What’s the Best Time to See the Migration?

Many who venture to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro extend their stay to enjoy a safari.  And for good reason – Tanzania is the mecca for wildlife viewing, with national parks, game reserves and conservation areas comprising more than 25% of its land.

The Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the most famous park in the world, with the highest concentration of plains game in the world.

Each year, almost two million wildebeest migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara in search of lush grazing lands and life-giving water.

Contrary to popular belief, the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti does not only occur over a certain season, but rather it occurs continuously.

As shown in the illustration, the migration follows a clockwise movement throughout the year.

During the short rainy season from November to December, the herd moves south out of the Masai Mara and into the Serengeti.

From January to March, the migration populates the southern Serengeti. The wildebeest calving season occurs at this time.

From April to June, the herd moves north to the western corridor as heavy rain sets in.

In July and August, the start of the dry season, the migration moves farther north and crosses into the Maasai Mara.

In September and October, the herd is mostly out of Tanzania. The migration moves south again as the new season rains begin again.

You may notice that the best time to climb Kilimanjaro is concurrently no the best time to see the migration. But not to worry, if you do come during the fall, there will still be plenty of animals to see.  Only half of the animal population participates in the migration, meaning half are still available for viewing.  In other words, don’t let it stop you from visiting the Serengeti.

Lastly, it is important to note that these timetables are no set in stone. The purpose of the migration is that the wildebeest are following the rainfall. Therefore, their movements change every year based upon when the rains begin and end. The wildebeest are notoriously unreliable so even the best planning may not yield the desired outcome. Take it all in stride.