The Great Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania and Kenya is an amazing occurrence that appears on numerous lists as one of the new wonders of the world, but planning a luxury safari to see it can be a little tricky at times. While the migration happens yearly, the wildebeest don’t follow an exact calendar. For example, while wildebeest from the Serengeti usually reach Kenya in late July or early August, the 2010 migration appeared in Kenya in mid-June.
The large-scale migration is a relatively new phenomenon, dating back only to the early 1970s. The migration occurs with the rain seasons of the region. Wildebeest follow the rains in order to benefit from the superior nutrition that shorter, newer grass has to offer. Their acute sense of smell helps them track and follow the phosphorus in the grass, causing the main migration to move in a yearly clockwise circle through the Mara and Serengeti regions of Kenya and Tanzania.
While wildebeest make up the largest percentage of animals in the migration, they aren’t the only participants in the journey. Over 1.9 million animals are estimated to take part in the migration, including 1.3 million wildebeest, 400,000 gazelles, 200,000 zebras and 18,000 elands. Predators like lions, hyenas, leopards and cheetahs must follow the wildebeest migration or lose their food sources. The short video below gives a great overview of the African migration and includes footage of a cheetah attempting to hunt wildebeest.
During the migration, the wildebeest must cross both the Grumeti and Mara rivers. The animals congregate in large groups on land before crossing the rivers to lessen the threat of crocodiles. In 2007, approximately 10,000 wildebeest drowned while trying to cross the Mara River due to unusually strong currents. Because of the sheer number of wildebeest and the drama of the crossings, rivers are the most popular spots for luxury safari camp guests, camera crews and photographers.
The wildebeest migration is fascinating to experience first-hand through a luxury safari. As Kenya and Tanzania become more popular African safari travel destinations, the buzz around the migration is growing. Let us know if you’re interested in seeing the wildebeest migration yourself. We’d love to show you luxury safari camps in Tanzania and Kenya that will get you close to the action.
Have you seen the migration? Are you planning to go? Leave a comment below to share your experiences or travel plans.
More Great Wildebeest Migration Facts:
- Another name for wildebeest is gnu.
- Wildebeest can run at 40 mph.
- Wildebeest are surprisingly strong and can inflict great injuries to even lions.
- At night wildebeest take turns sleeping and standing guard to watch for predators.