All About Wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration, often referred to as the Gnu Migration, Serengeti Migration, and Masai Mara Migration, stands as a remarkable spectacle of terrestrial wildlife movement that continues to captivate our world. It serves as a primary incentive for countless travelers to embark on thrilling Migration safaris in Kenya and Tanzania, particularly during the middle of the year.

This awe-inspiring phenomenon embodies one of nature’s most intriguing enigmas: timing is paramount, yet the precise schedule of these animal migrations remains elusive. While we can anticipate the wildebeest, along with a scattering of zebras and antelopes, will eventually traverse the formidable Mara River, the exact moment of this crossing remains shrouded in mystery. Likewise, the arrival of rain is known to trigger the wildebeest’s journey towards fresh grazing, but the meteorological whims that dictate when this life-sustaining precipitation will fall remain beyond our foresight.

After calving in the southern part of Tanzania’s Serengeti near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the animals journey through the Serengeti up and around in a clockwise direction towards the Masai Mara in Kenya, before returning once again near the end of the year. Along the way, high drama is always present, as thousands of animals are taken by predators and thousands more are born, replenishing the numbers and sustaining the circle of life.

The Great Wildebeest Migration in the world, from Serengeti to masai mara


When To See

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What is the Great Wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration stands as the most massive animal herd movement on our planet, so colossal that its impressive columns of wildebeest can actually be observed from space. With staggering numbers that defy imagination, this natural phenomenon encompasses over 1.2 million wildebeest, accompanied by approximately 300,000 zebras, as well as topi and other gazelle species. Together, they engage in a ceaseless odyssey across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, driven by the primal pursuit of nourishing grass and life-sustaining water.

Guided by an innate survival instinct, each individual wildebeest embarks on an arduous journey, covering distances ranging from 800 to 1,000 kilometers along age-old migration routes. In the midst of this awe-inspiring spectacle, a relentless array of predators, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, and crocodiles, ensure that only the fittest endure. This spectacle has earned its rightful title as ‘the greatest show on Earth.’

The migration circuit takes these intrepid travelers from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the southern reaches of the Serengeti in Tanzania, up through the vast expanse of the Serengeti itself, and onwards into the Masai Mara in Kenya, only to repeat the journey once more. This remarkable odyssey is fraught with peril at every turn: young calves fall victim to marauding predators, the slow are hunted down by prides of lions, daring beasts suffer injuries on steep river banks, crocodiles claim their share of stragglers, and the frail and weary meet their end in the watery depths.

Remarkably, these migratory grazers are categorized into three distinct groups, each with its own unique grass-eating preferences. As one group consumes the uppermost blades of grass, the subsequent group trims the medium-height vegetation, and the cycle continues until the landscape is nearly denuded before the herds move on. This intricate process ensures minimal overlap in their feeding territories. The grasses of the plains offer the highest protein content within the entire Serengeti, making them a vital resource for the sustenance of these remarkable creatures.

The precise mechanisms that guide the wildebeest along their perilous path remain a mystery, although it is widely believed that their journey is predominantly influenced by weather patterns, particularly their response to the arrival of rains and the emergence of fresh grass. While scientific evidence is lacking, some experts propose that the animals may also react to distant lightning and thunderstorms, with suggestions that wildebeest possess an uncanny ability to detect rain from distances exceeding 50 kilometers.

A Month-by-Month Breakdown of the Wildebeest Migration


With climate change, the long and short rainy seasons in Tanzania and Kenya are no longer as regular or predictable as they once were. The rains can be late or early, which will throw the whole wildebeest calendar out of synch. This is, once again, why it’s important to plan for as much time on safari as possible. You cannot fly in for two nights, see a river crossing and fly out again – nature simply doesn’t work that way.

This is a very general guideline for where the herds are during the year – bearing in mind that the entire Gnu Migration is triggered by rain, which can be early, late or on time:


January to March (Calving Season):

    • The year starts with the wildebeest in the southern Serengeti plains, Tanzania. This is where they give birth to their young.
    • The abundance of fresh, nutritious grasses attracts predators, and the area is a prime hunting ground for lions, cheetahs, and hyenas.

April to June (Grumeti River Crossing):

  • As the grasses are depleted, the herds start moving northwest towards the Grumeti River.
  • The Grumeti River, known for its crocodile population, is a challenging crossing point for the wildebeest. Many face danger during this phase of the migration.
  • Wildebeest Migration Grumeti River Crossing

July to October (Maasai Mara Crossing):

  • By July, the migration often reaches the Maasai Mara in Kenya, a region rich in grasses and water.
  • The Mara River is the next major obstacle. Wildebeest must cross it to continue their journey. This is one of the most dramatic parts of the migration and draws many tourists.

October to December (Return Journey):

  • As the short rains begin, the herds start moving south, typically back into Tanzania, following the fresh grass.
  • The return journey is characterized by the herds spreading out across the Serengeti plains and the Lobo area.

Late December to March (Calving Season Repeats):

  • The cycle starts again with the wildebeest back in the southern Serengeti plains for calving season. The cycle continues perpetually.
  • Wildebeest Calving Season

It’s important to note that the exact timing and movements of the migration can vary from year to year due to factors like rainfall patterns. Additionally, the migration is not a rigidly defined schedule; different groups of wildebeest may be at different stages of the journey at any given time. This results in a continuous movement of animals within the ecosystem.

The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most remarkable natural events on Earth and draws visitors from around the world to witness this awe-inspiring spectacle of nature. You ca witness the migration on a air by book Hot-Air Balloon.


Our Special Tour for wildebeest Migration

Whether you are first-time to a safari and just want a little taste of wilderness, or you are a Safari connoisseur and want to ‘lose’ yourself in one of the most adventurous areas in Tanzania for several days, we have a range of adventures to suit your needs, with a promise of more to come!


8 days Wildebeests Migration Calving Safari

8 Days 7 Nights

Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park

14 days Tanzania safari & Zanzibar Honeymoon

14 days Tanzania safari & Zanzibar Honeymoon

13 Days 12 Nights

Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park, Zanzibar Beach


4 Days Safari Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater

4 Days 3 Nights

Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater

9 Days Tanzania Under Canvas

9 Days Tanzania Under Canvas

9 Days 8 Nights

Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park

Tanzania Culture safari

8 Days Tanzania Cultural Tour

8 Days 7 Night

Olpopongi, Monduli Juu, Lake Eyasi, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Olduvai Gorge, Mto wa Mbu
Safety guidelines

6 Day Cultural Tour & Wildlife Safari

6 Days 5 Nights

Lake Manyara, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Eyasi

Featured Activities

Activities tours you can do while you are in the northern of Tanzania. You can choose from Walking, Hiking, Culture, and Local Visit Activities. The activities can also be added before or after you mount Kilimanjaro Climbing or your mult-day safari. Just let us know which one is the best for you.


Our Popular Destinations

Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park is a large national park in northern Tanzania that stretches over 14,763 km (5,700 sq mi)

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

The world's largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater, which formed when a large volcano exploded

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

Kilimanjaro's central cone, Kibo, rises to 19,340 feet (5,895 meters) and is the highest point in Africa.

Tarangire National Park

Ranking as the 6th largest National Park in Tanzania and covering an area of 2,600 square kilometers

Lake Manyara National Park

It covers an area of 325 km² including about 230 km² lake surface. More than 350 bird species have been observed on the lake.

When to visit Tanzania

Tanzania is the envy of most safari countries, as you can visit this destination all year round. However, the best time to visit for wildlife is during the dry season, between June and October, particularly for the peak of the wildebeest migration. Below, you’ll find a month-by-month guide highlighting the best time to go on safari: