Masai Mara Migration
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.
It’s 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.
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.
For the most up-to-date advice, send us an enquiry and we’ll have an Africa Safari Expert answer all your Migration questions.
JANUARY: The herds are in Tanzania’s Serengeti, moving south from the north-east region and into the southern Serengeti, Ndutu area and Ngorongoro Conservation area – which often means out of the confines of the (unfenced) national park itself. It is calving season – prepare yourself for lots of wobbly babies… and lots of heartbreak as predators swoop in.
FEBRUARY: The good grazing of the Southern Serengeti, Ndutu and Ngorongoro Conservation areas means the herds remain in the far south.
MARCH: They are still in the south but the grasses have all been munched up, the last calves born and the herds are starting to gather in preparation for the next leg.
APRIL: Make sure you are on the southern Serengeti plains – the wildebeest begin their northward journey, and many have left already and are in the central and even western Serengeti.
MAY: Wagons roll! The massed herds are on the go, huge columns of up to 40km in length can be seen as the wildebeest funnel up into the central and western Serengeti.
JUNE: Head for the central and western Serengeti – the herds are there and getting ready for the toughest part of their odyssey.
JULY: Book early – it is the Big Event: river crossings. The herds have reached the western Serengeti and Grumeti Reserves and are peering closely at the brown waters of the rivers they have to cross. Why? Huge Nile crocodiles, that is why.
AUGUST: The survivors celebrate by feasting in the northern Serengeti and begin crossing back into Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve.
SEPTEMBER: The herds break up into smaller groups – about half of the animals remain in the northern Serengeti.
OCTOBER: Your best bet is the Masai Mara but bear in mind it is a far smaller reserve than the Serengeti and there may be a lot of other visitors. The conservancies in the Mara are much less crowded and, not only will you stil be able to witness the Migration, you will also be benefiting the Maasai communities who have lived there for thousands of years.
NOVEMBER: The short rains have begun, propelling the wildebeest to leave the now denuded grasslands of the Masai Mara and back into the rejuvenated Serengeti.
DECEMBER: Fresh grazing sees the wildebeest clustered in the north-eastern Serengeti (around Lobo in particular) as well as the southern Serengeti. Calving begins again, the predators move in again, and the cycle of life begins all over again.