What is the Best Time to See Wildebeest Migration?

What is the best time to see wildebeest migration in Kenya and Tanzania? Seeing the wildebeest migration in Tanzania and Kenya is a wildlife experience that you will never forget. No doubt that it is always the highlight of a safari to any of these countries if you know where and when to go. Wildebeest migration is simply the systematic and continuous movement of wildebeests accompanied by ungulates between Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Kenya’s Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve. Considering how the process is continually moving and constantly active all year round, where visitors or safari lovers go largely depends on when they choose to travel.

Much as there are Tour Companies that can assure travelers of the path migrating herds will follow, don’t be deceived because the wildebeest migration is a natural process. For this reason, expect a chaotic process whereby animals don’t follow one predictable pattern. Surprisingly, these animals will sometimes go backward or forward, as small or large groups while being scattered across the sweeping savannah plains.

Not Just wildebeests

The Migration doesn’t just involve wildebeests (although they are the main participants with a population of over 1,500,000 individuals). But also zebras, gazelles, and Topis (which total about 500,000 individuals). The movements of these animals largely depend on the prevailing weather conditions, whereby during a dry year, they will arrive at River Mara in early July to find water and if it’s a wet year, they will disperse from Central Serengeti until Masai Mara. On getting to the River, several days or weeks will be spent at the River before crossing it.

Credible and well-informed Tour Companies help travelers to make educated guesses, yet many will be just lucky to be at the right destination in the right month. Bearing all that in mind, use our detailed article to follow locations where mega herds of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles are more likely to be at certain months (of your safari). One thing to be sure of is that you will see a certain cycle of migration during the time you visit Kenya or Tanzania.

The Best time to see the Wildebeest Migration

The Calving Season- January, February, and March

The first three months of the year- January, February, and March see the huge herds getting together for the start of the calving season. This usually takes place in the rich fertile savannah plains of Ngorongoro Conservation Area (especially in the Ndutu Plains), and southeastern Serengeti National Park. By the first month, over 8000 calves are born daily, but this attracts even more predators. For instance, the Ndutu Plains are known for their gut-wrenching and breathtaking predator action in the first two months. This is a wonderful time to spot wildebeests as well as big cats in Serengeti National Park. The Calving season in the Ndutu Plains provides one of the most breathtaking sights with lots of calves and breathtaking landscapes that create a perfect backdrop for photography.

By the end of the third month (March), the long rains will begin hence creating muddy grounds and dispersing of huge wildebeest herds. These begin heading north through the remarkable Maswa Game Reserve and continue to the West and East.

Best time to see wildebeests

Migration to the North- April, May, and June

The month of April is when the long rains begin, which brings about the dispersing of the huge herds of wildebeests throughout the sweeping Serengeti Plains. As the huge herds venture out to search for fresh pastures, they split into small herds. The Journey North begins by May intending to get to River Mara and in the process, mega columns of wildebeests (reaching up to 40 kilometers long) swiftly make their way up the Plains of Serengeti.

At least a-quarters of the wildebeest herd will have made their way to the western Grumeti region overlooking the River by the start of June. This is the first major obstacle of the migration journey. For visitors interested in following the wildebeest migration during these months, the main challenges are the heavy rains as well as the unpredictability of where these animals will head next. Nonetheless, visitors who are lucky to come across herds in June should expect to experience the rutting season. This is the time when male wildebeests start clattering their horns as a way of attracting females and securing amazing spots around watering holes.

River crossings- July and August

The months of July and August are perfect for enjoying River crossings, which are undeniably the “biggest event” of the wildebeest migration. This starts in July and involves wildebeest herds gathering at River Mara and hurling themselves into the hostile waters where ferocious crocodiles wait to savage. The beautiful thing about this stage is that not all the action happens in one day but takes several days and sometimes happens back and forth. The wildebeests that survive by the end of August will have crossed the Mara and grazing in the Masai Mara Game Reserve of Kenya.

Rest and Recovery- September and October

Surviving Wildebeests and the accompanying animals (gazelles, zebras, and Topis) now have plenty of time to rest and recover between September and October. At this point, they disintegrate into smaller herds and some remain in Masai Mara while the rest in Northern Serengeti with the option of crossing between Kogatende And Lamai regions from time to time. They are mainly searching for fresh pastures yet predators are also many.

Before the onset of the short rains, wildebeests become easy to spot as they throng the remaining water holes. The idea of migration begins again in October as the dry season is ending. The wildebeests will begin moving again as the rains start but this time they will continue south through Loliondo as well as the Lobo area of Serengeti National Park. This movement is aimed at enjoying the short grass plains in the south of Serengeti.

The Green Season- November and December

November is when short rains begin in Tanzania and it is known as the greening season. During this time, the plains are marked by short grass, which draws herds to graze. Travelers who visit during these months are treated to sights of lingering herds, especially around the Plains of Northern Serengeti like Lamai and Kogatende. These herds then start moving southwards to prepare for the second huge migration of the year.

Wildebeest herds will move swiftly to Central Serengeti before splitting. This makes it challenging to predict where the huge herds will be. By the last month of the year, animals might move to the southeastern side of Central Serengeti (Seronera). Some herds will have successfully migrated to far locations like the Ndutu Plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to prepare for the next calving season. The wildebeest migration cycle then starts again in January.

In conclusion, the wildebeest migration is an all-year activity for both Kenya and Tanzania. However, the climax includes the calving season that happens in the Ndutu Plains in January, February, and March as well as the River crossings that take place from June to August in Tanzania and September to October in Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Talk to our safari experts for more information on the best time to see the Wildebeest Migration in Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.

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