Great migration

Bush Telegraph for the Great Wildebeest Migration

What is it and how does it work?

The Great Wildebeest Migration also referred to as Masai Mara Migration or the Serengeti Migration, is a spectacular natural phenomenon that takes place annually in East Africa, involving over 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra along with other herbivores on a continuous loop between the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. It is considered one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World”.

The migration is driven by the wildebeest’s constant search for fresh grazing pastures and water. As the seasons change, the herds follow the rains in a clockwise direction, traveling up to 3,000 kilometers (1,800 mi) each year across the plains of Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa. 

The Great Wildebeest Migration is a dramatic and awe-inspiring event, showcasing the power of nature and the animal kingdom’s constant struggle for survival. Witnessing the herds thundering across the plains, the Mara River crossings, and the interactions with predators is an unforgettable experience for any safari-goer.

Why does African Safari Excellence recommend the Great Wildebeest Migrate?

The Great Wildebeest Migration isn’t a journey with a set start and finish line, but rather a continuous cycle driven by the wildebeest’s essential needs. They constantly seek out the most favorable conditions for survival, primarily focusing on high-quality food and water. As the seasons change in East Africa, the rains transform different areas into prime grazing grounds. 

The wildebeest, with an instinct for following the tastiest feast, move throughout the year to exploit these fresh, protein-rich grasses. Water availability also plays a key role, influencing their path and ensuring they have access to daily sources to sustain themselves and their young.

Thousands of wildebeest and zebra scattered across the landscape grazing on the lush vegetation.

Over 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra along with other herbivores on a continuous loop between the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

Can the River Crossings be Predicted?

No, the wildebeest themselves don’t even know when they are going to cross. This is due to the herds following the rain; the weather patterns are not the same each year, as well as the herds’ behaviour. Some will arrive at the water’s edge and spend a few days hanging around and grazing, others will get into the water immediately and cross over, while others will arrive at the river and turn back. This is why we recommend having as much time as possible on safari to increase the chance of seeing the river crossing.

Wildebeest and zebra crossing treacherous water with strong currents attempting to get to the other side.

 Every year thousands of wildebeest and zebra cross rivers in Tanzania and Kenya in search of food and water, every year.

Where does the Great Migration Start?

The Great Wildebeest Migration doesn’t actually have a single starting point. It’s a continuous loop driven by the animals’ search for fresh pastures and water throughout the year.

However, traditionally, the herds are described as beginning their journey in the southern Serengeti in Tanzania around November to December. This is when the short rains arrive, greening the pastures and prompting them to move north from the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

So, while there’s not a fixed starting line, the southern Serengeti grasslands kick off the cycle as the wildebeest respond to the changing seasons.

What month is the Migration?

While many believe that the Wildebeest Migration only takes place during July and October, it is actually an ongoing cycle throughout the year across Tanzania and Kenya, as the herds continuously move in response to weather patterns. However, the most iconic event, the river crossings, usually happens in high season (June to October), which is why many believe this is a yearly event and not an annual event.