I’ve always wanted to see the wildebeest migration in Africa. Where and when are the best places to catch this natural phenomenon?
The wildebeest migration truly is one of the most incredible sights in Africa. There are quite a few different options on where and when to watch it, so let’s break it down:
What is the wildebeest migration?
The wildebeest is a horned mammal that looks like a water buffalo or large antelope. The wildebeest migration is the annual trek from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to the Masai Mara in Kenya, and back, in search of fresh grazing. It’s one of the best-known and most spectacular movement of animals in the world. It is estimated that over one million wildebeests, adults and calves, join the migration in a wild stampede across plains and rivers.
When does it happen?
The wildebeests are actually always on the move, completing a 1,000km-odd circuit over the course of a year. However, there are times of the year when it is best to catch them. In late June and July they begin their move north from Tanzania to Kenya, crossing the northern Serengeti into the Masai Mara. Around October time they head back to Tanzania. This does vary though, according to the rains, so check one of the many websites dedicated to tracking the migration. The wildebeest blog is regularly updated, as is the WildWatch website.
Is it just wildebeests or will I see other animals?
Joining the wildebeests are zebra, gazelles, and in places you will also see elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes and eagles, as well as predators to the migratory herds, namely lions and crocodiles who lie in wait at river crossings, the most dangerous parts of the route for the wildebeest.
Any tips for catching the action?
Keep an eye on the times when they will cross the Grumeti River in Tanzania and the Mara River in Kenya, as these crossings are spectacular to watch.
Where should I stay?
It depends on when you go, but in late June and early July, it’s the Grumeti River crossing, so you want to be in Tanzania. The camps nearby include the Serengeti Serene Safari Lodge, a series of luxury, camouflaged pods in the plains that offers game drives, nature trails, balloon safaris, bush barbecues and more. The view comes at a price though, upwards of £300 a night, although packages are available at certain times of year.
Soon afterwards, usually in July, it’s the Mara River crossing in Kenya, and one of the best-placed camps is the smaller Sayari Mara Camp, which has 15 permanent ‘tents’, with ensuite bathrooms and more than a touch of luxury. Each tent has hot showers, effective mosquito nets, cold drinks and gourmet food, and there’s even a spa. Packages cost from around £300 a night.
If you’re worried about missing out on the migration, it’s a good idea to book a mobile tented camp such as Serengeti Safari Camp, which has just five tents that sleep 12 people and moves around Tanzania throughout the year to follow the animals. Each tent has a shower and toilet, comfortable bed, and dressing area and there is a lounging and dining tent. It costs from £280 a night although there are offers that include trips to other mobile camps and longer stays.
Answer by Ginny Light – TimesOnline travel editor
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