About the Great Migration

Wildebeest migration map
The animals follow the rainfall pattern that you will see in this series of monthly rainfall maps. There is essentially, no specific period for the Great Migration across the Serengeti. It is happening all the time. You just have to be in the actual area the animals are moving through.
Follow the rains.

See Great Migration Maps by Month for a detailed description of the wildlife location and weather conditions during each month of the year in the Serengeti and Masai Mara.

The Great Migration

The Great Migration is the movement of great herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles across the plains of the Serengeti. It is estimated that almost two million animals take part in the migration across the Serengeti in Tanzania and across the border, into the Masai Mara in Kenya.

The movement of the animals is controlled by the availability of food and water, which is in turn governed by rainfall resulting from the annual climatic changes.What is so special about the great migration, you ask? Well the sight of almost two million animals moving across the legendary plains of East Africa is enough to stir the enthusiasm of even the most afro-pessimistic of people. It is a sight that not even National Geographic can enhance. What you see is what actually happens.

The Hype

Over the years many questions have been asked relating to the migration and most the questions tend towards asking for a guarantee of sorts when people visit east Africa. Much has been written and documented on film about the Great Wildebeest Migration on the plains of East Africa, and much of this is a dramatized version of events for commercial value.

Authors need to sell books, filmmakers must spice up their work to garner interest and travel journalists write to sell articles - add to this travel companies selling packages to Africa and you have the potential for a fairly distorted view of one of the natural world's greatest happenings.

Removing The Myth

There is essentially, NO specific period for the Great Migration across the Serengeti.
It is happening all year round.

You just have to be in the actual area the animals are moving through - to catch the spectacle.

So imagine if you will that all these creatures are moving around a vast circle - like the earth moves around the sun. Now, just as the earth will be at a specific point along its orbit at a certain time of the year, so to will the herds (hopefully) be passing through a certain geographical location in or about a certain month.

Follow the Rains

It's as simple as that.
The migration is determined by the availability of food and water, which is determined by the seasons. Therefore it is not possible to correctly predict the course of events from year to year.

The rains may be early or they may be late, or in some cases the rains may be scattered - all factors influencing when and how the herds move.

There is, however, a general pattern that can be followed when planning a safari to East Africa. It is advisable to look into staying at two lodges in different areas so as to have the best chance of seeing the migration.
Have a look at the monthly Migration Maps in the Image Gallery (above). Like the animals, you are at the mercy of the vagaries of the climate.

Unlike the animals, you have access to a Siyabona Consultant who is an expert on all things East African - who will be assisting you with the planning of your Tanzania safari.

Generally Speaking...

There is no exactness to the migration but a general picture has been formed over the years. The herds are on the lush southern plains of the Serengeti from late December through to April. This is where they give birth.

They then head north through the central Serengeti and the western corridor through May and June before crossing into the Masai Mara in Kenya where they move for some three months before heading towards the southern plains of the Serengeti again towards the end of November.

Where is the best place to see the migration?

There is the time that the herds are on the southern plains of the Serengeti, giving birth, and times when they are crossing the crocodile-filled rivers.

The sight of millions of animals on the vast southern plains of the Serengeti is truly something to behold, but the drama of the river crossings, with Africa's largest crocodiles lying in wait, is also a memorable sight.

Pick one. Ahh... stay for both?

A Bleak Future?

The proposed plan by the Tanzania government to go ahead with a highway linking Arusha with Lake Victoria, through the Serengeti National Park, is the cause of much debate right now.

Conservationists point to the effect it will have on the Great Wildebeest Migration, the 'Greatest Show on Earth', and the negative effect it will have on the economy through driving tourists away. The counter-argument is the positive effect the highway will have through development of infrastructure.What are you waiting for ? Go on a Great Migration Safari in Tanzania

African Safaris Guide to South and East Africa
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