The Great Migration

Behold one of the greatest spectacles in the natural world, where over two million wildebeest, zebra and other grazing herbivores sweep through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem on a 480-kilometre circuit in pursuit of greener pastures. This is one electrifying experience that you will never forget and definitely worthy of its title ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’.

Experiencing the Great Migration firsthand is surely on every safari-goer's bucket list, and quite rightly so. After all, it is the oldest and largest land mammal migration in the world. Seeing the herds run the gauntlet of predators on land and in the water, in wait for this annual feast, is a sight to behold. But since the herds are always on the move, being at the right place at the right time is key. So get in touch with our Africa specialists to know when and where to join these fascinating grazers on their adventure, and let us plan your dream migration safari!

The Great MigrationSerengeti, Tanzania & Masai Mara, Kenya
To drive alongside mega-herds as they traverse endless plains in search of fresh nutrient-rich grasses, hear the drumroll of their galloping hooves, feel their adrenaline as they charge across rivers and dodge hungry and determined predators – this dazzling display of nature is as immense and intense as it can get. Though the migration can be experienced all year round, when you travel will depend on what you want to see.

Watching the drama unfoldJanuary to April: In addition to the renowned river crossings during the Great Migration, there is the calving season – a secret season many are not aware of – a special time when the herds gather on the southern Serengeti plains and give birth to half a million wildebeest calves over a period of three to four weeks between January and March. Delight in watching day-old calves bonding with their mothers, but also expect action-packed game drives as you bear witness to predators taking full advantage of the baby boom. The lush green landscapes and the high speed hunts by the Serengeti’s big cats and their young predators-in-training certainly make for fantastic wildlife photography and a thrill you will not easily forget.

May and June: The epic journey kicks off again as the herds leave the southern plains and march north to the central Serengeti. This is also the rutting season where wildebeest bulls get into testosterone-fuelled fights for dominance and the right to mate. Experience a flamboyant show of clashing horns, buzzing grunts and comical antics as more than half a million cows mate over during this time. Bring your ear plugs as the loud grunting is a 24/7 affair.

June and July: The herds move further north and cross the Kenyan border into the Masai Mara. Just like the calm before the storm, massive groups of wildebeest pause on the banks of the powerful Mara River, building up their courage to take the plunge. Suddenly, a brave wildebeest makes the first move and the rest follow – hurling themselves into the water. Some may get crushed and drown in the chaos, while others may get eaten by the hungry crocodiles lying in wait. Most will prevail but the drama continues as the injured or exhausted survivors get picked off by opportunistic big cats and hyenas on the opposite riverbank. This is what dramatic wildlife documentary scenes are made of and witnessing this firsthand will take your breath away.

July to October: More herds continue their journey north, crossing into Kenya's Masai Mara. With each crossing, there is a sense of calm before the storm as massive groups of wildebeest stall hesitantly on the banks of the powerful Mara River, building up the courage to take the plunge. Patience is a virtue here for both hungry crocodiles and wide-eyed tourists eagerly waiting to capture this dramatic wildlife spectacle. Suddenly, a brave wildebeest makes the first move and the rest follow – hurling themselves into the water. Some may get crushed and drown in the chaos, while others may get eaten. Most will prevail but the drama continues as injured or exhausted survivors get picked off by opportunistic big cats and hyenas on the other side.

When the dust finally settles, the herds enjoy the productive grasslands of the Masai Mara. This lottery of life and death can be hard for some to watch, but the raw agony and ecstasy of survival is what makes the Great Migration an absolute marvel to behold. Exactly what time and day the river crossings occur is anyone’s guess, and the herds often change their minds, going back and forth on the same day; hence, we always encourage clients to allow more time in this area for a better chance of witnessing this awe-inspiring spectacle at least once, if not two or more times if you are lucky!

November and December: As storm clouds gather over the southern Serengeti plains, the herds return to their verdant and fertile breeding grounds, ready to welcome the next generation. The cycle of life repeats itself.

Advancing with the herds
The concept of movement is a big part of the migration but its unpredictable nature makes planning where to base yourself to catch the best of the ‘show’ a real challenge. For this reason, we often recommend combining at least one mobile camp and one permanent camp or lodge across different locations to increase your chances of seeing the migration.
Mobile camps:Staying in a mobile tented camp is often a preferred choice, as the camps purposefully shift their location seasonally so as to get the closest possible view of the action. You can be assured that our selection of lightweight mobile outfits are far from basic too – think spacious tents furnished with large comfortable beds, ensuite safari-style bucket showers with hot water, flush toilets, handwoven Persian rugs, burnished copper lanterns, and the like.

Permanent camps/lodges:There are a small number of permanent camps and lodges in the key areas through which the migration travels, offering an elevated level of luxury with trimmings like plunge pools, Wi-Fi, spa treatments, etc. As you already know by now, location is vital. So leave it to your A2A safari specialist to help you pick outstanding camps or lodges in prime locations, ensuring that you can enjoy easy access to the herds.

Securing the best seats to ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’
Catching the migration is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many, and with some planning ahead (and by that we mean, at least one year ahead), we can secure the ‘best seats in the house’ for you.
With decades of experience in tracking the herds and surveying every corner of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem every month of the year, our team is excited to lead you to your ringside seat to ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’!
Africa's other phenomenal mass migrations
Africa is home to other lesser-known but equally spectacular animal migrations that safari aficionados and wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy.
These include the world's largest bat (and mammal) migration and Africa's second largest wildebeest migration in Zambia; southern Africa's largest zebra migration in Botswana; the seasonal and spectacular flamingo migrations along Kenya's section of the Rift Valley; the mass birthing of southern right whales along South Africa's southern coast and humpback whales in Kenya's Watamu Protected area along its coast; and lastly for safari connoisseurs, Africa's second largest land mammal migration when over 1.2 million white-eared kob (a medium-size antelope) and other gazelle and antelope species migrate between Ethiopia's wetlands and South Sudan's vast and legendary Sudd swamps.

Let us help arrange your
Great Migration Adventure

Every safari we arrange is unique and customised to suit each client’s interests and budgets.

Contact our consultant to plan a custom travel itinerary for you.

Ready for your trip?
Let us help you plan everything.

We do not subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy. Sample itineraries and cost estimates are meant purely as a guide. To find out more, please contact one of our expert travel consultants to plan a customized itinerary based on your budget and interests.