu / Naabi area or from Ndutu Safari Lodge.
In April & May
During the months of April and May, the depleted plains are unable to sustain the endless herds. The migration, sweeping west and north, moves from the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti / Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the long grass plains and woodlands of the Serengeti’s Western Corridor, almost to Lake Victoria.
During this period, the long rains start, and this is considered the off-season for wildlife viewing in East Africa as roads are often impassable. Ndutu Safari Lodge, Kusini Camp, and the Serengeti Serena Lodge are fine for wildlife viewing during this time. So are campsites in the Ndutu/Naabi area.
By the end of May, the wildebeest have exhausted the Western Corridor’s best pastures and the herds must move further north. Entering the Lamai Wedge and the Mara Triangle. Breeding occurs in May and June.
This is a transitional period between the rains and the dry season. Faru Faru River Lodge, Sasakwa Hill Lodge, Sabora Plains Tented Camp, Grumeti River Camp, Migration Camp, and Kirawira Camp are good options for viewing the migration at this time. Seronera and Moru area campsites are best.
In July & August
By July the countless herds have amassed along the swollen Mara River – a final barrier from the short sweet grasses of the Masai Mara. Sometimes the crossing place they have chosen is shallow allowing the majority of animals to pass safely. In other areas, the waters boil with drowning wildebeest and slashing crocodiles. Please note that the vast majority of travelers do not witness the wildebeest crossing of the Mara as the timing and duration vary widely each year – in years of little rain very few wildebeest cross the Mara River into Kenya.
The Wildebeest herds are in the northern areas of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and in Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve. Wildebeest cross the Mara River daily. Guests staying at the Governor’s Camps in the Mara and at Migration Camp in the Serengeti have seen hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebras daily.
At this time there is a trend of cool mornings and warm days in Kenya’s Masai Mara. The migrating herds of wildebeest and zebra graze the Mara grasses. The northern and central areas of the Serengeti have received some very heavy rain showers and the herds have followed their noses in search of lush, green grass. The end of the month of October is marked by large river crossings as wildebeest and zebra leave the Mara on their long trek down south.
The herds now stretch from Lobo from the Tagora plains area to the central Seronera area and down to Naabi Hill. It is common to receive patches of wet weather in the Serengeti towards the end of the dry season (in October), so the rain may just be this and not an early onset of the short rains. If this is the case, it will dry out rapidly and the wildebeest will head back north until they feel the real rains start.
The arrival of the short rains causes the migration to move southward. During the short rains of November, the wildebeest migration is best viewed from Klein’s Camp. Campsites in the Lobo area are best. As November ends the migration makes its way back to the southern Serengeti and early in the year they once again give birth. The circle of life is complete.
Serengeti won many awards as Wonder of the World. “Covering about 10,000 square miles of land that teems with life, the Serengeti is home not only to some of the most diverse wildlife on earth but the start and finish line for one of the world’s last great migrations.” Serengeti national park offers a diversity of accommodation from lodges, several campsites both public/special and premium all over the park. Contact our team to discuss your plan for free. You can prefer either special or premium campsites within or outside the park.
That has been the best choice for travelers who are visiting Africa. Most of these tours can be done exclusively for wildebeest migrations tracking in Serengeti National park or Masai Mara. The Serengeti Migration can be combined with other experiences like Mount Kilimanjaro climbing or Zanzibar beach holidays. You can also decide to taste the luxury of balloon safaris where you can enjoy the unique view of the gem from the top with the advantage to see more numbers of wildlife even in very remote areas which are inaccessible by safari truck or other means.