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The Great Wildebeest Migration in Masai Mara National Reserve


The highlight of an East African safari is the chance to experience the Wildebeest Migration, also known as “The Great Migration”. It takes place between Tanzania's Serengeti National Park and Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve and is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet. Thousands of wildebeest, zebra’s and gazelle migrate between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, constantly driven by their search for fresh grazing. The massive herds are closely followed by predators (lion, hyena and cheetah), making the most of every opportunity to catch their next meal, plus vlutures flying above waiting their chance of a feast.

The migration is a natural event and the timing changes month by month; year by year. Therefore there can be no guarantee where the wildebeest migration will be any a specific time as it all depends on the weather and when the rains start.

Generally the best months to see the migration in Kenya in the Maasai Mara National Reserve is between the months of August to November. The great herds spend most of the season in the northeast area of the Mara and when it gets drier, they start to spread into the interior of the Reserve in search of greener pastures.

When the rains show signs of starting in the South, the herds begin to travel southwards towards the Serengeti National Park, in Tanzania,

Provided the rains come as predicted, July and August are the most favourable months to catch the popular river crossing on the Mara River from Masai (Maasai) Mara National Reserve when the migrations starts coming back to Kenya.

Note: The migration monthly timetable is to be used as a guide. The Great Migration pattern varies from one year to the next, as it depends on the start of the rains. Be aware that it is possible for the herds to be anything from between 50 to 200 kms distancee from where the animals are expected to be at any given time of the year.

The migration is concentrated in the south-eastern Serengeti National Park, spilling over into the Ngorongoro Crater - the wildebeest start to give birth

The short-grass plains are the main feeding ground for over 1.7 million wildebeest, 800,000 zebra and many gazelle. Predators follow close by, feeding on the newly born. There is plenty of food for the predators at this time. This is the main month for wildebeest births. The great herds are on the move towards the Ndutu Woodlands. This month is also known as the calving season.

The commencement of long and heavy rains is the time when the fresh grass is now depleted from several months of grazing and newborn wildebeest are strong enough to move and keep up with the migration. Now is when the migration heads west wards towards Maswa Game reserve in search of better grazing.

Heaviest rainy month and the herds are in the Maswa area, with the Wildebeest being almost evenly scattered in the region, although it is not a great month to view them as the region is very wet and roads are often impassable.

Rains comes to an end and the herds start migrating northward, crossing the Grumeti River, where many wildebeest and zebra lose their lives every year, but provide a yearly feast for the huge crocodiles who wait at the popular crossing points. This is a popular time for sighting the large cats. July /August All going on schedule, the migration should now be in the northern Serengeti crossing over to Kenya's Masai Mara.

Regarded as the best months to see the River Crossing on the Mara River from Masai Mara, offering fantastic photographic opportunities.

The migration should now be in Kenya's Masai Mara Nature Reserve just across the northern border from the Serengeti National Park. This is the best said to be the best time to visit Masai Mara.

The time when Maasai Mara Nature Reserve having plentiful supplies of water and good grazing, hence a popular month to view the great herds in the Masai Mara.

If the short rains come this month, the migrating herds of Wildebeest, Zebra and Gazelle will start to head southwards, out of the Masai Mara National Reserve, crossing Kenya's border into Tanzania's Serengeti National Park.

Usually the migration will now be arriving on Serengeti's Southern plains, where there is abundance of new, fresh young grass to feed on. When the migration heads southward to Southern Serengeti, the migrating zebras begin to give birth.

Great Annual Migration Safaris

If viewing and experiencing the Great Migration is on your safari wish-list, then there are a few points that you should take into consideration when planning what will undoubtedly be a once in a lifetime experience.

Establish where the migration is likely to be at the time you visit and should consider a private safari for just you and your group. This will provide you with greater flexibility for changing the itinerary or making diversions to ensure you catch the movement as you go along. A private safari will provide you with the ability to stop for as long as you wish in one place which is especially important if you want to get capture the migration in some great photos.

Below we have listed a couple of popular itineraries that are specifically designed for you to experience the migration in the Serengeti. They are private safaris and can be customised to fit in with where the migration will be on your intended travel dates.

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