A Guide to Wildebeest migration in Africa, the types of migration, best time to go, map, serengeti migration in Tanzania, Masai mara migration in Kenya, facts, distance, best time, Wildebeest safari tours in Africa and much more.
Why Do Wildebeests Migrate?
The wildebeest migrate in search for greener pastures. The great herd begins its journey in southern Serengeti National Park found in Tanzania and towards July to October, the herd crosses boarders into Kenya’s Masai Mara reserve as it searches for greener pastures, before later returning to Serengeti – making a continuous circular movement.
Known as one of the Natural phenomena in the world, the Annual Wildebeest Migration is a spectacular wildlife march that includes more than two million animals that traverse through the plain of the Serengeti ecosystem and the Masai Mara game reserve. It is massive, magical, indescribable and without doubt a must see! This is one of the largest natural animal movements in the world and the largest on the African content.
This grand journey from the south to the north spans nearly 3000 kilometers and is practically endless. Instead of having a beginning and finishing point, the Great wildebeest Migration steadily moves in a clockwise direction which makes tracking of the herd rather unpredictable.
This spectacle of Mother Nature is an amazing safari option for travelers passionate about nature and those interested in experiencing the true African.
During its course, the migrating herd crosses two main rivers which include River Grumeti and River Mara which is filled with several giant hungry crocodiles eagerly waiting to prey on them. This is among the highlights as well as the most dramatic occurrences along its route as the animals push through to make it on the other side of the river unharmed. Because the Masai Mara has one of the largest populations of lions on the continent, the herd will be hunted down by the numerous carnivores in the vicinity including hyenas and cheetahs.
The area in which the entire migration takes place is known as the Serengeti eco-system which wholesomely covers about 40,000 square kilometers in which the migration routes are. This includes a section of the Ngorongoro conservation area in the southern part and the renowned Serengeti National Park, together with a number of controlled areas and reserves (in Tanzania). In the north is the Masai Mara reserve of Kenya.
The annual migration of the million wildebeest herds cross the mara river. Visit Northern Tanzania and witness the migraiont of the wildebeests.
Wildebeest Migration Safari Cost in Africa
|Number of Persons
|8 Day Migration Safari
|Mid Range Lodges
|Tarangire, Serengeti, Ngorongoro & Arusha
|6 Days Wildebeest Migration
|Mid Range Lodges
|Northern Serengeti, Central Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha
|5 Days Tanzania Migration Safari
|Lake Manyara NP, Serengeti NP, Ngorongoro Highlands, Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha.
|4 Days Kenya Migration Safari Africa
|Mid range hotels / lodges
|Masai Mara National Park Kenya
The Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem
The wildebeest migration takes place within the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem which is a geographical area found within eastern Africa. It is located in the northern part of Tanzania extending into part of southwestern Kenya covering an area of approximately 30,000 square kilometers. this ecosystem comprises of the Serengeti National park, part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the south, Maswa Game Reserve as well as a couple of ‘controlled’ regions in the west, east and centre and then in the north is the Masai Mara Game Reserve.
Within the Serengeti ecosystem, is Serengeti National Park plus a couple of game reserves that are protected and maintained by the Tanzanian government. The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem hosts the largest land mammalian migration in the entire world making it one of the most popular wildlife destinations on any Safari in Africa.
The most prominent animal in this migrating herd is the white-bearded wildebeest (Connochaetes tuarinus mearnsi) with an estimated population of one million seven hundred thousand. in addition are about four hundred thousand Thomson’s Gazelles, about three hundred thousand zebras as well as twelve thousand elands. As they traverse the plains the encounter a number of other resident herbivores and carnivores within the respective wildlife habitats. Some of the predators that eagerly wait to feast on this moving ‘buffet ‘once it reaches their territory are: cheetahs, lions, leopards and hyenas.
According to scholars, scientists and experts who have closely followed, observed and research about this migrating herd, they have confirmed that there is no beginning or end to this movement, perhaps what could be considered as the beginning would be the calving (birth of the calves) and the end is the death. The animals move in a continuous sequence year after year searching for water and fresh pastures for survival.
The movement of this herd does not follow a constant pattern every year, for that reason, predictability of the exact location of the herd at a particular time of the year is not possible. So questions such as what is the best time of the year to view the migration will without a doubt receive different answers. According to the highly praised East African photographer as well as author Jonathan Scott, who over the past twenty five years has been writing and following the events of the Serengeti-Masai Mara Migration, you could spend your entire life in the Serengeti and Masai Mara waiting for the characteristic or distinct migration but not get it. He adds that the greater details of the movement of this herd are different each passing year a thing that defies all possibilities of prediction.
one would wonder what directs or inspires the movement of the herd, well, it assumed that perhaps the participants of the migration follow the weather and climate seasons within the ecosystem through which they march. Fortunately, several travel agents Great Migration safari, you will definitely be able to see the herd.
