The Great Migration is an annual journey running in a clockwise direction north from the Serengeti plains of Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya, and then down again.
January to February
At the beginning of the year, herds congregate on the edge of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area on southern edge of the park to feed on the nutrient rich grasses of the Southern Plains. It’s also calving season. Over a three-week period, usually in February, around half a million wildebeest calves are born.
March to April
The Southern Plains get drier and drier, so the herds gradually move westwards, up along the Western Corridor towards the heavy rains of the north.
May to June
The migration moves north along the western edge of the Serengeti, arriving at the Grumeti River. June is the perfect time to visit the National Park and get a chance of witnessing this gruesome yet spectacular fight for survival.
In order to reach the greener grasses of the Northern Serengeti, the herds must cross the perilous Grumeti, home to enormous Nile crocodiles and hippos. The hungry crocodiles lie below the surface, ready to strike out as thousands of wildebeest line up along the banks of the river.
But the danger isn’t over. Those that survive the Grumeti River Crossing are weakened and exhausted, making them easier prey for the predators that are waiting for them on dry land. Lions lie in wait, ready to spring, while spotted hyenas and vultures fight for the leftovers.
July to October
The herds can now be found in the Northern Serengeti. But as the dry season continues and the grasses begin to yellow, they follow the rains, heading further north towards the Masai Mara of Kenya.
Before they can leave the Serengeti to enter the Masai Mara National Park, they must face the most perilous river crossing of all: the Mara River, a mass of deep, powerful currents, steep, slippery banks and home to large, hungry crocodiles.
Some die from the fall, others are dragged underwater by the crocodiles, while many drown in the turbulent waters of the mighty river. Gruesome and traumatic as it is, the Mara River crossing is a spectacular display of survival of the fittest. Most visitors to the Serengeti National Park come from July to October specifically for this dramatic, yet awe-inspiring event.
November to December
As the rains begin to fall on the Serengeti, the herds start to make their way back down again along the eastern side of the National Park.
By late December, most of the herds are back on the Southern Plains, pregnant and tranquil. They will stay here until the whole cycle begins again.