The magical wildebeest migration is the largest herd movement of animals on the planet. It is one of the most phenomenal natural spectacles in the world. It is an annual movement by millions of wildebeest, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, Grant’s gazelle, Thompson’s gazelle, elands and impalas across the greater Masai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.
Guided by survival instinct, each wildebeest will cover 800 to 1,000km on its individual journey along age-old migration routes. Hungry predators including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, wild dog and crocs make sure only the strongest survive in this natural spectacle also known as ‘the greatest show on Earth.
What Month is the Wildebeest Migration?
Wildebeest Migration is actually an ever-moving, circular migration with various but equally exciting events that occur year-round. The popular river crossings usually coincide with safari’s high season (June to October), hence the perception that this is the only time of the year that the wildebeest are on the move or can be seen.
Because the Great Migration is a fluid, year-round movement of about two million animals across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, there are no defined start or end points. The Gnu Migration is triggered by East Africa’s rains and the animals follow an age-old route in search of fresh grazing and water. This epic journey takes the wildebeest across the Masai Mara plains in Kenya, all the way south into Tanzania’s Serengeti and the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, before circling up and around in a clockwise direction.
How is the Migration circuit?
The circuit takes the animals from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (although not into the Crater itself) in the south of the Serengeti in Tanzania, up through the Serengeti and across into the Masai Mara in Kenya and back again. The journey is beset with danger: young calves are snatched by predators, the slow are brought down by prides of lion, brave beasts break legs on steep river slopes, crocodiles take their share of the stragglers, and the weak and exhausted drown.
- Short” and light rains in November and December fall on fertile volcanic soils which are remnant of the volcanoes in the southern Ngorongoro Conservation Area. As a result there is short grass which draws the migration rapidly south from Kenya’s Masai Mara. The migration moves down the eastern side of Tanzania’s Serengeti into these sweet short-grass plains.
- The wildebeest settle in the southern plains between January and April as there’s lots of food.
- In late March or April and May the “long” or heavy rains set in. The depleted southern plains are less attractive than the long grass plains up in the western corridor. As a result the wildebeest migration moves north westerly.
- Large river crossings on the Grumeti and Mara Rivers occur as the migration heads back north towards the Mara. The season dries out and fresh grazing and water can be found in the far north. The Mara is usually at its best in August, September and October especially when it’s very dry.
- Fresh rains start building around October into November. The migration gets restless as it anticipates the change in season. It moves north and south and back again. This is when we usually get the best river crossing action.
- The cycle starts again when the short rains break and result in fresh sweet grass in the southern Serengeti plains. The wildebeest migration moves rapidly south.
How does the migration work?
Seasonal rains and the availability of grazing determines the movement of the migration. The larger eco-system includes Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara. Physical barriers like the Simiti and Lobo hills, the Grumeti and Mara rivers hinders the ‘cyclic’ migration movement.
Fun facts about wildebeest migration
- The Mara River crossing activity is considered the climax of the migration period. Mara River crossing is an event that will take you through a range of emotions: anticipation, heartache, inspiration, excitement and so much more
- River crossing is not predictable. Not even the wildebeests know when they’re going to cross! Some arrive at the water and swim over immediately; some arrive and spend days hanging around grazing; some arrive and turn back to where they came from. This is why it is best to have as much time on safari as possible if you hope to see a river crossing.
- The wildebeest migration is often punted as the “greatest show on earth”. Also known as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World
- In calving season (Jan-Mar) around half a million wildebeest are born each year in the Serengeti. These wildebeest calves are able to run within two minutes of being born.
- The wildebeest herds have no leaders, rather they have an instinctive, herd mentality. This means they don’t all stick together all the time, but often form splinter groups that move in different directions in search of the best grazing.
- The wildebeest and zebra have a symbiotic relationship, in that wildebeest only feed on the shorter parts of the grass, once the grazing zebra have acted as lawnmowers, cropping the grass down and making it to the wildebeest’s liking.
Why make safari with us during Wildebeest migration?
We are team of African travel fanatics. We are an award winning tour operator having bagged the International Travel Award in 2021 as the ‘Best Inbound Tour operator in Kenya’. We were also nominated as Africa’s leading Tour operator in the 2021 World Travel Awards. We have also been nominated this year 2022 as the Best safari tour operator and Africa’s leading Tour operator in the International Travel Awards and World Travel Awards respectively.
Our safari packages are professionally planned and executed in line to your budget and expectations. Check out some of our packages at https://saunterlandtours.com/tour-category/adventure-safaris/