Kenya Tanzania Wildebeest, Zebra and Gazelles Annual Great MigrationSample Photo

Marangu tour vehiclesSample Photo

The annual migration of nearly 2 million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles through Tanzania and Kenya is a spectacular phenomenon. The Great Migration follows a predictable route, but the exact timing varies a bit each year, depending on the start and severity of the dry season throughout Eastern Africa.

Wildebeests and zebras typically spend December to April in Tanzania, nursing new calves born in the spring. The slow-moving calves draw the attention of lions, cheetahs and hyenas, and this mix of predator and prey offers prime wildlife-viewing opportunities in nature preserves like Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The seasonal rains usually end in May. Grass and leaves wither, forcing grazing species to move west and then north in search of food. This is the start of the Great Migration, a steady stream of animals in columns that can stretch for miles, heading toward the western and northern Serengeti.

Predators -- more territorial than migratory -- await the zebra and wildebeest as these animals pass through their hunting grounds. The migrating herds must cross the Grumeti River, where crocodiles will feast on the weak and the slow. Scavenging birds watch from treetops and circle overhead. June and July are the best months for witnessing the Great Migration in the western and northern Serengeti of Tanzania

Sample Photo

As the summer progresses, the herds travel farther north. Between July and August, they cross the Mara River, where some are lost in surging floodwaters and others are seized by waiting crocs. They move into Kenya, typically reaching the abundant greenery of the Masai Mara in August or September, a dazzling number of animals within a single nature reserve.

Some naturalists claim that the Masai Mara contains the largest concentration of predators along the migratory route. The animals will stay here until October or November. Most safaris visit the area before fall brings another rainy season to the plains and the herds turn south toward Tanzania.

Those animals that complete the journey will have traveled more than 1,800 miles, covering Africa's vast grasslands in a clockwise direction.

Kenya Tanzania Wildebeest Annual Great Migration

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