The Great Wildebeest Migration

What to know about the wildebeest migration

Wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration in Kenya and Tanzania

One of our loved wildlife safari adventures in East Africa is the Great Wildebeest Migration in Kenya and Tanzania. The Great Migration adventures are a force and experience to reckon as you will witness more than 1.5m of them migrating. 

The constant movement of columns of wildebeest, joined by a host of companions, follow an age-old route in search of grazing and water. After wildebeest calving in the southern part of Tanzania’s Serengeti near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the animals journey through the Serengeti up and around in a clockwise direction towards the Masai Mara in Kenya, before returning once again near the end of the year. 

Along the way, high drama is always present, as thousands of animals are taken by predators and thousands more are born, replenishing the numbers and sustaining the circle of life.

What is the Wildebeest Migration

Know more about the migration in East Africa

The great wildebeest migration is one of the most phenomenal natural spectacles in the world that is witnessed only in East Africa. It is an annual movement event by millions of wildebeests, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, Grant’s gazelle, Thompson’s gazelle, elands and impalas across the plains of Serengeti and Masai Mara.

The Wildebeest Migration is beleived to start in Southern Serengeti, where more than 8000 wildebeests calves are born daily between the months of January to March. They later grow as they start their annual movement up to the North of Serengeti and later enter into Masai Mara. 

From July to October, the Masai Mara welcomes the Great Migration of thousands of wildebeest and zebra from the Serengeti in Tanzania to Masai Mara in Kenya. During the wildebeest migration, you will witness how the constant battle for survival makes the Migration Season a particularly exhilarating while on safari with us.

The Mara River crossing activity is considered the climax of the migration period. Mara River crossing is an event that will take you through a range of emotions: anticipation, heartache, inspiration, excitement and so much more. The sheer sight of the first herds of animals rushing into the crocodile-infested river will make you long for this wildebeest migration every year.

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Facts about wildebeest migration

interesting facts of the great wildebeest migration

You  might be wondering, what are some of the interesting facts abour wildebeest migration in Kenya and Tanzania. They have some unique facts that might surprise you. Some are facts that have broken world records, making this wildebeest phenomenon a world wonder.

Below are some of the incredible and interesting wildebeest migration facts:- 

  1. Every year, around 1.5 million wildebeest; 350,000 Thomson’s gazelle; 200,000 zebra; and thousands of eland and other ungulates (hoofed animals) participate in what has been called ‘the greatest show on Earth, The Great Wildebeest Migration.
  2. Half a million wildebeest calves are born each year in the Southern Serengeti at the start of the yearly migration cycle, between January and March. Most are born in mid-February when approximately 8,000 wildebeest are born every day for about three weeks. They are able to walk as soon as they are born, so they can keep up with the herds!
  3. During the migration, more than 150,000 wildebeest and more than 20,000 zebras are killed by predators and crocodiles while crossing the Mara River and its tributaries.
  4. Predators such as lions, cheetahs, hyenas, vultures,  and others usually follow the herd for food.
  5. The major episodes or intense activities happen in the months of January to March, during the wildebeest calving season, and June to October as they cross the mara river, jump off the cliffs, and major hunts happen.
  6. The wildebeest, zebras, and other antelopes, migrate together.  The herds complement each other in security and food.
  7. The wildebeest migrate more than 800km in a full cycle. It is believed that the migration starts during the calving season when the calves are born, hence noted to start from Jan or Feb.
Wildebeest Migration Safaris in Kenya and Tanzania - Cheetah Safaris UK

Where to see the wildebeest migration

Places to see the great migration in East Africa

Well, the wildebeest migration is only witnessed in East African Countries, Kenya and Tanzania. But this especially happens in the greater Mara – Serengeti Ecosystem. The Masai Mara National Reserve is located in Kenya while the Serengeti National Park is located in Tanzania.

The migration of the wildebeests happen in stages and in seasons of the year. Just so that you should know, wildebeest migrate through out the year, in a circular manner of close or more than 1000km round trip. 

The wildebeest migration stages includes Jan to March where 8000 calves are born and believed to be where lives begin, then in April to May, they Migrate to Central Serengeti to let the calves grow and gain strength, in July to October they migrate all the way to Northern Serengeti for crossings and finnaly to Masai Mara. 

They mostly visit Masai Mara due to their biogical benefits, and they get to Masai Mara for one reason, and thats mating season due to the intese heat and good climate for them. They later migrate back south of Serengeti where they now give birth.

