Great African Animal Migrations

June 14, 2016
Documentary filmmaker/ travel writer/ photographer -

You’ve probably heard of the wildebeest migration – the biggest mammal migration on the planet – which takes place annually between the Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania (read our guide on how to see the Great Migration on a budget here). But did you know that there are other great African animal migrations that happen each year on the African continent?

Zebra Migration

Africa’s longest land mammal migration (which was only discovered recently) is done by some 25 000 zebras each year, as they move between Namibia and Botswana in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, covering a distance of 480 kilometres. During the wet season at the end of each year, the zebras are in central Botswana, in the Kalahari Desert, which has been turned lush and green from the rains, and when the dry season starts in the middle of the year, the zebras migrate north to the Chobe River on the Botswana/Namibia border.

It’s best to see the zebra migration from one of the national parks in Botswana where they move through, namely Nxai Pan and Makgadigadi Pans National Park.

Travel on one of our Botswana overlanding safari tours to get to these areas:

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12-day Botswana lodge safari

Sardine Run

Every year between May and July, millions of sardines make their way from the ocean around Cape Town in South Africa, swimming along the coast line of the eastern Western Cape and up the Eastern Cape to the warm Indian Ocean of KwaZulu-Natal, moving up to Mozambique and then eventually futher east into the ocean. In what’s considered to be the greatest marine spectacle on Earth, the sardines travel in massive shoals that can be up to 15 kilometres long and 40 metres deep, attracting predators with them – birds, sharks, dolphins, whales and big fish – in a massive feeding frenzy. Ecologists still don’t understand this phenomenon or why it happens, but it certainly is a sight to behold. There are a few ways to experience the Sardine Run in KwaZulu-Natal or the Eastern Cape, take an ocean cruise to see the fish shoals and the hungry predators, go snorkeling among the fish, or go scuba diving for an underwater experience you’ll never forget.

Browse our South Africa budget overlanding safaris

Bat migration

Zambia’s bat migration is the largest mammal migration in Africa. In November and December each year, 10 million fruit bats migrate to Kasanka National Park in Zambia from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and proceed to eat their way through the fruits of the forest they nest in – an amazing sight to see.

bat migration

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