Guide to 2021/2022 wildbeest migration safari – Great Adventure Safaris arranges Kenya and Tanzania safaris to watch the wildbeest migration and Each year, almost two million wildebeest and 20 000 plains game migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti to the south of Kenya’s Masai Mara in search of lush grazing grounds and life-giving water. This treacherous odyssey is dictated by the seasons and where the rains are, the wildebeest are not far behind. This epic journey from north to south spans almost 3000 kilometres and is virtually endless. This great spectacle of nature is an iconic safari option for avid travelers, nature lovers and those who want a little more from their African experience. Rather than having a start or end point, the Great Migration moves rhythmically in a clockwise direction, making herd tracking unpredictable. It is for this reason that our Herdtracker app was created; to help you track the wildebeests’ movements and plan the safari of a lifetime. Choose from Great Adventure Safaris existing safari packages or tailor-make your own journey according to your budget.
guide to 2021/2022 wildbeest migration – Below, you’ll find some useful resources that detail when to go, where to stay and what to expect along this unforgettable journey. Our experienced safari experts as well as affiliate camps and guides on the ground all work together to provide you with up-to-date information on where the herds are, as well as the predators that stalk them.
Many people think that the great wildebeest migration only happens once a year, but the migration is in fact an all-year-round event — with each time of year offering a unique wildlife experience.
January, like June, is a hard month to predict because the herds’ movements depend on when it starts to rain on the southern plains. Female wildebeest are carrying calves and are almost ready to give birth. The herds move swiftly, in search of favorable grasslands to provide sustenance for the arrival of their young.
The herds could move all the way from Lobo in the north to Ndutu in the south in just a few days. We recommend staying as central as possible and then move north or south from there, depending on the circumstances at the time. With a bit of luck, you’ll be right where you need to be, for your migration safari to the Serengeti in January.
February is calving season – a period when wildebeest, zebra and other migratory animals give birth to their offspring. Once the calves are born, the herds don’t move much. The chance of witnessing a wildebeest birth is high. Predator interaction is also very likely, as lion and leopard move into the region to prey on young and vulnerable calves.
The migration has been in and around Lakes Ndutu and Masek for the last 10 or 12 years. It might have varied by 10 or 20 kilometres, but without fail the wildebeest herds gather between Matiti Hill, Ndutu, Naabi Hill, the Goll kopjes to the east and Olduvai Gorge. You can book your Ndutu accommodation well in advance with peace of mind, for a migration safari to the Serengeti in February.
March can be fairly wet. Grasslands are lush and green, providing much needed sustenance to the large wildebeest herds. The herds move slowly and predictably, as the one-month old calves are fed constantly. The glut of calves makes easy prey for predators. Expect lots of lion and leopard encounters.
We suggest you stay in the Ndutu region during March. We favour the northern Ndutu camps because they are located within the Serengeti National Park, which has slightly cheaper daily park fees than the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority area which is home to the southern Ndutu camps. The Kusini- or Maswa-based mobile camps operate during March, providing great opportunities to stay close to the herd throughout your March Serengeti migration safari.
Don’t be scared of the long rains in April. It rains mostly in the evening and days are generally clear. The main effect of the rains, is that the plains will be wet, and the black cotton soil slippery. If you can deal with the rain and slippery roads, you’ll be rewarded with excellent sightings. We highly recommend April as one of the most consistent times to see the herds. This is when they slowly get going as the newborn calves and foals get mobile.
The best place to view the migration in April is the Simba kopjes regions, Moru and Kusini. These areas are known for their healthy lion and big cat populations. Expect a good dose of interaction between predator and prey.
May is the wettest month in the Serengeti. Roads can be slippery and tricky to navigate. The herds gather speed in May as the calves’ legs should have become fully operational by now. They also feed less frequently, so bigger distances can be covered each day.
The migratory herds should be on the move towards Lake Magadi just north of Moru and south of Mokoma. The mobile camps do not operate in May, due to the difficult and wet road conditions.
June marks the end of the rainy season. The plains are lush and green. The wildebeest herds cover great distances. Driving times between leading and trailing herds can exceed three hours. June is traditionally the Grumeti River crossing period, but this 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.
Traditionally June is tricky because of the dispersion of the herds. You usually need time on both sides of the Nyamuma and Simiti Hills. It’s a long way round, but this approach gives you the best of both worlds: you could find yourself deep in the migration one day, and then have a view of the approaching migration at the Mbalageti River, the next day (we have seen some of the best migration views from the restaurant deck at Mbalageti). That said, depending on how much rain has fallen, the back end of the migration could still be at Lake Magadi and on the southern side of the Nyamuma and Simiti Hills. We recommend combining Makoma Hill and Mbalageti accommodation in early June and then going towards the Grumeti River in late June and early July. We suggest an even 5- night / 5-night split between the two areas for the best possible Serengeti migration safari in June.
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.
The Grumeti River is where you’ll want to be during July to view early river crossings. However, due to limited accommodation, we suggest that you book early to avoid disappointment.In late July, stay closer to the Mara River for an extra river crossing experience.
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.
August is the most consistent month to view river crossings. The herds will be crossing an international border between Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara. Book early on both sides of the Mara River.
September offers more hot and dry weather, as the dry season continues in the Serengeti and Masai Mara.Most of the wildebeest have crossed the Mara River, and the majority of the herds will be in the Greater Masai Mara area, eating the lush green grass resources before venturing north towards the private conservancies (Mara North, Olare Orok).
Similar to August, September is an easy month to predict where the herds will be. You can still stay in the Serengeti early in the month, but it’s safer to stay on the Masai Mara side to view the last of the Mara River crossings.
October will be milder, as the dry season approaches its climax. You might even experience early rain in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti. The wildebeest herds are in the Masai Mara, but will start to slowly move back into the Serengeti moving through Loliondo in the east.
It’s best to stay in the Masai Mara to have the best opportunity to see the wildebeest herds.
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 Masai Mara itself, combined with north-eastern Serengeti is where you need to be.
guide to 2021/2022 wildbeest migration – Expect wet weather in December, as the short rains begin to fall in the Central 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.
That river crossings can be predicted Not even the wildebeest know when they’re going to cross! Some arrive at the water and swim over immediately; some arrive and spend days hanging around grazing; some arrive and turn back to where they came from. We wish we could predict them but no-one can. This is why it is best to have as much time on safari as possible if you hope to see a river crossing.
That the Migration only takes place between July and October The Great Migration is a year-round phenomenon, with different but equally exciting elements occurring at various times of the year. The river crossings usually coincide with peak safari season, hence the perception that this is the only time of the year that the wildebeest are on the move or can be seen. With climate change, the long and short rainy seasons over Tanzania and Kenya are no longer as regular or predictable as they once were. The rains can be ‘late’ or ‘early’, which will throw the whole wildebeest calendar out of synch. This is, once again, why it’s important to plan for as much time on safari as possible. You cannot fly in for two nights, see a river crossing and fly out again – nature simply doesn’t work that way! This is a very general breakdown of more or less where the herds are during the year, bearing in mind that the entire Migration is triggered by rain, which can be early, late or ‘on time’.Contact Great Adventure Safaris for detailed information about the guide to 2021/2022 wildbeest migration safari.