Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Kenya

Wildebeest migration is one of the most intriguing and thrilling displays of wildlife behavior in the wild. Masai Mara or Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of Kenya’s oldest and most liked safari destinations especially because of the great wildebeest migration. Knowing the annual migration calendar and what unfolds during the trip helps travelers know, when and what to expect and that’s why we share this guide for spectacular Kenya safari trips.

After the rains when the first flush turns the Masai Mara Game Reserve golden savannah green, the most mesmerizing wildlife spectacle is the wildebeest migration. There is nowhere else in the world where one can have sights to behold witnessing millions of wildlife migrate as it is with the wildebeest migration.

The animals that form the great annual migration include the wildebeest, whose numbers are just about 1.7 million, Thomson’s Gazelles with about 400,000 of them, 300,000 zebra and about 12,000 eland. In reality, there is nowhere else on an Africa safari destination where such a single entity of millions of wildlife can be seen in one migration. The migration is annual with an endless movement in search for water and greener pastures.

However, though their movement is endless, their movement route is well known from the Serengeti eco system of Tanzania to the Masai Mara Game Reserve of Kenya according to the rains. The Serengeti ecosystem is a 40,000 square mile area comprised of the Masai Mara National Reserve in the north, and the Ndutu, Ngorongoro Conservation Area ad Maswa Game Reserve of Tanzania in the south. The central, eastern and western areas include the Grumeti Reserve, Loliondo, and Serengeti National Park.

The great wildebeest movement is influenced by seasonal rains and availability of grazing grass. Wildebeest herds move to different areas during the short rains, long rains and in between depending on where there are sweet grass plains.

Their sole purpose of migrating is following the rainfall and where there is good pasture for them to feed. Though the migration is almost predictable, the wildebeest are actually attracted by the rains and can go anywhere with rain within the Serengeti-Masai Mara eco system. This makes it sometimes hard to predict where the big herds will be at a very specific time.

Tanzania Wildebeest Migration - Serengeti

Wildebeest crossing the Mara River

The Mara River is the most dramatic spot to see the wildebeest in the struggle for survival for the fittest. It is between the months of July and October when more than one million wildebeest, accompanied by numerous numbers of zebra and gazelles make the long and dangerous trek from the drier lands of Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya. It is beautiful to see this trek as the lines of the migrating animals reach as far as the eye can see. The drama happens the moment the wildebeest arrive the Mara River and must cross to reach the grazing lands of Kenya. As the wildebeest throng, the crocodiles cruise the waters as the bravest takes lead to get into the river and others follow.  Predators during this time are at guard to eat any animals that cannot make it through the river, many animals are killed here but still many continue to cross the river to Kenya for greener pastures. During this time, they mainly migrate to give birth, the grasslands echo with the sounds of the new born.

Best time to see the wildebeest in Maasai Mara National Reserve

The best time of the year to see the wildebeest migration in Masai Mara Game Reserve Kenya is from July through to October. During this time the animals have a dramatic time crossing the Mara River which is one spectacular time to see the struggles of the jungle unfold before you. Masai Mara is also home to one of the largest populations of lions and no wonder home to the BBC’s wildlife channel Big cat Diary, therefore it is a great place for a Kenya safari with an opportunity to see one of the world’s natural wonders as well as a lot more of wildlife. February, March and December are stunning times to see the big cats.

Different events unfold during the great wildebeest migration and at times predictability could not be accurate. At times there are likely changes since these are wild animals living their daily lives according to several factors. Movements may be affected slightly by the weather and is always advisable to contact and know of the current wildebeest migration pattern before setting a date to take a trip to see the countless animals.

The 2019 wildebeest migration ended in the Masai Mara National Reserve and for now bookings can be made early for 2020-2021 wildebeest migration safari.

The wildebeest spend most of their time of the year in Tanzania and can be seen on a well-planned wildlife safari in Tanzania during the right time. The wildebeest and more wildlife game drives in Kenya and Tanzania are indeed great options for any African tour. However, with a much more inclusive experience gorilla trekking is a great activity to undertake before leaving East Africa. This can be done only on Uganda gorilla safaris, Rwanda gorilla tours or on a Congo gorilla trekking safari that can all be planned by the experienced Jewel Safaris team.