Great Wildebeest Migration
During July to October, over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. No where on earth will you witness such an immense movement such as the wildebeest migration.
While taking in two different countries, the wildebeest make time for birthing, courting and mating on the way – while trying to survive crocodile infested waters and other ravenous, stalking predators. Witnessing the struggle of survival for these animals on their ‘big trek’ has dubbed this spectacle as the World Cup of Wildlife, and it comes as no surprise that it has also been ranked as one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World”.
If you are planning a trip to witness the Wildebeest migration, it is important to understand that the migration is an ongoing, natural process. In essence, the massive herds are continuously in search of greener pastures and they typically move from the southern and eastern Serengeti in the wet season grazing to the dry season habitat in the north on either side of the Mara river.
As the wildebeest migration is a very fluid, dynamic process that is subject to the timing of that year’s rains, it is an event that can provide different experiences depending on where you find yourself in the process. Therefore, we have compiled a rough monthly guide to help you wrap your head around the process.
January – March
At the beginning of the year, you will find the herds gathering in the southern part of the Serengeti – such as in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This time of year is also the calving season, and seeing the cute, baby wildebeest is an absolute delight! However, there are also many stalking predators preying on the vulnerability of these young calfs.
As March rolls around, the vast herds start to prepare for their westward journey.
April – May
This is the time of the year that the herds are in full trekking mode. If you are fortunate enough to witness this, you will see them forming columns of up to 40km long! This is the manner in which they move up from the southern Serengeti on into the central and western areas.
June – July
This is the time of year that is often regarded as the highlight of the migration calendar – the period in which the herds cross the crocodile infested waters of the Grumeti River. You’ll be holding your breath as you watch the wildebeest nervously swim across the river – escaping the snapping jaws of crocodiles!
August – September
The fortunate ones that survived the crossing of the Grumeti River will then head into the northern Serengeti. The herd will start breaking off into smaller clusters as they start moving towards Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. While some may remain in the Serengeti, others may go on to graze in the Masai Mara. Here they are once again vulnerable to stalking predators.
October – November
As the short rains begin, the masses of herds will start to follow the developing rain clouds into the Serengeti, moving away from the Masai Mara. And then the migration starts all over again!