The Great Wildebeest Migration (Mid-Dec to March)
The Great Wildebeest Migration is a truly natural spectacle that occurs every year between Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara Game Reserve. It’s considered one of the natural wonders of the world, and a must see for everyone visiting Kenya and Tanzania on a wildlife adventure. The annual event sees over 1.5 million wildebeest and a wide range of other animals across Mara Plains and Serengeti in search of food and drinkable water. This is their way of trying to survive, just like we human beings go to work and stuff in order to survive.
To survive, these animals face multiple life-threatening challenges such as land and water predators. But somehow, a good number of these wildebeests make it out of these challenges alive and strong enough to complete the migration to the amazement of the whole wide world.
If you’re planning to go see this natural wonder, here are a few things you should probably have at the back of your mind.
When does the migration happen?
The Great Migration is an ever-moving cycle with five different stages.
- Calving season in the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti from late January to mid-March
- Trek North across the central and western Serengeti in April and May
- Crossing the Grumeti and Mara rivers around June and July
- The arrival of the herds in the Masai in August
- The journey South back to the Serengeti towards the end of the rainy season in November
However, many people feel that mid-December to March, which is mostly the calving season, is the best time to visit the Serengeti.
The wildebeests start to move in great numbers out of Kenya’s Masai Mara to the Southern Serengeti Plains and the Northern Ngorongoro conservation area in Tanzania. The best location to catch a good view of the action includes the South of Lobo. Kleins Camp, Migration Camp and the Lobo Mobile Camps are some of the Safari migration accommodation choices in December.
At this time, the migration has settled in the short-grass plains of Serengeti. These short plains are in constant supply of short rains around November and December. And as a result, the grasses are fresh, luscious and plentiful, the herds are lured to the fresh pastures, and the predators are lured to the herds.
If you want to be at the right place for your migration Safari in January, then you need to stay at the central between Lobo in the North and Ndutu in the South. This is because the herds can be in any of those places. Whatever be the case, you can move either South or North.
If you’re seeing the great wildebeest migration at this time, you’re most likely to witness a birth or two. That is because, for a period of two to three weeks in February, 500,000 wildebeests are born. So get ready because you’re going to see the wildebeest offsprings, as young as 5 minutes ole, running around with the rest of the herd.
It is easier to predict where the migration will be in February. For the past 10 to 12 years, the migration has been in the Ndutu and Masek lakes; or around them with a variation of not more than 20KM. Matiti Hill, Ndutu, Naabi Hill, the Goll kopjes to the east and Olduvai Gorge are some of the best places to be at this time.
After several weeks of intensive grazing, the Southern Plains are beginning to wear out. The animals continue to give birth though, and the rate of kill spikes. This would be the last month that the mobile camps operate in Serengeti since the herds are already leaving.
Ndutu region is by far the best and more affordable place to stay for the March Serengeti migration safari. The Ngorongoro Authority Reservation Area is also a great option.
How far is the migration and why do the animals migrate?
The great wildebeest migration is known as an “endless cycle of life”. This simply means there is no beginning or ending point, it just goes on and on. In one cycle the migration covers a distance of about 3000 KM.
Why do animals migrate?
Have you ever wondered why the animals migrate? Like, why won’t they just stay at a place and live their lives in peace? The truth is if they don’t move, they’ll die!
The three main reasons animals migrate are
- To find food and water
- For breeding
- To find a better weather condition
What other animals join the Wildebeest on the migration?
The wildebeest are not the only animals that migrate during the Great Migration. Thousands of animals like gazelle and zebras join up the wildebeests during the migration. The lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, and crocodiles are not part of the Wildebeest migration; rather, they’re the predators whose path crosses with the wildebeest migration every now and then.