If seeing the iconic Great Migration in East Africa has always been an item in your bucket list, you’ll need a guide to East Africa Great Migration. It has been globally recognized as one of the greatest natural spectacles on Earth and has even been named one of Africa’s Natural Wonders. And why wouldn’t it? With about two million wildebeests, 200,000 zebras, 350,000 Thomson’s gazelles and great numbers of kudus and impalas around the Great Serengeti ecosystem for fresh grazing and water, the Great Migration is the world’s biggest inland animal movement.
What’s great about having the best guide to East Africa great migration is that you’ll definitely experience what you came to Africa for — adventure. The main hubs for this iconic animal movement are Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.
Moving in a clockwise manner, the hooves traverse around the Serengeti starting in January, when the action-packed calving season begins, and until July to October when these herds take turns in crossing the crocodile-infested Mara River. While most of the migrating herds are across the country for the fresh grasses, some hooves remain on the northern region of the Serengeti, feasting on what’s left of the vast greenery of the park. By December, all the herds from the north and from Kenya move back to southern Serengeti where they get ready for calving season again.
Masai Mara in Kenya sees the migration starting around July when millions of hooves brave the mighty Mara River. It is believed to have the best view of the sought-after river crossing as guests get to see the animals moving towards their direction, running for dear life. Successful migratory hooves to cross the country are then rewarded with lush greenery and fresh water to enjoy until the end of November when the rains call them back to the Serengeti in Tanzania.
While many people opt to choose one country to witness this world-famous event, more and more travelers nowadays are looking into following the migration in both countries. Thanks to overland safaris, this has become possible. Of course, Kenyan and Tanzanian visas are required as opposed to the hooves who, apparently, are visa-free. These overland safaris are an exceptional way of not just seeing the Migration in its best episodes but also experiencing both Kenya’s and Tanzania’s finest wildlife sanctuaries.
Aside from the mind-blowing number of hooves migrating across the plains, game viewing is made extraordinarily spectacular (and spine-tingling) by predators such as lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, Nile crocodiles, and hippos.
With the right guide to East Africa’s Great Migration, you’ll witness spectacular wildlife activity that would render you speechless. Predator versus prey interactions abound and predator versus predator will also take place… Indeed a sensational sight to behold!
Contrary to what most people think, the Great Migration actually moves in a cycle which happens all throughout the year. Although the spectacular game can be promised at any time in certain areas, there are events or milestones that are particularly legendary. Luckily, our guide to East Africa’s Great Migration can help you get to the right place at the right time.
♦ River crossings
Around the end of May to early June, the migratory hooves reach the Western Corridor where they begin their first river crossing on the Grumeti. Although a thrilling episode, the shallowness, and narrowness of the Grumeti River make it less challenging for the hooves. What is a legendary undertaking is what awaits further down: the crocodile-infested Mara River.
For many obvious reasons, the Mara River crossing is THE iconic safari event. Its sheer drama and scale make it hard to beat and the experience of watching millions of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles braving the swollen river while trying so hard to dodge the monster crocodiles and territorial hippos is just out-of-this-world.
What adds to the amazement is that the vast majority of animals make it across unscathed. But, their troubles rarely end there as feisty felines often wait in ambush to greet them. So if you’re after an action-packed safari, this is it.
♦ Calving season
As the year commences, thousands of mother wildebeests give birth to their young. Approximately 8,000 baby wildebeests are born each day during the calving season and with that abundance of feeble hooves comes the highest concentration of predators in Africa — lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs… Aside from the action-packed adventure that happens each day, what’s amazing is the sight of wildebeest calves running across the plains in their wobbly feet just minutes after being born.
As we all know, the exact timing of the migration is driven by the rains. The movement of the animals can never be certain but are already predictable. To give you an idea, our guide to East Africa’s Great Migration shows a month-by-month overview:
You can find the herds on the short grass plains of southern Serengeti, Ndutu area and the northern part of Ngorongoro Conservation Area. By the end of the month, the calving season begins.
You can expect the herds to be dispersed across the southern plains of the Serengeti, feeding on what little grasses are left. The last batches of calves are being born during this time and they all prepare to head north.
Considered the wettest months of the year, vegetation during these months becomes lush and savannas turn green. The wildebeest herds also move northward, soon funneling into Central Seronera and western Serengeti and then joined by a massive number of zebras and gazelles.
This is the start of the river crossings. As herds reach the south side of the Grumeti River, they pile up to cross the series of pools and channels. Luckily, the ricer is quite shallow and not continuous, thereby giving the hooves some slack.
Around the end of this month, the incredibly bloody Mara River crossing happens. Millions of wildebeests along with thousands of zebras, gazelles, and kudus rush frantically through the predator-infested river and into the adjacent Masai Mara Game Reserve. This spectacular event is cleverly called the “World Cup of Wildlife”, and continues on until around October.
The river crossing event accounts for thousands of migrant deaths due to exhaustion, starvation or predation. Survivors celebrate their success by feasting on the fresh grazing in Masai Mara. Others, feast on the grasses of the northern side of Serengeti. By the end of the month, these herds travel back to southern Serengeti where fresh water and grazing are now ample.
Short rains begin and most of the remaining herds in the Mara start moving down south, passing through western Loliondo as well as Serengeti’s Lobo area.
The herds cluster around the northeastern and southern regions of the Serengeti. They feed on the lush grasses of the area as calving season is just around the corner and the migration cycle begins again.
Recommended Wildebeest Migration Safaris
- 12 Days The Great Migration Package
- 4 Days Tanzania Safari
- 8 Days Incredible Calving Migration Safari
- 5 days Spectacular Migration Safari
- 5 Days Phenomenal Migration Safari
- 4 days Masai Mara Migration Spectacle
A wildlife spectacle, no doubt.
People across the globe flock to Tanzania and Kenya for the Great Wildebeest Migration — and it is not a surprise. The Migration is undoubtedly one of Mother Nature’s most astounding spectacles.
With the right guide to East Africa Great Migration, you’ll enjoy this ultimate life-and-death event that leaves every single traveler unforgettable memories and a bonafide African safari experience. Animals in every corner, action in almost every step and sweeping horizons that paint a classic Africa we all adore — simply amazing.