Serengeti Great Wildebeest Migration

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The Serengeti Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most spectacular natural events in the world. Each year, over 1.5 million wildebeest, accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, embark on a journey across the vast Serengeti ecosystem. This awe-inspiring phenomenon is a must-see for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into every aspect of this incredible migration, providing detailed insights to help you plan your perfect safari experience.

Understanding the Great Migration

What is the Great Wildebeest Migration?

The Great Wildebeest Migration is an annual movement of vast herds of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. This migration is driven by the seasonal rains and the subsequent growth of lush grasses, which provide essential nourishment for these grazing animals.

The Migration Cycle

The migration follows a continuous cycle, with no definitive starting or ending point. However, it can be broken down into several key phases:

  1. Calving Season (January to March): The journey begins in the southern Serengeti, where wildebeest give birth to hundreds of thousands of calves. This period is crucial for the survival of the species, as the young are more vulnerable to predators.
  2. Northward Movement (April to June): As the southern plains dry up, the herds start moving northward in search of greener pastures. This leg of the journey takes them through the central Serengeti and towards the Grumeti River.
  3. Grumeti River Crossing (June to July): The Grumeti River presents the first major obstacle, where the herds must navigate crocodile-infested waters to continue their journey.
  4. Mara River Crossing (July to September): The most dramatic and perilous phase of the migration occurs as the herds cross the Mara River into Kenya’s Masai Mara. This crossing is a breathtaking spectacle, attracting numerous predators and offering unparalleled wildlife viewing opportunities.
  5. Return to the Serengeti (October to December): The herds eventually make their way back to the Serengeti, completing the cycle and preparing for the next calving season.

Best Time to Witness the Migration

Seasonal Highlights

Each phase of the migration offers unique experiences:

  • January to March: Witness the birth of thousands of wildebeest calves in the Ndutu region.
  • June to July: Experience the thrilling Grumeti River crossings.
  • July to September: Marvel at the dramatic Mara River crossings in the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara.
  • October to December: Enjoy the serene return of the herds to the southern Serengeti.

Optimal Viewing Locations

The best locations to observe the migration vary throughout the year:

  • Southern Serengeti (January to March): Ideal for calving season.
  • Western Corridor (April to June): Perfect for viewing the Grumeti River crossings.
  • Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara (July to September): Prime spots for the Mara River crossings.
  • Central to Southern Serengeti (October to December): Great for witnessing the herds’ return.

Planning Your Safari

Choosing the Right Time

Selecting the right time to visit depends on which phase of the migration you wish to witness. Consider your preferences for weather, wildlife viewing, and personal schedule when planning your trip.


The Serengeti and Masai Mara offer a wide range of accommodations, from luxury lodges to mobile tented camps. Choose accommodations that align with your desired level of comfort and proximity to migration hotspots.

Guided Tours

Opting for a guided tour ensures you gain expert insights and maximize your chances of witnessing key migration events. Professional guides are well-versed in the migration patterns and can provide invaluable information about the wildlife and ecosystem.

The Wildlife of the Migration

Predators and Prey

The Great Migration is not just about the wildebeest; it also involves a dynamic interplay between predators and prey. Lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and crocodiles follow the herds, taking advantage of the abundance of food. This creates thrilling wildlife encounters for safari-goers.


The migration also attracts a plethora of bird species, making it a paradise for bird watchers. From vultures and eagles to colorful bee-eaters and storks, the skies are teeming with avian life.

Conservation Efforts

Protecting the Ecosystem

The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is a delicate balance that requires concerted conservation efforts. Organizations and governments work tirelessly to protect this natural wonder, ensuring the survival of both the wildlife and the habitat.

Sustainable Tourism

As visitors, it is crucial to practice responsible tourism. Choose eco-friendly accommodations, respect wildlife, and support conservation initiatives to help preserve the migration for future generations.