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The Wildebeest Migration: July to November

By July, as the plains of the southern and eastern Serengeti dry out, the herds start heading north and west where there is more grass and more dependable water. The perilous journey from Tanzania's Serengeti plains to the greener pastures of  Kenya's Masai Mara has begun.

In a dry year, the first wildebeest could be on Kenya's border near the Mara River (the only decent permanent water in the ecosystem) by early July; in a wet year, mid-August. If conditions are very good with plenty of grass and water, the herds will be spread out all the way from Seronera in the central Serengeti to the Mara River.

The northward wildebeest migration splits into two broad groups, each taking a different route.

The main group follows the Mbalageti and Seronera Rivers from the southern Serengeti and into the western corridor, crossing the Grumeti River. This watercourse is the first real obstacle for the herds, not least because gigantic crocodiles are patiently waiting for the first wildebeest to stumble at the crossing. Remaining in the western Serengeti until July after which the land dries out completely, the wildebeest then head from the Grumeti region to the Masai Mara and its greener pastures. Here again they must cross a river: this time the Mara with its masses of hungry crocodiles.

This is one of the most exciting chapters in the annual migration - the drama of the river crossings makes riveting game viewing but you'll need to book your safari or accommodation far in advance to get front-row seats. And if you are lucky enough to witness a river crossing, you are sure to develop a new understanding and respect for the struggle for survival on the African savannah.

The second group heads directly north from the plains through the central Serengeti and directly into the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara without entering the western Serengeti.

In the Masai Mara, the rains have created a green and grassy landscape and up to 1.5 million animals pour in from the dry plains of the Serengeti. A safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve or its adjoining private conservancies between August and September after the wildebeest have arrived is an unforgettable experience. The sheer numbers are staggering as is the variety. Head out on a game drive and in a single glance you may be able to see ten or more species at a time - wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, elephant, hyena, lion, eland and gazelle.

The mass of animals remain on the productive Mara grasslands until October or November. And then, as the storm clouds gather to the south, the vast herds return to their Serengeti breeding grounds which, by the time they arrive, are once again green and lush.

Talk to an Africa Safari Expert today and make the most of your Migration safari tour package from July through to November.

Migration Safari Packages: Our Experts Recommend

  • Tour duration: 14 days
    Destinations visited: Lake Manyara, Tanzania, Tarangire, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar

    You'll have the measure of Tanzania after this 2-week adventure: you'll get all the northern safari highlights plus 4 nights on the Zanzibar coast to wind down after all that game viewing.

  • Family Kenya's Ol Donyo & Masai Mara

    From $8040
    Per person sharing
    Tour duration: 10 days
    Destinations visited: Kenya, Chyulu Hills, Tsavo, Nairobi, Amboseli National Park

    Discover East Africa's treasures on a personalised safari in private & exclusive vacation villas to Chyulu Hills, Nairobi & the Masai Mara.

  • Adventurer Mt Kenya, Samburu & Mara

    From $10160
    Per person sharing
    Tour duration: 10 days
    Destinations visited: Laikipia, Kenya, Nairobi, Masai Mara

    A spectacular 9-day once-in-a-lifetime journey, this itinerary promises you a fly-in safari t Mount Kenya, the Masai Mara & Samburu.

  • Luxury Mara, Crater & Serengeti

    From $7520
    Per person sharing
    Tour duration: 9 days
    Destinations visited: Kenya, Tanzania, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Masai Mara

    Explore the best of East Africa in this 8-night safari of a lifetime, taking in the top game parks of Kenya & Tanzania.

  • Family Masai Mara, Serengeti & Zanzibar

    From $17650
    Per person sharing
    Tour duration: 14 days
    Destinations visited: Masai Mara, Tanzania, Serengeti, Kenya, Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar

    Experience the ultimate family safari in the Masai Mara, Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater combined with luxury & relaxation in a Zanzibar retreat.

  • Comprehensive Kenya & Tanzania Explorer

    From $12740
    Per person sharing
    Tour duration: 15 days
    Destinations visited: Masai Mara, Tanzania, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Selous, Kenya, Amboseli National Park, Nairobi, Zanzibar

    A journey of adventure & romance – from the plains of the Mara; the herds of Serengeti, Ngorongoro & Selous to the spice isle of Zanzibar.

  • Family Samburu & Masai Mara

    From $5970
    Per person sharing
    Tour duration: 10 days
    Destinations visited: Mount Kenya, Kenya, Masai Mara, Nairobi, Samburu

    Take the family on an East African safari & stay only in private vacation villas, starting in Nairobi & visiting the splendour of the Samburu & the Masai Mara.

  • Kenya's Masai Mara Park & Conservancy

    From $6630
    Per person sharing
    Tour duration: 9 days
    Destinations visited: Kenya, Nairobi, Masai Mara

    This 7-day Kenya safari combines Ngare Serian, in a private 1500-acre conservancy with Nkorombo, an authentic tented camp in the Masai Mara.

  • Tanzania's Crater & Serengeti Migration

    From $5930
    Per person sharing
    Tour duration: 7 days
    Destinations visited: Tanzania, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater

    Northern Tanzania's 2 unmissable wildlife highlights are on this week-long tour - track the Big 5 in the Ngorongoro Crater before enjoying a Serengeti safari at 2 different luxury lodges.

Wildebeest Migration

The Wildebeest Migration:

A Seasonal Guide

It's Nature's most spectacular show but you'll need to be in the right place at the right time to enjoy all the drama - start planning your migration safari right here!