One of the greatest spectacles that you can witness when on a Tanzania Safari is the legendary Great Migration. This annual migration of the giant grazing herds of the Serengeti across northern Tanzania and Kenya can easily be described as impressive, but it is only when you have seen it first-hand that you can truly appreciate and understand how incredible it is.
The Great Migration is a continual movement of the herds, there is not one time of year when the herds can be seen moving across the whole of the park. It is also important to remember that even though the Great Migration is comprised of over 2 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 350,000 impalas, Thompson’s gazelles and Grant’s gazelles, the Serengeti National Park is so vast that if you go to the wrong part of the park, you won’t be able to see the migration of the herds.
This spectacle of so many animals moving as one is something that can only be seen in the Serengeti and is an experience that should be on every bucket list.
The Path of the Great Migration
The path of the Great Migration can be broken down into different areas. If you are planning to go on a Tanzania Safari in order to see it for yourself, then you need to double check where the herds are at the time of year you are planning to visit.
• December to March – The Great Migration can be seen gathering around Lake Ndutu in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The arrival of the herds in December sees the migration break down into small herds and spread out across the conservation area so that there are wildebeest as far as the eye can see.
• April to May – The herd is on the move at the end of March and start of April, when the herds move north to the plains of the southern Serengeti, the wildebeest moving out into the Western Corridor and the centre of the park in the Seronera area.
• May to July – As May draws to a close, the herds move from the Western Corridor and spread towards the centre of the Serengeti National Park. The herds split so that some move across the Grumeti River, leaving the Serengeti and moving into the Singita Grumeti Reserves, travelling through the Western Corridor to the Kogatende area, which they arrive in around July. The second herd moves north into the Serengeti, passing through the Seronera area, Lobo and to the Bologonja River. Because of this split, the Great Migration can be found anywhere in the Western Corridor and the Eastern side of the park during this period.
• August to October – During this time, the herds can be seen in the northern areas of the Serengeti and the Kogatende area as well as in Kenya. It is during this time of year that the infamous crossings of the rivers are made. With the herds crossing rivers almost daily, though there tend to be significantly less in Kogatende than in the Masai Mara area of Kenya. The herds follow the local rainfall during this time and you can see the herds moving north and south, sometimes in the same day. The pattern of movement is not dissimilar to a ball moving in circular motions and is one of the best times to witness the Great Migration.
• October to November – During these months, the herds move once more towards the south, the second ‘Great Migration’ down back to Lake Ndutu. It is very hard to see the Great Migration during this period as the herds move quickly over great distances every day.
Place to stay where you can witness it
• December to March – There are only two permanent lodges that you can stay in where you can see the Great Migration between December and March. These are the Ndutu Lodge and Kusini. However, there is also the Dunia Camp which is positioned well if you are visiting at the start of December or the end of March as the herds pass by the camp.
• April to May – The Dunia Camp is not only one of the best camps to visit in the area, but it is the perfect place to stay if you want to see the Great Migration during April and May. You can also stay at the central Serengeti hotels such as the Serena and the Sopa if you would rather stay in a hotel than in a camp. If you want to stay in the Western Corridor, you can stay at the Grumeti River Camp, the Mbalageti Lodge or the Kirawira.
• May to July – Because of how spread out the herds become, there are a few places where you can stay and still catch a glimpse of the Great Migration on a Tanzania Safari. These places include the Grumeti River Camp, Faru Faru, the Mbalageti Lodge, Kirawira, Sabora and Sasakwa in the Western Corridor.
We offer specialised Migration safaris that are only available during the specific times of year that the Great Migration is passing through the area.
There are also a wide range of other activities that the lodges and hotels on the Great Migration trail offer so that not only can you see the sprawling herds of plain grazers passing by, but you can also see the other game that call the Serengeti home.