Every year, in the Serengeti and Masai Mara reserves in Tanzania and Kenya, the Great Wildebeest Migration takes place, creating an unparalleled wildlife show. Around 1.5 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebra, and hundreds of thousands of antelope migrate in search of new grazing sites due to the periodic rains. They cross perilous rivers where crocodiles lurk, and many of them become prey to lions, leopards, and cheetahs along the journey. What is the best time to witness the migration, and when do the river crossings occur?
Many people believe that the Great Wildebeest Migration does not simply occur between July and September. The migration is well known for its tense river crossings, which occur during this time. The Great Migration is a continuing, year-round mass movement of species. Millions of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope leave East Africa in search of abundant grazing and return to the southern Serengeti plains for the yearly calving season, propelled by the rains there.
Because the migration takes place over the course of months, seeing landmark events like the crossing of the Mara River needed a little good luck. The timing of the wildebeest migration is determined by several factors, including rainfall distribution, grazing land availability, and water supply.
Planning with a time frame more than a few months out might be challenging. The wildebeest are typically visible around the Ndutu plains from December to May. The calving season starts after the May rains. Greener grasslands along the western corridor draw them northward through the Serengeti in a circular route from late May to early July.
The Mara River poses the most significant challenge yet, as the herds are distributed on both sides of the Tanzania-Kenya border from July to October. The optimum window for viewing the spectacular river crossings is now. Until November, the herds frequently remain in the Serengeti and Lobo region. Then, they return to the Ndutu plains to complete their migratory cycle.
It’s crucial to remember there are no assurances while organizing your vacation to Tanzania and/or Kenya around the Great Migration. The greatest time to see a river crossing is from July to September when the big herds have dispersed on either side of the Mara River.
These months fall during Tanzania and Kenya’s busy tourism season, which might result in higher hotel fees and increased visitor volume at national parks. Consider traveling during the short wet season, from October to December, when the herds are still in the Serengeti’s north, if you want a more private experience and lower lodging costs. Another potential choice is February, when the herds are in the Ndoto Plains close of the Ngorongoro Crater during calving season.
The Best Show in the World
The annual migration of millions of wildebeest and countless zebra across the vast plains of East Africa is sometimes referred to as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” and it’s simple to understand why. Nothing can prepare you for the full intensity of the drama playing out in the flesh, even if you’ve watched a nature film about a river crossing.
The agitated sound of churning water and pounding hooves. The frantic sight of herds of wildebeest desperately attempting to cross the river to reach dry land. The scary likelihood of becoming prey to large cats hiding in riverine vegetation waiting for the ideal opportunity to strike and crocodiles lying submerged in the water.
Equally dramatic is the calving season, which occurs in February on the southern plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti and Ndutu regions. Seeing young wildebeest calves struggling to stand up straight. Lions poised to ambush them, facing their extreme struggles to survive.