Wildebeest migration refers to the annual movement of wildebeests across Serengeti National Park and the Mara ecosystem. Some of the factors which have been stated as the reasons for this annual movement of the wildebeests are the rainfall patterns and the movement of the wildebeests during the great wildebeest migration which varies annually depending on the availability of water and pasture.
During the different months of the year, over 1.5 million wildebeests along with gazelles and zebras, elands and impalas move across the grassy savannah plains and woodlands and can be spotted during a wildebeest migration safari.
The wildebeest migration has also been described as a natural wonder of the world and it attracts tourist from different parts of the world on safari with interest in watching the wildebeests in their big numbers as they graze across the grassy plains.
The clockwise movement of the wildebeests during their migration across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem also attracts many predators like lions which hunt and feed on the wildebeests. Nile crocodiles also feast on the wildebeests during the wildebeest migration during the river crossings.
Wildebeests are also referred to as gnu and are of two types namely the blue wildebeests and the black wildebeest which is also referred to as the white tailed gnu. In appearance, the wildebeests have a grey coat and black mane with curving horns.
Some of the facts about wildebeests include; both male and female wildebeests have horns, the calves of wildebeests can walk shortly after birth.
The different parts of Serengeti national park which are visited during safaris in Tanzania include the central Serengeti or Seronera area, the western part of Serengeti national park, southern Serengeti and the northern plains of the national park.
For wildlife viewing experiences in Serengeti national park, the recommended months to visit the national park is during the dry season when the wildebeests can be spotted around water points in the national park.
Serengeti national park is Tanzania’s oldest national park which is also a popular tourist destination covering about 14750 square kilometers and Masai Mara national reserve is also a popular tourist destination in south western Kenya covering about 1510 square kilometers with breathtaking views and abundant wildlife species.
To enjoy the wildebeest migration within these destinations, tourists are required to pay an entrance fee which is 71 USD for Serengeti national park and 80 USD in Masai Mara national reserve.
Month by month of the wildebeest migration
During different months of the year, the wildebeests can be spotted in different locations as described below;
January, February and March
In January, February and March, the wildebeests are in the calving season which is a time when wildebeest give birth to their young ones. The calving of the wildebeests can be seen around the Ngorongoro conservation area, in Ndutu and in the south of Serengeti national park.
Over 8000 wildebeests are born daily during the calving season which is at its peak in February in the south eastern part of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Within a period of 2 to 3 weeks, about 500,000 calves are born.
The calves adapt quickly to their surroundings after birth and can be seen grazing in the rich grassy plains. The wildebeests benefit from the grass shoots during lactation which helps to make the claves strong and healthy.
Many of the vulnerable calves are also targeted by the predators like lions which feast on the unknowing wildebeests.
April and May
The wildebeest migration in April and May can be seen in the central part of Serengeti national park which is a popular part of the national park among tourists interested in the wildebeest migration safaris.
Wildebeests can also be spotted around the Moru kopjes in Serengeti national park where there is fresh grass to graze. Mating among the wildebeests also takes place during the month of May. Different camps around Serengeti national park also offer viewing of the wildebeests during their migration.
At the end of the month of May, the wildebeests continue the movement to the north western direction to the areas of the Grumeti river.
The wildebeest migration during the month of June can be seen around the Grumeti river which is a major river crossing point during the wildebeest migration.
The Grumeti area is made up of riverine forest, woodland, savannah plains and rivers. The river crossings north ward to the Masai Mara national reserve in Kenya also takes place in the Grumeti area.
This part of Serengeti national park is located near the Grumeti game reserve which is a wildlife corridor. Predators such as lions and leopards can also be spotted during a safari in the Grumeti area.
Other wildlife species which can be spotted in the Grumeti area apart from the wildebeests include Nile crocodiles, zebras, giraffes, gazelles, impalas, elands and many others.
In July, the wildebeests move to the northern part of Serengeti national park. The Mara river in the northern part of Serengeti national park is another river crossing point during the wildebeest migration.
During a safari in Serengeti national park in July, the wildebeest can be seen in the northern part of the national park where the river crossings also begin.
August and September
The river crossings also take place in the months of August and September during the wildebeest migration. The herds of wildebeests can be seen spreading across the plains of Masai Mara national reserve in Kenya.
During the river crossings during the wildebeest migration, there is no single crossing point as some of the wildebeests cross at a point where there are few wildebeests while other points of crossing have many wildebeests.
Masai Mara national reserve is among the popular tourist destinations in Kenya which can be visited all through the year and apart from the wildebeest migration, the big 5 such as elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and buffalos can also be seen at this destination.
November and December
The wildebeest migration in November and December the wildebeests move from Kenya to Tanzania in the breeding grounds in Serengeti national park.
How to get there
For an experience of the wildebeest migration in Serengeti national park in Tanzania and Masai Mara national reserve in Kenya, tourists can access these destinations by both road transport means and also by air.
- Masai Mara national reserve can be accessed by road from Nairobi which is about 6 hours’ drive. The distance varies depending on the gate which is used for entering the destination and these include Sekenani gate, Oloololo gate, Talek gate, Musiara gate.
By air, Masai Mara national reserve can be accessed through airstrips such as Mara Serena airstrip, Kichwa tembo airstrip, Musiara airstrip, Shikar airstrip, Ngerende airstrip, Ol kiombo airstrip, Sian spring airstrip.
- Serengeti national park can be accessed by road which is about 7 to 8 hours’ drive from Arusha town. Airstrips in Serengeti national park include Seronera airstrip, Kogatende airstrip, Grumeti airstrip, Kirawira airstrip, Kusini airstrip, Ndutu airstrip, Sasakwa airstrip.
Enjoy the wildebeest migration across the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem during a safari in Kenya and Tanzania.