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Wildebeest Migration

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The greatest show on earth

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.

Moving migration maps

Below are twelve detailed maps plotting, month-by month, the typical migration pattern of the Serengeti’s great wildebeest migration.

This migration always varies from year to year, in response mainly to variations in the weather, the available grazing and available water. But these are the best general guide that we have to its location.

The Great Migration in detail

When planning your Serengeti safari you probably want to include seeing the Great Migration. So how do you ensure to be there when it happens? The long and short of it is that you can’t. It is important to realize that the decision of when to visit the Serengeti always involves an element of risk. We have detailed the Great Migration below, and this is what usually happens, but keep in mind that there are no guarantees.

The annual migration of two million ungulates, wildebeest but also enormous groups of zebra and Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle and eland, through Serengeti National Park is the greatest wildlife spectacle of its type in Africa, and perhaps the world. Although variations occur from year to year, the Serengeti migration follows a reasonably predictable annual cycle, dictated by local rainfall patterns. The Great Migration cycle breaks up into the following periods:

MONTH BY MONTH - best time to visit Tanzania?

DECEMBER – APRIL

We can find the main calving grounds in the area southeast of Seronera: typical Serengeti plains stretch all the way to the Ndutu area near Ngorongoro. Triggering their move to this area are the short rains in November and December. The wildebeest stick around this area until the end of the long rains, end of April, early May. The delightful news is that this section of Serengeti National Park is easily accessible and that in this period the landscape becomes lush.

February is usually calving season in the Ndutu area and the southeastern plains: the very best time to visit this area. As wildebeest, zebra and other ungulates are so many, and give birth to so many calves, the spectacle works as a magnet for predators. As early as March or April the herd may move again in search of greener pastures. Seeing the actual migration in this period is more difficult, but chances are that you will encounter very large herds on the move.

MAY – JULY

This is the period that the wildebeest, after having feasted on the short green grasses of the southeastern Serengeti and after having giving birth to their offspring, start getting ready for their 800-kilometer-long trek. The actual starting date may be anytime between late April and early June. This is the time to you may have the privilege to see one of the greatest natural phenomena in the world: more than a million marching animals in a column up to 40 kilometers long.

During the migration, the herd will move towards the Western Corridor, where they will face the first major obstacle: crossing the Grumeti River. Many animals don’t survive the crossing as they are being awaited by the area’s population of oversized crocodiles ready to feast. The herd may congregate on the southern bank of the river and stay there for up to two weeks before crossing the river.

AUGUST – SEPTEMBER

When the Grumeti River obstacle has been taken, the herd moves further north and starts crossing the next big hurdle, the Mara River, in July or August. The Mara River crossing is where so many iconic Great Migration photos have been taken. After this crossing the herd flocks to the northwest plains and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The August – September period is considered being a bad time to visit Serengeti National Park and see the Great Migration as the herd moves into the Masai Mara in Kenya.

However, migration patterns show that about half of the herd stays on the Tanzanian side, in the Mara Serengeti area. In this period, smaller herds of wildebeest (well consider small… herds may count up to between 500 and thousands of individuals) frequently cross the Mara River, back and forth, for no apparent reason. This is an excellent time to stay at one of the Serengeti Mara camps.

OCTOBER – NOVEMBER

Crossing the Mara River northbound means that, at one point, the herd needs to cross the river one more time before commencing the trek back in a southerly direction. This usually happens in October, but sometimes earlier. In this period the herd will cross the northern plains and Lobo area. This section of Serengeti National Park is little-visited, so if you are looking to see the migration in relative quietness, this would be the time. The wildebeest return to the short- grass plains and calving ground around Ndutu in late November. And from here, the Great Migration starts all over again.

When to visit?

It is a matter of choice whether you would like to plan your Serengeti safari around the Great Migration. We have mentioned earlier that the Serengeti is a year-round destination as it covers a vast area and offers unparalleled wildlife viewing. Chances that you will be at the exact spot of the Great Migration herd crossing a river (either at the Grumeti or Mara River) are very slim. Also, the timing of herd movements cannot be guaranteed. However, if you choose the right part of the Serengeti: the southeast and Ndutu from December through to May, the Western Corridor from May to July, the Serengeti Mara area from July trough to October, and the northern Serengeti and Lobo area in October and November, large herds of wildebeest and their entourage should be easily located.

