Great Migration to Tanzania

An Year Around Event

It is rated as one of the world’s most spectacular natural events – every year over a million wildebeest, zebra and antelope migrate clockwise around the Serengeti/Masai Mara ecosystem, taking in two different countries and making time for birthing, courting and mating on the way.

But the trouble with the Wildebeest Migration is that if you get your timing wrong, you will end up gazing out over a wildebeest-less savannah and wondering where all the animals went. You need to work out where to go and when.

A Month-by-Month Guide to the Wildebeest Migration

  • January

    The herds are in Tanzania’s Serengeti, moving south from the north-east region and into the southern Serengeti, Ndutu area and Ngorongoro Conservation area – which often means out of the confines of the (unfenced) national park itself. It is calving season – prepare yourself for lots of wobbly babies… and lots of heartbreak as predators swoop in.

  • March

    They are still in the south but the grasses have all been munched up, the last calves born and the herds are starting to gather in preparation for the next leg.

  • May

    Wagons roll! The massed herds are on the go, huge columns of up to 40km in length can be seen as the wildebeest funnel up into the central and western Serengeti.

  • July

    Book early – it is the Big Event: river crossings. The herds have reached the western Serengeti and Grumeti Reserves and are peering closely at the brown waters of the rivers they have to cross. Why? Huge Nile crocodiles, that is why.

  • September

    The herds break up into smaller groups – about half of the animals remain in the northern Serengeti, the rest are swapping stories in the Masai Mara (‘Did you hear that Nigel didn’t make it across the Grumeti?’)

  • November

    The short rains have begun, propelling the wildebeest to leave the now denuded grasslands of the Masai Mara and back into the rejuvenated Serengeti.

  • January

    The good grazing of the Southern Serengeti, Ndutu and Ngorongoro Conservation areas means the herds remain in the far south.

  • April

    Make sure you are on the southern Serengeti plains – the wildebeest begin their northward journey, and many have left already and are in the central and even western Serengeti.

  • June

    Head for the central and western Serengeti – the herds are there and getting ready for the toughest part of their odyssey.

  • August

    The survivors celebrate by feasting in the northern Serengeti and begin crossing back into Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. You need a passport to cross; the wildebeest are exempt.

  • October

    Your best bet is the Masai Mara but bear in mind it is a far smaller reserve than the Serengeti and there may be a lot of other visitors. The conservancies in the Mara are much less crowded and, not only will you stil be able to witness the Migration, you will also be benefitting the Maasai communities who have lived there for thousands of years.

  • December

    Fresh grazing sees the wildebeest clustered in the north-eastern Serengeti (around Lobo in particular) as well as the southern Serengeti. Calving begins again, the predators move in again, and the cycle of life begins all over again.

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