The Wildebeest Migration in Africa


One of the most spectacular experiences that any person can have in the world, is to be present during the great wildebeest migration in Africa that takes place every year. The Great Migration is a circular migration that involved the constant movement of over a million wild animals across the ecosystem within the Serengeti and the Masai Mara. The wildebeest herds are joined by countless other animals as they make their way back and forth each year and for many people their safari holidays in the Masai Mara are timed and planned around getting the best view of this natural phenomenon.

Every single year the great migration between the Serengeti and the Mara ecosystems involved around 1.5 million wildebeest. Alongside them can be found around 200,000 zebra, 35,000 gazelle, and thousands of other animals. For many people, the great migration is the greatest show on earth, and as a spectacle to build a holiday around, there are no greater sights to be found. There are different grass-eating habits to each type of migrant grazer, meaning that there are different ways to approach a safari holiday in this part of the world during the great migration.

What we mean by this, is that one group of animals will eat the top of the tallest grass as they pass through an area. The following group will eat some of the middle level grass, then the last will almost finish off the grass entirely. When this has been reached, the herds move on to another area. This means there is a small overlap between the different groups and an almost constant movement of herd columns that looks amazing. Seeing which way the wildebeest move is also enchanting, as it is believed that the herds move based on the weather, rather than some sort of mystical pre-ordained route that they subconsciously follow every year.

Depending on what it is you want to see specifically, there are different things to look out for with the great migration at different times of the year. During January, February and March the migration moves south along the eastern edge of the Serengeti and into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area with its rich plains. Birthing season is around January and February, so this is where many people name the start of the wildebeest migration, although in reality it never really stops. In April and May the herds begin to drift up towards the fresher central Serengeti, bringing zebras and antelope along with them and this is where mating season begins. By May, the herd columns stretch for several km. During June and July, the dry season starts, and the animals must cross the Grumeti River and the dangers of crocodiles. Into July and the thousands of animals move north and the exciting Mara River crossings. By August most have successfully crossed into Kenya’s northern region and as we move into the later parts of the year the cycle continues as the animals begin to move back southwards.

If you want to be part of one of the most spectacular and majestic natural processes that takes place every single year, a holiday in the Masai Mara could place you at the heart of the action. There are some incredible safari holidays available in this part of the world and with the right choice of safari lodge in the Masai Mara you can get involved with local culture and visit Masai villages, take game drives at all times of day to see animals up close and personal as they graze and drink at watering holes, or soar high above in a hot air balloon safari. There are so many beautiful options open to you and the wildebeest migration will be a central part of your once in a lifetime trip.

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Mack Dawid
the authorMack Dawid