Whether you’re a safari novice or a complete wildlife addict, you simply cannot beat seeing the great wildebeest migration in Kenya or Tanzania. The sights, sounds and smells of such a vast number of wildebeest and zebra on the move, followed every step by hungry predators, is quite remarkable. The famous river crossings offer the extraordinary spectacle of thousands of anxious animals channelled into tight crossing points, dodging the huge Mara crocodiles waiting in their path. It’s an ancient battle of life and death, and one of the best wildlife shows on earth.
Although it has the appearance of an evolutionary calamity, the wildebeest is one of Africa’s most successful inhabitants, especially in the Serengeti ecosystem that straddles the Kenya / Tanzania border. This is where the famous migration occurs, and where herds approaching two million head wander between the southernmost parts of the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the Masai Mara away to the north.
The migration follows a vague pattern year by year which tends to be influenced by rainfall and food availability. The herds, accompanied by several hundred thousand zebra, congregate on the short grass plains in the south just after Christmas to give birth and then make their way north via the west of the ecosystem towards Lake Victoria. During the journey they may travel 40 miles in one day in a particular direction and then do the same in the opposite direction the following day. This is often the case during the rainy season when thunderstorms may be very localised but also quite heavy.
This footage captures the dramatic scene as thousands of wildebeest gather before plunging into the Mara River, crossing from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. Video courtesy of Nomad Tanzania.