Moving migration maps

Wildebeest Migration Map in Kenya and Tanzania
Wildebeest Migration Map in Kenya and Tanzania

Best Time for wildebeest migration

Perfect time to witness the wildebeest migration

If you are planning to witness the great wildebeest migration, then you would want to know when is the best time to visit for the wildebeest migration and crossings. As we have mentioned above, there are a few stages in the migration, including seasons too. We also noted that the migration of wildebeests is an yearly even and not just selected months. 

The best time for wildebeest migration is during their crossings times or season. During the months of July to October, wildebeest are in the North of Serengeti and Masai Mara. They make an incredible daring show to guests witnessing as they crossing these massive rivers infested with crocodiles. 

Incase you would want to witness the calving, the best time to visit is between January to March. You will see lots of action in between of big cats hunting and scavengers feeding to these calves. 

Ndutu Conservation Area - Tanzania Safaris - Cheetah Safaris UK

Jan to March

Best time to witness more than 8000 wildebeests calves being born daily in South of Serengeti. Best time for an excellent safari in Ndutu and Serengeti Tanzania. The months are hot and dry being perfect for calving.

Wildebeest Migration Safaris in Kenya and Tanzania - Cheetah Safaris UK

April To June

Despite it being a low season, we recommend you book safari this time if you are on a budget and you would love to enjoy luxury. The season is wet and cold all through to July. The wildebeests are mostly located in central Serengeti.

Wildebeest Migration Safaris in Kenya and Tanzania - Cheetah Safaris UK

July To December

These months are the best for wildebeest migration in Serengeti and Masai Mara, being the best time for wildebeest crossings and big cats activities. The months are hot and dry and perfect for holidays

The Great Wildebeest Migration FAQs

Understand the Great Migration

In case you have questions in regards to wildebeest migration,  we have answered them below, in case you haven’t seen the right answer, please get in touch with our team and we will be glad to help you. 

Visit Our FAQs Page for more insights.

The Great Migration is the largest herd movement of animals on the planet. In fact, with up to 1,000 animals per km², the great columns of wildebeest can be seen from space.

The numbers are astonishing: over 1.2 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebra along with topi and other gazelle move in a constant cycle through the Sout to North of Serengeti National Park – Masai Mara National Reserve ecosystem in search of nutritious grass and water.

What’s the Best Time to See the Wildebeest Migration and Crossing?

Wildebeest Move Yearly from Tanzania Ndutu Region To Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Masai Mara Kenya. Almost 2 Million Wildebeests, Gazelles, Impalas, Topis, and Zebras do migrate every year. 

Read More about Wildebeest Migration Month by Month Guide.

  • December to March is the best time to witness the Wildebeest Calving Season in Tanzania Ndutu Ngorongoro Conservation Region
  • May to July of every year is best to Witness herds Move from Ndutu Region up to Serengeti Central towards the west of the park called Grumeti Region.
  • July every year happens the wildebeest are around Serengeti North, and high probability to spot Wildebeest crossings in the major Mara River.
  • July to October they move towards Masai Mara and spend the days there till the start or end of October. They now start moving back towards Serengeti Tanzania. 
  • Major Wildebeest Crossings over Mara River and Sand River happen Between July and August and in October.

Just to Note:- The Wildebeest Migration is not guaranteed to follow the months as stated above, though the months are 80% of what happened before and the experience we have had with them over the years. Wildebeests and other migratory wildlife like zebras, follow rain patterns, and where the grass is green. Due to their biological culture such as mating, and calving (giving birth), they have to migrate across the plains in order to meet these demands

Where’s the best place to see the wildebeest migration? Kenya or Tanzania?

Kenya and Tanzania share the same ecosystem between the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. They are all spectacular to visit for the Wildebeest Migration. Tanzania is considered more favorable due to its length of 8 months in hosting them, as well as with an exclusive event of the calving season that happens from Jan to March every year.

  • Each destination is good at completely different times of the year. The migration is usually active in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park for 8 months. It’s most active in Kenya’s Masai Mara for 4 months July, August, September, and October.
  • If you’re planning a migration safari then decide on either Kenya or Tanzania. Don’t think of combining or switching at the last moment on the cheap. Logistically it’s best to handle the Serengeti from Arusha and the Mara from Nairobi. This will help with decisions on beach breaks on the Kenyan coast or in Zanzibar. Or other safaris into southern Tanzania or elsewhere in Kenya.

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