September 16

36 Things You Should Know About the Great Wildebeest Migration

September 16, 2017
  1. The Great Wildebeest Migration is an ongoing event that plays out on the grassy plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Mara.

    The Great Wildebeest Migration in the Maasai Mara in Kenya
    Great Wildebeest Migration in the Masai Mara, Kenya
  2. Herds of around 1.7 million wildebeest and several hundred thousand zebra and gazelle move from the southern Serengeti in the beginning of the year…

    Herds of zebras and wildebeests during the Great Migration
    Herds of zebras and wildebeests during the Great Migration
  3. Where they give birth to their young…

    Young Zebra foal during the Great Migration
    Zebras give birth to one young, called a foal, every 2-3 years
  4. To the northern tip of the Serengeti, which extends into the bottom of Kenya’s Maasai Mara, towards the middle of the year.

    Wildebeests with calves in the Maasai Mara
    A mother and her calve
  5. The movement of the herds is strictly governed by the rains.

    Dark clouds over the savannah
    Dark clouds over the savannah
  6. As grasses are depleted from over grazing, the herds are forced to move onwards…

    Stormy skies above a herd of zebras during the Great Migration
    Stormy skies above a herd of zebras during the Great Migration
  7. Following the rain which prompts new shoots of grass to spring up.

    Wildebeest wandering in the savannah during the Great Wildebeest Migration
    Wildebeest wandering in the savannah
  8. Around the middle of the year, Mara River crossings are a big attraction.

    Safari vehicles observing the Great Migration
    Observing the Great Migration
  9. This is the time of year when hordes of wildebeest clamour to cross the river to get to the green grasses on the other side.

    River crossings are a thrilling spectacle during the Great Migration
    River crossings are a thrilling spectacle
  10. But the Mara River isn’t only deep and wide…

    Wildebeest at a river during the Great Wildebeest Migration
    Where is the best section to cross?
  11. Or rocky and treacherous…

    Wildebeests mastering a difficult river crossing
    Wildebeests mastering a difficult crossing
  12. It’s also home to the largest crocodile population in Africa

    Crocodile sunbathing by the river
    Crocodiles make the river crossings even more dangerous
  13. And dramatic scenes often unfold any time the herds are near.

    Crocodile attack in a river during the Great Migration
    Crocodile attacks happen regularly
  14. Dust flies…

    Zebra sprinting to join the herd after crossing the river
    Zebra sprinting to join the herd after crossing the river
  15. Eager scavengers lurk nearby…

    Vultures waiting for their turn to feed
    Vultures waiting for their turn to feed
  16. And despite everyone’s best efforts to maintain order…

    Wildebeest fighting a river current during the Wildebeest Migration
    Watch the current!
  17. Chaos reigns supreme

    Wildebeests rushing to get out of the water
    Wildebeests rushing to get out of the water
  18. After the grasses have been depleted in the the north, the herds move back down south, and the whole cycle begins again.

    Wildebeests in the savannah
    Back in the savannah
  19. While following the herds as they make their long trek is definitely the highlight of East Africa safaris…

    Wildebeests seen from a safari vehicle
    Wildebeests seen from a safari vehicle
  20. That’s not to say you shouldn’t visit parts of the Serengeti and Mara when the herds have moved on.

    Postcard view of the savannah landscape
    Postcard view of the savannah
  21. Many of the predators in the Serengeti and Mara ecosystems are territorial and will stay long after the herds of left…

    Lion sunbathing on top of a rock
    Lion sunbathing on top of a rock
  22. Which is when the competition for food becomes fierce, promising some of the most exciting predator sightings in the world.

    Cheetah relaxing in the shade
    Cheetah relaxing in the shade
  23. From lion and hyena…

    Hyena mother and her cub
    Hyena mother and her cub
  24. To cheetah and leopard.

    Leopard hanging out in his favourite spot
    Leopard hanging out in his favourite spot
  25. You can see them all!

    The kings of the savannah: Lions
    The kings of the savannah: Lions!
  26. A cultural holiday goes hand-in-hand with an East Africa safari with the Maasai tribe having lived here for centuries…

    Maasai warrior overlooking the plains
    Maasai warrior overlooking the plains
  27. And this is one of few places on earth where you can see man and animal living alongside one another as they have for generations.

    Maasai warrior in the grasslands
    Maasai warrior in the grasslands
  28. It can be tough to self-drive here because the area is so vast…

    Wildebeests crossing the road in front of a jeep
    Wildebeests crossing the road in front of a jeep
  29. Luckily, there are plenty of air strips which will give you easy access to different parts of the landscape through a fly-in safari.

    Fly-in safaris allow you to enjoy the landscapes from above
    Fly-in safaris allow you to enjoy the landscapes from above
  30. You can enjoy fewer vehicles at sightings and additional activities in the private concessions…

    Safari vehicles watching zebras over river
    Who’s watching whom?
  31. Such as night drives and bush walks.

    Private game reserve safari experiences include walking and photo safaris
    Private game reserve safari experiences include walking and photo safaris
  32. The sunsets are phenomenal…

    Sunset drinks and aperitifs in the bush
    Sunset drinks and aperitifs in the bush
  33. As are the sun rises, best enjoyed with coffee in hand…

    East Africa safari sunrises with a coffee in hand
    You’ll never forget your safari sunrises
  34. Or from the air in a hot air balloon

    Hot air balloon taking off at dawn
    Hot air balloon taking off at dawn
  35. One thing’s for sure, East Africa will change you.

    Animal bones and skulls in the wild
    Witness the circle of life
  36. And witnessing the Great Wildebeest Migration will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.

    Wildebeest Migration in the savannah
    When will you see the Wildebeest Migration?

Book your East Africa safari now! Our Travel Experts look forward to tailor-making your dream safari.

To find out more about our Great Migration adventures:

A Great Migration Safari & the Search for a Mara River Crossing | Part 1 

A Great Migration Safari & the Search for a Mara River Crossing | Part 2

A Great Migration Safari & the Search for a Mara River Crossing | Part 3

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About the author 

Melanie Du Toit

Jozi-born, Knysna local, and recovering yachtie, Melanie decided that she missed being land-based after 18 months sailing the seas. Now that she lives in the most beautiful city in Africa (she is adamant about this fact), you will find her trying out new things around Cape Town, dreaming about her next holiday, and using Wikipedia to enhance her skills as an encyclopaedia of useless information.

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