GREAT WILDEBEEST MIGRATION
The Great Wildebeest Migration – The annual migration of giant herds of grazers across Northern Tanzania and Kenya is truly a spectacular event. Over two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles move in a regular pattern through the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in search of green pasture. This is surely one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.
You can see the Great Migration in Tanzania all year round – The herds migrate in a circular motion around the Serengeti National Park and as such it is an ongoing event. Below we will dissect where the herds usually are at different times of the year.
The Great Wildebeest Migration is rarely in the Masai Mara in Kenya; the herds tend to venture there as an extension of their grazing lands in the northern point of Tanzania if they need fresh pastures. You can only find the migration in Kenya during a few months of the year when they head towards the border, and even then, most of the herds are still mulling around the northern parts of the Serengeti.
The best times to visit The Wildebeest in East Africa
July – October: This is when the wildebeest are in the northern Serengeti plains, and you have a chance to see thousands crossing the great Mara River. At this time of year the sight of the wildebeest crossing is so dramatic, it is considered by many to be the most desirable time to see the migration.
December – March: At this time, the wildebeest are in the southern area of the Serengeti, more specifically in Ndutu which is actually in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This time of year is also calving season. Along with the river crossings, this time is the real highlight of the wildebeest’s journey and a fabulous time to see the herds congregate on the dramatic sweeping plains of the south. February is the only time of year when you are almost guaranteed to see the big herds all together as they always come south during calving season.
The rest of the year: In November, April, May and June the migration is “in between” locations and as such these months are slightly transitional times to see the herds. November is the short rain season, April and May are the long rain season. The grass is green during these months across the Serengeti, so the wildebeest are more dispersed than in the prime time of July to October and December to March. Hence, you don’t get as many of those condensed big herds which people get excited about!
Although we try to be as comprehensive as possible, something that is quite difficult to express on paper is a lot easier to explain over the phone. Please do give us a call for a simple overview of the Migration’s route.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why does the Great Migration occur & why do the Wildebeest Migrate?
The 800 kilometer trek of the immense wildebeest herd is the largest mammal migration on earth. The timing of the migration coincides with greening of nutritious grass on the short-grass plains during the wet season. These areas are safer because predators can be easily spotted making them ideal places for calving. When the plains dry the wildebeest are forced to move in search of greener pastures in the western corridor. The northern extension of the ecosystem has the highest rainfall, but the grass is less nutritious. This area is a retreat for the wildebeests, at least until the south becomes green again. The result is a clockwise movement from the south, west, north, and back to the south.
When to visit?
If you would like to plan your Serengeti safari around the Great Migration, chances that you will be at the exact spot of the Great Migration herd crossing a river (either at the Grumeti or Mara River) are very slim. Also, the timing of herd movements cannot be guaranteed. However, if you choose the right part of the Serengeti: the southeast and Ndutu from December to May, the Western Corridor from May to July, the Serengeti Mara area from July to October, and the northern Serengeti and Lobo area in October and November, large herds of wildebeest and their entourage can be easily located.
Where Should I Stay & For How Long?
There are well-located camps and lodges in Serengeti including semi-permanent mobile tented camps set up specifically for the river crossing season. We suggest a minimum of three nights at a camp to gain the most out of the experience. As it is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for most people another popular combination is two nights at a river-crossing camp and two nights at a private Mara Conservancy for a different wildlife focus and far fewer visitors.
Is it better to do Hot air ballooning to see the Great Migration?
The best option to see the Great Migration with its innumerable wildebeest and zebras would be to book a hot air balloon flight in the Ndutu area as large herds congregate there between December and March. The other locations may also allow you to see the Great Migration from above, but please remember the herd is mobile and may only be in a particular area for a brief period, if not just a couple of days. This means that some luck needs to be on your side.
What’s the Serengeti hot air balloon flight price?
A Serengeti balloon flight costs US$ 550 per person This includes the Tanapa ballooning fee of US$ 40, transfers to and from your lodge or camp to the departure site, and landing site, the balloon flight itself, and a champagne breakfast (after landing). The flight will last anywhere from 50 to 70 minutes. The breakfast site will be set up at a different location daily depending on the landing site. You will share the balloon flight with other passengers to a maximum of 16 persons.
Why is a balloon safari so expensive?
Balloon flights are expensive to operate, especially in remote areas such as Serengeti National Park. For maximum efficiency and safety, balloons need to be in top condition and need to be replaced after approximately 850 flight hours. One balloon costs more than US$ 100,000. One also needs to consider the cost of fuel and crew to operate the balloon flight. Each crew comprises of six people plus a pilot. A further ten people (per balloon) operate behind the scenes to get the balloon airborne. So this adds up to a considerable number of people employed for each flight. Additionally, there are recovery vehicles, transfer vehicles, and backup operations. Lastly, a substantial part of the total price is allocated to conservation fees.
We hope you have found this information useful and will consider Mangokili Adventures for your next travel adventure in Tanzania. Still have questions? Or maybe you would like specific information about the different types of accommodations? Please use the contact form and we will happy to get back to you without delay.