The Great Wildebeest Migration – When is the best time to see it in Africa?

January 14, 2015

Known as ‘Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Show’, the Great Wildebeest Migration in Africa is one that will leave you amazed and flabbergasted at this African spectacular! But it can we confusing to most, as it isn’t a show you can book tickets to and be guaranteed of your front row seat. So let’s help you understand when the best time to see the wildebeest migration is:

When is the best time to see the Serengeti Migration?

With no real start or end to the migration (as it moves in a constant circle), you will be forgiven for not knowing when to book your migration safari. This pilgrimage of nearly 2 million wildebeest and thousands of zebra in search of food and water will blow your mind for sure. The wildlife are followed by a variety of predators such as lions, leopard, cheetah, hyena which makes this a once in a lifetime experience.

You can say the migration may start with the birth of nearly 400,000 wildebeest, as they embark on their journey of survival. The herds’ movements are largely determined by the rains, which can be both unpredictable and spontaneous. These rains are vital for the herds movements and calving season.

The calving season takes place in the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. Look out for the action from early January to late February, when nearly 80% of the wildebeest give birth over a period of a few weeks.

The herds are concentrated in the Ndutu and Salei plains which are in the southern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation area. The young, bewildered calves attract the attention of predators such as lion, cheetah, hyena. This results in an action packed safari filled with all the classic chase and battle stereotypes.

From March through to mid May the herds reside in south-western Serengeti and Maswa Reserve. Settled here, they take full advantage of the vegetation as the young calves gain strength and grow stronger. Their second biggest challenge awaits, as they enter the Masai Mara.

The herds start moving further north into Mbalageti / Grumeti region of the Serengeti (also known as the western corridor) grazing from late May to mid July. This is possibly the best time to see the wildebeest migration in a beautiful region of the Serengeti. What better than waking up for an early morning balloon ride watching the sun warm up the day and unveiling the herds scattered across the golden plains!

BEST TIME: Early January to late February is the traditional carving season of the wildebeest


Map courtesy of How Stuff Works

Top Tours to the Serengeti to see the Migration:

When is the best time to see the Masai Mara Migration?

From mid July to mid October the wildebeest herds, zebra and wildlife following in hot pursuit, reside in the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. One of the biggest challenges for their survival is crossing the Grumeti River, which stands between them and the fertile rolling plains of the Masai Mara. The stronger of the wildebeest will outsmart the crocodiles lying and waiting for the straggler to cross on their own, making them an easy target.

Mid October to November marks the end of a full circle travelled, making their way back to the Serengeti National Park.

BEST TIME: Mid July to mid October the wildebeest are generally in the Masai Mara

Top Tours to the Masai Mara to see the Migration:

When is the best time to see the wildebeest migration shown on National Geographic?

So you have been watching National Geographic for years, and you have your heart set on see the great migration as it has been shown on TV. Well in June and July, the herds start amassing along the Grumeti River in the Serengeti, preparing to head northwards to the Masai Mara. In August and September, the herds reach the Mara River and start to make the famous crossing. Yet many will die in the process, and many more will be eaten by crocodiles.

These are the quintessential migration scenes you may have seen in nature documentaries. Picture hordes of animals moving at once with single-minded purpose, and the drama that follows. By October the herds start moving from the Masai Mara southwards back to the Serengeti. Often with changing weather patterns, the migration is not always predictable and the movement patterns vary. The end of August to the end of September is a safe bet for the best time to see the Wildebeest Migration if you want to witness the big river crossing.

BEST TIME: End of August – End September the wildebeest reach the Mara River for the famous crossing

Want to know more about what a Safari in Africa is all about?

Many tourist who are not familiar with Africa ask the question – what is an African safari?

Well a safari is an exciting and adventurous way of seeing the ‘real Africa’ because it enables you to view a variety of wildlife in their natural habitat. As a result, going on a safari gives you an authentic experience of African culture.

Safaris can involve walking through the wilderness, driving in 4×4 vehicles or flying in light air craft. The purpose of a safari is to allow you to get intimate with the landscape and scenery.

While mostly challenging, you need to be young at heart and open-minded to get the best out of a safari trip. All safari vehicles are custom-built to travel to remote places. Thus allowing you to view wildlife from a safe distance in comfort.

Highlights of East Africa

The Serengeti has earned it’s title as the greatest wildlife-watching destination on earth.

Besides the great migration, the park is home to the densest lion population in the world. In addition, all members of the Big Five and almost 500 bird species inhabitant the park. And, while this wildlife extravaganza is enough to lure anyone in, there is much more to the region than game drives.

It would take years to explore the 1.5 million hectares of savannah that this World Heritage Site has to offer. So, we’ve put together a guide of our favorite attractions and places in the Serengeti National Park to help you plan your East African overland tour.

Are you ready to join an Overland in East Africa?

If the Great Migration and the diverse landscapes and wildlife appeal to you then join an overland tour through East Africa to experience the adventure of a lifetime!

Let us help you plan your overland adventure while you sit back and relax. One of our travel advisers will find the best tour to suit your travel style and budget. We will answer all your questions and take you on the exciting journey of booking an African Adventure!

Here’s a guide on the 12 things you need to know before you go on an overland and we also have you covered with our detailed safari packing guide.

Top  Budget Adventure Tours to Kenya and Tanzania:


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