Serengeti National Park is Africa’s most famous destination. The annual wildebeest migration and dense predator population attracts most of the visitors who come to Tanzania. There is an overwhelming sense of space in this archetypal African Savannah which stretches for over 15,000 square kilometers. The Greater Serengeti Eco-system which includes several smaller reserves and the Masai Mara in Kenya is actually twice that size!
There is very little permanent water in Tanzania’s largest National Park, so the Migration and general location of the most of the animals is linked to rainfall patterns. The non-stop parade of over a million wildebeest, a quarter of a million zebra and numerous Thompson’s gazelles. Big cats and other predators follow the migration through their territories.
Migration in the Serengeti
The wildebeest migration, like a discernible thread, embraces and connects the Serengeti’s ecosystem much as it has done for at least two millions years.
- January, February and March – As the short rains have fallen on the southern plains of the Serengeti Seronera and northern reaches of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area the migration spreads out in vast herds, often over 10,000 animals, for calving season.
- April, May and June – By the end of April the countless animals and the new offspring begin to congregate south of the Western Corridor in preparation for the lengthy northwards migration of over 800km. One huge single endless herd, a column of animals up to 40km long and several wide is the famous spectacle known over the world. The animals’ dangerous crossing of the Grumeti River normally occurs at the end of June, sometimes in July. It can take up to two weeks for the herd to cross and many ungulates lives are lost to the ravenous crocodiles.
- July, August and September – The wildebeest congregate again in the Western Corridor after crossing the river. The herds then disperse northwards making Lobo the best place to view the migration at this time of year. About half will cross the Mara River entering the Masai Mara in Kenya.
- October, November and December – By the end of October the animals tend to gather together for the long slow trek southwards again aiming for the southern plains as the short rains begin in November.
When to visit Serengeti National park
The Serengeti’s climate is warm and dry. The tropical rainy season is from March to May, with short rains from October to November. The Serengeti is lush and green after the rains, but a steady drying up follows which inhibits plant growth and encourages the animals to migrate in search of waters.
With altitudes ranging from 920 to 1,830 metres average temperatures vary from 15 degrees to 26 degrees Celsius. The coldest temperatures are experienced from June to October.