The Great Wildebeest Migration

Serengeti Migration Safari In Tanzania

The Serengeti’s Great Wildebeest Migration stands as the world’s largest movement of wild animals, earning its place among the globe’s eight Natural Wonders. It serves as an awe-inspiring centerpiece for an extraordinary nature expedition through northern Tanzania with Kilimanjaro Fair deal. Witnessing this phenomenon is a dream come true for nature enthusiasts.

Approximately 1.5 million wildebeests, accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebras, elands, and gazelles, trailed by a host of predators, commence their journey from the southern Serengeti calving grounds around March and April, embarking toward the nearest water source. They trek through the south-central Seronera, skirting the Western Corridor and Grumeti River, settling in from April to May, lingering till June. Their path leads them onward to Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, crossing the treacherous Mara River around July or August. The return journey involves another perilous crossing of the Mara River, directing them toward Lobo and Loliondo in the eastern Serengeti around October to November. The wildebeests, distinguished by their white beards, persist in their epic odyssey back to the southern Ndutu calving grounds, beginning arrivals in December and temporarily residing there till March.

SerengetiGreat Migration In Details

When planning your Serengeti safari, you probably want to include seeing the Great Migration. So how do you ensure to be there when it happens? The long and short of it is that you can’t. It is important to realize that the decision of when to visit the Serengeti always involves an element of risk. We have detailed the Great Migration below, and this is what usually happens, but keep in mind that there are no guarantees.

The annual migration of two million ungulates, wildebeest but also enormous groups of zebra and Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle and eland, through Serengeti National Park is the greatest wildlife spectacle of its type in Africa, and perhaps the world. Although variations occur from year to year, the Serengeti migration follows a reasonably predictable annual cycle, dictated by local rainfall patterns.

Why do wildebeest migrate?

Wildebeest migrate primarily in search of water and fresh grazing pastures. Their annual migration in the Serengeti ecosystem is driven by the seasonal patterns of rainfall and the resulting growth of new grass. As the dry season progresses and the grass becomes depleted in their current area, these animals move to regions where rain has fallen more recently, leading to lush vegetation.

Their migration cycle is a continuous quest for sustenance, aiming to follow the rains and find areas with adequate food and water resources. This cyclical movement helps them survive and thrive by ensuring access to the necessary resources for their survival, particularly during the different stages of their reproductive and calving cycles. Additionally, the migration pattern also helps in avoiding overcrowding and overgrazing in any single area, allowing the ecosystems to recover and regenerate.

Month by month Serengeti migration

December - April

We can find the main calving grounds in the area southeast of Seronera: typical Serengeti plains stretch all the way to the Ndutu area near Ngorongoro. Triggering their move to this area are the short rains in November and December. The wildebeest stick around this area until the end of the long rains, end of April, early May. The delightful news is that this section of Serengeti National Park is easily accessible and that in this period the landscape becomes lush. February is usually calving season in the Ndutu area and the southeastern plains: the very best time to visit this area. As wildebeest, zebra and other ungulates are so many, and give birth to so many calves, the spectacle works as a magnet for predators. As early as March or April the herd may move again in search of greener pastures. Seeing the actual migration in this period is more difficult, but chances are that you will encounter very large herds on the move.

May - July

This is the period that the wildebeest, after having feasted on the short green grasses of the southeastern Serengeti and after having giving birth to their offspring, start getting ready for their 800-kilometer-long trek. The actual starting date may be anytime between late April and early June. This is the time to you may have the privilege to see one of the greatest natural phenomena in the world: more than a million marching animals in a column up to 40 kilometers long. During the migration, the herd will move towards the Western Corridor, where they will face the first major obstacle: crossing the Grumeti River. Many animals don’t survive the crossing as they are being awaited by the area’s population of oversized crocodiles ready to feast. The herd may congregate on the southern bank of the river and stay there for up to two weeks before crossing the river.

August - September

When the Grumeti River obstacle has been taken, the herd moves further north and starts crossing the next big hurdle, the Mara River, in July or August. The Mara River crossing is where so many iconic Great Migration photos have been taken. After this crossing the herd flocks to the northwest plains and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The August – September period is considered being a bad time to visit Serengeti National Park and see the Great Migration as the herd moves into the Masai Mara in Kenya. However, migration patterns show that about half of the herd stays on the Tanzanian side, in the Mara Serengeti area. In this period, smaller herds of wildebeest (well consider small… herds may count up to between 500 and thousands of individuals) frequently cross the Mara River, back and forth, for no apparent reason. This is an excellent time to stay at one of the Serengeti Mara camps.

