Wildebeest and zebras on the annual migration, Africa

Migration! Two million animals on the move

East Africa's annual wildebeest migration is one of the world's most astounding wildlife spectacles.

Wildebeest and zebras on the annual migration, Africa

© Shutterstock

Africa's Annual Wildebeest Migration

The annual wildebeest migration is one of the most incredible sights in the world of wildlife. If you are in the right place at the right time to witness the incredible migration of over two million animals on the move, it's an experience you are unlikely to forget.

Vast swathes of wildebeest as well as huge numbers of zebras, plus Thompson's gazelle and eland make the arduous journey from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara and back again. Wherever you see it, the sheer scale of numbers is overwhelming and dramatic and, frankly, spine-tingling.

When does the annual wildebeest migration take place? Nature is unpredictable but this is a rough estimate of where the migration will be throughout the year. The time of year you are travelling will influence where you would go.

  • December to March: The migration is in the southern Serengeti short grass plains. Ndutu region is a key place.
  • April to June: They head north & west. The Grumeti region is the place to be in June but central Serengeti can also be very good especially in April.
  • July to October: The wildebeest herds are in northern Serengeti and Kenya's Masai Mara.
  • November to December: The herds head south, mostly via the eastern side of the Serengeti. By December they're mostly down in south of Serengeti.
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One of the greatest wildlife spectacles in East Africa

The wildebeest herds are constantly searching for fresh grass after the rains, moving north from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania to Kenya's Masai Mara and back again in a roughly circular clockwise pattern.

River crossing on the annual wildebeest migration, East Africa © Shutterstock

Migration river crossings

There are known common points where the herd cross the rivers in their path, and the lodges close to these are always full when the migration is around. You never know when the herds will cross but this is one of the sights of the natural world which photographers and wildlife enthusiasts yearn to see. For the wildebeest it's a dangerous time though as crocodiles are waiting!

River crossings in Kenya

In the Masai Mara, the migration herds cross both the Mara and the Talek Rivers. They don’t just cross once, but since they stay in the Mara for a few months from about July to October, they cross to and fro.

River crossings in Tanzania

In the Serengeti you might see a river crossing at the Grumeti River in the far west. This is most likely around May-June, though being dependent on the rains, can happen any time from about April to early July. In the north, more spectacular rivers crossings are seen when the herds cross the Mara River to get to the Masai Mara, usually around mid-August-September.

How to do plan an annual wildebeest migration safari

Tanzania: For most of our clients we arrange a private guide and vehicle, giving them the flexibility to watch wildlife for as long as they want and stop when they want.

Kenya: Privately-guided safaris are also possible here, though it is common to fly into the Mara and take shared game drives with the guides from the camp or lodge.