Every year, the most magnificent mass movement of animals across the Serengeti and Masai Mara strikes awe into all that witness it.
A wildebeest is an amazing creature to behold, a herd is an impressive sight but one and a half million wildebeest accompanied by half a million Zebra, eighteen thousand eland and two-hundred thousand Thompson’s gazelle travelling in convoy, is overwhelming.
This spectacle is the stuff of dreams for any wildlife enthusiast; it is not just the remarkable sights and sounds, but the tremor that emanates through the earth and into your very soul.
Little can prepare you for the thrill of seeing land as far as they eye can see dotted with large grazing herbivores.
It all begins in November, when they start gathering and moving from the Masai Mara National Reserve; continuing to follow the rains, the herds head south into the Serengeti.
By December the Wildebeest cover the central and eastern Serengeti and by January there are vast herds flooding into the southern Serengeti.
Everyone has to eat. As the calving season approaches in February the herd is intercepted by lions and other predators in southern plains who come to feed their own young from the seemingly endless prey; exhaustive numbers prevail however and the herd continues.
By April the trek is reaching its climax becoming increasingly noisy, chaotic and thunderous and May sees the mass gather in massive columns in the western Serengeti.
Peppered with danger at every step the crossing of the Crocodile-filled Grumeti River presents danger of the snappy sort for our intrepid travellers and casualties are invariably taken. This perilous episode is repeated when the hoards swim across the Mara River in July.
After following the rainfall for almost nine months the wildebeest are greeted into their homeland in the Masai Mara National Park by a welcome party of hungry big cats who remain close by. Grazing the Masai Mara Plains, these nomadic creatures give up their wandering tendencies for two or three months – until finally the dark clouds appear in November and the herds gather to begin the whole process again.
As you follow the route that this predictable migration follows you will see that there are several places and times that it can be intercepted. It is not however governed by GMT or months but by rainfall and instinct so it is better to rely on experienced safari-watchers to chart the departure and arrival of the herds.
Migration, Lake and Crater Safari
There are several opportunities to take in this magnificent spectacle, following the path of the herds, watching their progress across plains and through rivers, witnessing dramas, births and daily lives. This safari is one of many that are planned around the movement of the wildebeest, zebra, eland and Thompson’s antelope; but sightings of animals and birds touched by this epic adventure are copious and you can expect to see hippo, crocodiles, leopards, and up to 450 species of birds.
As part of this fully-loaded safari you will spend time in Lake Manyara National Park with its Rift Valley, dense woodland, and steep mountainsides forming the perfect habitat for tree-climbing lions and huge elephant herds. Perhaps most impressive of all the sites by the lake however is the gathering of pink flamingo whose countless numbers perform a wading ballet seen nowhere else on earth.
Alongside the abundance of birds wander buffalo, cheetah giraffe and impala – this natural joyous vision grows with the arrival of olive baboon, Sykes monkey, hippo and more – your cup, we guarantee – will overflow!
Your final destination will not allow any respite from jaw-dropping wonderment. Once a gigantic volcano, the Ngorongoro Crater in Northern Tanzania is the largest intact Caldera on the planet. It shelters some of the most beautiful and often endangered species in the world such as black rhino, giant tusked elephants and black-maned lions; to top it all you will stay in &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge – acclaimed as the most luxurious and privileged wildlife viewing positions on earth.
Planning your safari according to the days you have available and the time of year you can travel is imperative but if you have an interest in the wildlife of Africa then taking in this epic event, at least once, is not an option – it is an absolute must-do!