October - November

Crossing the Mara River northbound means that, at one point, the herd needs to cross the river one more time before commencing the trek back in a southerly direction. This usually happens in October, but sometimes earlier. In this period the herd will cross the northern plains and Lobo area. This section of Serengeti National Park is little-visited, so if you are looking to see the migration in relative quietness, this would be the time. The wildebeest return to the short- grass plains and calving ground around Ndutu in late November. And from here, the Great Migration starts all over again.

Words From Our Happy Clients

Alessio Pelella
Alessio Pelella
2024-01-21
Verified
Unforgettable and wonderful safari experience in North Tanzania With my girlfriend we experienced a wonderful private safari for 6 days in the north part of Tanzania. The organisation was very good and Ibrahim was pretty quick to adjust our plans, to communicate and to give special recommendations. Our personal guide Haji demonstrated a lot of experience, patience and teaching skills. He always was looking for the best scenes to spot while respecting the nature. We felt very comfortable with him. The big 5 were nice to see, but they are not the core of the safari. Every day we experienced new unique habitats and unexpected events that surprised us. The several birds species that we spotted with pretty patience, were the ice on the cake. The accommodations and service were excellent for all the trip, especially in the Serengeti National Park. Finally this nature and cultural experience will be always unforgettable and it has been above our best expectations. Afrishare safari operator is defenitely recommended.
Alexandros K
Alexandros K
2023-12-05
Verified
Safari and Sansibar We traveled in September for a 10-day Safari tour and Sansibar with Afrishare. Our experience was the greatest! The communication with Ibrahim was very easy, supportive and quick. He answers immedietely to any questions regardless what time it is. Ibrahim was helpful in making a new travel plan adapted to our needs and wishes. We were very happy with our acommodation and felt always secure. Our tourguides were great and we developed a beauatiful releationship to them. In Tansania we spent 10 beautiful day with Moses, who is really the best we could ever ask for. He was very kind, friendly, communicative, motivated to share his knowledge and describe things and he contributed to see the BIG FIVE. Actually he found the most beautiful spots to enjoy the wildness. He knew the locations around and was always informed about the planned schedule, additionally he was very flexible to new ideas and motivated to show us the real tansanian way of life. Overall we were very happy and lucky to do this exotic trip with Afrishare, and recommend it heartwarmly. Asante sana for this beautiful expirience!
Mette T
Mette T
2023-11-01
Verified
Amazing 4 day Safari We had an amazing 4 day/3 night Safari tour with Afrishare. Ibrahim was highly responsive and supportive to all our questions and special request during the planning and coordination, which was quite last minute. Everything was planned (including multiple last minute multiple changes) perfectly according to our requests. Okuli our tourguide was amazing! From the very beginning, he picked us up on time, waiting for us outside the airport. During the tour he was extremely helpful, accomodating, friendly and communicative and was very knowledgable and had answers to all our questions. He always went out of his way to give us the best experiences and sightings and accomodated our needs. He always would inquire about our preferences for the itiniary and timeschedule and we were always well informed of the agenda. He was very well planned each day and punctual and always gave us the option to decide what we wanted to see and when we wanted to stop for breaks. He had impressive driving skills and navigating around in the parks went smoothly. He knew his way around very well and always knew the drive durations which made the time planning very smooth, according to plan, and very relaxed. Even for the last day he was extremely helpful and flexible to change the initial plan for the day on the evening before. On the last day he picked us up well on time and delivered us safely to the airport. Overall an amazing trip and Okuli was the best!
Diego R
Diego R
2023-09-25
Verified
Just incredible We did a 5 day safari trip plus a one day Kilimanjaro trekking and we cannot be happier, the experience was simply amazing and Ibrahim and its team organised it perfectly. It has been even more than expected; food was ok, accomodations were perfect, car was great. I strongly reccomend travelling with them!
David J
David J
2023-09-17
Verified
