The Great Wildebeest Migration is a natural spectacle that takes place every year in East Africa. It is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural events, and has been occurring for thousands of years. Every year, over two million wildebeest and zebras travel in search of fresh grass and water across the Serengeti and Masai Mara eco-system.
The migration is a wonder of the natural world and is regarded as one of the greatest wildlife shows on earth. However, to make the most of the experience, it’s important that you as a safari traveler, know the best time to witness the migration and where you should be at different times of the year.
Factors that Affect the Migration
The wildebeest migration is influenced by various factors such as weather patterns, availability of pasture and water, predator-prey dynamics, and the wildebeest mating cycle. These factors determine the timing and location of the migration in both Masai Mara and Serengeti.
Seasons and Locations of the Migration in Masai Mara and Serengeti
The Great Wildebeest Migration is divided into three main seasons, namely the calving season, the river crossing season, and the return journey. During the calving season, which occurs in January and February, the wildebeest give birth to around 500,000 calves or about 8,000 calves per day. This is an important event as it brings a new generation of animals into the migration cycle.
The river crossing season typically begins in July and August when hundreds of thousands of animals cross the powerful Mara River. It is a momentous event, with animals struggling and often being swept away by the current. As the rains subside, the herd begins its return journey to Tanzania’s southern Serengeti around late October.
Best Time to Witness the Migration in Serengeti
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is the starting point of the Great Wildebeest Migration. Here are the recommended times to witness the migration in Serengeti:
January to February: Calving Season in Serengeti
- The calving season is one of the most thrilling times to witness the migration. It takes place between January and February, where over 500,000 wildebeest give birth to their young in the southern Serengeti plains. The newborn wildebeest attracts predators such as lions, cheetahs, and hyenas, providing an opportunity for visitors to witness the predator-prey dynamics.
June to July: River Crossing Season in Serengeti
- The river crossing season is arguably the most dramatic phase of the Great Wildebeest Migration. It takes place between June and July, where the wildebeest, zebras, and other herbivores cross the crocodile-infested Mara River from the Serengeti to Masai Mara. This period offers a spectacle of dust, noise, and drama, as thousands of animals make the dangerous crossing while trying to avoid the predators.
September to October: The Return Journey in Serengeti
- The return journey is the last phase of the Great Wildebeest Migration, and it takes place between September and October. During this period, the wildebeest and other herbivores return to the Serengeti National Park, after spending several months in Masai Mara in search of fresh grass.
Best Time to Witness the Migration in Masai Mara
Masai Mara Game Reserve is the most popular destination for witnessing the Great Wildebeest Migration in Kenya. Here are the recommended times to witness the migration in Masai Mara:
July to September: River Crossing Season in Masai Mara
- The river crossing season in Masai Mara takes place between July and September, where the wildebeest and other herbivores cross the Mara River from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. This period provides a spectacular show of nature, as visitors witness the animals brave the river while trying to avoid the predators.
October to November: The Return Journey in Masai Mara
- The return journey of the Great Wildebeest Migration in Masai Mara takes place between October and November. During this period, the wildebeest and other herbivores return to the Serengeti National Park, after spending several months in Masai Mara in search of fresh grass.
Tips for Witnessing the Migration
To make the most of the Great Wildebeest Migration, visitors should consider the following tips:
- Book your safari early: The Great Wildebeest Migration is a popular attraction, and many people travel to Masai Mara and Serengeti to witness the spectacle. It’s advisable to book your safari early to avoid missing out on the experience.
- Choose a knowledgeable guide: The wildebeest migration is a complex phenomenon, and a knowledgeable guide can provide valuable insights into the behavior and movements of the animals.
- Be patient and flexible: The timing and location of the migration can vary from year to year, and visitors should be patient and flexible with their itinerary to witness the migration.
Witnessing the Great Wildebeest Migration in Masai Mara and Serengeti is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed. By knowing the best times to visit each park, visitors can maximize their chances of seeing the wildebeest migration in action. From the river crossings in Masai Mara to the calving season in Serengeti, each season offers a unique experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression. By following the tips mentioned above and planning ahead, visitors can witness one of the most extraordinary natural events in the world. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration in all its glory.