The great wildebeest migration is the biggest movement of herbivores on earth. The annual migration takes places from the southern plains of the Serengeti, located in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya, and then back again in a clockwise motion. During this trek, the wildebeest are joined by thousands of zebras and gazelles. The drama is more than the millions of wildebeests that trek over the plains and rivers, but it’s the fierce battle for survival as they pass through areas infested by carnivores.
The Serengeti National Park is around 1.5 million hectors of savanna, with rivers and woodlands and some rocky outcrops. In it is on these grasslands that the largest remaining migration in the world takes place. Around one million wildebeest, thousands of zebras and gazelles will cross the plains for food and to breed. The migration will take the herds on a 1,000 km long annual circular trek spanning the two neighboring countries from Tanzania and Kenya. There is also no barriers to hamper the migration.
Zebras and buck on the Serengeti plains, Photo credit: https://www.alienadv.com/
The best times to view this seven wonder of the natural world, is dependent on what you want to view. Since between January and February, as the seasonal rains starts in the Serengeti, the female wildebeest will start to give birth. From March till April, the land becomes dry forcing the herds to move north towards Lake Victoria. This is also where they will mate. Around June or July the wildebeest will migrate towards Maassai Mara. This is the most dramatic, where the herds cross the Mara river around July and September. Dramatic as the massive Nile crocodiles and other predators will feast on the animals. Around September, the herds will start their trek back to the Serengeti.
It is therefore understandable that the Serengeti has been declared a World Heritage Site in 1979. But it’s the drama that has made it famous. That is since the Serengeti Park is where you can spot one of the largest and most mixed predator-prey interactions in the world.
Likewise it is the soil, which is volcanic, that has created an ecological paradise and one of the most productive ecosystems worldwide. It is this soil and its grasslands that supports over two million wildebeests, over 900 000 Thomson’s gazelles and over 300 000 zebras. Other mammals include over 7 000 elands, 27 000 topis, 18 000 hartebeests, 70 000 buffalos, 4000 giraffes, 15 000 warthogs, 3000 waterbucks, 2700 elephants, 500 hippos, 200 black rhinos, 10 species of antelopes, and around 10 species of primates. Plus, the park also contains around 4000 Serengeti lions, 1000 leopards, 225 cheetahs, 3500 spotted hyenas and about 300 wild dogs. Furthermore, the Serengeti is where you can find the highest ostrich population in Tanzania. In total it means that you will be able to spot all of the Big 5 and almost guaranteed a memorable safari.
Besides the vast biodiversity within the park, it is the migration of the herds that gets the attention of tourist. Although this migration is not guaranteed, as these are animals, but the migration pattern is almost similar each year. The animals will be in the southern areas of the Serengeti from January till March, and then trek towards the northern parts and then to Masai Mara side from around July to October.
Rhino and zebras on the grassy plains
To ensure tourists on safari experience the best viewing opportunities, tourist establishments have created semi-permanent tented camps that can move seasonally. Moving camps also means that regular visitors are ensures to gain new safari experiences. But these camps are that they are prepared before the guests arrive. An example of these camps are Africa & Beyond’s luxury Serengeti Under Canvas. A benefit of these private camps are that guest have a better opportunity to view this wonder of nature in a more private environment and be right in the middle of the action. More so, the camps will arrange all day or twice daily game drives and will arrange packed picnic luncheons for their guests. There the guests can view how the wildebeest battle the famous Serengeti lions, crocodile infested rivers, hyenas and leopards. Otherwise, you can relax and in the evening just stare at the stars.
Similar the group Bush Top Camps, offers guest the selection of permanent luxury camps or mobile camps. For example the Serengeti Bushtops is a 5-star camp located in the northern parts of the Serengeti. This camp offers its guests a private hot tub, massages, a butler services and game drives to the Mara river crossing. In addition, this group started their Removing Bushtop camps. These semi-permanent camps are located in the central areas of the park, but being a 5-star establishment all the frills you would associate with a superior hotel are there only that it is surrounded by an incredible scenery.
After your safari in the Serengeti National Park, where you have viewed the migration of the wildebeest you can extend your stay other parts of Tanzania. This since Tanzania will spoiled with different things to do. For instance you can after your safari trip head off for a few days to the spice island of Zanzibar. There you can rest and enjoy the warm Indian ocean, the white beaches and go scuba diving. Alternatively you can visit the UNESCO Historical Site of Stone Town and walk between the medieval buildings.
The migration of millions of wildebeest from the plains of the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in Kenya, and back, is true magic. The tranquil scenes massive of herbivores grazing on the grasslands on the plains, to the drama of these animals trying to avoid they predators that lurk in the rivers and savanna grass makes this one of the best safari spots in the world. But tourist can view this phenomenon of the wildebeest trekking through the plains from luxury camp sites, and once done explore the rest of the tourist offers of Tanzania has to offer.
Resource list for your next trip:
Kenya Safari: https://blog.alienadv.com/kenya-safari-complete-guide/
Kenya profile: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenya
Wildlife tours: https://www.travelsupermarket.com/en-gb/holidays/kenya/
Safari in Tanzania: https://blog.alienadv.com/Tanzania-Safari-Complete-Guide/
How wildebeest migration works: http://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/wildebeest-migration.htm