The Great Migration In Kenya And Tanzania is an experience that takes place every year, over 2 million of wildebeests and over ten thousands of zebras and gazelles migrate across the might plains of the Serengeti – Mara Ecosystem (Serengeti national park in Tanzania and Masai Mara National Reserve) in search for water and green pastures.
About the great wildebeest migration
The Great Wildebeest Migration also known as the Annual Wildebeest Migration – the annual journey is one of the largest migration of land animals ever seen and to witness it is a once-in-a life time experience and it should be on the top of every safari enthusiast bucket list.
The Great Migration is mobile in nature which means that a safari to witness this spectacle can be tricky and near to impossible, however with proper planning meaning you are in the right place at the right time will offer you the best wildlife experience in a life time.
The Great Migration is a natural event meaning it us never the same each year, it changes both in timing and location.
The best locations and seasons to witness the Great wildebeest Migration is in Kenya and Tanzania and are more detailed in this article.
What is the Great wildebeest Migration?
The Great Migration also known as the Annual Wildebeest Migration refers to annual migration of over 2 million wildebeests and thousands of zebras and gazelles across the Mara- Serengeti plains in search for new grasses and water.
The migrating herds (wildebeests, zebras and other antelopes such as gazelles and elands) start their long trek north from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya in search for greener pastures.
There journey runs in a clockwise following an old route, the journey covers approximately 2,900 kilometers and is filled with dangerous attacks such as Nile crocodiles in the Grumeti and Mara River as they try to cross and predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and African Wild dogs always following the herds. An estimated 250,000 wildebeests and over 30,000 zebras and gazelles die en-route annual due to predators, exhaustion, thirst and diseases.
The River Crossings (Mara and Grumeti River Crossings) are the most dangerous events of the Great Migration, herds usually gather in thousands to forge the waters of the Grumeti River in Tanzania and the Mara River in Tanzania and Kenya (along the border of Serengeti national park and Masai Mara National Reserve).
At all the crossing points, the herds face off with the strong currents and lurking crocodiles. Some of the herds are washed away by the currents and the crocodiles kills the panicking animals which makes the river crossings not for the faint-hearted, however it is the most dramatic wildlife encounters in Africa and some of the most rewarding events for wildlife photographers.
Watching the plains of Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve filled with millions of wildebeests and thousands of zebras, eland and gazelles is very exciting. The plenty of flesh to feast on attracts lots of predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and wildlife seen following the herds providing visitors with the opportunity to see hunting action.
The wildebeest Migration in Tanzania
The Great Wildebeest Migration is Tanzania from December – March, April – May, June and July.
December – March
In this time of the year, the herds congregate in the plains of Serengeti National Park and areas of Ngorongoro in Northern Tanzania, due to the annual rains the plains are lush. This is the calving season and an excellent time to see thousands of calves being born and hunting action as predators snatch away the weak babies.
The Southern Ndutu and Salei Plains are the best places to spot the herds in their calving.
April – May
In this time of the year, the herds migrate west and north to the grassier plains and woodland of the western corridor of Serengeti. In this period, seasonal rains are received which make it difficult to follow the herds at this stage, also many of the smaller camps and lodges in Serengeti National Park close down due to impassable roads.
In this period of the year, the best places to stay at to see the great migration are Ndutu Safari Lodge, Kusini Safari Camp, Lemala Ndutu Camp and many mobile tented camps.
By June the rain has stopped, the wildebeests and zebras gradually start moving north and individual groups start to congregate and form larger herds. This is the mating season for the wildebeest and the best place to watch this stage of the migration as it unfolds is Western Serengeti.
The herds have reached their first obstacle which is the Grumeti River, at some places the river can get deep most especially if the rains have been plenty. The depth of the river makes the drowning of the herds as they cross inevitably possible, also there are plenty of crocodiles waiting to take advantage of their distress and vulnerability.
The best places to stay at in this period of the year are camps and lodges are along the river such as Serengeti Serena Lodge, Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp, Migration Camp and Kirawira Camp.
The wildebeest Migration In Kenya
The Great Wildebeest Migration happens in Masai Mara National Reserve and happens in different months of the year such as August, September – November and November – December.
In this time of the year, as the grass of the Western Serengeti turn yellow the herds continue north. After crossing the Grumeti River in Tanzania, the migrating herds (wildebeests, zebras and elands) head to the Lamai Wedge and Mara Triangle in Kenya. Before they get to the lush plains of the Mara, the have to make another river crossing at Mara River.
The Mara River Crossing is the deadliest event of the Great Migration and nerve wrecking to watch and the same time fascinating, watching the herds swept away by the high speed running water and some snatched by the fierce Nile Crocodiles is not for fainted hearted to watch.
To watch the Mara River Crossing, the best places to stay at are Kichwa Tembo Camp, Bateleur Camp and Sayari Mara Camp.
September – November
In this period of the year, the Mara Plains are filled with large herds to the brim. The herds are followed by predators providing excellent big cat sightings.
The best accommodation options to stay at include the Governor’s Camp and Mara Serena Safari Lodge.
November – December
In this period of the year, the rains start in the South again which prompts the herds to begin their long trek back down to Serengeti plains in Tanzania to give birth to their young “Calving season”. The calving seasons happens in the Lobo Area and is the best sight to witness it.
Best accommodations to stay are Klein’s Camp and campsites in Lobo area.