The Serengeti: no other place on Earth is more synonymous with an African safari. The name alone conjures up images of vast plains teeming with exotic wildlife. The Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania is home to one of the most spectacular mammal migrations on Earth. This park is over 5,700 square miles (about the size of Connecticut) with the great Serengeti Ecosystem about twice that size. Each year, an astounding 1.5 million blue wildebeests and more than 200,000 zebra trace a clockwise migration loop through the greater Serengeti ecosystem in search of better grazing and water sources. If all of these wildebeest and zebra were to each run in front of your Land Rover at 1 per second, it would take almost 3 weeks for all of them to cross the road! Over the course of the full migratory loop, the animals can cover up to 1,800 miles – that’s like walking from Seattle to Los Angeles AND BACK! This annual exodus draws safari-goers from around the world hoping to witness this grand spectacle. Booking a Tanzanian Safari with Wildland Adventures means travelling comfortably and in style with the best guides who put you in the perfect locations to witness all of this wild drama.
Migration Timeline: October - January
As the short rains begin in late October and early November, the migration begins to move from their grazing lands in the northern Serengeti of Tanzania and Maasai Mara of southern Kenya toward the southeast plains. As the grass grows, the zebra and wildebeest work symbiotically - zebras eating the long grasses which exposes the short grasses preferred by the wildebeests. Through December and into January the migration continues to push south and congregate on the edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area on the southern edge of the Serengeti.
February - June
Sometime in late January through February, the wildebeest calving season begins. Over a 2-3 week period, an average of 8,000 calves can be born per day (over 300 per hour)! These newborns are highly vulnerable to predation by lions and cheetahs but with so many being born, there are simply too many for predators to eat. The calves can run as fast as an adult within 2 days of being born!
The migration remains congregated in the southern Serengeti through January, February and March gradually spreading westward throughout the plains.
Late March into April brings the long rains (and mosquitoes) which can last into June. By May, the migration is typically heading north in building numbers on the western edge of the Serengeti before crossing the shallow Grumeti River en masse in June. Massive crocodiles lurk in the waters and surprise adults that are drinking and unsuspecting juveniles.
July - September
By July, the herds have split up a bit, some continuing to head north through the Serengeti, the rest bends west through the Grumeti Reserve. No matter which route they take, by August and September they re-congregate at the most formidable obstacle along the entire migrator corridor: the mighty Mara River. Steep banks, fast and deep water creates confusion and a prime opportunity for predators like crocodiles. Crossings are turbulent and panic driven and are as dramatic as they are awe-inspiring with thousands of frantic wildebeest rushing through the waters, leaping and tumbling over the river banks. Blue wildebeest can run close to 40 miles per hour and confused and frantic herds sometimes cross north, just to re-cross back south days later!
By October, the migration is beginning to bend toward the south and the entire cycle repeats itself again, as it has for millennia.
When should I go?
The most popular time is June through October when the weather is stable and dry. This is a great time to witness dramatic river crossings and huge herds throughout most of the northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara. Another popular time is in January and February when you can catch the calving season in the southeastern part of the park.
Our most popular Serengeti itineraries are our 10-day Best of the Serengeti and Mara and 12-day Serengeti Wilderness Safari. Families with children particularly enjoy our 10-day Serengeti Family Safari.
Check out this rave review about from a thrilled Wildland traveler who got to experience the Serengeti with Wildland.
Want to plan your own African adventure to the Serengeti? Feel free to contact me!
Your African expert,