The Great Wildebeest Migration(Masai Mara & Serengeti)

The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most extraordinary natural spectacles on Earth, often referred to as “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It is an annual migration of over 2 million wildebeest, accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, across the vast plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Maasai Mara in Kenya. This massive movement of animals in search of fresh grazing and water is driven by the seasonal rains and provides some of the most dramatic wildlife experiences on the planet.

What is the best time to see the Great Wildebeest Migration?

The Great Migration is a continuous, year-round journey that follows a roughly circular pattern influenced by the seasonal rains and the availability of grass. The cycle can be broken down into several key stages, each offering unique sights and experiences.

January to March: Calving Season

  • Location: Southern Serengeti, Ndutu Region
  • Highlights: During these months, the herds gather in the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This period is marked by the birth of around 500,000 wildebeest calves within a span of a few weeks. The abundance of newborns attracts predators such as lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and leopards, leading to intense predator-prey interactions.

Experience: Visitors can witness the dramatic scenes of newborn calves taking their first steps and the constant vigilance of mothers protecting their young from predators.

April to May: The Long Rains and Migration North

  • Location: Moving northwards through the central Serengeti
  • Highlights: As the long rains begin, the herds start to move north towards the central Serengeti. The lush green landscape during this time provides a striking contrast to the dry season.
  • Experience: Game drives through the central Serengeti offer the chance to see large concentrations of wildebeest and zebras, as well as the predators that follow them.

June to July: Grumeti River Crossings

  • Location: Western Corridor and Grumeti River
  • Highlights: The herds reach the Grumeti River, which presents the first major obstacle in their journey. The river crossings are perilous due to the presence of large Nile crocodiles lying in wait for a meal.
  • Experience: Witnessing a Grumeti River crossing is a thrilling and dramatic spectacle, with the tension heightened by the presence of lurking predators.

July to October: Mara River Crossings

  • Location: Northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara
  • Highlights: The most famous and dramatic stage of the migration occurs at the Mara River in the northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara. The river crossings are chaotic and dangerous, with many animals succumbing to the strong currents and predators.
  • Experience: The sight of thousands of animals braving the river’s treacherous waters is a highlight of any safari. Observers can also enjoy the rich wildlife diversity of the Maasai Mara during this period.

November to December: The Return South

  • Location: Southern return to the Serengeti
  • Highlights: Following the short rains in November, the herds start their journey back south towards the southern Serengeti, completing the migration cycle.
  • Experience: This period offers excellent game viewing in the central and eastern Serengeti, with opportunities to see the herds in motion and the predators that follow them.
    the great wildebeest Migration along the Mara River-7 Days Rwanda Gorilla trekking & Maasai Mara safari

What Type of Pastures Does The Wildebeest Look For ?

The search for the nutritious pastures plus water is the key reason, for this tremendous migration. The grasses on the plains have the highest concentration of protein & calcium content.

The great wildebeest migration involves is made up of 3  migrant grazing groups which feed on different types of grasses, with the first on feeding on tallest grass, the middle size taking up the medium sized grass, and the last one finally summarizes the short grasses to the ground respectively.

How Do The Wildebeests Find Their Way Annually?

It is unpredictable how the wildebeest know which path to take, yet it is also believed the positive response to weather is the key determinant of their journey, although it is not scientifically proven. While others believe that the animals react to lightning and thunderstorms in the distance. Suggestions have also been put in place that wildebeest can detect rain from a further 50km away.

Wildlife Interactions Of The Great Migration


The Great Migration attracts a wide range of predators, making it a prime time for witnessing predator-prey interactions. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, and crocodiles are all highly active during this period. The abundance of prey means predators are well-fed and often display behaviors that are rarely seen during other times of the year.

Calving Season

The calving season in the southern Serengeti is particularly fascinating, not only for the large number of births but also for the intense predator action it attracts. Cheetah and lion cubs learn vital hunting skills during this period, and the dynamic between predator and prey can be closely observed.

River Crossings

The river crossings at the Grumeti and Mara rivers are among the most dramatic events of the migration. Crocodiles take advantage of the chaos to snatch their prey, while the strength and resilience of the migrating herds are on full display.

Planning Your Visit


To witness the Great Migration, timing is crucial. Each stage of the migration offers different experiences:

  • January to March: Best for calving season and predator-prey interactions.
  • June to July: Ideal for Grumeti River crossings.
  • July to October: Optimal for Mara River crossings.
  • November to December: Good for observing the herds’ movement southward.


  • Southern Serengeti (Ndutu Region): Best for calving season (January to March).
  • Central Serengeti: Excellent for viewing the migration moving north (April to May).
  • Western Corridor (Grumeti River): Ideal for river crossings (June to July).
  • Northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara: Prime for Mara River crossings (July to October).


There are a variety of accommodation options available throughout the Serengeti and Maasai Mara, ranging from luxury lodges and tented camps to budget-friendly campsites. Mobile camps that move with the migration offer a unique way to stay close to the action.

Tips for a Successful Visit

  • Book Early: Given the popularity of the Great Migration, it’s advisable to book your safari well in advance, especially for peak seasons.
  • Choose the Right Guide: An experienced guide can make a significant difference in your safari experience, helping you locate the best wildlife sightings and providing valuable insights into animal behavior.
  • Pack Appropriately: Bring layers for varying temperatures, a good camera with a zoom lens, binoculars, and sun protection.
  • Be Patient: Wildlife sightings can be unpredictable, so patience is key. Spend time at known crossing points and be prepared to wait for the action to unfold.