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The Great Wildebeest Migration. What, When, Where.

The Great Wildebeest Migration of Africa is one of the most impressive natural events in the world. The migration takes place in Kenya and Tanzania, where millions of wildebeest and other animals travel across the Serengeti plains in search of food and water. The journey is an incredible sight to see, and it's definitely something that you don't want to miss if you're visiting Africa!


What is the Great Migration?

The Great Migration is a circular route that wildebeest and other animals travel in order to find food and water (Greener Pastures). The route can be up to 1,800 miles long, and typically takes place between the months of June through October. The incredible thing about this migration is that the wildebeest have a perfect sense of timing, as they are able to pinpoint the exact time when the conditions for their journey will be at their best. The migration also involves zebra, gazelle, buffalo, and even lions!


The Great Migration Map

Map Via Mountain IQ


The Great Migration is an incredible natural phenomenon that should be witnessed by anyone who has the opportunity to do so. The sheer force and determination of millions of animals all searching for food and water is something that will stay with you forever! The great African migration is a reminder that nature has its own way of finding balance and order, no matter how chaotic it may seem. Whether you're a traveller, photographer or wildlife enthusiast, watch this amazing event if you ever have the chance!

What is the significance of the great migration?

The Great Migration is an important part of African wildlife conservation efforts. The millions of animals that make up the great herd provide necessary nutrients for grasslands, help keep grazing areas healthy, and disperse seeds from plants and trees.


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The Ecological Importance of the Great Migration

The movement of the wildebeest also helps to spread out disease which can help prevent outbreaks in certain areas. The migration also plays an important role in the overall ecosystem by helping to maintain the balance between predators and prey, as well as providing food for other wildlife such as lions, cheetahs and hyenas.

The Great Migration Tourism Helps with Conservation

In addition to its ecological importance, The Great Wildebeest Migration is a major tourist attraction in both Kenya and Tanzania. The sheer scale of this event attracts thousands of people each year who wish to witness one of the most impressive natural spectacles in the world. The Great Migration is an incredible natural phenomenon that should be experienced by anyone who has the opportunity to do so.

Therefore, The Great Wildebeest Migration of Africa is a crucial part of the African ecosystem and an important part of wildlife conservation efforts. The sheer scale and complexity of this event are truly astonishing and make it one of the most awe-inspiring events that should not be missed! It's a reminder that nature has its own way of finding balance and order, no matter how chaotic it may seem.

The Great Migration River Crossings

A key part of the Wildebeest migration is the river crossings. The herd of wildebeest will bravely cross the Mara River in order to reach new pastures on the other side.

The spectacle is truly something to behold, with thousands of wildebeest and other animals all crossing at once! The crossings also provide an interesting opportunity for predators such as lions, crocodiles and hyenas, who will prey on the weaker members of the herd. The Mara River crossings have become iconic of The Great Migration and are a must-see for anyone visiting the region.

These river crossings occur in the Grumeti (Serengeti) and Mara (Tanzania and Kenya) rivers. As they attempt to cross these rivers, huge crocodiles wait patiently for the herd to cross, while other predators wait at the bank's edge.

When is the best time to see the Wildebeest Migration?

The best time to witness The Great Migration is between the months of June through October. The vast herds of wildebeest and zebra will be crossing rivers, migrating in search of fresh grasslands and new water sources in Tanzania and Kenya. Perfect timing is key, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly!

The Great Wildebeest Migration of Africa is one of the most impressive natural spectacles in the world. The sheer scale and complexity of this event are truly astonishing and make it a must-see for anyone visiting Kenya or Tanzania. The movements of The Great Migration help to maintain the balance between predators and prey, as well as provide food for other wildlife such as lions


When is the Wildebeest Migration in Kenya?

Typically the great wildebeest migration will be in Kenya's Masai mara game reserve between the months of July- October. Millions of Migrating animals will cross over from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. This is Part of the journey involves the famous Mara River Crossings.


The Great Migration January

January The herds are on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti, Ndutu area and the northern part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. By the end of the month, the calving season begins. Approximately 8,000 wildebeests are born every day during the height of this season. With thousands of feeble calves, predators are at large and the herds prepare to move.

Beautiful and dramatic landscape in Ngorongoro
Beautiful and dramatic landscape in Ngorongoro

The Great Migration Calving Season in February / March

February The herds and newborn calves move north in search of rain-ripe grass, passing through Lake Ndutu.

At this time of year, the herds, including millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle, can be found in the Ndutu plains in the south of the Serengeti National Park, preparing to give birth.

