The Great Annual Wildebeest Migration

The Great Annual Wildebeest Migration

From Serengeti to Maasai Mara and back, every year columns of about 300,000 Zebras, 2 million Wildebeests and 400,000 gazelles follow a circuit that they have followed for ages to look for fresh grazing pastures and water. There is no proven record on how these migrant grazers in their groups know which way to go or follow this route, but some of the guides and scientists believe that they follow the new growing pastures and weather- Rain. These are the key players but like tourists, resident carnivores of the parks like lions, hyenas, cheetahs, and leopards wait in anticipation for this event.

This migration is annual, starting from northern Tanzania in the Ngorongoro conservation area and Serengeti national park during the calving season in December. In a day about 8000 calves are born and by the end of a month period around 400,000 calves will have been produced. During the end of February and in March, the wildebeests begin to trek northwards and are joined by thousands of Zebras, gazelles and other antelopes. They continue to cross the Gurumeti river and the crocs feast though the rate of the feast as they cross the Mara river to the Maasai Mara national reserve is a spectacular one.

It is during this period that the predators (Large densities of lions that roam the savanna plains of Maasai Mara) become selective of what to eat either beef or veal. In the mid of the year, mostly July and October tourists flock to Maasai-Mara and Serengeti to witness this circular mass terrestrial trek and one of Africa’s seven wonders.

These months of crossing, before the overcomers of the Mara, Gurumeti and Talek Rivers teeth spread in the plains of northern Kenya, travelers should be fully prepared for a thrilling scene/event of their lifetime. This calls for an early booking with your tour operator because all the parks are crowded with wagons and lodges, camps, conservancies are fully booked during this season.

Due to changes in weather (sometimes the rains come late), there is less prediction of the migration but visitors can follow the trek from December to February when the cows are calving in the short grass of Ngorongoro and Serengeti. Watch thousands of wildebeests being born and as they gain strength to stand and walk. Many of these die along the way when crossing rivers, predators eat them, and some due to long distances and some are separated from their mothers. May to June follow them to Seronera Valley in the northwestern part of Serengeti near Lake Victoria and watch the action as dominant males fight for mating.

It is in July to October when visitors stand a chance if witnessing the herds continue northwards arriving and crossing the permanent Mara River, braving the sharp teeth of the Mara river crocs and by August the biggest park of the herd is in the Maasai Mara plains until October. In November, they take the southwestern circuit to Lolindo and back to Serengeti as they complete the circular movement.

Visitors can plan their travel according to their interest and for those who would want to document the trek, you can camp in the two parks as you follow the trek.