The great continent of Africa plays host each year to one of the greatest shows on Earth: the Great Migration. Taking place on the wide open plains of the Serengeti, millions of wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of Thomson’s gazelle and plains zebra make the journey between Kenya’s Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. A tireless search for food, the Great Migration is driven entirely by the rainfall patterns and the freshness of the grass. As with most things in nature, the exact timing of this monumental event won’t adhere to the regimented schedules that we’d like to impose. The movement of the herds depends on the rains – national borders, park boundaries and safari plans come second.
People often think that the Migration resembles a sort of wildebeest wave; a non-stop procession across the plains. Although they do group together when the grazing is good and when crossing rivers and the like, the herds break up when they’re on the move. The best time to see the migration is generally between June and August, when the herds congregate and prepare to cross the Grumeti and Mara Rivers. Although well aware of the danger that lurks beneath, it only takes a single leap before the entire herd plunges in to take their chances with the crocodiles. It’s a feast for photographers and reptiles alike.
Other large predators make an appearance during the migration. For lions, hyenas, cheetahs and other predators, the calving season and subsequent migration is a bit like a home delivery service, and a game-viewing spectacular for us bipeds.
Start planning your trip to coincide with the migration now, and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to join in and witness an ancient ritual that still exists in our crowded, busy world.