The Great Migration Cycle

The Great Migration Cycle : Do you have a holiday and still wondering where to go? Tanzania is the ultimate safari destination for safari adventurers looking for an unforgettable tour. It is endowed with spectacular attractions ranging from the famous wildlife sanctuaries, such as Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Tarangire National Park, towering peaks, such as Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, to vibrant cultures.

The Great Migration is a world spectacle featuring over 1.5 million, five hundred thousand zebras, and approximately two hundred thousand gazelles. It is amazing to witness this wonderful event. The wildebeest migration captures the imagination of millions of visitors around the globe as herds trek massively through the endless plains.


What causes the Great Migration?

The wildebeests in their millions migrate from the south of Serengeti, passing through varying ecosystems, and then they cross the Mara River into the Maasai Mara in Kenya. If you are wondering what causes this biggest mammal migration, relax; we have you covered. The major driving force behind wildebeest migration is the search for greener pastures. Other urges that drive such migration include the search for breeding grounds and escaping from predators.


The Great Migration Cycle

Although it is difficult to predict the movement of a natural phenomenon, some patterns happen. Therefore, we can predict the next move according to the previous events. Here is the highlight of the cycle of the Great Migration:

January to March

The southern parts of the Serengeti start to receive rainfall in December. Therefore, the wildebeests return to southern Serengeti from northern Serengeti. The vast plains of southern Serengeti are also richer in greener pastures, thus favoring reproduction. Before migration begins, about 500,000 calves are born during the calving season, which takes place from late January to February. Approximately 8,000 calves are born in one day. Predators come closer to the south of Serengeti to scan for an easy meal. Such opportunistic eaters always prefer the newly born wildebeests for meals. The game is easy for predators because of the sheer number of wildebeests. They get food very easily from the calves, though some brave mother wildebeests protect their calves from predators like lions, leopards, hyenas, and cheetahs.


April to May

April is characterized by heavy rains that favor the growth of greener pastures. This favors wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, and other grazers. The calves grow fast since there is enough pasture to feed on. If you visit southern Serengeti during this time, you will enjoy the scenes of huge herds of herbivores, though a few camps offer migration viewing during this time.

In May, rains start to decline in southern Serengeti. As a result, it becomes very hard to get greener pastures, keeping in mind that the herd has increased in size after the calving season. Groups of wildebeests start to depart one after another to the east. Some of them enter the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, while the rest move northwest to the central Serengeti. Up to late May, the wildebeest migration is in the central Serengeti.

Another event that happens in May is mating. The bulls battle head-to-head for a mate. It is during this time that fights are common. The herds then start to move from the heart of Serengeti to the Western Corridor. Here, the wildebeests, followed by several groups of zebras and antelopes, encounter the Grumeti River. Although the crossings of the Grumeti River may not match the spectacular Mara River crossings, it is something amazing to be seen.


June to July

As the dry season starts, the wildebeests and zebras are concentrated in Western Serengeti on the southern banks of the. The number of visitors during this period in Western Serengeti spiked, as many visitors came to see the Great Migration. The crossing of the Grumeti River becomes a focal point at this time. This is the first challenge to wildebeest migration.

From late June or early July, the herd starts moving northward along the western edge of Serengeti National Park. Groups after groups move until they reach the terrifying barrier: The Mara River. From here, the most exciting event takes place—yes, the Mara River crossing. It is a spectacle that drives the attention of nature lovers around the world.

The Mara River crossing starts in July and may go until August or sometimes early September. Herd after herd braves the great Mara River. The weak are turned into meals by predators and crocodiles, while the strong finish the cross and enter the Maasai Mara.


August to October

The Great Migration Cycle
The Great Migration Cycle

By August, the wildebeests had spread across the northern region of the Masai Mara after crossing the mighty Mara River. Many wildebeests remain in Northern Serengeti as well. Predators patrol the riverbanks to take their toll while the crocodiles strive to get their kill. As a result, thousands of lives are lost. From September to October, the herds start to cross the Mara River again as they start their return journey southward.


November to December

The short rains begin, and the wildebeest starts moving southward into the Serengeti’s Namiri Plains. By December, the eastern parts and southern plains of Serengeti will be populated with wildebeest. As the Ndutu area and other parts of Southern Serengeti become greener, the wildebeest are drawn to this area. The cycle completes, and the calving season starts once again.



There is little certainty in the prediction of the Great Migration. Animals are unpredictable. They migrate depending on the season. So, the events described here may not happen at the right time, causing you to miss some important scenes. For correct information about the Great Migration, please contact your tour operator. They will give you an update.