How Long Is The Wildebeest Migration?
One would wonder: what distance do these animals move during this migration every year? Well the wildebeest migration stretches over an area of about 26,000 square kilometers, and according to the made calculations, the straight-line travel distance of the Serengeti-migration is approximately six hundred kilometers (600 km). On the other hand, researchers have revealed that each animal travels approximately 2,000 kilometers each year with an average travel distance of five kilometers per day (5 km/day), however the longest travel distance ever observed and recorded is approximately 40 kilometers a day.
Wildebeest Migration Cycle and Seasons
The Birthing / Calving Season in Serengeti (January and February)
The best place we can start following the migration cycle is in the wet months of January and February when the wildebeests are giving birth or call it calving. This season sees about 300,000 – 400,000 new born calves produced within a duration of three to four weeks after a gestation period of eight and a half months. This happens in the short grass Serengeti plains within the southern-most part of the migration range spreading out into the northern part of the lower Ngorongoro crater highlands, as well as close to the Olduvai Gorge. In fact according to some of the wildebeest fossils excavated at the ‘cradle of mankind’, they have proved that for more than one million years these plains have been grazed by the wildebeests.
As the wildebeests are calving, the predators are very happy and greatly feasting. If you explored the plains, you will be able to notice several hundreds of hyenas, and numerous lions scattered all over the place. To an ordinary observer, the calving of wildebeest may seem a good turn for the predators, however the reality is having an excess of red wildebeest meat in such a very short time results into the preying carnivores getting satisfies and not in position to eat as much as they would if the birthing season had taken a longer duration. This implies that the predators make a very minimal impact on the number of calves born during this season. Actually, calves produced after this peak calving season stand fewer chances of surviving.
Unquestionably, it’s amazing to watch an animal give birth, but imagine how incredible it is watching thousands and thousands of wildebeest do so nearly at the same time! Remarkably, among all ungulates, a new born wildebeest acquires coordination fastest, taking about 2 to 3 minutes just after birth. At the age of five minutes a new born is able to run at the pace of the rest of the herd and even out run a number of predators in a couple of more minutes. Sadly a number of them (about one percent according to researchers) do not live to see their first birth day due to fatigue, disease or malnutrition. Most of the calves separate from their mothers each time the herd panic a thing that normally happens regularly, or during the crossing of rivers and other water streams. Over the following several days, the calves move about searching for their mothers grumbling and crying continuously. A few lucky ones have been able to re-unite (which is very rare), however, wildebeest cows do not adopt strange calves despite the fact that they may be lactating then. With time, such a calf weakens and becomes a quick victim for the anxiously watching predators like lions, jackals or hyenas.
March and April
Around March, the south grass plain in southern Serengeti can no longer sustain the herd, the wildebeest continue with their journey moving towards the woodlands in the west. One would wonder, why they don’t go east, well there are two possible answers: according to Harvey Croze an ecologist, behaviorist as well as co-author of the book ‘The Great Migration’ – the movement of the wildebeests is mainly determined by their reaction to weather; these animals pursue the rains (availability of water) and new grass for grazing. However, there isn’t any scientific evidence to prove that this is true but just like a number of other animals; these wildebeest react to thunderstorms as well as lighting. Nonetheless, it’s assumed to be inborn knowledge engraved deep within the DNA that makes these animals naturally select the direction to follow along their route. It’s in fact assumed that perhaps the wildebeests that followed the wrong direction could have died of starvation and thirst before reproducing, and those that made it along the correct path managed to produce the different wildebeest generations down to hose we see today.
The herd which was scattered across the southern plains marches on westwards towards lakes Lagarja, Ndutu and Masek with their greatest need being water. The herd feeds and fattens as it enjoys the numerous water sources in that area. They scatter across the western section and before long the first rains in the north start falling and show signs of thunderstorm. Occasionally the herd may begin following the signs but return back to the west and enjoy the pasture there.
From the plains around Olduvai the herds head west towards the trio of small lakes, Ndutu, Masek and Lagarja. At this time their biggest need is usually to find water, and these more westerly areas can provide it. Still feeding and fattening on the nutritious short grass the herds scatter widely across the plains, shifting on a whim in response to factors beyond our knowledge. On any given day they’ll be spread out in their tens and hundreds of thousands across the expansive plains west of Ndutu, the next they’ll be gone. By now the first downpours of the long rains will be falling, and the wildebeest will canter across the plains towards the distant thunderstorms, frequently returning a day or two later if the promise did not match the reality.
