The great wildebeest migration is one of the most phenomenal natural
spectacles in the in the world. The participants are wildebeests, zebras,
gazelles, elands and impalas across the greater Mara/ Serengeti
ecosystem. It is an endless pilgrimage; a constant search for food
This epic journey from North to South and vice versa spans
3,000 kilometres and is virtually endless. The migration is in fact
an all year round event with each time of the year offering
a unique wildlife viewing experience.
Each year around the same time, the circular great Migration
begins in the Ngorongoro Conservation area of the Southern
Serengeti in Tanzania and loops in a clockwise direction
through the Serengeti National Park and moves North
to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.
The migration is a natural phenomenon determined by availability
of grazing lands. From January to March is the calving season
when there is plenty of rain ripened grass for the quarter a million
zebra, half a million gazelles and 2 million wildebeests.
During February, the wildebeests are situated on the short grass
plains on the South Eastern part of the Serengeti Ecosystem, grazing
and giving birth to about half a million calves within a 2 to 3 week period.
The movement is trailed by predators like lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena.
During April/ May the rains end and all the animals move Northwards
to areas around the Seronera area and Moru Kopjes of Central
Around May is the mating season and they all breed at the same time
ensuring that the calving season will happen at the same time en mass
By June calves born in February are around 4 months old and are now
strong and healthy and thus are able to keep up with their mothers during the
long trek across the plains without slowing down the herd. Heavy rainfall
down pour at a place can completely alter the movement of the
Around June the herds move West to the Western Corridor and
cross the Grumeti River. The river here consists of a series of
pools thus the crossing here is not as spectacular as that at the
Mara River in Masai Mara, Kenya.
During July to October the herds are in the Masai Mara. It is here
that they cross the Mara River and several drown, while others are
feasted on by the Nile crocodiles who lie in wait.
The Mara River bisects the Savannah and forms a formidable
obstacle to cross especially for the older, weaker and the
very young. Lions wait on the river’s edge pouncing on
calves and the weakened.
Around quarter a million wildebeests die during the
Serengeti/ Masai Mara migration. Wildebeests mow
down the grass in Masai Mara which had grown tall due to the
April/ May long rains making it palatable to short grass eaters.
In November, the herds are moving South to Serengeti from
Masai Mara through the Western Loliondo and Lobo
area of the Serengeti National Park and reach Southern
Serengeti by December.
During November and December the wildebeest herds
are situated on the short grass plains of the Serengeti;
namely the Ndutu and East of Seronera.
By year’s end the herd has returned to Ndutu in South
Serengeti to begin the whole process again.
Widebeest Migration frequently asked questions:
Rainfall varies: No one can predict exactly when, where or how much rain will fall. The migration is a complex natural phenomenon and its timing varies from year to year.
Mara River crossings happen frequently during the migration in Masai Mara but are difficult to predict. If you see a massing of wildebeest along the river and animals seem to be agitated, there is good chance of them crossing the river.
How to watch a river crossing without harassing the animals: Stay inside the vehicle, do not make noise, do not approach the crossing point too close and do not interrupt/block the moving wildebeest.
Can I get off the vehicle and photograph the crossing wildebeest?
No. You are not allowed to alight your vehicle in the park, unless at designated points.
Can I stand on top of my vehicle roof to photograph the crossing wildebeest?
No. You are not allowed to do so.
Is it okay for me to sit on the vehicle window to do game viewing?
No. It is dangerous and is not allowed.
Is it okay for me to sit on the vehicle window if I am watching a wildebeest crossing?
No. It is dangerous and is not allowed.