Wildebeest migration in Tanzania is without doubt one of Africa’s most sought-for wildlife encounters. It is an amazing wildlife experience offering tourists on Tanzania safaris the opportunity to watch a huge profusion of wildebeests about 2 million of them accompanied by other interesting wildlife such as impalas, elands, grant’s gazelles, and others. These interesting mammal species in their large numbers move from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania to the Masai Mara Reserve of Kenya.
The Wildebeest migration takes a clockwise movement of about 1800 miles and they mainly move in search of greener pasture and water. It is a lifetime wildlife experience worth participating in while on safari in Tanzania, East Africa. The wildlife involved in the migration include;
Wildebeest- wildebeests are among the very few interesting mammal species and they are part of the antelope family. Over 2 million of wildebeest can be witnessed migrating from the scenic Serengeti Plains of Tanzania. There are different species of wildebeest and they are all native to Africa including the western bearded wildebeest. The Western bearded wildebeests are mostly witnessed migrating within the Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara ecosystems. The Eastern white-bearded wildebeests live within Kenya and Tanzania, especially around the East of Gregory rift. There are also brindled/blue wildebeests that thrive within the Southern side of River Zambezi. Wildebeests are also referred to as Gnu and they are mainly herbivorous species of animals. They live in the open savanna grassland and woodland.
During the wildebeest migration, an estimate of about 250,000 wildebeests die in the process of crossing from Serengeti to Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. Most of them become thirsty, exhausted, and hungry or even get eaten by predators.
Zebras & other antelopes- over 250000 Burchell’s zebras accompany millions of wildebeests plus over 300000 different antelope families. The notable antelope families commonly spotted during the wildebeest migration include grant’s gazelles, Thompson gazelles, elands, impalas, and more.
Predators- during wildebeest migration, several of the predators prey for most of the wildebeests. These include mainly the big cats such as cheetahs, leopards, and lions; as well as crocodiles and hyenas.
Best time and where to see wildebeest migration
- January, February and March- Calving season
For tourists on Tanzania safaris and they are interested in the wildebeest calving experience, the best time to visit Serengeti National Park is during the months of January, February to March. A huge profession of wildebeests and zebras can be witnessed at Ngorongoro Conservation Area and along the Southern Plains of Serengeti. From January to March, the grass in most of these protected areas is short and the majority of pregnant wildebeest where to stay. Calving often begins towards the end of January and runs up to mid-March with over 600000 calves born. From January to March, wildebeest migration can easily be viewed at the comfort of visitors’ mobile camp or at lodges such as Lake Masek Tented Camp and Ndutu Lodge. If you are interested in luxury lodges, Mwiba Lodge is one of the best accommodation choices set a few kilometers from Ndutu Area.
April to May
April-May is usually regarded as an off or low season for watching wildebeests and other wildlife. During these months, Serengeti National Park experiences heavy rains, the grass grows tall and game trails become muddy. Early in May, there is a reduction in the grass, and most wildebeest, zebras begin migrating to the North through Seronera and the West close to Lake Victoria, the Western corridor of Serengeti. This is the time when there is plenty of grass and water in these places. April offers an incredible view of wildebeest and the best place to camp is Kusini Camp or Ndutu Safari Lodge. Other accommodation facilities to stay include Serengeti Wildlife Lodge, Serengeti Kati Kati Camp, Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge or Osupuko Tented Camp.
Starting in early June, wildebeests begin migrating Westwards due to a shortage of pasture and they move to River Grumeti. River Grumeti features a forest in the surrounding which also hosts several buffaloes and elephants, and the river is known for its huge profusion of crocodiles, and hippos. Around June, the places worth staying in Serengeti include Sabora Plains Tented Camp, Sasakwa Hill Lodge, Faru Faru River Lodge or Grumeti River Camp/Kirarwa.
July to October
Wildebeests begin moving migrating in search for grass from July, August, and September to October. The Western corridor and Grumeti experience a shortage of grass rendering these mammals to move and they can clearly be spotted at Singita Grumeti Reserve.
November to December
Wildebeests migrate to the South and East due to continued rainfall in November. Around December, they begin migrating back to the Southern side of Serengeti and early January marks the end of the wildebeest migration cycle.
Places to stay during wildebeest migration experience in Tanzania
There are countless accommodation facilities to stay in by tourists who visit Tanzania to enjoy the wildebeest migration experience. They include Serengeti Mobile Camps and there are several advantages of staying in such accommodation facilities- the opportunity to enjoy a close encounter with wildlife. Other facilities include Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp, AndBeyond Serengeti Under Canvas. From July to November/December to March, the best places to stay include Alex Walker’s Serian, Kimondo Camp, Olakira Migration Camp, Ubuntu Migration Camp.
Getting to and around Serengeti National Park
Road transportation is the most popular way to get to Serengeti National Park for wildebeest migration or birding, and game drives among others. 4 of Serengeti’s different park gates include Naabi Hill Gate- the main gate which is 45kms off from Seronera. Ndabaka gate- located in the Western corridor about 1.5 hours from Mwanza and 145kms from Seronera. Bologonya gate set along en-route to/from Kenya and Klein’s gate in the extreme Northeast. However note, a 4×4 vehicle is highly recommended to access Serengeti National Park.
Flight services are also available setting from Kilimanjaro International Airport/Arusha Airport to any of the airstrips in Serengeti National Park. There is also an alternative of flying from Jomo Kenyatta Airport/Wilson Airport in Kenya to Kilimanjaro Airport where you can take from 1-5 hours to get to any of the 7 airstrips.