May to June – the mating season / Rut
With the rains coming in, the migrating hers proceeds northwest marching past the granite rock outcrops in Simba as well as the Moru kojpies all the way into the forests on the hilly countryside west of Central Serengeti (the Seronera) towards the freshwater lake – Lake Victoria. At this time most of the wildebeest cows are sexually excited on heat or call it the annual rut. it is here within the western corridor of Serengeti that majority of the cow are mated in a duration of less than four weeks. It’s alleged that the peak of the mating season is mostly influenced by the moon which at the time is a full moon. The full moon offers adequate light to keep the animals active.
During this season, here will be common sightings of dominant males fighting for territorial dominancy although the level of violence is very little resulting into minimal injuries. Interestingly despite these fights, the males don’t have much say regarding to the choice of mates since it’s the females that make the choice.
Crossing into Kenya’s Masai Mara (July to September)
At this time of the year, the herd departs from the western corridor of Serengeti and begins entering the Masai Mara Game reserve in Kenya as it follows the rains. During this route, their path is cross cut by rivers like the Grumeti and Mbalangeti as they leave the Serengeti. During most of the year, these rivers are not so challenging to cross, however when the amount of rainfall increases, their volumes as well swell up presenting very hard obstacles. Actually these rivers as well as the few lakes in Southern Serengeti are a terrifying huddle to the wildebeest not only because they fear water, but also because of the predators which normally hide in the water mashes that live within them.
These however, do not stop the natural instinct of the migrating herd to follow a particular direction. when you analyze the small southern lakes of Ndutu, Lagarja as well as Masek, they are only a few kilometers wide which implies they can be walked around, however the wildebeests of several generation ago managed to cross these lake and make it to the other side, so by natural selection, these as well do the same.
Alan Root a renowned film maker well described a unique occurrence that he witnessed while observing the herd cross Lake Lagarja; in his documentary dubbed as ‘the Year of the Wildebeest’. He showed how part of the herd with cows that had been separated from their calves had turned back to search for their calves by going back into the lake and swimming back to the other side. Still not finding them, they returned into the lake and swum to the other side.
This went on for seven consecutive days, not until the number of wildebeests arriving on the lake shores increased and forced the saddened cows to move forward with the rest of the herd. Sadly, thousands of wildebeests did not make it beyond that lake. Along this annual trail such tragedies do happen, however the death impacts affects just a very small fraction of the very large herd. In fact scientists say that if it wasn’t for such natural deaths, the population of wildebeests would grow beyond control.
Eventually, the wildebeests make it to the banks of river Mara found within the Masi Mara reserve in Kenya. There they gather up and wait for a number of days as they wait to cross over to the other side. During that time, they move to the edge of the water but instead of crossing choose to turn back and wander around the nearby plains. After sometimes, the wildebeests choose a number of shallow spot there they will cross from. Actually these crossing spots keep on varying each year so you can never predict. Normally they pick an area that is a bit easy going with not so many predators as well as free from water vegetation in which predators normally hide.
The vicious hungry crocodiles in the water do not stop them, but rather push on with the movement with their genetically imprinted instinct driving them on.
The Predators in Masai Mara
when the herd makes its way into the Masai Mara, it spend a number of months feeding on the fresh pastures as well as the plentiful water which causes them to fatten again. The scatter across all these land and something extraordinary about them is their ability to continuously find good grazing areas. With evolution, their physiology has been made in such a way that they can move long distances pretty fast economically – they can actually use the same amount of energy to over a distance similar to that they would have used to tramp over a distance at a walking pace. interestingly, through all the stages of their lifestyles, wildebeests have evolved a fast paced life to save time, such that they mate while moving and their newborns can be up and running in as few as five minutes from the time they are birthed.
Despite the fact that these animals migrate to satisfy their hunger needs, the fact that they are always moving works to their advantage because that way they are able to outmarch the numerous predators living in the wildlife sanctuaries through which the pass. because most predators are territorial and they can’t invade other animals territories ore even abandons theirs, they are unable to chase after the migrating herd for a very long distance. worst of all, for most of them, their young are mostly dependent on their mothers so they cant leave them behind.
October to December – return to Serengeti
Towards the end of October the short rains in Serengeti begin. These fill up the seasonal water holes and the plains come to life yet again with short spouting grass. These attract the attention of the wildebeests and before long they cross back to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, trekking through the eastern forests in tight groups with nearly ninety percent (90%) of the cow heavily pregnant. once they reach the Serengeti open plains with short grass, they scatter yet again across the southern area. the cycle repeats its self yet again.
What is the significance of the Great Wildebeest Migration?
