The Northern Circuit – The Great Migration

26th February 2013

All you need to know about the Great Wildebeest Migration

During the months of the great Migration, all that can be seen to each distant horizon is wildebeest after wildebeest after wildebeest. These are joined by herds of gazelle and zebra, who share a curious symbiotic relationship with the wildebeest, as zebra have a natural sense for the presence of danger, and seek safety in a crowd of grazers that are slower and more stupid than themselves. You are more likely to come across bloody death scenes while the migration is around, as all predators from cats to crocs make the most of the easy pickings. A common indication of a kill is rapid hyena action, or vultures circling like dark specks of ash in a single area of the sky, then swooping to land.

The migrating herds follow a broad pattern of movement and behaviour through the months of the year, but the exact speed and location of the migration is as unpredictable as the weather, as they move in accordance with the rainfall, or promise of it. They cannot be relied upon to be in any one place at a set time, and thus holiday plans cannot always be tailored to coincide with the migrating hordes, but mobile camping safaris are often altered to fit the pace of that year, and driving safaris can generally find the action. The following is a rough guide:

Between January and February the migrating herds are based across the plains on the borders of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, west of Olduvai Gorge. These months are the calving season, with most zebra foals born in January, and the majority of wildebeest calves born in February. In March the herds spread out across the short grass plains of the Serengeti, crossing the boundaries around the Naabi Hill gate and expanding wider as offspring increase the numbers. Through April and May they remain in the southwest, slowly shifting into the central plains on the Serengeti side of Naabi Hill Gate to the west of Seronera. In June to early July the herds move through Seronera regions and on up into the Western Corridor. Through August they continue northwards, until they reach the Maasai Mara in Kenya and remain there for the duration of September and October. During November the herds spill back down the North Eastern strip, until they return to plains area just outside the Serengeti Naabi Hill Gate in December.

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