Iconic safari adventure in Tanzania: The Great Wildebeest Migration

Great Wildebeest Migration
Great Wildebeest Migration [Image by Thomson Safaris Tanzania Safaris and Kili Treks on Flickr]

Tanzania is an East African country known for the Kilimanjaro National Park, Zanzibar and its gorgeous beaches, historic destinations and its many safari locations.

One of the most iconic safari adventures in Tanzania is the famous Great Wildebeest Migration. This event of a lifetime should be experienced as least once.

The Serengeti and the Great Wildebeest Migration

One of the most spectacular events in Africa is the Great Wildebeest Migration. This happens each year, where more than 2 million wildebeest, gazelles and zebras cross the Serengeti National Park and the Masai Mara in search of greener pastures. This is truly one of the wonders of the natural world and a life-changing experience.

Great Wildebeest Migration
Great Wildebeest Migration [Image by Stefan Swanepoel on Wikimedia Commons]

Health warning: Dengue fever and Tanzania

When visiting Tanzania, it must be borne in mind that a confirmed outbreak of dengue fever was announced by the Tanzania Ministry of Health in March 2019. At that time, there were 11 confirmed patients suffering the disease in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city.

This is the fifth outbreak in Tanzania’s history and has affected around 3,000 people, while previously in 2014, around 2,000 Tanzanians had been affected by the disease. Dengue fever is believed to have been around since the 1770s, but it was only recently a vaccination was developed.

Mosquito and Dengue Fever Image in the Public Domain by James Gathany]

In 2016, the vaccine known as Dengvaxia was made available in several countries in the world. Should you believe you will be at risk when visiting Tanzania, speak to your doctor to find out what is available.

When to experience the Great Wildebeest Migration

July to October

The Great Wildebeest Migration doesn’t just happen at one time of the year and can be seen during a variety of months, making it easier for planning a trip. However, July to October is reported to be the best time to visit. During those months, you will see thousands of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles heading through the northern Serengeti Plains and crossing the great Mara River.

Great Wildebeest Migration
Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti, Tanzania [Image by Ben & Fab on Flickr]

December to March

At this time of the year, the wildebeest are spread over the southern Serengeti plains, around Ndutu, in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This is calving season and is a genuine highlight of the beasts’ journey, where herds of wildebeest congregate on the sweeping plains.

February is said to be the time where visitors are guaranteed to see the large herds, which always head south when it’s time for calving.

Wildebeest and calf
Wildebeest and calf [Image by Derek Keats on Wikimedia Commons]

April, May, June and November

These months see the wildebeest migration between locations, with April to June experiencing the long rains and green and lush grasses in the Serengeti, while November offers short rains. During these months, you are unlikely to see the massive and exciting herds for which the great migration is famous.

Why does the Great Migration occur?

The basic reasoning for the wildebeest to migrate through the Serengeti to Masai Mara is to follow the rainfall. Like many of us, wildebeest like to head where the grass is greener! The herds head through the Serengeti in a clockwise movement, heading from one place to another for the lush grass.

Great Wildebeest Migration
Lush grass for the Great Wildebeest Migration [Image by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen on Wikimedia Commons]
Their journey covers around 500 km and is fraught with danger, as cheetahs, lions and crocodiles take advantage of the huge herds, preying on on the herds as they pass by.

Make sure to experience the Great Wildebeest Migration at least once in your life, as it is truly an incredible experience.