The Annual Migration of Wildebeest in Masai Mara

The Great Migration is an awe-inspiring annual event in which millions of wildebeest, zebra and other wildlife trek northwards from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. For the 2021 and 2022 seasons, the best time to experience this spectacle is mid-July when the larger herds typically begin their journey. The migration typically ends by mid-September when the numbers begin to decline, however the exact length of the journey varies from year to year.

The animals travel with the guidance of their primal instincts, heading towards greener pastures during the climate patterns of the Serengeti-Masai Mara eco-system. Their journey is perilous, as they come across numerous crocodiles lurking in the Mara and Talek rivers and many animals fail to escape their clutches. In past migrations, around 1.5 million wildebeest, a million zebra and many other species followed the treacherous tracks until near the end of August.

What time of the Year is the Wildebeest Migration?

The Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra and other wildlife from Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya is one of Nature’s greatest spectacles. It typically begins in July and ends near the end of September, though the exact timing is difficult to predict until the initial large herds gather at the northern edge of the Serengeti. They can sometimes remain at the spot for days without crossing over to the Mara, making it difficult to predict when the final leg of the journey will begin.

Where do the wildebeest migrate to and from?

The Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra and other wildlife from Serengeti to the Masai Mara Reserve is a breathtaking spectacle. Experience dictates that the best time to witness it is between mid-July and late August as the migration takes place gradually over a few weeks at various locations along the Serengeti-Masai Mara border. If you are looking for a specific month to visit, August is probably the most ideal time to see the migration at its peak.

How do you see the Wildebeest Migration?

Visiting the Great Migration in the Masai Mara Reserve is an incredible experience. To get the best of this, safaris conducted in specialized vehicles with experienced Driver-Guides are the preferred way to see the wildebeest. Depending on the location of the lodges and camps, you may need to travel a while to get to ideal vantage points where the animals cross the rivers, as these points tend to vary slightly every year. Spending enough time at these crossings is an essential part of the experience, as tourists coming to view the migration generally rate seeing the river crossings as one of the highlights of their trip.

Month By Month Wildebeest Migration

The Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra and other wildlife is an event that happens all year round, varying in the experiences created and offering a unique show at different times. River crossings are a much sought after event and this usually coincides with the peak safari season, hence the concept that this is the only time of year the wildebeest are on the move.

The crossings usually occur at the Mara River between late July to August, parts of September and after they have returned south, around the period of the last two weeks of October and early November. As rain patterns play a huge role in the herd’s movement, it may be difficult to precisely predict when and where the herds are during the year. However, here is a general breakdown of roughly where the herds will be:

December To April

The Great Migration is an event that takes place throughout the year, with each season bringing a unique experience and spectacle. The crossing of the Mara River is a sought after event and tends to occur between late July and early November depending on rain patterns.

To witness the calving season, the best place to be is the far south of Serengeti between the Ndutu Plains and Ngorongoro Plains. Here, the predators are present in higher numbers, intent on preying on the weak and vulnerable calves. By late March or early April, the herds will have already begun their northward movement and many may be scattered through the central and western Serengeti.

May To June

The Great Migration is an awe-inspiring phenomenon, with the wildebeest and other animals travelling in gigantic columns of up to 40 kilometres / 25 miles in length containing hundreds of thousands of animals. Joining them are many zebra, as well as Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, who all move north in search of fresh grazing and water.

June marks the end of the rainy season and is the time for crossing the Grumeti River, although this is dependent on the water levels. This crossing is not as spectacular as the crossings of the Mara River, where the Nile Crocodiles lurk in wait for their prey.

July To September

The Great Migration is heightened in August as the animals reach the western Serengeti and Grumeti Reserves, where they pause at the brown waters of the Mara River before crossing. This is a spectacular event full of drama and danger as the herds attempt to cross, with many falling prey to the hungry Nile Crocodiles. Those that survive continue their northward migration into the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara National Reserve.

The majority of the herds end up in the Greater Masai Mara area, feasting on the lush green grass and travelling to the private conservancies such as Mara North and Olare Orok. This is the most preferred time to witness the migration, as the frenzy and intensity of the wildebeests crossing the Mara River is truly remarkable.

October To November

The Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra, and other animals is a cycle of life and death that is repeated year after year. Following the short rains in November, the herds begin to migrate southwards, passing through western Loliondo and the Serengeti National Park’s Lobo area, and ending up in Kogatende and Lamai.

In a “normal year”, the herds then congregate in the Lobo, Mbuze Mawe and Seronera Valley areas where water is abundant, before clustering in the north-eastern and southern parts of the Serengeti. Calving season starts once again, after which predators move in to hunt their prey, thus completing the annual cycle that has been reoccurring for centuries.


In conclusion, the Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra and other wildlife is one of the most incredible spectacles of nature. It is an annual event that follows the cycle of life and death and provides a breathtaking view for anyone lucky enough to witness it.

The experience that is created changes with each season, and the best time to view the migration depends on the time of the year, when it occurs and the location of the crossings. Travelling on a safari with an experienced guide is the best way to witness this spectacle and its various necessary elements, and make sure not to miss the river crossing, if possible. All in all, the Great Migration is an experience that people should not miss in their lifetimes.


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