What is the Annual Serengeti Great Migration?

The herd is gathering

The herd is gathering

The Great Migration is probably the most spectacular wildlife event that you can experience anywhere on the planet. It is the largest gathering of herds of wildlife in Africa, most of the migration takes place in the Serengeti National Park.

For thousands of years this event has taken place and remains largely unchanged to this day, despite the pressures that encroaching human populations place on most wilderness areas nowadays.

The Great Wildebeest Migration that takes place in Northern Tanzania is in fact a continuous event that sees these animals moving between different areas of grazing with the rainy season cycles. Each different time of year allows visitors to experience uniquely different wildlife viewing. But there certainly can be times when you will not see the herds in their “anticipated” position!

The animal species that congregate in great herds are mainly wildebeest, zebra and Thompson’s gazelle, and they begin the migration in late May or early June depending on the rains. It is estimated that 1.4 million wildebeest, and 200,000 zebra and gazelle make this 1,800 mile round-trip annually. They migrate from the north of the 5,700 square mile Serengeti National Park to reach the Mara River and cross into the Maasai Mara National Park in southern Kenya from around August.

In late November, once the short rains have arrived, the animals begin to move back into the Serengeti plains to the pastures there, to graze and recover until they once again begin their search for better grazing as the seasons change again. Most of the herd prefers to give birth in the southern Serengeti in February/March, and this is where much of the predator action will be found.

This roving feast is of course a bonanza for the predators that tend to remain more fixed in their territories as the migration comes and goes. Some of the largest crocodiles in Africa are to be found in the Mara River and they only eat a couple of times a year when the migration is forced to cross the river in search of the new pastures. These river crossings provide some of the most spectacular photographic opportunities of any wildlife adventure, even though these can be fleeting and difficult to locate.



Will I be guaranteed to find the migration?



There is no guarantee to find the Great Migration, but here at SafariFAQS we endeavour to set the platform that will be the most helpful in planning your safari vacation. We ask our army of “Safari Scouts” to post updates on the movements of the herds. CLICK HERE TO BECOME A SAFARI SCOUT (its Free!) and help to provide information that is useful to others.

There are typical movement patterns of the herds, but as the rains can be variable, so too can the arrival of the herds. Note that the migration follows this broad plan to find better pasture, but it is made up of much ebbing and flowing of animals. The animals drift off, split up and re-group, so it is never possible to predict exactly where they will be at any given time.

That does not mean that you should give up hope of finding the herds! Most reputable lodges and camps will have a pretty good idea of the likely location of the herd.

When you do eventually find yourself in the middle of the ‘megaherd’ the scale can be awe inspiring, and the continuous mooing of the animals surrounding you is an unforgettable experience.