The Importance of the Great Wildebeest Migration
If we are to analyze this amazing Phenomena wildlife journey we shall zero down to two main importances which are economical and ecological significance.
Ecological significance: Looking at the ecological point of view the migration directly influences the population of predators and other wildlife as well as the availability of grass and water as food resources.
Economic significance: each year, this migration attracts very many tourists into Tanzania and Kenya, in so doing contributing largely to the national economies of these two countries. Analyzing the Serengeti National Park alone, close to 1450,000 people visit the park just to see this phenomena spectacle that includes over two million animals marching in unison. These countries have been able to generate billions and billions of US dollars which have boosted the health, infrastructure, education and several other sectors for the well being of the local people. So anything factors that will affect this wildlife migration or even their habitat, will certainly affect the economy of these nations.
Best Place To See Wildebeest Migration, Masai Mara Kenya vs Tanzania Serengeti
More than two million animals join in the great wildebeest migration every year in a ‘circular’ movement as they match from the southern part of Serengeti ecosystem found in Tanzania and head north to the Masai Mara Reserve found in Kenya. One would wonder, ‘what drives this natural phenomena’ which in fact is assumed to be the most spectacular on the entire planet. Well the animals are basically driven by utmost instinct!
This epic long journey that sees the large herd cross thousands of miles across different landscapes is endless moving in a continuous cycle year after year. The great herd is mainly comprised of close to two million wildebeests, in addition to Thompson’s gazelles and zebras plus several herbivores like lions and hyenas which trail to prey on the herd.
Many holidaymakers interested in watching this great match commonly ask what is the best destination to watch the migration; Is it Serengeti in Tanzania, or the Masai Mara in Kenya? To be honest, this question does not have a straight forward answer. There are a number of factors examine as we analyze the Masai Mara and the Serengeti
- Similar ecosystem and landscape, but different geographical sizes
To begin with, we shall look at the geographical size of these two destinations. The Masai Mara covers 1,510 square kilometers whereas the Serengeti ecosystem is overwhelmingly large covering about 30,000 square kilometers. The two are much alike when we look at their landscape especially as they join at River Mara. Whereas many think that the Serengeti is an arid barren grass-land (which is wrong), these vast land is made up of transformative landscapes primarily determined by the rains. These include: flat areas, verdant grassy vegetation, golden savannah, small patches of rocky outcrops (kopjes), lakes, wild flower areas especially in the rainy months as well as dense forest. So basing on the part of Serengeti you will discover that the landscape of these vast lands have several dynamics as well as a number of impressive resources not just the wildlife.
The most identical and important geographical characteristics between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti are the river systems. You will actually discover the further north of the Serengeti you go; the more identical it is with the Masai Mara reserve in Kenya which has a more rolling landscape and trees.
- The Unavoidable Rivers of Life or Death
although there are a number of water sources that flow through these two wildlife habitats, among them all River Grumeti found in the Serengeti as well as river Mara which is shared by the two are the most outstanding as they are of great importance in the survival of this large herd. Despite the fact that they are a great source of water to the animals, they are also a very big unavoidable obstacle in the herd’s movement considering the fact that they are greatly swarmed with a several hungry crocodiles which early wait to feast on the crossing animals. Actually the river crossings are the most dramatic sessions of this migration. You will see an emotion of fury as the animals thrush swim and rush through the river waters to make it across to the soils rich in minerals as well as the fresh pastures.
The first point of river crossing is in Serengeti at River Grumeti, and then when the herd is in the Masai Mara, the animas move all over the place back and forth searching for pastures crossing River Mara several times before returning south into Serengeti to search for better pastures.
The crossing normally takes place between the month of June and September, when the herd faces the highest risk as the stalking predators are also catching up with them. So I you can catch up with a river crossing irrespective of which wildlife reserve you will be in, that will be the best time to take your safari to see the Great Wildebeest Migration. September is the best time to watch the crossing on River Mara whereas June is the best month of seeing the River Grumeti River crossing.
- The other animals that rally along
The migration which is dominated by wildebeests also sees zebras, Thompson’s gazelles and elands joining in the march; however these are in smaller numbers. Consequently this large mass of herbivores attracts several predators including lions, jackals, Cheetahs, wild dogs, leopards and hyenas all aiming to feast on the herd. These predators usually remain within their territory and only wait for the herd to arrive to that they get a potion of this moving ‘buffet’.
Both the Serengeti and the Masai Mara have resident animals that live within their boundaries permanently, so during your safari you will encounter a number of them such as the giraffes, black and white rhinos, warthogs, Elephants, in addition to several other savanna animals, birds as well will be seen as you explore the parks.
