Wildebeest Migration map & highlights

Wildebeest Migration map & highlights


MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME

There’s no fixed timetable for the Wildebeest Migration, and no single route, so a successful trip to view it might include a couple of locations – northern Tanzania, the Mara River and the Masai Mara, for example. You can travel between these overland, but expect some long and bumpy jeep rides. Staying outside the Masai Mara reserve in one of Kenya’s excellent conservancies is a good way to avoid the visitors who come to see the Mara River stage, although you might have a fairly long drive in to watch the crossings. And once you’ve filled up on Wildebeest Migration highlights, explore further afield. Most organised safaris move around, taking in treats such as the Ngorongoro Crater and Great Rift Valley.
Great Rift Valley Mara River Crossing Masai Mara Ngorongoro Crater Olduvai Gorge Southern Serengeti

GREAT RIFT VALLEY

The 9,600km-long Rift Valley has shattered Africa, leaving behind lakes, islands and lush oases. Eight lakes sprang up in Kenya; Naivasha has over 400 species of birds, flitting about amongst the hippos; Elementaita is a deep blue soda lake, attracting white pelicans; and Baringo has a floating restaurant. Geological activity continues in the Rift, with hot springs and steam vents bubbling from the deep.

MARA RIVER CROSSING

The Masai Mara and the Serengeti are separated by the Mara River – the greatest obstacle to the animals on the Migration. They risk their lives plunging off its steep banks, dodging the snapping jaws of gigantic crocodiles, who only feed during this crossing. Although it can also be seen from Tanzania’s Serengeti, the Masai Mara provides the best viewpoints to pull up and watch.

MASAI MARA

This national reserve, one of the most famous ecosystems in the world, is synonymous with both wildlife and the Maasai tribes. A stage for the Great Migration, the Mara sees some two million wildebeest and zebras spilling into it from Jun-Oct – if they survive the precarious Mara River crossing. The surrounding Maasai conservancies offer the chance to spend time with this fascinating people.

NGORONGORO CRATER

This is a giant, 25km-wide volcano crater. From the rim, at an elevation of 2,400m, the cliff plunges down some 600m to the crater floor, where lush plains and lakes are home to 30,000 animals, including massive bull elephants, leopard and black rhino. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a self-contained ecosystem, so it’s the easiest place to see the Big Five year-round – hence the high number of vehicles.

OLDUVAI GORGE

Take a break from wildlife viewing to learn about ancient human history. Known as the ‘cradle of mankind’, Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania is where the Leakeys unearthed the earliest known specimens of the human genus, Homo habilis or ‘handy man’, back in 1959. There’s an interesting museum, containing fossilised remains of our roughly two-million-year-old human ancestors.

SOUTHERN SERENGETI

In the dry season, when the wildebeest are in the Masai Mara, the southern Serengeti is nothing but dust. During the rains, however, it’s a lush nursery for young calves, with half a million wildebeest born here during Jan and Feb. The plains and granite kopjes are great for game viewing, and there are soda lakes pink with flamingos and marshes where serval cats wander.

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Wildebeest Migration travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN EAST AFRICA

WHEN & WHERE TO SEE THE WILDEBEEST MIGRATION


Amanda Marks, from our supplier Tribes Travel, has advice on seeing the Migration in Tanzania: “The Wildebeest Migration moves constantly so you have it from December to March in the southern Serengeti in Tanzania – you can find the wildlife there quite easily. They tend to give birth at the beginning of the year, then move north and west, though they are more spread out so it’s not such a spectacle – but you can still find them. Then from July to October they are in Kenya, but they are also in the very north of the Serengeti, which is just as good a place to see the migration.”
Roman Biondic, from our supplier Eyes on Africa Safaris, on seeing the Migration in Kenya: “The great wildebeest migration is madness – so many people come to see it and the Masai Mara is so small compared to the Serengeti. The wildebeest come from July to October but July and August is when people travel. This August one of our drivers counted the cars waiting in the morning for the river crossing – he counted 180, 200 cars. In June the wildebeest are already starting to cross, September and October they are still there – this is a much better time to visit as there are not so many people. Just spread it out a little bit outside the school holidays!”

ENJOYING THE MIGRATION


Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus, shares Tanzania safari travel advice on his favourite way to watch wildlife: “It is incredible to see the huge migrations lines. When I led one of my last safaris down there we saw the Big Five within a few hours and so I asked the group what they wanted to do. They asked me ‘what would you do?’ I said I’d park the vehicle up in the middle of the migration, turn the engine off and sit there for two or three hours and just watch it pass. I’d also ban photography for an hour. Too many people just shoot Africa through a lens and come back with 7,000 images – but don’t actually just sit there and take it all in. So I make everyone put their cameras down and sit there and watch it with their engines off.”

Tips from our travellers


ADVICE FROM THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN THE MIGRATION

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Wildebeest Migration travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday – and the space inside your suitcase.
“Mixing the Safari by car at Masai Mara/Serengeti with some days trekking is a good way to get closer to nature in the places where trekking is allowed/safe. The environment is very fragile and visited by many tourists. Make sure to travel with agencies which you can be sure comply with the highest possible standards in terms of responsibility towards nature and the local community.” – Tomas Gregersen
“Absolute essentials are: torch, preferably head torch and maybe a spare one as well. Mosquito spray and something for the Tsetse flies which were a nuisance. Wet wipes and an anti-bac hand gel. Binoculars and a camera with a very good zoom. Didn’t need walking boots, sturdy trainers were good enough. Go with an open mind, be flexible, join in and have a laugh – it will be what you make it.” – Kathy Miles
“Book stays in tented camps. These are much more exciting than lodges and extremely comfortable too.” – Catherine Hoffmann
“Aim to enjoy every part of the holiday, whether it is the flight in a prop plane and landing on an air strip with elephants and giraffes standing to on either side (or in the middle), or hundreds of hairy caterpillars in procession. Big or small, take it all in and enjoy watching and listening. The animals will be doing something different every time you see them and remember that it is a privilege to be in their environment. Don’t worry about dressing up for travel or evening meals, and forget make-up and hair styling too. I would also recommend taking a travel washing line and biodegradable washing liquid and doing regular washes- the clothes dry quickly. And ladies, wear a sports bra...” – Joanne Davenport
“If you go during the dry season be prepared for dust on a grand scale! Having said that what you are seeing and doing overrides any discomfort. Done forget your lip salve and hair conditioner as the air is very dry! You need to be fairly fit as the game drives involve long days over very bumpy roads and if you are not flying, the distances between N.P.s can be quite long.” – Linda de Zilva
Photo credits:[Map intro: Vince Smith] [Great Rift Valley: Ninara] [Mara river Crossing: JULIAN MASON] [Masai Mara: Weldon Kennedy] [Ngorongoro Crater: A_Peach] [Olduvai Gorge: Leon F. Cabeiro] [Southern Serengeti: Mike] [Help Desk: Fyre Mael] [When & where to see the wildebeest migration: Vince Smith] [Enjoying the migration: Gopal Vijayaraghavan] [Review 1: William Warby] [Review 2: Maria Hägglöf]

Written by: Joanna Simmons
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