- Country: Tanzania
- All Year Round:
Wildebeest Migrationn Year Calender:
Serengeti National Park and The Great Migration. Part magnificent spectacle, part great tragedy. One thing is certain for those who bear witness, the migration evokes a variety of emotions from awe to empathy and everything in between.There are few places in the world that compare to the wide-open grass plains and bush-covered Savannah of Tanzania, Africa which is home to a staggering volume and diversity of wildlife.
The Great Wildebeest Migration - the annual migration of giant 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 in search of green pasture, in a regular pattern. This is surely one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.
- 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...
Dec - January:
January is a tough month to predict:
January, Is a hard month to predict because the herds' movements depend on when it starts to rain on the southern plains. Female wildebeest are carrying calves and are almost ready to give birth. The herds move swiftly, in search of favorable grasslands to provide sustenance for the arrival of their young.
Female wildebeest are carrying calves and are almost ready to give birth. The herds move swiftly, in search of favorable grasslands to provide sustenance for the arrival of their young. The herds could move all the way from Lobo in the north to Ndutu in the south in just a few days.
February - March:
February - March Calving Seasons:
February - March is calving season – a period when wildebeest, zebra and other migratory animals give birth to their offspring. Once the calves are born, the herds don’t move much. The chance of witnessing a wildebeest birth is high. Predator interaction is also very likely, as lion and leopard move into the region to prey on young and vulnerable calves.
Literally thousands of calves are born each single day in a synchronized process.The moment all females give birth and calves are already walking, the whole herd heads out. You'll feel your heart melting while looking at all those clumsy calves. The privilege of observing a baby wildebeest running for the first time minutes after being born.
These vulnerable creatures are under the predators' radar! And so a desperate fight for survival begins! Big cats, like the powerful lions and the agile cheetahs, define strategic schemes, focused runs and ambushes, so they can themselves and theirs cubs survive to rough nature.It is the perfect time to observe hunting action and to remind that life is a constant battle in the African plains.
April - Moru & Simba Kopje South Serengeti:
April marks the start of the wildebeest migration. In April, the southern Serengeti plains have been mowed to stubble by more than a million wildbeest, zebra and gazelle grazing there. As a result, small herds gradually merge into vast columns of wildebeest on the march – it’s a spectacular sight: the mega herd covers the vast plain to the horizon.
April is wet in the Serengeti, but you'll love it. Bring your sense of humour and a raincoat.Weather and wildlife. Don’t be scared of the long rains in April. It rains mostly in the evening and days are generally clear. The main effect of the rains, is that the plains will be wet, and the black cotton soil slippery. If you can deal with the rain and slippery roads, you’ll be rewarded with excellent sightings. We highly recommend April as one of the most consistent times to see the herds. This is when they slowly get going as the newborn calves and foals get mobile.
You can have an exceptional slice of African wilderness all to yourself, which is very special. The rains bring dramatic clouds, lightening and dramatic sunsets… stya in our favourite camps for a fraction of the price. We highly recommend travelling at this time if you don’t mind getting wet, dramatic scenery and some excellent wildlife viewing.
May is a Great Time for Photography:
May is a great time for photography as the herds move quickly to the Serengeti’s western corridor. Weather and wildlife May is still wettest month in the Serengeti. Roads can be slippery and tricky to navigate but with us we know where to take you and safety is our priority with our expertise guides. The herds gather speed in May as the calves’ legs should have become fully operational by now. They also feed less frequently, so bigger distances can be covered each day.
Wagons roll! The massed herds are on the go, huge columns of up to 40 kilometres (25 miles) in length can sometimes be seen as the wildebeest funnel up into the central Serengeti. Everyone’s moving a little quicker now that the calves are stronger.
June is the Grumeti River Crossing:
The wildebeest are usually in the central Serengeti and getting ready for the toughest part of their odyssey. The herds may have split up, with some already crossing the Grumeti River.
June is traditionally the Grumeti River crossing period. The herds are spread out, so expect longer, rewarding game drives. June marks the end of the rainy season. The plains are lush and green. The wildebeest herds cover great distances.
Driving times between leading and trailing herds can exceed three hours. June is traditionally the Grumeti River crossing period, but this is mainly dependent on the water level of the Grumeti River. There is seldom enough water in the river to produce dramatic crossings like those seen at the Mara River in July and August.
