Best Time to see the Annual Wildebeest Migration : the annual wildebeest migration is an annual migration of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles from the Northern Tanzania in Serengeti national park to Maasai Mara national reserve. Over two million wildebeests, gazelles and elands move through Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in search for green pastures following an old pattern.

The best time to witness the annual wildebeest migration wildebeest migration depends on the stage of the migration one wishes to witness, the most sought for episode of the migration to witness is the river crossing as herds cross from Serengeti national park to Maasai Mara national reserve. River crossing is the greatest spectacle of wildebeest migration and is witnessed between July and September.

 Unfortunately there is no exact timing for watching the migration as it changes year to year and this spontaneous event is solely influenced by rainfall patterns resulting into green grazing grass which attract the migrating herds. The migrating herds (wildebeests, zebras and gazelles) stay in Kenya’s Maasai Mara national reserve from July to October and in November they migrate back to Serengeti national park.

Best Time to see the Annual Wildebeest Migration
Wildebeest Migration

The annual wildebeest migration cycle determines the best time to see the migration and it is more elaborated below by month

November to December (the arrival of the short rains)

The annual wildebeest migration starts in the plains of the southern region of Serengeti national park, the short rains beginning in November to Mid-December prompting the migrating herds to move back south to the south-western region of Serengeti to graze in the short sweet grass plains. The migrating herds move in long columns of wildebeests and zebras which are trailed by predators (lions, leopards and African dogs) looking for an opportunity to feed on them.

If you want to witness the predator-action, November to December is the best time to visit Serengeti national park

Mid December to March (calving season)

From Mid- December the short grass plains in the southern Serengeti around Ndutu plains and Ngorongoro conservation area are lively and filled with migrant herds (wildebeests, zebra and gazelles). In this period the migrating herds experience the calving episode happening from late January to Mid-March, in the calving more than 80% of the wildebeests give birth and the calves are very abundant.

Calving attracts a number of predators wanting to feast on the newly born calves, the predator-calving action is a very fascinating episode to watch. To many tourists this is the best time to visit Serengeti national park to witness the action.

April to early June (head to Seronera)

Long rains begin in April and the plains of Serengeti national park are at their most beautiful filled with wild flowers and teeming game, this period is the best time for photographers to visit Serengeti national park to get perfect shots the migrating wildebeests  high quality of light giving out magical pictures.

Best Time to see the Annual Wildebeest Migration
Wildebeest Migration

The short grass plains in the south region are unable to sustain the vast herds prompting them to begin moving northwards and westwards of Serengeti national park.

From April to June, the wildlife in Serengeti plains is at its most impressive point as hundreds of thousands of migrating herds begin moving heading towards to the Seronera area then to the Grumeti River. The migrating herds are trailed by predators (lion, cheetah, leopards and hyenas) and vehicles of tourists witnessing the migration.

 Seronera area of the Serengeti national park comprises of open plains dotted with attractive Kopjes, the area is filled with plenty of resident game, relaxed predators and migrating herds through April and May. Seronera area is the central region of Serengeti national park meaning it remains very bust throughout the year as many tourist visit the park to witness the migration and see other resident animals.

 June (Grumeti)

In June the western corridor, the best grazing lands in Serengeti national park’s impressive green grass has been exhausted thus prompting the herds to move further north into the Grumeti area. In this month, the ground is drier making it easier for the herds to move around and the camps found in Grumeti area are the best location to stay at to witness the migration.

 July (Northern Serengeti)

As the rain pours lessens by July, the huge columns of the wildebeests, zebras and gazelles start to crowd along the Grumeti River and Mara River which are infested with Nile crocodiles. The northern section of Serengeti national park lies between the Seronera area and the Kenyan border and the gentle rolling game country includes the pretty Lobo Kopjes, this region is less crowded than the southern region and Seronera area of Serengeti national park.

Late July, August & September (The river crossing)

The river crossing is the most dramatic episode of the annual wildebeest migration and it is the most sought for episode by many people, the migration happens when columns of the migrating herds their way crossing the Grumeti river and Mara rivers crossing to Maasai Mara national reserve in search for richer grazing lands.  Before the herds cross, they lazy around the southern banks of the river until the one brave wildebeests takes the plunge into the river which is infested by Nile crocodiles then the other thousands follow and some do not.

 However it is very difficult to know the best time to see the river crossing as the timing of the wildebeests vary dramatically from year to year and solely depends on the rain. In dry years, many migrating herds do not even cross in Kenya’s Maasai Mara national reserve , to maximize your chances of witnessing the river crossing is staying for 3-4 nights on a wildebeest annual migration safari.

 July to October/November (Northern Serengeti & Masai Mara)

After safely crossing the crocodile infested Mara River the herds (wildebeests, zebras and gazelles) spread out across the plains of Maasai Mara national reserve and can be seen as far as your eyes can reach. The herds come to give birth to young ones and plains are echoed with the sound of the newly born calves and naturally the predators are following the herds as they are on the hunt.

 This is the best time to visit Maasai Mara national reserve to witness the wildebeest migration and game viewing is excellent, between August and October during the migration season the game viewing is good because millions of wildebeests, gazelles and zebras mow the grass down thus easy seeing of the animals.

 November to December (The migration heads south)

As the fresh green grasses in the plains of Maasai Mara national reserve mown down by the herds, the dry season also continues thus prompting the migrating herds to start moving on their way returning south. The herds re-cross the rivers (Mara river and Grumeti river) heading back to Tanzania most especially when the short rains begin again in November.

 Before the short rains begin, brief rains are received and in this case the herds do not carry on with moving south and may move back into Maasai Mara until they are sure of the rain further south.  The uncertainty means that the return migration is not as dramatic as the herds do not move in large masses and it is less predictable.

 The return migration is experienced in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area belonging to Maasai tribe living in the area, the area is still part of the Serengeti eco-system and hosts plenty of permanent game.

Between September and November, the annual wildebeest migration can be witnessed as it returns south.

The cycle begins all over again

book a safari