Great Wildebeest Migration

Great Wildebeest Migration

Tanzania Wildebeest Migration Safari

Natural phenomena occur all over the world, but few can compete with the annual Masai Mara/Serengeti wildebeest migration. The numbers alone are hard to believe: up to two million animals – wildebeest as well as zebra and gazelles – move clockwise around this enormous ecosystem, driven by ancient instincts to find fresh grazing and water.

One of the most sought-after experiences for wildlife and nature enthusiasts, the Great Migration is the ever-moving circular migration of over a million animals across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.  The ever-moving columns of wildebeest, joined by a host of companions, follow an age-old route in search of grazing and water.  This journey takes them across the plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya, all the way south into Tanzania, through the Serengeti to the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, before circling up and around in a clockwise direction.  Along the way, high drama is always present, as thousands of animals are taken by predators, and thousands more are born, replenishing the numbers and sustaining the circle of life.

It’s a drama on a truly epic scale: the migrating herds undergo all manner of challenges and hardships as they move from region to region, and are constantly under attack from predators, none more so than from Africa’s big cats and the notoriously huge crocodiles that lie in wait at various river crossing points.

The great Serengeti wildebeest migration is the movement of vast numbers of the Serengeti’s wildebeest, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, and smaller numbers of Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, and impala. These move in an annual pattern which is fairly predictable. They migrate throughout the year, constantly seeking fresh grazing and, it’s now thought, better quality water.

The precise timing of the Serengeti wildebeest migration is entirely dependent upon the rainfall patterns each year – here we explain how the broad pattern works.

This migration, month by month, is shown on the map below – the moving red represents the main herds.

You’ll need to plan your visit carefully: the wildebeest migration is a fluid, dynamic affair taking place between two countries – Kenya and Tanzania – and subject to the timing of that year’s rains. It’s also an event of different experiences: depending on where you are and at what time, you may see the wildebeest herds giving birth and courting, moving in great dusty columns, or funneling across muddy rivers.

There’s plenty of well-located accommodation both in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti to enable you to experience the migration, and nearly all scheduled tours and safaris to either country include excursions into the two conservation areas.

For a faultless wildebeest migration safari, work with our African Safari Experts to create a tailor-made itinerary based on your requirements. Their knowledge and experience of the migration mean you’ll be in safe hands to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event.

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Tanzania Wildebeest



wildebeest Migration



When is the best time to experience the Great Migration?

The Great Wildebeest Migration dates tend to remain the same throughout the years. The first animals usually start to set out across the Serengeti in search of greener grass and dependable water supplies in April. Over the following months, they’ll encounter countless obstacles – from predators to river crossings – on their enormous trek. Here’s a breakdown of their provisional travel schedule, so you can plan your own.

How the Great Migration moves throughout the year

Whether the wildebeest are dropping calves or attempting to cross rivers while avoiding predators, the migration is constantly on the move throughout the year. Read on to learn where the Great Migration tends to be during different times of year

January, February and March Migration

Around January each year, the migration will be finishing a southward trek, moving along the eastern edge of the Serengeti and into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Here the plains are rich in nutritious grass, providing the herds with the best conditions for raising their newborn calves.

Although there is no real beginning or end to this migratory circuit — other than birth and death — it seems reasonable to call the wildebeests’ birthing season the start of the migration. Around late January or February, the herds occupy the short-grass plains that spread over the lower northern slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater highlands and around Olduvai Gorge. Some 400,000 calves are born here within a period of two to three weeks, or nearly 8,000 new calves every day

The abundance of vulnerable young calves means the surrounding predators also spring into action, hunting with ease due to the sheer numbers of wildebeest. Those interested in witnessing calving and the drama of big cats on the hunt should look to Asilia’s migration camps in the southern Serengeti which provide direct access: Olakira, Kimondo and Ubuntu.

April and May Migration

After bearing their young in February and March, around April the wildebeest herds begin to drift northwest toward the fresher grass of the central Serengeti, drawing with them thousands of zebra and smaller groups of antelope. By May, columns of wildebeest stretch for several kilometres as the animals start to congregate by the Moru Kopjes, close to Dunia Camp, one of the few camps in the Serengeti that offers migration viewing at this time of year. Mating season begins toward the end of May and male wildebeest battle head-to-head. Throughout ‘the rut,’ the journey continues at leisure with the wildebeest, zebra and gazelle grazing as they go along

Gradually, the movement gathers momentum and the wildebeest start to mass in the Serengeti’s Western Corridor. At this time of year, Ubuntu Migration Camp will have relocated to follow the migration and provide access to watch the wildebeest cross the Grumeti River. The herds form in huge numbers along the pools and channels of the river, which they have to cross in order to continue on their journey. This may not be as spectacular as the famous Mara crossings, but there are still enough wildebeest to provide the Grumeti crocs with a veritable feast. It is worth noting that May is low season at Ubuntu. Safaris at this time offer great value since there are relatively low numbers of tourists in the Serengeti, yet the wildlife viewings remain excellent.

