For the sheer volume of wildlife, there’s nothing quite like the Annual Great Migration. The largest mass movement of land mammals on Earth, this annual cycle sees over one million stampeding wildebeest and other grazing herbivores journey around 1800 miles from the Serengeti in Tanzania over the border into Kenya’s Maasai Mara and back. When the masses arrive, lines of animals stretch across the plains as far as the eye can see. High above, vultures and eagles soar; in the long grasses, lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena lie in wait. The most dramatic moments take place at the Mara River, which bisects the reserve and must be crossed to reach new grazing ground. This provides the ultimate test, with strong currents and predatory crocodiles lying in wait. Once the first animal has plunged into the waters, thousands follow.
To see the herds, you’ll need to visit at the right time. Driven by ancient instinct, a rough pattern occurs each year as the herds follow the rains to secure a good water supply and fertile grass. The migration can usually be seen in the Maasai Mara from July to September (it can get very busy), and August is typically the best month to see the famous river crossings. In some years, the migration can also be seen here during October – when there’s the benefit of fewer vehicles watching the river crossings, too.
Seeing the herds in the Serengeti is typically less crowded and more affordable. The best time to see the herds is typically October to July. You’ll also need to be in the right part of the Serengeti at the right time. The park is huge, so if you’re staying in a lodge in the southern Serengeti while the herds are in the western corridor, it’s possible to miss them completely. Lodges in the central Serengeti are ideal for witnessing the herds passing through on their way to and from the Mara. Camps in the western corridor offer the chance to watch the herds crossing the Grumeti River, while at camps in the northern Serengeti you’ll be closer to the famous Mara River and could view the migration well into October.
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