Where can you see the Great Migration?
Finding the Migration is a bit like Where is Wally…. You need to know where and when to look…and as your African Safari Travel Specialist, we have indepth knowledge of where the herds are during each month of the year.
The year-round Great Migration is a True Bucket list African wildlife spectacle. In this annual cycle across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, over 1.5 million wildebeest, 400,000 zebra, 300,000 Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle and 12,000 eland throng the landscape, following the rain, in search of fresh pastures.
Whilst the timing of this phenomenon has changed in recent years due to uncertain rainfall patterns, with herds splitting and moving in different directions, before reassembling again, below is the typical movements of the herds per month.
JANUARY: The herds are on the move in search of good grasses for their young. The month of January can be difficult to anticipate. There is a lot of migration from north to south as the herds wait for the first Serengeti rains and wildebeest herds converge on the Serengeti’s eastern edge. Because it is calving season, big cats visit in January. A hot and humid summer month with average temperatures ranging from 15°C (59°F) to 28°C (82.4°F).
FEBRUARY: The best month to predict when the migration will take place in the Serengeti is February. Wildebeest herds usually settle in and around Lakes Ndutu and Masek. This meadow is lush at this time, making it an ideal location for wildebeests to give birth to their young. As lions and leopards move into the area to hunt on young and vulnerable calves, predatory confrontations are quite frequent. Maximum temperatures of 28°C (82.4°F) and minimum temperatures of 15°C (59°F) characterize this month’s weather.
MARCH: The mobile camps will be operating in the Serengeti for the last time in March, before they move. March has a reputation for being a rainy month, but the meadows are lush and fruitful, providing vital nourishment for the large herds of wildebeest. The Serengeti’s Ndutu and Kusini Maswa districts are home to the Serengeti’s wildebeest herds. They move slowly, due to numerous newborn calves being fed. Naturally, predators see calves as easy prey since there are so many of them. There will be a lot of lions and leopards to see. March, remains warm, with average temperatures ranging from 28°C (82.4°F) to 15°C (59°F). APRIL: The Serengeti is damp in April, but you’ll love it! Bring a raincoat and your sense of humour. However, the showers falls mainly in the evenings, and the days are mostly sunny. April is one of the finest months to watch the herds. When newborn calves and foals reach the age of mobility, they begin to move, and the populations of lions and big cats in these areas should be steady. Expect a lot of physical interaction between the hunter and the prey.
APRIL: The Serengeti is damp in April, but you’ll love it! Bring a raincoat and your sense of humour. However, the showers falls mainly in the evenings, and the days are mostly sunny. April is one of the finest months to watch the herds. When newborn calves and foals reach the age of mobility, they begin to move, and the populations of lions and big cats in these areas should be steady. Expect a lot of physical interaction between the hunter and the prey.
MAY: May is a great time for action photography as the herds move quickly to the Serengeti’s western corridor. In May, when the Serengeti’s herds migrate fast to the western corridor, it’s an ideal time for action photography. May is the wettest month in the Serengeti. As the calves’ legs become fully functioning in May, the herds take up the pace – keeping a keen eye out for Crocodiles. April is a moderate fall month, with typical highs of 26°C (78.8°F) and lows of 16°C (60.8°F).
JUNE: June is traditionally the Grumeti River crossing period. The herds are spread out, so expect longer, rewarding game drives. The plains are lush and green. The wildebeest herds cover great distances. Driving times between leading and trailing herds can exceed three hours- so expect full day game drives. Whilst June is traditionally the Grumeti River crossing period, keep in mind it is mainly dependent on the water level of the Grumeti River. There is seldom enough water in the river to produce dramatic crossings like those seen at the Mara River in July and August.
JULY: It is time….July marks the start of the Mara River crossings as well as mating season in the Serengeti. July is a warm month. As the dry season approaches, the Serengeti landscape becomes more arid. The wildebeest herds begin moving faster in search of water and greener grass, making their way across the Grumeti and Mara River. Expect to see crocodile encounters.
AUGUST: August is your best month to see the dramatic Mara River crossings in the Serengeti or Maasai Mara. August is a hot and humid month as the dry season kicks into overdrive. The wildebeest herds will continue their search for lush, greener grass and by doing so, attempt to cross the dangerous, crocodile-infested water of the Mara River.
SEPTEMBER: September is typically your last chance to see the epic Mara River crossings in the Serengeti or Maasai Mara. September offers more hot and dry weather, as the dry season continues in the Serengeti and Maasai Mara. Most of the wildebeest have crossed the Mara River, and the majority of the herds will be in the Greater Maasai Mara area, eating the lush green grass resources before venturing north towards the private conservancies (Mara North, Olare Orok).
OCTOBER: October is a good time to see the wildebeest herds move back into the Serengeti. October will be milder, as the dry season approaches its climax. You might even experience early rain in the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti. The wildebeest herds are in the Maasai Mara, but will start to slowly move back into the Serengeti moving through Loliondo in the east.
NOVEMBER: November might bring rain, but it’s still a good time to see the wildebeest in the Serengeti. November brings cooler weather, as the early rains start to fall in the Serengeti. The wildebeest herds are now in the Serengeti, stationed in the Lobo, Mbuze Mawe and Seronera Valley areas where water is abundant. The south-eastern Maasai Mara itself, combined with north-eastern Serengeti is where you need to be.
DECEMBER: December is a busy and wet month, but you can still track the herds in the Serengeti. The wildebeest herds will move quicker now, as far south as possible, towards the Southern Plains which they usually reach within a couple of days. If there’s been lots of rain in the northern Serengeti, then South of Lobo is the ideal place to see the wildebeest herds.
Although each year’s spectacle varies from the one to the next, particularly when it comes to the timing and size of the mega herds, there are some constants you can expect time and time again. But most importantly, East Africa is not just about the Great Migration. Each month is special and each area has an abundant cast of wildlife… lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, giraffe and so much more.