The great wildebeest migration

The Serengeti is famous for its annual wildebeest migration. Over 1 million wildebeest accompanied by large numbers of zebra, smaller numbers of Grant’s & Thomson’s gazelle, and impala migrate in seeking fresh grazing and water, with predators such as lions following in their footsteps. However,  it’s worth planning your trip dates around the migration. In our experience, Serengeti offers superb wildlife viewing year-round. Moreover, expect to pay exorbitant prices for the mobile camps that congregate near the river crossing and to see plenty of other safari vehicles.  Watching the herd of the wildebeest migration crossing the Grumeti and the Mara river is truly spectacular and a highlight of any trip. Below is a fairly predicted pattern of migration

Predicted Pattern of Migration

  • December-April:  Finding calving grounds in the area southeast of Seronera, the wildebeest and zebra congregate in the Ndutu area near Ngorongoro. The wildebeest stick around this area until the end of the long rains, the end of April, and early May. The delightful news is that this area is easily accessible and that in this period the landscape becomes lush. February is usually the calving period in the Ndutu area the very best time to visit this area. As wildebeest, zebra and other ungulates are so many and give birth to so many calves, the spectacle works as a magnet for predators. As early as March or April the herd may move again in search of greener pastures. Seeing the actual migration in this period is more difficult, but chances are that you will encounter very large herds on the move
  • May-July: At this time the wildebeest are getting ready for their 800-kilometer-long trek, having feasted on the short green grasses in Ndutu and after giving birth to their offspring. The actual starting date may be anytime between late April and early June. This is the time you may have the privilege to see one of the greatest natural phenomena in the world with more than a million marching animals in a column up to 40 kilometers long. During the migration, the herd will move towards the Western Corridor, where they will face the first major obstacle, crossing the Grumeti River. Many animals don’t survive the crossing as they are being awaited by the area’s population of oversized crocodiles ready to feast. The herd may congregate on the southern bank of the river and stay there for up to two weeks before crossing the river
  • August-September: After crossing the Grumeti River, the herd moves further north and starts crossing the next big hurdle, the Mara River, around July or August. The Mara River crossing is where so many iconic Great Migration photos have been taken. However, migration patterns show that about half of the herd stays on the Tanzanian side, in the Mara Serengeti area. 
  • October-November:  In this period the herd will cross the northern plains and Lobo area. This section of Serengeti is little-visited, so if you are looking to see the migration in relative quietness, this would be the time. The wildebeest return to the short-grass plains and calving ground around Ndutu in late November. And from here, the Great Migration starts all over again 
Migration circuit

This map shows the movement of wildebeest and other animals