June and July Migration

During June, the dry season starts with large concentrations of wildebeest in the Western Serengeti and on the southern banks of the Grumeti River. Each migrating animal must face the challenge of crossing the crocodile-infested river — the first of many daunting and tense river encounters.

As June moves into July, the hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra continue to head north along the western edge of the park toward an even riskier barrier: the Mara River in the north of the Serengeti. These river crossings are arguably one of the most exciting wildlife events on Earth. They usually begin at the onset of high season in July, but timing all depends on nature.

The herds will typically be found in the Northern Serengeti in the month of July. Later in July, those animals that have successfully made it across the Mara River will also be found in the Masai Mara, where guests of Rekero Camp can watch river crossings right from the main deck of the camp on their Kenyan safari. At this time, daily river crossings can be seen at the Mara and Talek rivers, both often central to incredible scenes.

August, September and October Migration

By August, the herds have faced the challenge of crossing the Mara River and are spread throughout the Masai Mara’s northern region, with many remaining in the northern Serengeti. In years when the river is in full flow, the panic and confusion at the crossings — combined with waiting predators and surging currents — can cause massive loss of life. But, even in years of relatively gently flowing water, the crocs take their toll, not to mention the lions and other large predators that patrol the banks, ready to ambush any wildebeest that make it to the other side. There is no single crossing: at some spots, there are just a few individuals, while others see a mass of animals moving without break for hours.

By September to October, the main chaos has ended and the migrating columns have gradually moved eastward. However, they wildebeest will face the heavy waters of the Mara River once more as they prepare to cross once again for their return journey southward.

November and December Migration

After the East African short rains in late October and early November, the wildebeest move down from Kenya and into the eastern limits of the Serengeti past Namiri Plains, an area known for outstanding cheetah sightings. By December, they are spread throughout the eastern and southern reaches.

In the early months of the new year, the grasses in the deep south of the Serengeti are lush with rain. This draws the herds of wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and other plains animals. The cycle continues as the calving season starts once again.


  • Over 1.35 million western white-bearded wildebeest eat about 4,800 tons of grass per day.
  • Over 250,000 calves are born each year with four-fifths being born within a short calving period of just a few weeks on the short grass plains period of just a few weeks on the short grass plains mid-February (8000-12000 births per day) and about 70,000 of these calves will die each year as a result of predetion, drowning, separation from mother, etc. Overall about half of them will survive adulthood.
  • The calves are mobile within 3-7 minutes and can keep up with the herd soon thereafter.
  • Around 300,000 female wildebeest become pregnant in less than a month during the rut when bulls aggressively compete with each other and can be seen actively protecting temporary territories.
  • The short grass plains between Nabi Gate and Ngorongoro highlands where wildebeest prefer to calve are highly nutritious as a result of the volcanic ash that fell in the area thousands of years ago, These grasses take up calcium, sodium, nitrogen, and phosphorous from the shallow soil which is valuable for the pregnant and later lactating cows.
  • The Serengeti-Mara-Ngorongoro Ecosystem relies on the annual migration of about 1.6 million animals(wildebeest and Zebra) to sustain it’s integrity and keep it healthy.
  • The wildebeest is what is known as a “keystone species,” shaping the environment in which it lives with its consumption of over 1.7 million tons of grass each year. It opens up large tracts of pasture for other species such as zebras, hartebeests, and gazelles. In other words, it plays an important role as a “cog” in the mechanism that makes the Serengeti’s grasslands so diverse and productive. Currently, the migration alone deposits 3500 tons of dung into the ecosystem each day (about 70 train carriage loads per day!), providing valuable nourishment for the vegetation and serving as food for approximately 100 different species of dung beetles.
  • The Mara river is the only source of water in the Serengeti that can sustain the great migration in the dry season, and if the river dries up as a result of dams and deforestation upstream it will be a huge disaster in which about 500,000 wildebeest would likely die in the first year).

“The greatest wildlife show on earth awaits”




    This is an ideal way to cut down the costs as travelers in the group share the expenses on fuel, guides, etc. and at the same time share the experience with new friends.