If you were to peruse the wide range of Tanzania safari holiday packages and prices, you’d see that the Great Wildebeest Migration feature prominently amongst the attractions.
This migration sees millions of wildebeest and thousands of other animals embark on a truly seminal trek, and one which occurs in a circle between Tanzania and Kenya. Most of the movement takes place in the region of Tanzania, however, across destinations including The Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Grumeti Reserve.
So, what exactly should you expect from the Great Migration if you’re looking to witness it for the very first time?
When Does the Migration Take Place?
In simple terms, the actual movement of the wildebeest and the other species takes places during a 12-month cycle.
This commences in January in the southern Serengeti, with the cycle ending in December before starting up once again the following year.
From the beginning of January through the middle of March, the wildebeest of the southern Serengeti begin their calving season. During this time, an estimated 500,000 wildebeest calves are born to their mothers, with up to 8,000 being birthed in a single 24-hour period.
In April, we see the onset of the long rains and the extended wet season, during which time the herds start moving towards the central part of The Serengeti in search of fresh grasslands. During this time, they may also split in several different groups, while individual animals may also begin to mate again at the beginning of their gestation period.
In the early summer, the herds are typically split with the majority located in the Western Corridor of The Serengeti. From the middle of July until the end of October, the herds will continue north and some of the smaller concentrations will reach the Masai Mara by early August.
This also represents prime migration season, as most of the wildebeest will need to cross the Mara River at this time in order to reach the promised land of fresh and lush grasslands.
The Great Migration comes to an end during November and December, as the herds spend a brief period of time near the Mara River before heading south towards Tanzania once again. This completes a staggering and naturally beguiling circle, and one that has to be seen to be believed.
When Exactly is the Best Time to Go?
While the period between August and October may represent prime viewing time for the Great Migration, this is also an exceptionally busy period during which prices are inclined to be a little higher.
With this in mind, you could also look to visit in January, as the calving season represents a truly spectacular sight and one that enables you to share in an incredible natural experience.
The period between April and June also offers an outstanding viewing experience, as the herds are generally settled and spend their last few weeks in Tanzania before heading further north.
Conversely, we wouldn’t recommend booking a trip in July or at the end of the year, especially if you’re considering that period for your honemoon. While the prices may be typically cheaper in November and December, this isn’t the best time to see high concentrations of wildebeest while the grazing lands are typically surrounded by fast-growing tall grass that makes viewing difficult.