It’s not hard to understand why the Great Migration is one of the most sought-after wildlife encounters on the planet. Images of wildebeest thundering through the Mara River and plains of animals that disappear into the horizon abound, but what is the Migration exactly and how do you go about seeing it on your safari?
Not everyone realises that the Great Migration is always on the go, and it is possible to see it at any time of year. It involves continual circular movement of over a million wildebeest and almost half a million zebras through the Serengeti’s ecosystem driven in search of food. Ultimately, it depends on annual rainfall patterns, and while these can be erratic, the movement of the Migrations follows roughly the same pattern from year to year, so it is possible to position yourself in the best seat in the house.
How does the Great Migration move throughout the Year?
January - March
In January, almost a million wildebeest gather on the Ndutu Plains which is full of green grass after the November and early December short rains. This area straddles the very south of the Serengeti and the north of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, although not within the crater.
In February, calving season begins, reaching a peak of 8000 calves born each day. This is an exciting time to go on a safari, watching babies take their first steps and the big cats higher up the food-chain stake their claim on their next meal. The wonder and brutality of nature are all here. Off road driving is permissible in the Ndutu Plains which means that you can get right up close to the action.
April - May
By April, the Migration is on the move north in search of greener pastures. They move slowly through the Serengeti’s western corridor, some splintering off into the central area, enjoying plentiful grass bought by the rainy season. This time is known as the green season as the plains are awash with green. This time still makes for excellent game viewing and has the advantage of being the quietest and cheapest time to safari. It is perfect for those who crave a little off the beaten track adventure away from the crowds.
August - October
In a year marked by typical rain patterns, August sees a frenzy of crossings as those wildebeest that move across to Kenya’s Maasai Mara make the journey. In September, the migration is usually spread across Kenya and the very north of Serengeti. By October, having exhausted the grass supplies in the Masai Mara, the wildebeest throw themselves at the mercy of the river once again as they begin their southward journey. These months are the busiest in the north of the Serengeti with many lodges booking out a year in advance.
November - December
By November the herds are filing back south, attuned to the rains falling hundreds of kilometres away. They pass through the Lobo area of the Serengeti in the east until they begin reaching the southern plains where fresh grass shoots spring up after the rains. And so, it begins again.
Witnessing the great migration in Tanzania is definitely one for your bucket list. But Tanzania has so much more to offer! At Safari Republic, we show you the authentic and off-the-beaten-track Tanzania in a sustainable and comfortable way.