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What, When & Where is Africa’s Great Migration?

Heading out on safari in Africa is, of course, a trip of a lifetime, yet what if you could be in the right place at the right time to see nature at its most raw and dramatic? This is what the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania has to offer.

The Great Migration in East Africa refers to the annual migration of wildebeests, zebras, and other herbivores across the Serengeti ecosystem, particularly between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. This wildlife spectacle is one of the most famous natural events in the world. This migration occurs in a circular pattern throughout the year so you can see the herds traveling across different regions at different times.


When planning your trip to witness this extraordinary spectacle, keep in mind that the Great Migration can roughly be separated into three main seasons:

Calving Season: December to March

This is when the wildebeest herds gather in the south part of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation area of Tanzania to give birth. The mothers and baby calves are eager to take advantage of the fresh grass that grows here right after the rainy season.

Mating and Migration Season: April to June

When calving is completed and the dry season sets in, the herds start moving toward the western corridor of the Serengeti looking for water. They eventually cross the Grumeti River in northern Tanzania with the males in the herds competing for mates at this time.

River Crossings & Return Migration Season: July to November

One of the most exciting and dramatic periods of the Great Migration is the massive river crossings, usually occurring between July and September. During this time, the herds need to cross the Mara River to reach the Maasai Mara in Kenya for several reasons:

  • To follow the rainfall patterns for access to fresh grass.

  • To cull the herds so the fittest members survive and can better face predators

  • To seek better conditions for calving

  • To give grazed land time to regenerate


These river crossings are fraught with danger due to the presence of predators like crocodiles and lions. Travelers witnessing these crossings are offered fantastic photo opportunities in addition to experiencing the power and intensity of the animals’ will to survive.

Not all travelers will feel comfortable observing this struggle to stay alive so if you don’t have the stomach for these life and death battles, we recommend you select a different season. Still, if you find the idea of witnessing these events fascinating, be sure to select a trip between July and September that will coincide with the Mara River crossings.


After crossing the Mara River, the herds spread out across the Maasai Mara in search of fresh grazing before beginning their journey back south as the rainy season approaches. And it all begins again.

No matter when you choose to witness the Great Migration, each season has amazing photo opportunities to offer along with the spellbinding experience of seeing the massive herds.

Overall, the Great Migration offers travelers a powerful combination of natural beauty, wildlife drama, cultural enrichment, and educational opportunities that are sought-after by travelers around the world.

Ready to head to Kenya and/or Tanzania? Our small group journeys, Great Migration in Style and Heart of Kenya and Tanzania will allow you to witness the migration as would our Kenya Walking Safari, our Tanzania Adventure , Kenya & Tanzania Traveling Overland and our Signature Journey, Through the Eyes of the Maasai. You just need to take them at the right time of year. We can also plan a fabulous custom safari just for you and your traveling companions geared toward witnessing the Great Migration in your preferred season.

Ready to bear witness to the residents and seasons of the savanna? Contact us and we’ll help you plan your dream Great Migration safari today!


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