The Great Wildebeest Migration - the annual migration of giant herds of grazers across Northern Tanzania and Kenya is a truly spectacular event. Over two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles move through the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in search of green pasture, in a regular pattern. This is surely one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.
The Great Migration: the basics
You can see the Great Migration in Tanzania all year round – they migrate in a circular motion around the Serengeti National Park as such it is an ongoing event. Below we will dissect where the wildebeest usually are at different times of the year.
The Migration is rarely in Kenya’s Masai Mara; the herds only ever venture there as an extension of their grazing lands in the northern point of Tanzania if they need to for fresh pastures. You can only find the migration in Kenya within a few months of the year when they head towards the border, and even then, most of the herds are still mulling around the northern parts of the Serengeti anyway...
In short, Tanzania is the place to go to see the migration, not Kenya!
The Great Migration overview: the best times to visit
July – October: This is when the wildebeest are in the northern Serengeti plains, and you have a chance of seeing up to thousands crossing the great Mara River. As the sight of the wildebeest crossing the so dramatic, it is considered by many the most desirable time to see the migration.
December – March: Currently the wildebeest are in the southern area of the Serengeti, more specifically in Ndutu which is actually in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and it is calving season. Along with the river crossings, this is a real highlight of the wildebeest’s journey and a fabulous time to see the herds congregate on the dramatic sweeping plains of the south. February is the only time of year when you are almost guaranteed to see the big herds all together as they always come south for calving season.
The rest of the year: In November, April, May and June the migration is “in between” locations and as such these months are slightly transitional times to see the herds. November is the short rains, April and May are the long rains and as such the grass is green in these months accross the Serengeti, so the wildebeest are more dispersed than in the prime time of July – October and December – March. Thus, you don’t get as many of those condensed big herds which people get excited about!
Why do the Wildebeest Migrate?
The wildebeest migrate around the Serengeti
, and into the Masai Mara for the sole purpose of following the rainfall. For their calving from December - March they always begin their cycle in the Southern Serengeti
area of Ndutu and follow wherever the grass is greener... Whilst we have a good idea of where the wildebeest should be at any given time of year, it really does depend on where the rain falls. Therefore, revolving your whole safari around the notoriously unreliable location of the wildebeest can sometimes be a mistake!
Scroll down for the ultimate Great Migration guide, written by the experts. Although we try to be as comprehensive as possible, something that is quite difficult to express on paper is a lot easier to explain over the phone, so please do just give us a call
for a simple overview of the Migration's route.