Great Migration Wildlife Safari – Experience the trek of 1.5 wildebeests with us
You want to witness the Great Migration up close? We know the annual migration patterns of wildebeest through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem and will take you right into the heart of the action! Our Great Migration Wildlife Safaris are designed to follow the wildebeest trails with overnights at the best spots. We will make all the arrangements for a truly unforgettable Tanzania adventure!
The Great Migration is one of the most supreme natural wonders of the world. Giant herds of grazers move in a regular pattern across Northern Tanzania and Kenya. Roughly 1.5 million wildebeests, 500.000 zebras and 200.000 gazelles take the trek of their life through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, always following the rain in search of fresh grasses, water and mating partners.
Many associate the Great Migration with endless herds of wildebeest risking their lives in a spectacular river crossing where they face strong streams and have to fight off crocodiles. It is one of the most striking images in wildlife documentaries and inspires many travelers to visit Tanzania. However, these dramatic crossings are only one part of their annual cycle.
Depending on your time of travel, you will be able to experience different stages of the Great Migration. And we will place you in accommodations located right in the heart of the action. The Great Migration takes place all year round in Serengeti National Park but rarely in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Find below a month by month overview of the annual movements of wildebeests or contact us for more information.
January – March
During the months of January, February and March, the wildebeest migration will spread across the southern plains of Serengeti and around Lake Ndutu, which is located inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Here the wildebeest and zebra herds stretch as far as the eye can see: the perfect time to see the wildebeest migration in one spot.
Sometime in February, pregnant wildebeest cows give birth simultaneously – a spectacular event. The combination of volcanic soil and rainfall stimulates the seasonal growth of nutritious grasses which are valuable for the lactating mothers. This massive event attracts a large variety of predators including cheetahs, hyenas, leopards and lions, which target the very young and weak animals.
There are a few permanent lodges such as Ndutu Safari Lodge, Lake Masek Tented Camp and Lake Ndutu Luxury Tented Camp. And there are also mobile seasonal camps that move with the Great Migration, including Serengeti Under Canvas. Other types of accommodation are available – let us know what you are looking for and we can help.
April to May
With the beginning of the long rainy season in April and May, the herds will start to move on in search of fresh grasses and water. The herds can often be found around Moru Kopjes and the western part of Central Serengeti. With a little luck, you will be able to see large wildebeest herds joined by zebras and gazelles in long series trekking through the Serengeti.
Central Serengeti offers many great accommodation options during this time, including Serengeti Kati Kati Tented Camp, Serengeti Mawe Camp, Kubu Kubu Tented Camp and Serengeti Sopa Lodge. There are many other options as well – just contact us.
By June the herds will have migrated yet further and it is quite challenging to determine their precise location. The herds usually split into groups with some proceeding into the Western Corridor and others remaining in the heart of Serengeti, always on the look-out for fresh grazing grounds and water.
The herds in the Western Corridor will gather on the south side of the Grumeti River, often forming a large group before crossing the river with its crocodiles. They will then enter the private reserve Singita Grumeti and proceed further north through the Ikorongo Game Reserve. The remaining herds will leave Central Serengeti and proceed further north via Lobo and Bolgonya. The front-runners arrive in Northern Serengeti by early July.
Accommodation choices are limited for the Western Corridor and we recommend the following: Mbalageti Tented Camp and Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp, as well as Faru Faru Lodge, Sabora Tented Camp or Sasakwa Lodge in the private Singita Grumeti Reserve.
July to October
From July to October, the wildebeest migration is expected to concentrate in Northern Serengeti around Kogatende as well as partially in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Kogatende is a remarkable destination and the famous river crossings that you may be familiar with from wildlife documentaries take place here at the legendary Mara River. The Mara River, with its dangerous Nile crocodiles and strong current, is a major obstacle that the herds must overcome on their way to green pastures.
Many travelers assume that the wildebeest migration heads North from June onwards, proceeds to Kenya in July and stays in Masai Mara until October before returning to Tanzania in November. This sounds like a nice theory but the reality is quite different. The wildebeest migration spectacularly crosses back and forth over the dangerous Mara River. Rather than one big mass crossing of this dramatic obstacle, there are many small and hectic crossings based on spontaneous decisions.
Just recently a variety of new accommodations have opened in Northern Serengeti, including Mara Kati Kati Tented Camp, Gnu Migration Camp, Mara River Tented Lodge and Kuria Hills Lodge. Just let us know what you are looking for and we will advise accordingly.
November – December
With the beginning of the short rainy season in November and December, the wildebeest migration will return to the short-grass plains of southern Serengeti and Ndutu. Finding the main herd during this time is very challenging as it covers great distances daily. Once the wildebeests reach their destination the cycle starts anew. A new generation is then ready to experience, for the first time, the great migration trek.
Keil family (Germany)
After a long drive we arrived at the Mara River and I was wondering if we would get to see the long-awaited river crossing. Our guide Michael, who is closely-attuned to his instincts and always managed to find animals and the best spots, drove us up close to the steep river bank. And then we saw the wildebeests as they gathered on the riverbank before frantically stampeding the raging Mara River. Swimming in long rows through the steep water, the animals struggled to climb the steep slope on the opposite side of the river. And then they passed closely by our vehicle on their way to join – almost peacefully – the herd which was now growing progressively bigger. What a view!
I was deeply touched by this sight and didn’t know where to look first: At the snorting, panicked wildebeests in the river or to the other bank where parts of the herd grunted restlessly before galloping suddenly towards the water. Skidding into one another down the steep slope, they hit the spraying water and crossed the river only to have to fight their way back up the slippery embankment – needing several tries to succeed.
I was stunned and pictures of the river crossing came to my mind … pictures that I had seen in magazines and wildlife documentaries. And here I was. Right in the heart of the action! I was witnessing everything live and experiencing it close-up. It was so much more impressive than what I had seen in photos. I even saw how the giant crocodiles lay motionless in the water, waiting for the wildebeests to cross so they could pull some silently – and apparently without force – into the deep.
I was very quiet and a sense of humility came over me in the light of the grandness, the beauty and also the relentlessness of nature. The feeling that in the grand scheme of existence, we humans are just a speck of dust in this wonderful planet.
Tanzania Safari Bug would love to help you experience one of the greatest spectacles on earth: witnessing the Great Migration from as close by as possible. Contact us for personalized, qualified assistance in organizing an unforgettable adventure in Tanzania!
Our personal travel tips for a Great Migration Wildlife Safari – for nature lovers and photographers
Upon arrival in Tanzania take some time to recover from your international flight before heading out into the bush for your Great Migration Wildlife Safari. Plan to travel with a private vehicle as this will give your maximum flexibility throughout your safari.
The Great Migration will take center stage in your itinerary, so covering a lot of other national parks along the way is not recommended. Plan for a minimum of four nights in Serengeti to maximize your chances of witnessing the Great Migration during the calving and crossing season.
For photographers we can arrange for a 4×4 safari vehicle with extra large windows and a pop-up roof. We can also provide bean/rice bags to securely place your camera. You can additionally apply for a special off-road permit that gets you as close as possible to the Great Migration.
Our favorite Great Migration Wildlife Safaris in Northern Tanzania:
Explore our favorite Great Migration Wildlife Safaris through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in Tanzania or contact us for your customized Tanzania safari. We will take you right into the heart of the action always considering your individual preferences. Great wildlife encounters and predators in action await you!