- Two seasons in two countries
Serengeti Wet season –The Wildebeest Calving season: Within Serengeti, the months of January, February and March are tabbed as the wet season since the park is receiving rainfall. At that time, the herd is in the southern part of the park and in fact, hundreds of thousands of wildebeests as well as some other plain animals are giving birth. this is known as the Calving Season, and nearly two hundred thousand (200,000) wildebeest calves are produced. The vast Serengeti plains become rich with fresh pastures and beautiful flowers as a result of the rains. These months are perfect for those looking for discounted Great Migration safaris as most accommodations have discounted their rates.
Serengeti Dry season – Best Game Views: Between July and September, the rainfall totally stops, the vegetation thins, and the herd migrates northwards into Kenya’s Masai Mara. The drying out vegetation cover makes it easier to see the migrating herd as well as the predators a reason to why this is referred to as the best time for viewing the herd. As a result, the herd becomes extremely exposed to the predators so there are several chances that you will see a kill. Because majority of the water sources have dried out, you will also enjoy views of several animals swarmed around waterholes found around lodges or camps.
- Accommodation and the Experience
Any holidaymaker can testify that what one of the factors that make one safari destination more enjoyable and attractive than another is the seasonality. This also goes for the lodges and camps found along the migration routes. The experience and exclusivity varies depending on location, the safari activities as well as the level of comfort and luxury.
How To Book Your Great Wildebeest Migration Africa Safari
So as to better enjoy all the glory and drama of the Great Wildebeest Migration, there are a number of questions that need answers that I know that could be lingering in your mind about this mystical movement. Well below we have brought you some of the commonly asked questions about the annual wildebeest migration properly answered to help you properly pla and go for this adventure with your mind at peace.
How long should the safari to see the wildebeest migration be?
The minimum amount of time should be at least 7 days for a rewarding and better wildlife experience. Nonetheless, your safari budget will dictate on the duration of your stay. The most important thing to note is that the longer you spend on your safari the more chances you have to witness the migrating herd. In reality everyone would love to stay for as long as possible, however, don’t strain beyond what you can afford. Always speak to tour travel agent to help you get accommodation that suits within you budget so as to extend the duration of your holiday.
Is it better to safari in Serengeti or in the Masai Mara to see the wildebeest migration?
Well this will depend on the time of the year you want to make your safari in comparison to where the migrating herd will be in the eco-system. Secondly, Tanzania’s Serengeti covers 90% of the eco-system in which this herd moves, but it only has very few accommodation facilities (about 10%). on the other hand, the Masai Mara in Kenya covers just 10% of the ecosystem although it has numerous accommodation facilities (90%).
depending on the time of the year, the herd may be on the Kenyan side of river Mara, or on the Tanzania side of the river, however each year from late July to October, a large number of wildebeests moves into the Masai Mara, so we advise the you combine a stay in the Masai Mara with the Serengeti especially starting towards the end of July to October by booking accommodation in both wildlife sanctuaries.
Where should I visit first, the Masai Mara or Serengeti?
Most people recommend that you visit the side on Serengeti firs, and then the Masai Mara to enable you see the first dramatic river crossing which happens from late July all through to the finish of August. However, you may decide to switch this around to the finish of the season as the herd begins returning back in either October or November to enable you move in the same direction as the herd.
Do the game parks become overcrowded during the migration time?
Truthfully, it will depend on the months you will be taking your safari. A number of holidaymakers prefer visiting from February to March which is the calving season, whereas others prefer from June to Mid-July when the herd is crossing River Grumeti. Between August and October, the herd is crossing River Mara, and so you will still find some people who prefer visiting during that time. So the crowds are without doubt there but what you should keep in mind is that there as many people as the accommodation can provide for. Because most accommodation facilities are within Mara, your choice of accommodation will determine on whether you will have some quite and privacy on your stay.
What is the cost of a safari to see the Great Migration?
The total cost of your safari will be determined by just a few number of factors such as: the type of accommodation you will be staying in (luxury, mid-range, or budget), and the duration of our safari. The longer the safari the more money you will have to pay for the safari vehicle, safari guide, and accommodation to mention but a few. The best tip I can offer you here is to avoid the peak season, to cut down costs.
Can I get accommodation that is close to the migration?
It is very possible since there are a number of known particular areas along the routes where the herd passes to get water. This infact make it’s a bit fairly predictable where the herd will be at different times of the year. In Serengeti during the calving season, the hard barely moves so views within this area are more guaranteed. It’s for that reason that I recommend you speak to you travel agent and make your reservation for accommodation much easier since accommodation facilities in such places get booked up early.
What other wildlife can be seen during the migration safari besides the wildebeests?
