The Great Migration, at a Glance
Every year, a spectacular wildlife event takes place on the East Africa plains. Over two million wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles migrate across the Serengeti in Tanzania, heading north to the Maasai Mara in Kenya in search of better grazing lands.
The migration begins in the Tanzania on the Ndutu Plains and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
During the early months of the year, just after the short rains, it is calving season for the wildebeest. It is estimated that 500,000 calves are born during these six weeks.
As the plains start to dry up, the wildebeest and other grazing mammals head north from Ngorongoro towards the Serengeti, moving clockwise as they work their way up towards the Maasai Mara.
A perilous journey
The perilous 2,000-mile journey crescendos in August and September, when the wildebeest have to cross the Mara River.
Here, not only do they have to contend with the ever-present big cats, but also the crocs that lurk beneath the murky waters.
The Mara River crossing is one of the most extraordinary wildlife events to witness first-hand. A humbling reminder of the realities of life in the wild.
The entire Mara-Serengeti ecosystem revolves around this natural phenomenon – the raptors, vultures, lions, and cheetahs depend on this event for survival.
Breaking free, the wildebeest bolts across the last few metres of river, and up onto the safety of the bank. No matter, the croc turns back and picks another target, it's easy pickings when the numbers are this large.
Experiencing the Great Migration
The migration is a months-long event, so witnessing events like the Mara River crossing required a degree of luck. Rainfall patterns, grazing opportunities and water availability all determine when the wildebeest make their moves.
It's difficult to plan with a resolution greater than a few months. Usually, the wildebeest are found around the Ndutu plains from December through May. Following the rains in May, the calving season begins.
From late May to early July, greener pastures along the western corridor attract them northwards in a clockwise direction through the Serengeti.
From July to October, the herds are dispersed across both sides of the Tanzania-Kenya border, where the Mara River presents the biggest obstacle yet. This is your best window of opportunity to see the epic river crossings.
The herds often stay north in the Serengeti and Lobo area until November, before heading back down to the Ndutu plains, completing the migratory cycle.
When planning your trip to Tanzania and/or Kenya around the Great Migration, it's important to remember there are no guarantees.
That said, July to September, when the large herds have scattered either side of the Mara River, is your best chance of witnessing a river crossing.
These months coincide with the peak travel season in Tanzania and Kenya, so accommodation prices can be higher and parks busier.
If you prefer a more secluded experience, and cheaper rates on accommodation, consider visiting during the short rainy season from October to December when the herds are still in the north of the Serengeti.
February, during the calving season when the herds are on the Ndoto Plains near the Ngoronogoro Crater, is another good option.
Popular Trips to Kenya & Tanzania
The tours below showcase just some of what is possible. Use these itineraries as starting points, or to draw inspiration. Then get in touch, and let our expert team help craft the perfect itinerary for you.
The northern circuit is the most popular safari route in Tanzania. Explore the national parks of Tarangire and Lake Manyara, before meandering northwest to the beautiful Ngorongoro Crater. Finally, you'll arrive in the world's most famous safari destination, the endless…
- 8 Days
The classic northern safari circuit in Tanzania. From the verdant slopes of the Ngorongoro crater to the vast savannahs of the Serengeti, there's enough wildlife experiences here to last a lifetime. Close out your adventure on the island paradise of…
- 12 Days
Combine the wilder side of Tanzania with the tropical beaches of Zanzibar. Journey through the southern safari circuit of Ruaha National Park and Selous Game Reserve, before a short flight brings you to the border between Africa and the Indian…
- 10 Days
Explore the northern parks of Tanzania before crossing the border into Kenya to discover the Maasai Mara. Travel during migration months and follow the herds as they make their epic journey from the Serengeti northwards into the mara.…
- 11 Days
Explore the northern parks of Tarangire and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, before heading to the Ndutu region of the NCA during the calving season for the wildebeest. Around 500,000 calves are born in just six weeks in the early months of…
- 9 Days
Experience the best of Tanzania's luxury lodges and tented camps on a 12-day adventure. The service, quality, and character of the accommodation is matched only by the extraordinary safari and beach experiences that top and tail the trip. It doesn't…
- 12 Days
Explore Tanzania's most extraordinary national parks as you head from the Serengeti to Ruaha National Park. The size of these parks create exclusivity that's unmatched in East Africa, and the stunning camps make for a picture-perfect safari experience.…
- 10 Days
Arusha, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti. Journey through the land of abundance, and close out the trip on the warm shores of the Indian Ocean. If you're looking for a once-in-a-lifetime East African safari, it doesn't get much…
- 12 Days
Explore the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tarangire National Park, and Lake Manyara National Park over 10 days. Stay in luxe accommodation that puts experience first - placing you in the heart of the Tanzanian wilderness - whilst providing exceptional value for…
- 10 Days
Tanzania's southern national parks are vast, untamed wilderness areas with extraordinary biodiversity and staggering landscapes. The exclusivity found here is unique among African safaris, and you'd be forgiven for being blown away by the sheer scale of it all.…
- 8 Days
Explore the northern safari circuit of Tanzania, head to the stunning Kilimanjaro viewpoint at Moshi, and stay in mobile tented camps that follow the action of the great migration, giving you the best seats in the house to witness Africa's…
- 8 Days
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