Wildebeest Migration

The Great Migration as it is known is the movement of a million plus wildebeest from Serengeti in Tanzania northwards into the adjoining Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. The migration takes place every year with the animals primal instincts guiding them towards greener pastures following the climatic rain fall patterns over the Serengeti-Maasai Mara eco system.
Although numbers vary every year, past migrations have seen upto 1.5 million wildebeest, close to a million Zebra and large numbers of others animals undertake the long trek that lasts many weeks. Their journey is especially frought with danger as they cross the crocodile infested Mara and Talek rivers along the way, during which many cannot escape the giant nile crocodiles lying in wait for their prey.

A Guide to the Wildebeest Migration

Travelers planning a safari to Kenya often have many questions related to the migration and we are listing the most common below for the sake of brevity.

What time of the Year is the Wildebeest Migration ? Though the migration into Masai Mara typically starts in July and ends late September, the exact dates around this period are not predictable until the first large wildebeest herds actually gather at the northern edge of Serengeti as they near the Mara. These initial herds are sometimes known to gather at a spot for days on end without crossing over to the Mara, so when exactly the final leg of the movement starts is difficult to predict.

So what is the best time to visit Masai Mara to see the Migration ? Based on decades of experience, we would choose mid July to late August as the best time to see the migration, keeping in mind it is a gradual event that takes places over several weeks at different locations along the Serengeti Masai Mara border. If we were to narrow it down further to what month is the best to see the migration we would probably pick August.

Where do the wildebeest migrate to and from ? The movement of the wildebeest is from Serengeti into Masai Mara and is dictated by factos such as the climate, pasture and mating and calving seasons. Keep in mind the wildebeest are migrating through the year in a generally clockwise direction covering vast areas reaching into Southern, Central and Western Serengeti before the year long trek brings them to Masai Mara around July to August. Their journey back to Serengeti happens around late October though this is less spectacular and more like a slow dispersal.

How do you see the Wildebeest Migration ? You can see the migration during a safari gamedrive in the Masai Mara Game reserve which is conducted in specialized vehicles driver by experienced Driver-Guides. As there are several core points where the wildebeest cross the rivers, it may be neccesary to access and station oneself at these points during a day-long outing in the reserve as some of the lodges and camps can be upto an hour's drive from the ideal vantage points. Most tourists who come specially to see the migration consider seeing the river crossings a highlight of their tour and therefore want to spend enough time at these crossing points, which by the way tend to vary slightly every year while staying within a generally simialar sub locality of the reserve.

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More about the Wildebeest Migration