Luxury Great Migration safari in Kenya and Tanzania - private safari package

Huge zebra and wildebeest herds as seen on a luxury safari at Singita Mara River Tented Camp in the northern Serengeti


What you should know when booking a Great Migration luxury safari

A phenomenon of spectacular magnitude

The Great Migration refers to the annual movement of more than 1.5 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and thomson's gazelle in huge herds, driven by age-old instinct in search of greener pastures. They are followed by an abundance of predators. It is beyond doubt one of the most magnificent natural phenomena on our planet.

A perpetual clockwise circular movement within the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem

There is no beginning or end to the Great Migration in East Africa. Annually the herds move seasonally within the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem and cross the border between Kenya and Tanzania. When the short rains fall in Tanzania, they move south to the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti, Ndutu and Maswa where they frequently stay until March. With abundant rain and grazing in April and May, they split into smaller herds and spread out over the plains, all the while moving slowly into the western Serengeti. In June or July the Great Migration herds gather again and cross the Grumeti concessions before moving off to the northern Serengeti and the Lamai Triangle where sightings are usually good in August. The migration then moves across into the Masai Mara, the Mara Triangle and surrounding conservation areas in Kenya, where the herds remain until the next seasonal rain in Tanzania. The herds stay scattered in the Mara in Kenya for as long as the grazing lasts. When they return south to Tanzania through the eastern parts of the parks and reserves, it is usually in small groups and in stages. 

Calving season 

This is a four to six week period, usually somewhere between mid-January and mid-March, when the Great Migration herds are grazing on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti, Ndutu and Maswa in Tanzania. It is a great time to experience the sheer volume of the herds, with abundant predator-prey interaction as the predators target the fragile newborns. While the youngsters find their feet, the herds do not move around much, except to graze.

Migratory columns

When the long rains have gone, usually from the end of May, the wildebeest herds of the Great Migration start to gather in the Western Corridor of the Serengeti and in the Grumeti, and then head north in the direction of the Lamai Triangle and the Masai Mara in Kenya, strung along the landscape in long migratory columns.

Mara river crossings

Usually from around July to September, the Mara river is a major obstacle in the way of the Great Migration. These river crossings provide spectacular sightings as the animals try to evade the snapping jaws of hungry crocodiles. Select lodges in both Tanzania and Kenya are strategically positioned near to traditional river crossing points, but they cannot guarantee that you will get to see a river crossing as these are unpredictable. Be aware that there might be an unpleasant odour in the vicinity due to the immense number of wildebeest massed together during a big river crossing. 

Unpredictable timing and migration path

It is possible to view the wildebeest herds any time of the year, as long as you are in the right place at the right time. But this can be tricky, as their instinctive urge to move on is triggered by the availability of grazing and the seasonal rain, which in itself is unpredictable. The exact route that the herds will take depends on weather patterns and other environmental factors in that particular year. Even though very careful consideration goes into the planning of a Great Migration safari, it could therefore happen that the herds are not in the area where they were anticipated to be. It would then be necessary to drive much further than usual in order to get to the herds on your daily game drive, and in a worse case scenario you may not get to see the herds at all. Unfortunately Great Migration sightings can never be fully guaranteed. Fortunately the Serengeti and Masai Mara also offer other resident game and you can enjoy a fabulous East African safari, with or without sightings of the Great Migration. 

Our preferred Great Migration luxury accommodation 

See our Serengeti and Masai Mara pages for a list of preferred Great Migration luxury camps and luxury lodges.

 Contact us for a personalized African luxury safari itinerary that includes Great Migration viewing in East Africa

We create a private luxury African safari package, tailor-made to suit your own specific profile and requirements. We recommend to combine your luxury Great Migration safari with other luxury lodges and safari camps in East Africa. On request your luxury Great Migration safari can also be combined with luxury safari camps and lodges in Southern Africa, but this will involve more travelling.

More East African luxury safaris

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