The wildebeest Migration
Depending on the time you want to travel, it is great opportunity to experience the annual great migration in the Serengeti which is the main feature of an East African Safari. To witness the greatest movement of wildlife on earth, Serengeti is a perfect park for you when over a million wildebeests move and are joined by numerous numbers of zebras and Thomson’s gazelles while the main predators also await them within close vicinity. Being a natural event, the timing of the annual great migration changes for the different months and over years and also varying with the weather and when the rains start. There is therefore no assurance, way on time where the annual migration will be and at a specific time.
The migration usually begins in Kenya from the Masaai Mara between the months of July, August until November taking the southward direction during the time when the short rains are ready to start in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania. The months of December to February and May to July are the best time to go on a safari to witness the migration event in the Serengeti National Park.
Birth and Calving seasons
While in the Northern part of the Serengeti, the birth season of the moving zebras sets in, and from late January going on through to almost the middle of March the wildebeest calving season is on.Here,there is a large concentration tendency in the southern Serengeti that even spills over towards the Ngorongoro conservation area. Around the time of these months, the plains have plenty of new short grass that provides the best feeding ground for migrating animals to sustain them for 10 to 12 weeks.
Examples of Tanzania safari animals like lions, leopard, cheetah and hunting dogs with vultures circling overhead are such kinds of predators within the National park. These are always around and never far as they are always looking out for an opportunity for an easy catch hunt on the wildebeest new born or young ones, gazelles or even the zebras. For a safari in the Serengeti, this is the perfect prime time.
The return of the migration
The migration is always ready to take on the south-western region direction of the Serengeti during the months of April or early May. This is because, during this time of the year, so many roads are impassable due the extremely wet areas and it is not much recommended to view the migration during these 2 months.
However, generally looking at the months of June and July that come afterwards, it is known as perfect time to look at the wildlife migrate along the western corridor gradually heading northwards. By the time August sets in, the migration has moved in the far north heading in Kenya.
It is so important to note that July and August are usually the predicated months for rains to come, and thus the most favorable time to catch up with the famous river crossing on the Mara river from the Masai Mara.
“The world’s Great Wildebeest Migration Safari”
The Wildebeest Migration Safari is an exciting and rewarding one whereby every year over 1.4million wildebeests, 250,000 Burchell’s Zebras, Thomson’s gazelles, and topis have a round-trip migration from the vast Serengeti Plains of Tanzania to Kenya’s Maasai-Mara rolling grasslands. They go through a tough journey of about 1,800 miles and what they carry in their minds are two things; water and food.
They are always killed by the predators such as the cheetahs, lions, hyenas and leopards also crocodiles never leave them with peace especially when they are crossing the Mara and Grumeti Rivers. In fact it is said that over 30,000 zebras and 250,000 wildebeests lose their lives during this annual migration. It is really an extraordinary time watching the predators hunt down prey but for the faint hearted you are advised to take care.
So watching this migration it is biased on which period you want to watch these animals in, so prior bookings and preparations are advised since this among the activities that attract many tourists. This means also where you are to stay while on safari matter and there are enough accommodation facilities strategically located.
The Migration Path
The migration path is described below following month by month basing on how the animals move and what they do at a particular place.
January to March
The wildebeest migration starts in the Great Serengeti plains. During the month of February the wildebeests start congregating in the southern part; it is calving time and over 300,000 calves are born during that time. It is said that why they congregate in the southern art of Serengeti it’s because there is grass with rich minerals and also the grass is shorter hence less fear of the predators which tend to tarry in longer grass. But this doesn’t take away the fact that some predators are eager to get prey and all their attention is on the calves.
April to May
By this time the grass is lesser and the area also starts to dry up therefore with the calves they decide to migrate northwards most of them settle around Seronera at the Center of the park and the Western Corridor. The herds which are a bit early in this time they are already at the Grumeti River.
June to July
By June most wildebeests are spread all around, also the Grumeti River water level is low and they cross the river but mainly the river is covered with hungry crocodiles which kill most of the wildebeests and zebras which come to get water or those crossing. In July most herds have approached the Maasai Mara of Kenya where they find enough grass, they choose to be here for a few months before they migrate again
August to October
By this time the main mass of the wildebeests arrives at the Maasai-Mara. Most people say August is the best month to probably watch the wildebeests cross; if you are lucky enough you could even be able to witness three highly dramatic crossings in a day. All through these months they are around the Maasai River looking for good grass; predators are also not settled and the wildebeests also try to keep dodging though some fall into the trap of the hungry lions, cheetahs and leopards.
In early October the grasslands in the Maasai-Mara have also reduced so the only thing to do is to migrate again.
November to December
From late October all through November they start the second migration back to Tanzania to the Ndutu plains, which by that time have enough grass rich in potassium.as December clocks in the herds are already back to Ndutu to calve; the process starts again.
Please note that wildebeests are unpredictable animals, as it was earlier said that their migration is entirely based on them looking for food and water. Because of this, it is somehow a challenge to predict confidently where the wildebeests will be in a particular place or week. Also you are advised that as you book your accommodation make early bookings considering that where you stay should give you the best view of the migration!