I’m sure you’ve heard of the Great Migration, but you might be a little hazy on the specifics. That’s why, in this blog post, I’ll answer all of the most pressing questions about this bucket-list experience, so be sure to hang on to it … and share with your friends!
Great Migration FAQs
What exactly IS the Great Migration?
The Great Migration is considered one of the most awe-inspiring natural spectacles in the world. During the migration, hundreds of thousands of zebras and millions of wildebeest (and thousands of predators) migrate through the southwestern border of Kenya and the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania. Throughout the year, this massive herd of wildlife follows the rains on a loop through the Grumeti Reserve, Masai Mara, Ngorongoro Crater region, and the Serengeti.
When should I visit if I want to experience the Great Migration?
Because the Great Migration is a big loop, the animals are always on the move. When to go depends on where you want to go and what you want to see!
January/February: This is the beginning of calving season for the wildebeest, and it’s a real treat to watch the births within the Ngorongoro Crater area. The births typically happen throughout the month of February for a span of two to three weeks. It truly is one of the most amazing and heartwarming experiences to witness the hundreds of thousands of newly born calves (approximately 500,000 each year!) as they discover the world around them.
March: During the month of March (as well as the tail end of February) there is an exceptional amount of predator activity in the Ngorongoro area. As the newly born calves are just gaining their strength, it’s easy for predators, such as lions, to snag them. They are not as strong and large as the adult wildebeests, making it easy for them easy targets for a quick meal.
April and May: As the rains move toward the central Serengeti Plains, so do the wildebeest and their calves. Although there is a great deal of action to see during this time of the year, if you can wait until June, July, or August to travel, that’s when you’ll really see the good stuff . . .
June and July: Arguably the best time of year to witness the migration, June and July is when the wildlife will come face-to-face with one of the most challenging hurdles: The Grumeti River. Filled with natural predators and obstacles, the Grumeti River is where travelers will witness a great deal of action unfold. The herds will cross over the Grumeti River, and many of them will not make it due to drownings, as well as crocodile and lion attacks.
August/September: The wildlife herds make their way up the northern Serengeti and into the Masai Mara region where they cross over the Mara River — another fascinating spectacle to witness, as there are many obstacles that the wildebeest and zebra must face during their strenuous trek.
October: The beginning of October is a beautiful time of year in the Masai Mara, where the animals are still grazing. It’s not until late October when many of them begin moving back down into the northern Serengeti in search of the short grasses.
November and December: The wildebeest end up in the Seronera region where they will celebrate the New Year before making their way back to the Ngorongoro area, which will begin the calving season again!
Where should I stay?
In the exciting loop of the Great Migration there are a handful of exceptional properties within Kenya and Tanzania that bring visitors on an exclusive experience into the thick of the migration.
Below, we’ve outlined some of our favorite camps and lodges for individuals interested in taking a Tanzania safari vacation or trip to Kenya and immersing themselves into this most riveting natural spectacle:
SERENGETI SAFARI CAMP
One of our absolute favorite properties to witness the Great Migration at is Serengeti Safari Camp. This a mobile tented camp that actually moves with the Great Migration so that guests can experience the action of the Migration right on their front doorstep.
Every few months, the camp traverses hundreds of miles of land to remain in close proximity with the migration. Each guest party receives their very own private safari guide and vehicle for the duration of their stay, making the Serengeti Safari Camp experience highly exclusive.
The camp itself is comprised of just 6 meru-style tents, each spacious and comfortable with the essence of luxury.
Best times to visit: Year-round as the camp moves with the migration
NGORONGORO CRATER LODGE
Situated on the lip of one of the most breathtaking natural formations in the world, the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge overlooks a landscape home to tens of thousands of animals, including the Big Five. This lodge is in an ideal location for the Great Migration as it passes through the Ngorongoro Conservation area, which means visitors to the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge can enjoy daily game drives into the thick of the migration.
Aside from witnessing the natural spectacle of the Great Migration, you can also enjoy visits with the local Maasai people to learn about their culture and daily lives.
Divided into three camps, the lodge offers 30 suites that feature banana leaf ceilings and grass roofs.
Best times to visit: January and February
From the months of July through October, Lamai Serengeti offers visitors on a Tanzania safari vacation the opportunity to witness the Great Migration as it passes over and along the Mara River. And this isn’t any ordinary crossing. Having to fight for their lives against lurking crocodiles and lion, the wildebeest crossing is one of the most exciting natural spectacles to witness and it’s right on the doorstep of Lamai Serengeti.
In addition to the Great Migration, visitors can also witness year-round game (as the area is always lush), including zebra, gazelle, impala, giraffe, buffalo, leopard, and lion.
Best times to visit: July through October
One of the best ways to witness the Great Migration is on a hot air balloon safari above the Mara plains in Kenya. As you soar high above the lush plains you’ll witness hundreds and even thousands of wildebeest as they graze and move about. Guests on a Kenya family safari or celebratory safari can also enjoy walking safaris and exhilarating game drives amongst the migration.
In terms of the accommodations, Sanctuary Olonana offers 14 luxurious and spacious tents with spectacular views of the river and wildlife.
Best times to visit: June through October
SERENGETI UNDER CANVAS
Moving with the herd, Serengeti Under Canvas features various campsites that move with the path of the Great Migration to ensure that guests never miss a drop of the action.
This romantic safari experience allows guests to enjoy the simple luxuries of canvas tents while immersing themselves into the great outdoors.
Visitors on a Tanzania safari vacation can enjoy twice daily game drives and can also (for an additional charge) enjoy hot air balloon safaris – another exceptional and romantic way to view the riveting wildlife of the Serengeti.
Best times to visit: January through April, as well as October through December
SINGITA EXPLORE MOBILE TENTED CAMP
For the discerning traveler who wants to experience Africa as the first and great pioneers did, then Singita Explore Mobile Tented Camp is a must visit. With only six, lavishly appointed tents, this camp offers guests an extremely personal experience and allows them to relish in first-class service while getting closer to nature then ever before.
Some of the activities you can enjoy at this camp to get up close to nature include game drives, safari walks, horseback riding safaris, wine tasting, and spa treatments.
Best times to visit: June through July
GRUMETI SERENGETI RIVER LODGE
Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge was fully rebuilt after a flood damaged the lodge in April 2020. The refurbished lodge offers 10 light-filled suites, each with a private plunge pool, and a new family suite featuring a small additional attached bedroom. Its location in the far western reaches of the Serengeti ensures the ultimate in exclusivity.
In addition to witnessing thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle, during the Grumeti River crossings, you’ll also have the opportunity to witness hyena, hippo, crocodile, a variety of monkey species and baboon, as well as a plethora of bird species.
Best times to visit: May through June
SINGITA FARU FARU LODGE
Absolute luxury and spectacular wildlife viewing. That’s what I think of when I picture Singita Faru Faru Lodge.
Situated on the Grumeti Reserves of northern Tanzania, the Faru Faru Lodge is celebrated for its spectacular location on the route of the Great Migration.
There are nine suites total at Singita Faru Faru Lodge; Seven are one-bedroom suites, one is a family suite, and one is a two-bedroom villa suite. There are two lavish pools at the property and guests can enjoy exciting and personalized game drives and walking safaris during their stay.
Best times to visit: June though July
I hope this helps give you some additional insight into the Great Migration, its timings, and the best places to stay for a luxurious adventure in Africa!
Please reach out to Hills of Africa at email@example.com with any questions that you may have. We’re here to make your dreams of Africa come true!