The Great Migration: One of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders
One of Africa’s Seven Natural Wonders, the annual migration of over two million wildebeest, as well as zebra, eland and gazelle is a unique safari experience. The animals are in search of rich grasslands and follow the rain in an epic, and hazardous, circular journey of some 3,000 kilometres through Tanzania’s vast Serengeti plains, across the legendary Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya and back again.
Best time to see the Great Migration
The Great Migration takes place annually between January and September and is heavily rain-dependant, so the route changes each year according to weather patterns. Generally the rains begin in the Serengeti during January and February. This is calving time for the female wildebeest but by spring the rains have moved north. The wildebeest and other animals follow suite towards Lake Victoria and begin mating.
In June and July, the migration journeys to the Maasai Mara where the herds have to negotiate the crocodile-infested Mara River. They cross back over the river again in September where you’re likely to see the tail-end of the Great Migration. The animals then stay on the Serengeti plains where they started their journey – and so the whole cycle begins again.
The dry season runs from late June to October and offers spectacular wildlife viewing across all the animals – and when the wildebeest migration is at its height. Other animals such as Thomson’s gazelles and eland are also migrating throughout the year.
Great Migration Safari in Tanzania and Kenya
The Great Migration takes place in the vast Serengeti in east-central Africa – a 12,000 square mile ecosystem known as the ‘endless plains’ in the Maasai language – reaching from northern Tanzania to southwestern Kenya. Both countries offer superb opportunities to view this incredible natural spectacle.
In Tanzania you’ll see the migration throughout the year, whereas the great river crossings into the Masai Mara in Kenya takes place between late July and October. We recommend starting your Great Migration safari experience in Tanzania and following the herds to Kenya.
Around 75% of the Great Migration takes place in Tanzania and the highlights are the calving season on the Serengeti southern plains during February, as well as the Grumeti River crossing between June and July. The mighty Mara River is the border between Tanzania and Kenya and watching the Great Migration here is a safari highlight.
Best Tanzanian Safari Lodges for the Great Migration
Between December and March the animals congregate in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation areas of northern Tanzania. This is calving season which always attracts predators such as lions, cheetahs and leopards. Here are a few recommended lodges that offer the best Great Migration viewing in Tanzania:
Ndutu Safari Lodge: Operating for 50 years with stunning views across Lake Ndutu from 34 traditional stone and thatch en-suite cottages and located in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Lemala Ndutu Tented Camp: A beautiful location amongst the woodlands, Lemala Ndutu is a luxury 12-tented camp offering spectacle views of the Great Migration.
Kusini Safari Camp: The Serengeti’s only permanent luxury tented camp built around rocky outcrops and offers exceptional and private game viewing.
Best Kenyan Masai Mara Lodges to view the Great Migration
The breath-taking Masai Mara reserve is unsurpassed in its beauty and its cultural interactions with the legendary Masai tribespeople. The word ‘mara’ comes from the Maa language and means ‘spotted’ – reference to the acacia trees, craters and other natural land formations that make up this stunning landscape. Between September and November the herds are usually on the Kenyan side of the river. The Masai Mara is a spectacular location to view the Great Migration. Here are a few of our favourite lodges:
Sala’s Camp: Luxurious tented accommodation overlooking the Sand River on the border between Tanzania and Kenya. Its unique position and remoteness offers guests uninterrupted views of the Great Migration.
Angama Mara: An enviable elevated location on the edge of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley offering just 15 luxury tents on two sites.
Bateleur Camp: Part of the exclusive andBeyond family nestled in shady forests on the edge of the Masai Mara, at the foot of the Oloololo escarpment, offering a superbly luxurious safari and Great Migration experience.
Why experience the Great Migration?
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the annual Great Migration is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see over two million wildebeest, eland, zebra and gazelle make their way from Tanzania to Kenya in search of rain-rich grasslands. This perilous journey of over 3,000 kilometres is a chance to see nature at its most beautiful. Combining your Great Migration safari with stays at luxury camps in both Tanzania and Kenya will create memories to last a lifetime.
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