Amazing Kili Hike and Serengeti safari We had an amazing holiday with Afrishare - a combination of a 7 day Kilimajaro hike for myself and my 16 year old son, and then a 4 day safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater for the whole family after my wife and other son had flown out to join us. In all of it Afrishare organised everything perfectly, from the fundamentals of the hike and the safari through to all the interconnecting transfers. We made the decision to go with a local Tanzanian company rather than some big international tour operator, and do not regret that decision at all. Right from day one, Ibrahim and team were very responsive (do they ever sleep?!) answering my endless questions and tweaking the itinerary so it was exactly as we wanted. They then delivered. The Kili hike was the 7 day Machame route. The team taking us up were great, had all the required kit, and looked after us well. It was hard going but we made it to the summit and have amazing memories and sense of achievement. The safari in the Serengeti was amazing - we saw the big 5, including 46 lions in 2-3 days, and a cheetah and cubs a few metres away. Through it all our guide Kazi, was fantastic - really knowledgeable about the animals and conservation more widely, also good fun (which is important when you have 4 full days together!). I would definitely recommend Afrishare.
Laura S
Laura S
2023-08-08
Verified
Very happy with our safari experience and our guide Fredy! I found Afrishare on SafariBookings.com and it had a lot of good reviews so I decided to contact them via email since there were so many safari options to choose from. Ibrahim answered really fast and was very welcoming. At first I didn't know how many days we (me and my boyfriend) should book and which parks to visit but Ibrahim helped us a lot. We decided to go to Tarangire and Ngorongoro for 2-day private safari trip. We arrived to Arusha one day before and contacted our driver to give directions for pickup. Our guide Fredy arrived on time and was super nice. On the way to Tarangire Fredy informed us about everything we should know beforehand. We were a little worried how many (if any) animals we would see but Fredy calmed us down. A few minutes into exploring Tarangire we already encountered some zebras and impalas! Fredy told us interesting facts about every animal we saw. At the end of the day we had already seen elephants, giraffes, lions, a leopard(!!) and many others. We stayed the night at Ngare Lodge. It was very peaceful and nice. The second day started super early. Fredy told us that we should arrive early at Ngorongoro for best safari experience. And he was right! It took some time to drive up the rim and then into the crater but waking up at 5 am was totally worth it! He navigated the crater like a pro and knew exactly where the animals would be at that time of the day. After 2 days of safari we saw all Big5 and many more. After lunch we headed back and visited some local souvenir places. Fredy dropped us off at our hotel in Arusha. It was a short trip but totally worth the price! Thank you again, Fredy!
Charilena G
Charilena G
2023-08-04
Verified
Perfect everything was very organized. The drivers were very kind and helpful.the camp tent it was safe and clear
Jay K
Jay K
2023-07-01
Verified
MOSES is GOD Our first time safari experience with afrishare was fabulous. We were 4 and had 5 days safari tour including Tarangire, Serengeti and Ngorongo. It was such a great time that we couldn’t forget for the rest of our lives! Ibrahim was communicative responded quickly to our requests. Actually that was the main reason why we chose afrishare. Plus, all accommodation reservations were secure and the administrative procedures during the trip went smoothly. And I can’t forget to mention MOSES!! This guy was REALLY an expert. He was very supportive to make us to have the most comfortable time possible, and communicated with the other guides in every way to ensure that we didn't miss a single animal, while allocating the time efficiently. I think his long time experience in arranging the safari helped us to make all the schedule effective. His sense humor and good personality also made our trip enjoyable. I’d like to wrap up this short post with some pics. Thanks again to afrishare & MOSES the GOD!!! We really appreciate all of your effort during the trip. MOSES is afrishare. MOSES is Tanzania!!! ????????????
Cindy F
Cindy F
2023-06-23
Verified
Luxury Safari to Ngorongori, Serengeti, Tarangire National Parks We are on our last day of this Luxury Safari with AfriShare Treking and Safari, what a great trip! Excellent accommodations and our tour guide Mosses was 10 stars. He was so friendly and knowledgeable about every park we went to and every animal we saw!!! He located all the Big 5 and many more birds and animals, excellent time!!! When we return we will definitely book again through AfriShare as Ibrahim did a great job for us as well. Will also request Mosses as he was the best!!!!
PatrickPratt
PatrickPratt
2023-06-22
Verified
Everything we wanted and more! Our safari with Afrishare was nothing short of spectacular. I have done safaris in six other countries previously, and this one quickly rose to the top of my list. From customizing our itinerary to the bargain pricing, it was easy to choose. But we got so much out of it than we bargained for - comfortable accommodations, a top-notch guide (Rama!), and tons of animals (big 5 plus others). This was the first time for my sister and nephew to go on safari and I wanted to make sure they had the best experience possible - Afrishare delivered more than I could have asked for. So grateful for the kind, dedicated and professional staff at Afrishare for making it happen. Highly recommend booking with Afrishare for an exquisite experience. Thank you so much!

HI TALK TO US

We’re Most Trusted Local Tour Operator in Tanzania