January to March: New Wildebeests Are Born in Tanzania
The Great Migration begins in the southern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, with the birth of a new generation of wildebeests. February is the peak of wildebeest calving season—about 400,000 calves are born over a period of just three weeks!
Wildebeest calves can stand within minutes of birth. And they can keep up with the herd when they are a few days old!
Adult wildebeests work together to protect their young from predators like lions, cheetahs, and hyenas. They sound alarm calls, then circle together around the calves, using their hooves and sharp horns for defense.
A wildebeest calf suckles milk from its mother on the Masai Mara in Kenya. Photo by Kandukuru Nagarjun.
April to May: Fattening Up
Now the Great Migration surges northward. The massive herd breaks into smaller groups as it follows the rains clockwise toward Serengeti’s Western Corridor.
For safari goers, it’s a challenge to keep up with the Great Migration this time of year. Seasonal flooding can close roads and block access to areas of the park.
June: Mating Season
The rains dissipate, and the herds regroup for mating in Serengeti’s Western Corridor. It’s an exciting time of year! You should have plenty of chances to watch males fight with each other as they show off their strength to potential mates.
July to August: River Crossings
The most dramatic moments of the Great Migration come when the herds cross crocodile-infested rivers. Rushing waters are difficult to swim through, particularly for calves.
The Grumeti in Western Serengeti is the first river to cross. A few weeks later, massive herds forge the Mara River in search of fresher pastures in Kenya.
September to October: Gathering in Masai Mara, Kenya
Once they’ve crossed that final river, the animals take it easy in the Masai Mara, a national reserve on Kenya’s southern border. With plenty of greenery to go around, herds move more slowly. In particularly lush years, they may stay into November.
November to December: Return South
Light rains return to the Serengeti in November. Wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes travel southward, eventually reaching the southern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. As the savanna fills with animals, it becomes obvious why these parks have been named World Heritage Sites.
Soon, the cycle begins again!