The Great Migration: nature’s greatest show and one of the most mind-boggling wildlife phenomena there is.
Well, that’s a given, but what many don’t know is that this extraordinary movement of almost two million hooved beasties is a year-round cycle. So whether you want travel in February or August, watch thundering river crossings or the magic of calving season, there’s a right place and a right time. Read on to find out exactly when is the best time to see the great wildebeest migration, and where you should be…
The herds of wildebeest congregate to munch on the newly-sprouted grasses of the southern Serengeti around Lake Ndutu and Kusini. Following the rains in November and December, the plains are covered in a thick carpet of juicy green grass – a nutritious feast for the discerning gnu.
Where should I stay? Lemala Ndutu Camp
After a month of devouring nutrient-rich grass, the female wildebeest prepare to give birth on the southern Serengeti plains. Between late January and March, over 500,000 calves are born (that’s 8,000 every day!) and gangly babies dot the landscape. A heart-warming spectacle, but similarly heart-breaking as the predators line up for their fill of easy prey…
Where should I stay? Serian’s Serengeti South
The last of the babies appear and the wildebeest continue to nibble on the luscious grass. Following the localised rain showers, the wildebeest move across the Southern plains in search of the juciest shoots and can wander as far as the northern reaches of the NCA (but never into the crater itself). Hungry predators follow their every move…
Where should I stay? Serengeti Safari Camp
The great migration movies constantly. Feasting complete and leaving behind a rather barren landscape in the south, the herds follow the rumblings of thunder northwards. Mega columns of wildebeest stretch from the south, through the Moru Kopjes in the central Serengeti and all the way to the Western Corridor.
Where should I stay? Asanja Camp
A few rogue wildebeest head even further north of the central region, but the masses make their way across to the Western Corridor. Here, they congregate in their heaving hundreds of thousands on the banks of the Mbalageti and Grumeti rivers and the first real challenge of the trek awaits: how to get to the other side…
Where should I stay? Singita Faru, Faru
By June, the herds begin to spill across the murky pools of the Mbalageti and Grumeti rivers. Although not quite as dramatic as the northern crossings, there’s plenty of drama in store as the crocodiles prepare for their annual wildebeest-banquet. Rutting season is also underway and the plains are alive with testosterone-fuelled males chasing their chosen ladies.
Where should I stay? Ubuntu Migration Camp
The survivors continue to the northern Serengeti. The treacherous waters of the Grumeti may be behind them, but worse is in store in the shape of the great Mara River. The river itself winds through the north-western Serengeti before twisting into the western Masai Mara in Kenya and viewing is good in both countries. Depending on rainfall, the crossings can begin as early as June or as late as August.
Where should I stay? Nomad Lamai
By August, the river crossings are well underway. Plunging into the waters of the Mara River, the wildebeest must survive the snapping jaws of the Nile crocodile before dodging the lion lying in wait on the other side. Marabou storks and vultures flock to the river to feast on the fallen and game viewing is dramatic, bloody, frenzied and sensational. Book early!
Where should I stay? Olakira Migration Camp
After the drama of the river crossings, some of the beasties will remain contentedly in the northern Serengeti but most will make their way to Kenya’s Masai Mara. On the lookout for fresh grass (they need it after those crossings!) the herds will wander all over the place, crossing and re-crossing the dreaded river and facing predators wherever they turn.
Where should I stay? Governor’s Camp
Most of the herds will begin making their way back south through the Serengeti, answering the call of the rains in their search for juicy new grasses. Some unlucky animals may still have a river crossing to face, but they become fewer as the month passes. And of course, the hungry predators are still hot on their heels.
Where should I stay? Sala’s Camp
The herds continue toward the Southern Serengeti, the journey becoming more urgent as the rains begin to fall with fervour – they must reach the southern plains as soon as the first grasses begin to sprout. For the best wildebeest-watching, head to the eastern side of the Serengeti and the central Seronera region.
Where should I stay? Namiri Plains
And it’s back home! The majority of the herds have reached the southern Serengeti plains by December and are rewarded with those all-important new shoots. Feasting begins, the predators come out to play and the cycle of life begins again….
Where should I stay? &Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas