The Wildebeest migration is the most famous migration in Africa, if not the world, and with good reason. Every year over a million of these ungulates move across the plains of the Serengeti from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, in a breathtaking journey of sheer guts and determination. With as many as 250,000 wildebeest unable to complete the journey, and up to 8,000 births a day, over a distance of 2,896 km covered, it is a journey of filled with contrasts. The migration patterns are affected by the rainfall and take almost a whole year to complete. Find out when the best time is to visit and what you are likely to see.
JANUARY: The herds are congregating in Tanzania, in the Serengeti. They’re moving south towards the southern Serengeti, the Ndutu area, and the Ngorongoro Conservation area.
FEBRUARY: It’s still calving season and the herd remains in the area to take advantage of the good grazing conditions. It’s calving season which can mean up to 8,000 births in a single day. This miracle of life is a prime example of the circle of life, as the wobbly babies are easy prey for the predators who wait on the outskirts.
MARCH: By now the herd has managed to devour almost all the grasses and it’s time to move on, heading up north for greener pastures!
APRIL: The wildebeest embark on their northward journey across the southern Serengeti plains.
MAY: The herd is on the move! Massive columns up to 40km long are heading up into the central and western region of the Serengeti.
JUNE: You’ll find the herds in the central and western Serengeti, their last respite before the dangerous and daring river crossings.
JULY: It’s time for the thrilling river crossing! The herd risk life and limb to cross the Grumeti River in the western Serengeti. For many travellers this is the hot-ticket item on their bucket list, so book your trip early to avoid missing out. The herd uses sheer force and determination to cross the river where crocodiles are lying in wait, ready to snap up an unfortunate wildebeest.
AUGUST: Members of the herd who survived the river crossing are now feasting in the northern Serengeti and starting to head back into Kenya’s Masai Mara.
SEPTEMBER: By now the herds have broken up into smaller groups and spread out a bit. Around half of them are in the Masai Mara and the other half are in the northern Serengeti. For those in the Masai Mara it’s time for another dangerous river crossing: the Mara River.
OCTOBER: Most of the wildebeest are in the Masai Mara now, munching on the grasses.
NOVEMBER: It’s time to move on again as usually by now the short rains have begun and there’s not much grass left in the Masai Mara. The herd heads back to the rejuvenated Serengeti.
DECEMBER: The wildebeest are back in the north-eastern and southern Serengeti where the grasses have had a chance to grow back. The cycle starts all over, or rather, continues on its natural path.