During February the wildebeest spend their time on the short grass plains of the south eastern part of the Serengeti ecosystem, grazing and giving birth to approximately 500,000 calves within a two to three week period: a remarkably synchronised event.
Both the sight and the sound is something quite extraordinary to witness! Along with this birth and a congregation of animals comes the predators and a wealth of other wildlife. The Serengeti is home to 70 mammal species and around 500 bird species. We recommend taking a private luxury camp that follows the migration for the very best access to calving viewings.
The migration of ungulates moves to the western corridor in May and June, crossing over the Grumeti River. The Grumeti region hosts the annual 'rut' during this time but also has its own resident wildlife so that in fact, throughout the year, wildlife viewing is always excellent here – especially for predators.
In July and August, the fortunate may witness mass Mara River crosssings as the herds travel to the lush grasslands of the Masai Mara. They (and accompanying predators) can then be seen grazing in the Mara until October / November, when they begin to head south to the Serengeti again. This is a wonderful time to walk in private concessions abutting the Mara for a more private and immersive safari experience.
Where else in Africa?
The Kalahari Desert, Botswana – A zebra migration of around 20,000 animals takes place in central and northern Botswana through areas of Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan.
Liuwa Plain, Zambia - 20,000 to 30,000 wildebeest migrate between areas in eastern Angola and western Zambia. With the rainy season starting around November, large herds of wildebeests move from Angola into Liuwa Plain National Park. The herds move back north and west in May and June.
Hermanus, South Africa - Southern Right whale from Antarctica – the greatest migration. They travel to warmer waters to give birth from late July through to October.
Cape Town, South Africa - The great white shark is a long-distance traveller, making the journey across the Indian Ocean, between South Africa and Australia and back over the course of a year.
Ile St. Marie, Madagascar, Humpback Whale – Most humpback whales make enormous journeys each year between their feeding and breeding sites. Go out with scientists on their boats, following and listening to the whales with hydrophones. August and September.
The Serengeti system is rich in grasses, being covered in Andropogon spp, red oat grasses, and Eragrostis spp.
In search of the new grasses, the Migration then moves over the border to the Masai Mara in Kenya from mid to late June, staying through to September.
This far north western side is covered by broadleaved Terminalia spp. and Combretum spp. And the underlying volcanic soils provide nutrients.
Around 80% of the Serengeti plains are protected. One scene that many want to witness are the crossings over the Mara River where huge crocodiles lie in wait. The migration very much depends upon the rains and if they are early or late which is why it is slightly a moveable feast.
However, if one spends time in the northern reaches of the Serengeti from July through to September, there is the overspill of the migration and the wildlife viewing is second to none.
This moving mass of animals crosses a diversity of habitats from open grass plains to riverine forests and woodlands. Rocky granite outcrops dot the plains. Actually it is from the Maa language that the Serengeti gets its name – ‘Serengit’ means endless plains.
We can also offer some wonderful walking safaris in the southern region of the Serengeti during this period. These again are completely private and tailored around you and your own fitness levels. Safety is paramount! Or you can have a combination of walking and game drives which offers you the best of both worlds!
How? First choice, must be to stay in a private, tented mobile camp erected just for you or your party so that you can be as close to the animals as humanly possible whilst witnessing one of Africa’s greatest phenomena!
This allows one complete flexibility and freedom each day. To spend the day amongst wildlife and return to your very own tented camp is the way that all safaris were conducted in the early 20th century and beforehand.
Sit around an open fire, the stars glistening above and listening to the sounds of lion roaring in the distance. This is what memories are truly made of! Your guides will take you out each day in open sided 4x4 vehicles, perhaps taking a picnic with you.
Otherwise, for those in search of greater luxury, there are some truly wonderful lodges and tented camps where you can have your own private vehicle and guide and your days can still be spent amongst these creatures.
Pictures courtesy of Legendary Expeditions