Where’s the best place to see the great wildebeest migration?
The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of the most dramatic wildlife events in the world where over 2 million wildebeests accompanied by zebras, Thomson and grant’s gazelles make an epic annual journey from the plains of Serengeti national park in Tanzania to Maasai Mara national reserve in Kenya in search for greener pastures and water.
The Great Wildebeest Migration usually referred to as the greatest show on earth is one of the world’s most magnificent natural events, the migration and herds participating in it move following an old route circling from Tanzania to Southern Kenya. The migration takes a course of a year with over 2 millions wildebeests and thousands of zebras and gazelles moving 1800 miles, during the migration the herds encounter various dangers. Some of the dangers encountered by the herds include predators wanting to feast on the herds and their young ones and the deadly crocodiles in the rivers that is Grumenti and Mara Rivers.
There are many different points to observe this mass movement of the wildebeest and all the drama it entails, but we’d recommend the flash-points of the Mara River, the plains of the Masai Mara National Park, and the Ndutu Plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti.
If you’re currently considering a safari in Africa to see the wildebeest migration, check out what Governor’s Camp has to offer. With multiple locations within the Masai Mara reserve, our luxurious camps offer a comfortable yet convenient base from which to observe this natural phenomenon.
The Mara River
The Mara River is the best place to see the annual wildebeest migration, the river is one of the most awe-inducing points of the movement of the wildebeests and other migrating herds as they cross the river to enter the savannah plains of Maasai Mara park. This episode of the herds crossing the river is referred to as the “Mara river crossing”, the crossing is one of the most exciting, deadly and intriguing event of the annual wildebeest migration to watch as the herds faceoff with the deadly crocodiles in the Nile and the predators at the banks.
Before crossing the river, millions of wildebeests and other herds stand at the lip of the bank and suddenly they cascade downwards towards the river throwing up plumes of dust, driven by the instinct of survive the herds bound into the water which is infested by crocodiles waiting to feast on them.
Amidst the thundering of hooves and desperate paddling, some of the herds are abruptly pulled under the waters by the crocodiles waiting under the surface and ready to put their sharp teeth in to the fresh of the vulnerable wildebeests, zebras and gazelles. Some animals do not make out of the river and those who survive also face off with powerful predators including lions, cheetahs, leopards, African wild dogs and hyenas waiting on the banks of Mara River.
In the spectacle Mara river crossing, the herds make their way across the border between Tanzania and Kenya. The best time/ months of the year to see the Mara river crossing are August and September, this period is a dry season forcing the wildebeests to make desperate decisions in search for water and green pasture.
The Plains of the Mara Reserve
After crossing the deadly Mara River, the herds which make out alive head to the Great Plains of Maasai Mara filled with plentiful of grass and freshwater which are a result of rain showers that begin in September and October.
Though some herds do not make out of the river due to the deadly crocodiles, the herds are still vast and they fill the plains up to the horizon and scatter while feeding stretching in a distance.
Maasai Mara national reserve is a vast national reserve dominated with endless rolling plains stretching over an area of 1,510 square kilometers, the reserve is situated in the Southwest of Kenya.
The Ndutu Plains
From the plains of Maasai Mara, the herds head back south wards Tanzania to the Ndutu plains as they follow rain. The Ndutu Plains / Ndutu region forms the northern section of Ngorongoro conservation Area joining the plains of Serengeti national park, this forms part of the annual migration route and is where the migrating herds settle/stay from around January to February. During their stay in the Ndutu area, it’s a calving season – the herds give birth to give birth to their young ones. In the period of 3 weeks around 500,000 calves are born adding on to the vast population of the herds.
The presences of the newly born calves attract predators such as cheetahs, lions and hyenas preying on the vulnerable young calves. Wildlife tourists get to enjoy a hunting action, you may get to sight a lioness crouching down in the grasses, edging closer towards the herd before springing into a charge. You may also witness a pack of hyenas ruthlessly dragging a wildebeest which has separated from its group to the ground, calving season in Serengeti national park is filled with tensions and it is when the circle of life can be observed in its full tragic beauty.