The Best Place to See the Great Wildebeest Migration on Safari!
Growing up in the safari heartland and working in the industry for more than a decade, I’ve been lucky enough to witness this inexorable flow of life on several occasions, each time choosing different locations and months of the year to enjoy the best viewing. It’s a common misconception that the migration only happens within a certain, narrow window.
It’s hard to predict the exact timing of the crossing into the Mara – as we know, nature doesn’t always stick to the plan and these migratory herds depend heavily on unpredictable rain patterns. Unfortunately, over the years I have seen many clients have their hopes dashed after arriving in Tanzania and asking to be taken to specific locations in the Serengeti at a certain time of the year, only to find that the wildebeest had decided to follow a whole different plan.
The animals are in fact continuously moving, plodding along more or less the same annual route through Kenya and Tanzania. Therefore, witnessing the migration is all a matter of being in the right place at the right time and choosing between permanent camps and semi-mobile operations, which can follow the herds.
Crossing Mara River – Crocodile & the Great Migration
Based on my personal experience and historical data, from mid-June and July the migratory herds usually split into groups. One big herd heads to the Western Corridor and spreads across Grumeti Reserve and Ikorongo. After this, many of them will then cross the crocodile infested Grumeti River, which is a very impressive sight to behold. However, if many of these gnus cross to the other side of the river by early July, they can easily finish the green grassland there within two to three weeks, at which point they will be forced to head further north for more food and water. The other large herd will go straight into the far north and attempt to make small crossings to Masai Mara. The mega-herd takes a bit longer and generally reaches northern Serengeti in August. During this time, you will be able to see crossings at least twice a day, in large numbers and at longer intervals.
Migrating Luxury Mobile Camps in Serengeti National Park
When planning your Wildebeest Migration safari, we can certainly arrange for you to stay in an amazing tented camp near the major crossing areas so that there’s no chance of missing out on the action. For example, andBeyond Under Canvas or Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp.
Recommended Wildebeest Migration Safari in Tanzania & Kenya
Your best possible chance of witnessing a crossing is on our Kenya & Tanzania – The Big Five & The Great Migration, which takes you from remote airstrip to remote airstrip across different parts of this incomprehensibly vast landscape. Most importantly, you can quickly jump to different parts of the Mara River, depending on where the wildebeest are.
My key piece of advice for any traveler who is intent on seeing a crossing is that you have to be patient! There will be times when you are waiting quietly by the river all afternoon, watching herds of wildebeest clamouring at its edge. But the wildebeest might still decide not to cross that day! Soon you will learn the hard truth that even with the best planning, there are no guarantees. An indecisive lot, the wildebeest tend to stall at the water’s edge, spooking easily at noises from the bush and ripples in the surface. A few might tease you enough to dip a tentative hoof into the murky brown water before making an abrupt and hasty retreat. For me, the constant anticipation of an imminent crossing is what makes the experience even more exhilarating and memorable in the end. To maximize your chances of seeing the crossings in the Serengeti, I highly suggest that you spend at least four nights here.
Resident African Safari Animals, Buffalo and other Big Five Wildlife
Apart from the crossing of the migratory wildlife, the areas of the northern Serengeti offer action-packed game drives with some of the best wildlife sightings and diversity of any other parks.
You will observe tons of resident wildlife, including large prides of lions, leopards, buffalo, elephants, and – if you’re lucky – you’ll get more up close and personal with rhinos here than anywhere else in Tanzania. Whether you catch a crossing or not, you will never be disappointed!
To get a sense of our personalized tailor-made African safari experiences from all over Tanzania, please watch our short video. Have questions about the Great Wildebeest Migration Safari? Contact us now or speak with one of our experts today on 1.315.805.4040. We would love to hear from you!