Birthing happens in a 2-week period, usually towards the end of February.

Why is the migration birthing window so quick?

Such a short window allows the calves safety in numbers. Within minutes, newborns are on their own 4 legs and moving around. They need to be mobile as quickly as possible because plenty of predators wait in eager anticipation for the easy meals that calves can provide. As soon as the babies are ready, the herd heads north in search of better grazing.


The Great Migration in April / May

April/May is the rainy season in the Serengeti and sees the herd, now numbering about 2 million, crossing the central Seronera and Grumeti regions of the Tanzanian park en route to the Serengeti's Western Corridor.

Heavy Rains in Tanzania
Heavy Rains in Tanzania Great Migration

Because of the heavy rains, tourism at this time is relatively low, so if you’re not keen on crowds, April/May might be a good time to plan your safari to Tanzania's Serengeti. May is the beginning of the mating season, so if you’re brave enough to face the rains, visitors will see a lot of head-to-head battles between the young males looking for a mate.


The massive herds funnel up into the central and western Serengeti. You can see hundreds and thousands of animals in the areas surrounding Moru Kopjes and western Seronera as the huge wildebeest herds are joined by plenty of zebras as well as Thomson's and Grant's gazelles.


Note: This is not a great time or place to witness the Great Migration, as heavy rains and flooded roads make reaching the herds very difficult.


The Great Migration in June (Mara River and Crocodile Season)

By the time June approaches, most of the herd has congregated against the banks of the Grumeti River, ready to make the fearful crossing towards the northern section of the Serengeti, through the crocodile-infested waters.

The animals make a wild dash through the strong waters, creating a feasting time for crocodiles. It is incredible to watch as the herds approach the river, knowing they have to get to the other side, but also anticipating the dangers that lie within the waters. As the herds build, it takes one brave individual to make the first leap and as soon as that has happened the rest of the herds follow.

The Great Migration Crossing into The Masai Mara, Kenya July-August

In July, the herd is in the north of the Serengeti. This area is considerably quieter than the bustling central section, and so for a more exclusive safari experience, July is a good time to see the migration. By the end of July, the herd is ready to cross into the Masai Mara in Kenya.

Late July and August see the animals braving the Mara and Talek rivers. It’s not an easy journey – the currents are strong, and many animals drown, while others are eaten by the massive Nile crocodiles (getting over 4m in length) that inhabit the rivers. The crossing is an incredible sight to see, but definitely not for the faint of heart. Between the strong currents and the crocodiles, about 250 000 wildebeest will die during the migration each year. One thing to note in terms of the herds moving between the Masai Mara and Serengeti is that the herds are so vast and the Masai Mara so small, that there are always herds that remain in the Northern Serengeti drawn by the rains and fresh grazing.

The Great Migration in September-October

At this time of year, the best place to safari is in the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. Most of the herd can be seen on the grass northern plains of the Masai Mara, enjoying the plentiful grazing they have worked so hard to access.

Masai Mara is a much smaller park than the Serengeti, so keep in mind that things will get more crowded than in the south. As mentioned above, because the Masai Mara is a smaller park, not all of the herds cross over into Kenya and there will always be herds in the northern part of the Serengeti at this time. This is an exciting time of the year to be in either the Masai Mara or Serengeti as the chance of seeing a river crossing is good. Towards the end of October, the herd is ready to make their long trip south again.


The Great Migration in November

November sees the herd moving south again along the eastern strip of the Serengeti back towards the Ndutu plains to give birth. At this time of the year, it's unlikely to see masses of animals all congregating together as we see on the trip north. Now the wildebeest move in a steady trail that stretches out over kilometres.



The Great Migration in December

By December, the herd is back in the Ndutu area. The short rains that happen over November and December have made it lush and green again, so food is plentiful, and the herd is comfortable as they prepare to give birth, and for the cycle to continue once again.



Interesting facts about the great migration

- The migration route can be up to 1,800 miles long

- The journey typically takes place between the months of June through October

- The wildebeest have a perfect sense of timing when determining the exact time for their journey

- The great herd provides necessary nutrients for grasslands, helps keep grazing areas healthy, and disperses seeds from plants and trees

- The movement of the wildebeest also helps to spread out disease which can help prevent outbreaks in certain areas

- The Great Wildebeest Migration is a major tourist attraction in Kenya and Tanzania, attracting thousands of people each year.


The Great Wildebeest Migration of Africa is both an incredible natural event and an important part of African


Article by Craig Howes and Shaun Stanley

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