View our video on the right for an animated depiction of the timing of the Wildebeest Migration or read on for a detailed description.
It's the life-giving rains - beginning in mid-November and lasting until early May - that trigger the migration. Accompanied by tens of thousands of zebras and gazelles, huge numbers of wildebeest surge out of Kenya's Masai Mara and onto the southern plains of Tanzania's Serengeti and the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
If they had a choice, the wildebeest would want to be on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti all year round. This is where they give birth to their young when the landscape is lush and green following the short rains.
The calving season usually begins towards the end of January when pregnant females in the vast wildebeest herds give birth more or less simultaneously. This generally occurs over a period of three weeks when optimum grazing is available. The first two weeks in February are generally considered the peak birthing period but it may also be the second and third week of February. The exact timing is heavily dependent upon rainfall.
Within a relatively short space of time, several hundred thousand calves will be born. While on game drives, you can expect to see hundreds of wildebeest calves, from a few hours to a few days old, in front of you. And with all this easy prey on the open savannah, you can also expect to see Africa's big predators in action: lions, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas, black-baked jackal and even wild dog if you're lucky. If you want to see a kill - this is about as good a time and place as any.
It is also very likely that you could witness an actual birth. Unlike most other antelope, wildebeest do not hide their young but encourage them to get on their feet almost immediately and join the herds where there is safety in numbers.
View all our Migration tours & safaris.
Please note this is a general description of the migration cycle. Due to the spontaneous and unpredictable timing of the wildebeest migration, we cannot be held liable for any misrepresentation of the current situation in East Africa. Please consult with a Go2Africa Safari Expert for up-to-date reports when planning your safari.
A Seasonal Guide