The Annual wildebeest migration being some sort of repetitive movement year after year means that there are a number of different animals that take part in this movement. Although the largest numbers of animals involved are the wildebeests, grazers such as zebras, elands as well as Thomson’s gazelles join in this migration. Naturally this large herd attracts several carnivores including lions, wild dogs, hyenas, crocodiles, leopards as well as cheetahs. As you explore the vast plain following the herd, you are likely to see some other resident animals such as rhinos, giraffes, buffaloes as well as elephants.
Does the migration begin or end?
According to scholars, scientists and experts who have closely followed, observed and research about this migrating herd, they have confirmed that there is no beginning or end to this movement, perhaps what could be considered as the beginning would be the calving (birth of the calves) and the end is the death. The animals move in a continuous sequence year after year searching for water and fresh pastures for survival.
This phenomena Migration does not start or end, it is just that there are particular times of the year as well as specific locations where it is easier to see the herd in big numbers. It is from late July and then after that the herd enters into the Masai Mara, and then between end of October and November, it returns into the Serengeti. What you should have at the back of your mind is that this herd is migrating all year round.
At what pace does the migrating herd move?
Having understood that all year round these animals are on the move, the next thing one would wonder is how fast or slow are they moving? Well the pace of their movement is determined by the availability of fresh grass and water which above all are determined by the changes in climate or season.
Is it better to go on a private safari or join a group safari?
A group or scheduled safari is fine when the herds are on the southern plains because the route only goes as far as the central Serengeti and sometimes up to Lobo or the Grumeti River. No scheduled safari would go to the Mara River on the Tanzanian side. In order to see crossings in the Serengeti you would have to fly there or go on a private safari.
Well, taking a private safari caters to your personal needs and is more flexible whereas a group safari which is normally preplanned follows the need of the majority among the group. Secondly, taking a private safari offers you a personal safari experience whereas a group safari will grant you a chance to interact and share your experience with others on that safari.
In Tanzania you can actually join these group safaris while the herd is in the southern plains as the route go to central Serengeti and at times extends as far as River Grumeti or Lobo. if you wish to see the river crossing on River Mara, we recommend that you take private safaris or simply fly there.
Are there scenic flights arranged over the great migration?
Yes there are scenic flights organized over the migrating herd. There are hot air balloon flights as well as helicopter flights however, these require prior reservation. during some times of the year, the balloons soar close to the herd, for instance from the start of August until the finish of September would be a great time to take a balloon safari in the Mara, whereas in the month of June, them December and January, hot air balloon safari in central Serengeti will reward you with amazing views. When it comes to late June all through to July, you will be able to catch views of the herd in the western Serengeti-Corridor.
Is it safe to stay in mobile tents or tented camps on your safari to see the migration?
Yes, staying in tented camps or mobile tents is very safe. Despite the fact that they are out in the wilderness this doesn’t in anyway compromise the quality of their good services and operations. As of to date, no reports on incidents of wild animals attacking tourists staying in the parks have been published
In fact the reason why you are always told to remain in your vehicles while on a game drive is because the wild animals basically see structures and not people. The animals notice the bigger structure of the vehicle than the smaller individuals inside however once you move out the animals will be able to notice you an attack.
What other activities can I combine the migration safari with?
There are several amazing activities available to combine of your safari after watching the great herd and these include: taking a beach holiday on Zanzibar Island, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, or taking a balloon safari in the Serengeti. you can also visit any of the other game parks in the respective countries such as the Ngorongoro Crate, Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara NP, or choose to explore the other areas of the Masai Mara or Serengeti that are not along the migration route.
What vaccinations do I need before taking a safari to East Africa?
Generally, the most recommended vaccinations for foreigners visiting East Africa are the yellow fever vaccine and taking malaria prophylactics
What is the best time to see the Great Migration when on small budget?
I recommend that you visit during the calving time which starts around January towards the end of March. Because it is a rainy season at the time (and an off-peak tourist season) majority of the accommodations offer good discounts
Does taking a migration safari guarantee sightings?
Yes for sure, however, the time of the year you decide to visit will determine the size of the herd you will be able to see. So it is very important that you discuss at depth with your tour agent regarding the best time of the year to visit as well as where the herd will be since most of them use some applications to track the movement of the animals.
Accommodation / Where to stay on Your Migration Safari
From the month of July to towards the end of October, holidaymakers can enjoy views of the Great Wildebeest Migration while the herd is in the Masai Mara National Reserve found in south western Kenya. During this time there are several millions of animals in this reserve including wildebeests, Thompson’s Gazelles as well as zebras which take in the long march all the way from the Southern Serengeti plains found in Tanzania. This is one of the most spectacular and the largest natural mammalian movements on land across the entire planet. We bring you some of the most recommended accommodation options for those interested in watching this amazing movement
Top Accommodations to stay during the Great Migration in Kenya
Kenya is home to a very large spectrum of accommodation options that travelers can stay in during this adventure. These range from the super luxury facilities, to the mid-range priced facilities and then the budget. Below we have highlighted them out for you as a guide to help you when booking your Safari.
