The Great Migration: A natural spectacle of epic proportions in East Africa

November 21, 2023
The Great Migration

In the heart of East Africa, spanning the vast plains of Tanzania and Kenya, lies one of nature’s most awe-inspiring spectacles – the Great Migration. Their annual journey across the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems is a relentless quest for greener pastures, a race against time, and a battle for survival. Every year, this natural masterpiece unfolds across Africa’s iconic sweeping landscapes, drawing visitors and wildlife enthusiasts who want to witness this magnificent spectacle for themselves. 

Join us as we delve into the intricacies of this phenomenon, exploring its profound significance in nature and adrenalizing magic. By the end of this article, you will better understand the migration’s route and mesmerizing phases to begin planning an unforgettable adventure.

Wildebeest crossing river in Kenya

What exactly is the Great Wildebeest Migration?

The Great Migration is a complex phenomenon. The largest single herd movement of animals on the planet, driven by the seasonal rains and the primal search for greener grazing pastures, is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of these wild creatures.

As the rains retreat from the southern Serengeti in Tanzania, the grasses dry up, prompting the colossal movement of over 1.5 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebra, and countless antelopes t to embark on their epic trek north towards the lush grasslands of Kenya’s Masai Mara, much of which is a vast national reserve. This clockwise migration covers an impressive 1,800 miles as the herd traverses East Africa’s landscapes, from the sprawling savannahs to the majestic Mara River. However, it’s a perilous journey. Predators, from lions, leopards and hyenas to crocodiles and more, lie hungrily in wait.

The Great Wildebeest Migration timeline

While the migration is a cyclical event in progress year-round, there are optimal times to visit Kenya and Tanzania for the best chances of seeing this natural wonder on safari.

  • Peak Season: July to October

The migration is in major play in Tanzania in July, with herds moving away from the mineral-rich soils and calving grounds around the Ngorongoro conservation area toward the Grumeti River before moving across Serengeti National Park over the border into Kenya’s Masai Mara. Throughout early August, herds generally disperse out across the plains to feed and brave further predator-laced river crossings into late September. These river crossings are wildly dramatic and highly sought after by safari guests (of course, one cannot predict the crossings) as predators lie in wait for the weakened or younger animals who will inevitably struggle. To see the first wildebeest or zebra bravely make the leap into uncharted waters, with hundreds, if not thousands, to follow, is, in a word, magnificent. However, bear in mind that The Great Migration is not only the greatest wildlife show on earth but also a vital ecological process. The herds graze on the grasslands that promote nutrient cycling, and their migratory movements prevent overgrazing. Their presence also attracts predators, as we previously stated, which regulate herbivore populations, maintaining the ecosystem’s delicate balance and continuing this ancient rhythm that is the circle of life.

We must never forget that this primal feat is a living testament to the interconnectedness of nature and a potent reminder of the importance of conservation. The health of Africa’s wild ecosystems is essential for the survival of the flora and fauna who depend on it. The migration is also a source of inspiration, showcasing the power of nature and the incredible adaptations that animals develop to thrive in these fragile and challenging wild environments.

Serengeti Migration

Top safari lodges to stay in during the Great Migration

In the Maa language of the Maasai, Serengeti means “the place the land runs forever,” which feels entirely apt when you gaze out at the endless Acacia-tree-studded vistas, woodland and open plains. We handpick a series of spectacular, inimitably thoughtful eco-camps and lodges to immerse you in the drama. Mobile tented camps like Wilderness Usawa and Serengeti Under Canvas deliver the ultimate in freedom as you actually move with the animals across the landscape, keeping pace with their roar and thunder and witnessing new swathes of the Serengeti in ultra-luxe comfort and safety. The soon-to-open Singita Milele (May 2024) is a different take. This exquisitely designed hillside villa overlooks the action, perfect for a family or larger group of up to 10 guests looking to have a completely personalized and private experience of Tanzania’s wilderness. This ultra-luxe property, alongside nearby Singita Sasakwa, offers a front-row seat to the migration as it passes through the private and pristine Grumeti Reserve.

In Kenya, Angama Mara, which translates to “suspended in mid-air,” unequivocally has the best view in all of Africa, one that you are perhaps familiar with if you’ve watched “Out of Africa,” much of which was filmed there. Richard’s Camp and Cottars Camp (heaven on earth for children with solid conservation programs for growing minds and fun, educational activities) are two other properties that place you in the heart of the action. Both old-world odes to safari are set within private conservancies, giving you an exclusive experience for the most part, with your stay contributing directly toward conservation efforts.

Planning your trip

The ROAR AFRICA team is the unequivocal Navy SEALS of safari travel. Our level of expertise, accrued over a lifetime of lived experience on the continent, alongside our seamless, totally stress-free design and delivery of 100% personalized safari journeys, exceed even the greatest expectations. Africa is our home; we’re not just selling another destination. Instead, we are with you at every step of the way. With our team on-call on the ground in Africa 24/7, our native-born guides elevate your experience and grant you precious insight and insider access into the unique cultures and landscapes of your chosen destinations throughout your trip. Should you wish to plan a responsible safari trip to witness the great wildebeest migration in Tanzania or Kenya, or indeed a more extended trip tracking the migration across both countries, kindly contact our expert team at, or click here

While the Great Migration is a major draw, safaris in Kenya and Tanzania offer spectacular year-round wildlife viewing opportunities. The parks and reserves in both countries are home to an incredible array of animals, including lions, elephants, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos and many, many more, alongside top-notch lodges and private villas perfect for solo travelers, families, and large or small groups. There is no greater gift you can give yourself or your loved ones than time together in the wild. 

To book a life-changing safari, contact or click here. We aim to minimize the environmental impact of ROAR AFRICA travel by purchasing carbon credits equivalent to our emissions, contributing to wildlife preservation and investing in the communities that host us.


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