The Great Migration is the ever-moving circular migration of over a million animals across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, and it is one of the most sought-after experiences for wildlife and nature aficionados. In quest of grass and water, columns of wildebeest, accompanied by a slew of pals, pursue an age-old path.
After calving in Tanzania’s Serengeti near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the animals travel clockwise through the Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara, before returning near the end of the year. Thousands of creatures are taken by predators along the route, and thousands more are born, replenishing the numbers and continuing the circle of life.
Over 1.2 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebra, as well as topi and other gazelle, migrate through the Serengeti-Mara environment on a daily basis in search of nourishing grass and water. Each wildebeest will travel 800 to 1,000 kilometers along age-old migration pathways, guided by survival instinct. In this natural display regarded as ‘the greatest show on Earth,’ hungry predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, and crocs ensure that only the strongest survive.
The circuit leads the animals from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania’s south Serengeti (but not into the Crater itself), up through the Serengeti, and across into Kenya’s Masai Mara, and back. The trek is fraught with danger: predators snare young calves, lion prides bring down the slow, bold beasts break legs on steep river slopes, crocodiles eat the stragglers, and the weak and exhausted drown.
The short rains start around early November. A brief time after this, in late November and December, the crowds of the wildebeest movement show up on the short-grass fields of the Serengeti. These are south and east of Seronera, around Ndutu and incorporate the north of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Scattered across these fields, wildebeest and zebra are all over – benefiting from the new, nutritious grasses.
They stay here through January, February and March, with most wildebeest calves brought into the world in a short window around February. Continuously they spread west across these fields, then around April they start their incredible movement north.