This is the big one – Africa’s most famous animal migration involves up to 1.5 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebra on the move. In human terms, that would be the equivalent of everyone in Phoenix or Philadelphia packing up and moving – all at once. The Great Wildebeest Migration is spurred on by new grass growth prompted by rainfall and sees the antelope and their traveling companions circle between the Serengeti in Tanzania and the adjacent Masai Mara in Kenya. During each cycle, one in six will die due to the actions of predators, or thirst or exhaustion – but a half million new calves are also born. It’s not one event, but rather a continuous 500-mile loop of migration that never really ends – which means that there are multiple options for viewing moments of drama (such as river crossings) and touching scenes (such as births). You just need to be in the right place at the right time
WHEN TO VIEW AND WHERE TO STAY
In May, during the long rains, the herds begin to move northwards through the Serengeti and towards the western corridor. Booking a stay at either Mwiba Lodge or Kusini Camp in the southern reaches of the Serengeti will give you front-row seats.
To witness the gathering of the herds in the Grumeti, we’d recommend staying at Singita Sasakwa Lodge during June, while by July and August, the herds have to confront their most daunting obstacles: crossing the crocodile-filled Grumeti and Mara Rivers. Both Sayari and Nomad Lamai can put you at the heart of unforgettable wildlife drama.
By September/October, the herds have crossed in Kenya, and are enjoying fresh green grazing after their long journey. Two of our favorite migration hotspots in the greater Mara area are Rekero or Naboisho. It’s also worth remembering that even if your African safari doesn’t coincide with the Great Wildebeest Migration, the resident wildlife in both the Serengeti and Mara is worth traveling for.