View our video on the right for an animated depiction of the timing of the Wildebeest Migration or read on for a detailed description.
By April the wildebeest migration has spread out across the plains of Tanzania's northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the southern Serengeti. There are thousands of young wildebeest calves on the plains - along with predators waiting for easy pickings.
In May, the rains stop and the land dries up. The grass has been mowed to stubble by the herds, which are now forced to start moving. The great journey starts in a rather disorderly manner: a few of the 1.5 million individuals decide it's time to go and start off westwards towards Lake Victoria and the western Serengeti, the others eventually follow. Individuals and small groups gradually merge into vast columns on the march and the migration builds up momentum again.
Given the fact that the exact timing of the wildebeests' departure from the plains is completely dependent upon when the rains end in May, it is a good idea to try several different locations if you are on safari at this time of year. The migration could reach the western Serengeti anytime from early May to early June, depending on when the southern plains dry up.
Late May to early June is also when the wildebeest breed, the exact timing dictated by the availability of food and the animals' condition. But, whenever it happens, all the mature animals come into season at the same time and the result is spectacular. Breeding males bellow and grunt to advertise their presence, see off rivals and round up females to keep them from walking away while the calves and their mothers constantly call to each other so they don't get separated in all the confusion. The resulting cacophony is quite something!
By June, the migration should be in full swing as the herds make their way from the southern plains to their transitional range located in the western Serengeti. Combined with the wildebeest rut at the beginning of June, the movement of the massed herds, attacked on all fronts by predators, makes this an exciting time for a safari in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park.
View all our Migration tours & safaris.
A Seasonal Guide