When is the best time to see the Wildebeest Migration

January 14, 2015

Known as ‘Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Show’ it is one that will leave you amazed and flabbergasted at this African spectacular!

When is the best time to see the Serengeti Migration

With no real start or end to the migration (moving in a constant circle), it is a pilgrimage for nearly 2 million wildebeest and thousands of zebra in search of food and water. Followed by a variety of predators (lions, leopard, cheetah, hyena etc.) makes this ‘Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Show’.

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

The calving season takes place in the Serengeti National Park / Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area 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 (southern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation area) attracting the attention of predators (lion, cheetah, hyena).

From March through to mid May the herds reside in south-western Serengeti / Maswa Reserve taking 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 one of the best times to experience 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


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

When is the best time to see what the Documentaries show?

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, many dying in the process, and many being eaten by crocodiles. These are the quintessential migration scenes you may have seen in nature documentaries – hordes of animals moving at once with single-minded purpose, and the dramatic deaths that happen along the way. By October the herds start moving from the Masai Mara southwards back to the Serengeti. With changing weather patterns though, the migration is not always predictable and the movement patterns vary a lot, but you can bank on the end of August to the end of September being the best time to see the Great 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


Map courtesy of How Stuff Works

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

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