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The tours below showcase just some of what is possible. Use these itineraries as starting points, or to draw inspiration. Then get in touch, and let our expert team help craft the perfect itinerary for you.

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Bogdana C
Bogdana C
2022-08-20
Kili Africa Tours rules Everything was excellent with our Climbing Kilimanjaro trip thanks to Kili Africa Tours agency, especially thanks to my two Summit guides that supported me on the last night trying to get to the Roof of Africa. Without them I would not have got to the top. I will always remember Abuu words “it’s too soon to quit” and Enock’s and Abuu’s help. They kept me safe all the way up. The determination they had made me reach the top and become a stronger woman. I cannot praise them and the entire team highly enough. Jackline, Jamal, Innocent Abuu and Enoch: thank you for your support. Also our cook Godson! They all kept us informed and guided us each and every moment very professionally and responsibly, having good times along the way. Also Seif, keep up the good work and make people from all over the world happy by reaching Uhuru Peak 5895 m! Kili Africa Tours rules!
Cosmin I
Cosmin I
2022-08-14
Excellent hiking experience with Kili team Kili Africa Tours was recommended to me by a good friend , back in December last year. Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa, was always in my plans, but never closed to reality.. Doing some early planning and cash advance for early booking of hotels and some basic stuff was done by Seif in a transparent and very professional manner. So there I was on a very early morning on JRO international airport meeting the guy in lead and part of his great team. Next we were introduced to the guides meant to show us unbelievable beautiful trails in a incredible landscape , making this mountain unique in the world . Besides the guides was a really professional cook. Porters were very friendly. However be ready for extra tips because of national park regulations many more are hired. For 7 tourists they allocated 28 porters. Expedition itself took 8 days , ascension started on Machame route from Machame Gate to Machame camp crossing a deep and misty jungle. Next days we d into moon desert like landscape at around 4000 m for a good acclimatization.Mountain hardware tents made cool nights to be felt warmly. A mobile shower and toilettes units made our life much easier than expected 🙂 For summit we waked up around midnight and started hiking around 1300 m ascent trail. There were strong winds blowing with about 60 70kmph from time to time, resulting in a real feel around -15C. As all of us reached the summit, some of us with a generous help from our guides, we descended happily to Milenium camp following Mweka route. All in all was a very pleasant and and unique experience offered by the Kili Africa Tours which I gladly recommend to all who want to climb Kilimanjaro.
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Mario G
2022-08-10
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Elena G
2022-08-04
Arriving in Tanzania We organized our stay in Safari and in Arusha with them including the drive to the hotel. They were very professional and punctual.
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Mathilde G
2022-07-29
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Tommy P
2022-07-28
10 out of 10 would do it again The experience with Kili Africa Tours is genuinely life-changing. The family at Akili Tours brings you into theirs. Every person in the line-up is committed to your comfort and pleasurable experience with top-quality service. They hear your voice and deliver on every level. Go for it and hike Kilimanjaro, go on safari, take the coffee tour, and relax on the beach in Zanzibar to optimize your vacation in Tanzania. But don’t waste your time, cash, or effort booking with another agency. Kili Africa Tours is the gold standard. They welcome you with open arms and give you a warm hug when you leave. And you’re gonna miss them when you’re gone.
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George D
2022-07-25
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Maia
Maia
2022-07-08
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Pamela G
Pamela G
2022-07-05
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PhoenixBean
PhoenixBean
2022-07-03
Absolutely recommend! The trip was very professionally managed. The guides, porters and ALL staff were so very supportive and kind to our team. They went out of their way to make us feel motivated, secure, informed, well fed and even entertained during our trek. The entire crew came out to sing and cheer for us when they knew our team was struggling with various members being I'll and when the trek got challenging. It really felt like they were as invested in our efforts to Summitt as we were! The chef prepared amazing food all the way up and down the mountain... even a vegan diet for one team member. It was truly a remarkable experience with these people and I will forever respect and honour their efforts 🙏🏼 Very highly recommended

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