The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
It is the migration for which Serengeti is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.
The Wildebeest travel through a variety of parks, reserves and protected areas and through a variety of habitat. Join us to explore the different forms of vegetation and landscapes of the Serengeti ecosystem and meet some of their most fascinating inhabitants.
SERENGETI WILDEBEEST MIGRATION
The annual migration of giant herds of grazers across northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya is a truly spectacular event. Over two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles move through the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in a regular pattern. This is one of the greatest spectacles in the natural world.
As with anything in nature, the actual day-to-day pattern is unpredictable. But as a general guide:
December to April Huge numbers of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles spread over the Southern Plains. Wildebeest calving takes place throughout February. The advent of rain brings with it an influx of game, flowers and migratory birds.
May to June the migration moves north with front-runners stretching out to the Western Corridor and the centre of the park. At the end of May there are wildebeest herds spread from the Western corridor through the heart of the park to the north of Serengeti, arriving in the Kogatende area in July.
At this time, herds can be anywhere from the Western corridor through to the Eastern side of the park. Splinter herds will break from the main herds, covering huge areas in their search for fresh grasses.
August to October the herds are in the Northern Serengeti at Kogatende as well as in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Expect constant crossing and re-crossing of the Mara River, according to rain patterns.
October to December In late October the herds start heading south towards the fertile lands of the Ndutu plains where the rains will have rejuvenated the grasses. At this time of the year the location of the groups is dictated by the rain.
As the migration depends on the rain patterns, timing can vary considerably so dual camp locations can be a major benefit.