July - Herds begin moving to Mara River:
July has always classically been the month which sees the first of the mega Mara River crossings. It is another big movement month for the herds, as many that were lingering in the western corridor make their way north in search of greener pastures.
If your priority is to see a river crossing, and if you are in the north and near the Mara River when the wildebeest have arrived, then absolutely, July is an incredible time to see the herds. However, we would always say that if you go a bit later then you will maximise your chances of seeing the river crossings. This is because if the herds are late, if you go in August the chances are they will definitely be in the northern Kogatende region by this point.
However, July is tricky because you never know when the first herds are actually going to arrive. Once they have arrived though, river crossings can happen daily – it is not something that just happens one week and is over the next. Once the wildebeest reach the Mara River they linger, some cross in herds of thousands, one may suddenly then the next day decide to cross back, and 100 may follow. They graze in Kogatende and the Lamai Wedge (with the Mara River dividing these two areas) and will often linger until late October around this area.
August - Oct:
August - The Dramatic Mara River Crossings:
The herds in August - October are up in the north, crossing the Mara River between Kogatende and the Lamai Wedge. This is peak time to see the river crossings because even if the wildebeest are late, they will have reached the Kogatende area by this time. If they are early, and arrive north in June, they will still be lingering here and in the Masai Mara throughout August and through to October… Win, win. All the way through the month, river crossings should happen almost daily – it is all a case of waiting patiently for the wildebeest to decide to cross.
You would be very unlucky for the wildebeest not to be surrounding the Mara River if you decide to go in August. On the flip side though, you would also be lucky to see a crossing, as not everyone does, as no matter how many hours are spent waiting with a herd by the river banks, they may simply not decide to cross over for hours!
August to September is one of the very best times to be in the Serengeti because this is peak season for the mighty Mara River crossings in the north. At the beginning of August, as the main herds approach, you can be in for some huge crossings. The crossings can be explosive, with wildebeest falling left right and centre, trampling each other or being taken down by the hungry waiting Mara River crocs.
Nove - Dec:
Nov - Herds moving to Ndutu Area:
The likelihood is that at the beginning of November, the herds are still lingering in the northern Serengeti regions of Kogatende and Lamai and you can still catch river crossings at this time. Towards the end of the month, by the time the light rains have begun, the wildebeest begin to descend south in their second big migration of the year. On their descent south the splinter off into different parts of the Serengeti, so at this time it can become tricky to predict where the “mega herds” will be.
In a ‘normal year’ the short rains have begun, propelling the wildebeest to leave the now denuded grasslands of the Masai Mara and head back into the rejuvenated Serengeti. Bear in mind that the rain can be late or early, which is also unpredictable.The herds are generally on the move, but can be seen around the north-eastern parts of the Serengeti where they may split into smaller groups for their journey southward.
Where the River Crossing Takes Place:
There are two major river crossings along the path of the Great Migration. They are the Grumeti River crossing in western corridor of Serengeti and the Mara River crossing in Northern Serengeti. The Grumeti River is the first water obstacle that these bumbling herds will encounter on this journey.
Here, large Nile crocodiles lie in wait as the herds are forced into the water in spite of the obvious threats. This predator activity is beyond anything you can imagine. It is a spectacular event to behold, but it is not as challenging as what they’re about to face when crossing the Mara River further north.One of the most requested events in the migration is the arrival crossing of the Mara River that occurs around late July to August with parts of September and again on their return south, around the last two weeks of October through early November.
The Mara River is almost 400 km long and is deep, wide, craggy and treacherous. It is also home to Africa’s largest crocodile population as well as a robust population of hippos. As the herds clamor and struggle to cross the river to get to the greenery on the other side, these large Nile crocodiles and territorial hippos await, unfolding what is without a doubt one of the most dramatic and chaotic scenes in the animal history of the world. In many ways, this river crossing represents the climax of a long and arduous journey. The rivers are torrential, swollen with water and the two game reserves are teeming with enough animals hungry for the flesh of the migrating beings.
In years when the river is in full flow, the panic and confusion at the crossings – combined with waiting predators and surging currents – can cause massive loss of life. But, even in years of relatively gently flowing water, the crocs take their toll – not to mention the lions and other large predators that patrol the banks, ready to ambush any wildebeest that make it to the other side. There is no single crossing: at some spots, there are just a few individuals, while others see a mass of animals moving without break for hours.
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