The Great Migration of wildebeest – Tanzania : Also known as The Annual Wildebeest Migration is the annual migration of wildebeests along with other grazers such as Zebras and gazelles, each year these animals migrate from the Ndutu region of the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania through Great Plains of the Serengeti national park to the Maasai Mara national reserve in Southern Kenya.
Over 2 million wildebeests and hundred thousands of zebras and gazelles make the earth tremble as they migrate through Tanzania’s lands in search for fresh green pasture and water.
Opposed to what many people this, you are able to see the great migration in Tanzania year round, there are however a few months where many of the animals of the migration are scattered throughout Serengeti national park making it less spectacular than seeing them all together.
IMPORTANT EVENTS OF GREAT MIGRATION TANZANIA
The Great Migration is famous and known for two specific events, these same events make Tanzania one of the most popular safari destination / countries in the world is why it is visited by thousands of safari lovers, wildlife – enthusiasts, scientists and Television Channels such as Animal Planet and National Geographic travelling to Tanzania each year to experience these unique sightings.
The River Crossing of The Wildebeest – Northern Serengeti
The river crossing is the most known event of the Great Migration happening at The Mara River in northern Serengeti, the wildebeests along with other grazers risk their lives and battle with the fierce crocodiles which are patiently waiting to feast on them in the river’s waters. The wildebeests and other herds taking part in the Great Migration have to cross the river as a way to further their journey from fresh food and is often considered of the nature’s most spectacular events.
The river crossing usually happens between July and October, however it greatly depends on rainfall and the availability of fresh food sources.
Calving season in Southern Serengeti – Ndutu
Around February, all the big herds come together and go southwards in the Ndutu area which is often called Southern – Serengeti, during the calving season. The Great Migration makes a small pause to give birth, thousands of babies are born each day. During this makes it a beautiful and memorable event to witness. As opposed to the River Crossing which is a time of death and action, the calving season is a time of life. However predators such as lions, leopards and cheetahs are always on a lookout to feast on the freshly born babies.
The Great Migration Calving season is the only time of the year that you are almost guaranteed to see the big herds together, since the migration is in the South, it is cheaper and takes significantly less time to visit the Great Migration. This makes it an easier and more affordable option than the famous river crossing.
GREAT MIGRATION – BEST TIME TO VISIT
The Great Migration can be witnessed in different period throughout the year as they migrate through Serengeti on an annual base, here is the list of the periods of the year showing where the Great Migration can be found and witnessed. Below are the pro’s and con’s of visiting the migration in this period, The Great Migration of wildebeest – Tanzania
July – October
Pro’s – Around this time of the year, wildebeest migration is around the northern plains of Serengeti national park. In this period you have a chance to experience the famous Mara – River crossing. This is often considered the most spectacular event of the Great Migration and is undisputed highlight of a Tanzania safari.
Con’s – the negative side of visiting to this period is that the Great Migration up North brings the necessary costs. Due to the great distances in Tanzania and off-road roads, it takes up to 3-4 days to only travel in Serengeti making the whole trip about 7 days from Arusha. This can be quite expensive, so visiting the northern parts of Serengeti certainly takes away from your time and budget.
The actual river crossing is quite unreliable and you could end up being let down, even after spending all the time and money.
December – March
Pro’s : within these months, the wildebeest are in the Southern area of Serengeti called the Ndutu area, here the wildebeest take a short break from migrating as calving season is about to start. During this season, thousands of babies are born which grantees some heartwarming moments.
February is the most reliable time of the year to visit the Great Migration and almost always guarantees a sight of the big herds.
Compared to the river crossing, it is relatively cheap to experience as you will only need 1-2 days to reach the Ndutu and get a decent amount of the safari.
Cons: though it might not be the safari – enthusiasts’ first choice and it can get quite crowded as it is easier to reach, so many people gather around the same area, The Great Migration of wildebeest – Tanzania
November, April & May (rain season)
Pro’s: in these months the migration is either heading north or south, the herds travel through the beautiful, green surrounding while the joyful young wildebeest jump around in the tall grasses. Due to the rain season, here are few tourists and you often get the experience all to yourself.
Con’s: in these months the herds are more dispersed than in other months and this is due to fresh food sources being in plenty, this means that find the migration might not be as spectacular as in other months. Also, there is quite a bit of rain, which can lead to some difficulties.
Don’t be disappointed of your travel dates doesn’t exactly fit with the Great Migration, however there are plenty of animals to see. Travelers often ask “the right time of the year to see the Great Migration and if they will be able to see any wildlife”, during the Tanzania migration safari. If you do not find the migration, you will be able to see other animals such as lions, elephants, leopards among others.
WHY DOES THE GREAT MIGRATION OCCUR & WHY DO THE WILDEBEEST MIGRATE?
The herds move in search for fresh food and water, the wildebeests along with zebras and gazelles migrate the way they do because they are following the rainfall. The rains greatly influence the availability of fresh grasses and other sources of foo, so the wildebeests follow.
The way the rain is unpredicted, the Great Migration is also unpredictable. The herds go in between Ndutu and the Northern parts of Serengeti, wherever the grass is greener.
More rain can cause the migration to reach the Southern Ndutu or the Mara River faster.
Because of the plentiness of rainfall in the recent years, not all wildebeests decide to cross the Mara River, risking their lives. Some of them stay behind as there is enough fresh food on the other side. The migration rarely reaches Kenya’s Maasai Mara national reserve in its entirety as the savannah can provide enough food for smaller groups of wildebeest all year round.
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