Royal Mara Safari Lodge
the Royal Mara Safari Lodge is located right on the route used the large herd of the Great Wildebeest Migration close to two main points that the wildebeest use while crossing River Mara. It is also not far from the Hippo Bend Lagoon which is a popularly visited place where a very large number of animals in the migrating herd congregate to drink water. The lodge offers eight (8) beautifully constructed suites that offer uninterrupted views of the river. Special about the Roya Mara Safari Lodge is that it properly blends a standard tented safari-cam with the amenities, comfort and exclusivity of a lodge
Kichwa Tembo Camp
For an out-of-Africa experience, spend nights at the Kichwa Tembo Camp which is situated in the middle of the Masai Mara Game Reserve. It offers forty (40) tented luxury camps and it is the best place to be for travelers visiting the Mara for the first time. This place became popular after Meryl Streep and Robert Redford stayed there as they were shooting the film ‘Out of Africa’. this beautiful camp offers an exquisite restaurant manned by a very professional chef, a good and clean swimming pool as well as specialist guides with numerous years of experience and well trained to offer guests the most memorable and rewarding experience during their stay.
Little Governor’s Camp
This amazing camp offers seventeen (17) luxury en-suite tented camps pitched around a huge water hole, and will offer you the intimate getaway. The Little Governor’s camp offers very breathtaking views of wildlife right outside the door step of your tent. Have undergone some recent refurbishments, each tent has a private raised wooden deck with an expansive verandah. The camp can be accessible by a motor boat on river Mara and then a short walk through the Riverine forest escorted by the camp guides.
Mara Serena Safari Lodge
Located high on a bushy hill, the Mara Serengeti Safar Lodge offers one of the finest accommodation facilities you can enjoy views of the Great wildebeest migration. it includes seventy four (74) well furnish beautiful rooms each with a finishing touch of the traditional Maasai decoration. There is a well stocked bar, a restaurants offering a good menu as well as a very well maintained swimming pool. Its location up on top of the hill offers sweeping views of the nearby Savanna as well River Mara below filled with numerous hippos and crocodiles. Its location offers it a frontal focal position to one of the most remarkable wildlife grounds in the world.
Kicheche Mara Camp
Tucked within a valley of acacia and overlooking Olare Orok Stream, the Kicheche Mara Camp offers eight (8) luxury executive tents pitched in a beautiful serene environment. This accommodation facility is best known for its delicious food and amazing yet very professional guides. It is commonly visited by photographs (and popular as a photographers‘ paradise) especially during the season of the Great Wildebeest Migration.
Which permanent and Mobile camps to stay in for an August safari?
The month of August is among the best time to watch the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti. This is because at this time, the herd is going through the peak river crossing of River Mara (don’t forget River Mara crosses both Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya). At the start of August, the main herd begins to approach and it’s without a doubt that you certainly see some explosive and dramatic crossing similar to that in July. The first herd to cross will face the hungry crocodiles that will be waiting for them eagerly in the river, so the wildebeests will be falling right, left, center and tramping on each other.
Where is the herd in August?
In August, the migrating herd is up north, between Kogatende and Lamai Wedge crossing River Mara River. It is the peak catching sight of the wildebeests crossing the river because at that time they have made it to the Kogatende area. The earlier faction of the herd arrives in this area in July and lingers around this area as well as within the Masai Mara, through August until October. During these months there are river crossings nearly each day as it is simply an instance of patiently waiting for the wildebeests to decide to cross-the river. Getting to see a river crossing sometimes comes with luck as sometimes you may spend hours watching the herd on the river bank and it chooses not to cross but rather linger around.
Below are the different permanent camps and the mobile camps you can stay at during your stay. Tanzania offers a variety of accommodation facilities ranging from the luxury, mid-range and budget.
Permanent tented camps in Serengeti
- Sayari Camp
The Sayari camp is situated within the Kogatende area in Serengeti’s northern area. Sayari camp offers a marvelous luxurious retirement making it very much loved among couples on honeymoon. This permanent tented camp which is an old-school luxury accommodation safari option is found near the Mara’s river bank which wards it with interrupted views of the wildebeest river crossing.
It has well furnished spacious sleeping tents pitched on elevated wooden platforms that offer an enhanced feeling of safety and an impressive contrast to the ordinary mobile tents. The tents are well equipped and beautifully designed with en-suite bathroom facilities including a bathtub and a shower. The main area is has very comfortable sofas in which guests can unwind at the end of their day’s adventure out in the park
- Nomad Lamai Serengeti
Located on the top of a popular Kopje, this tented camp is hidden to an ordinary observer and prides in one of the most natural beautiful landscapes in the region. Found close to the Sayari, the Nomad Lamai is great place to see the river crossing during the Wildebeest Migration from July to October while on a Serengeti safari. It’s located in the northern most Serengeti area and its tents are scattered among a number of boulders looking over the beautiful Lamai Wedge. It has a restaurant and a main communal guest area. The rooms have been finished with a luxury homely design to offer its guests a comfortable cozy stay there is a well maintain swimming pool perfect to cool off at the end of your morning adventure out in the park. . The staff here are very welcoming, hospitable and extremely helpful, and worth mention are the amazing guide who will lead you on an expedition in the park.
The rooms are built around the main area while those on the higher elevation offer even better views. They are spacious, luxurious and environmentally friendly. Each is fitted with a large bed with clean fresh linen. The balconies are large enough you to relax as you catch up on your favorite book, or sip you nice drink
Mobile camps in the northern Serengeti
This is a semi-permanent mobile camp operating within the Serengeti ecosystem. the word ‘Chaka’ in the local Swahili language means ‘bush’ a thing that best explains the authentic, intimate bush experience your will receive right within the centre of Serengeti. This camps moves two times each year to enable guests be appropriately placed to enjoy the best views of the wildebeest migration. From late may to the end of October the camp itches in northern Serengeti while from December to end of March it is found in Ndutu area south of Serengeti close to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. while in northern Serengeti, the tent is pitched close to river Mara offering guests quick access to the different points where the animals cross the river.
Because of its mobile nature, it offers just eight (8) tented camps which are somewhat basic as compared to other luxury permanent camps. It offers safari-bucket showers and flush toilets as well as a spacious private verandah on each tent where you can comfortably enjoy the sweeping views of the Serengeti. A small bar, a dining area and library are also available in separate tents. Some of the specials offered by Chaka are the impressive intimate bush dinners under a starlit sky.
The Ubuntu is a mobile tented-camp found in the Northern section of the Serengeti National Park within Tanzania. The small camp follows the migration which guarantees good wildlife vies, not to forget the excellent level of services offered by the hospitable team of staff. From June to November, the camp is pitched in northern Serengeti while from December to March it is in Ndutu area. The camp has been given a splendid touch of decoration to offer its guests the perfect balance of luxury and an African safari experience. It has a common area with a bar and open lounge where guests can unwind after their adventure in the park as they enjoy views overlooking the plains. The dining area is also made using canvas offering an African bush sensation.
The camp offers six (6) canvas tents have a large sleeping area plus a number of en-suit facilities. The bathrooms have a shower bag as well as a flush toilet
The Kimondo mobile camp follows the Great Migration from South to North. From the month of June to October, the camp is in the northern side of the River Mara, and one of the advantages of staying here is that there are less tourist vehicles which offer less crowded wildlife views. Its only fifteen minutes drive to the river banks. There are eight (8) tented rooms offering averagely luxury mobile tents. Each of these comes with a spacious sleeping area, flush toilet, bathroom and sink. The communal main area has a dining area where the chef treats his quests to very scrumptious dishes. There is also an open longue to sit and unwind as you enjoy the nature breeze
- Serengeti under Canvas
This is among the top luxury mobile tented camps within Serengeti. The camp tracks the movement of the migrating herd. This intimate small camp offers bucket showers that reward travelers with the ultimate African bush experience. The main dining tent is surrounded by six (6) sleeping tents each of these beautifully completed with nice African décor. There is a sizeable bed with clean linen, en-suit bathrooms and a chandelier to crown it all. Guests can access wifi, right in the comfort of their rooms.
- Olakira Asilia’s Camp
The Olakira is another amazing mobile camp within the Serengeti following the migration twice each year. From of the month of December to March, its n Ndutu plains and then from July it’s pitched up in northern Serengeti. During your stay here, you will be guaranteed with rewarding views of the migrating animals, very delicious food and comfort. This is the only camp where guests can enjoy views of the animals crossing right in the comfort of your private verandah. Although rural, it offers a very luxurious experience in each of its eight (8) personalized accommodation tents.
- Alex Walker’s Serian
well, are you looking forward to scrumptious food, hospitable timely service as well as a classic stylish way to spend your safari, well the Alex Walker’s Serian is the place to be. you will be assigned a private vehicle with an experienced well trained guide.