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Serengeti Safari Sightings Month-by-Month

By Samantha Barbitta | Feb 09

wildebeest stampede, Mara Plains

Savvy travelers planning their dream Serengeti safari want to visit at "the best time." So when exactly is that? The accurate (and somewhat maddening) response is, "it depends." The herds never pack up and leave the Serengeti ecosystem, but they do progress in a seasonal circuit, so your wildebeest-viewing experience varies depending on when you time your visit. However, resident wildlife can be found in abundance throughout the year.

While the peak season in the Serengeti is generally July to October, the wildebeests can be found at some point on their circuit throughout the year. For this reason, we work with guides who have spent 20 years studying the migration to put you in the heart of the action with strategically located, comfortable, mobile camps, which significantly improve your chances of spotting the herds on their annual progress no matter when you choose to travel. Although the migration varies from year to year, here are some general seasonal guidelines of what you may see on your Serengeti safari

December-April: Life Begins

The nutrient-rich grasses of the southern plains of the Serengeti ecosystem are where the wildebeest would like to call home and where life begins for a half a million of them during the calving season, which generally takes place in February and March.

wildebeest calf, photographed by Samantha Barbitta

May: Heading North

As the plains start to dry out and the animals deplete the food supply, the herds gradually venture  west and north to begin their epic journey toward the Mara River, generally in the Moru kopjes and central Seronera Valley areas.

wildebeest, Dunia Camp

June: Hungry Crocodiles

Moving into the western corridor, the animals must cross the Grumeti River, home to mighty crocodiles. Variable weather patterns this time of year mean that that the herds may split up to follow different routes, or double back, or spread out. To account for this, travelers often stay at a combination of camps to ensure the best migration viewing.

wildebeest and crocodile, Mara Plains

July-October: Mara River Crossing

Depending on food and water availability, the herds head north toward the river which offers a permanent water source and grazing. The Mara River crossings that take place over this period are the stuff of wildlife documentaries, and are highly dramatic events.

Wildebeests crossing Mara, Andre Gilden / Alamy

November: Returning South

With the arrival of short rains, the herds begin to move south toward renewed, fertile grazing. As in May, this transitional time creates unpredictable movements in the herds, and combining camp locations is the best way to keep up with nature.

wildebeests grazing

More than just wildebeests

Many areas of the Serengeti are home to rich resident wildlife including giraffes, zebras, impalas, topis, hartebeests, and predators such as lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards, and sometimes wild dogs. There is a plethora of fascinating small animals like mongooses and bat-eared foxes as well as a huge number of beautiful birds. The scenery is varied. Wooded thickets suddenly open up to great rolling plains studded with lone trees or rocky outcrops, or dizzying plains stretching to the horizon. All of this is yours to enjoy on your Serengeti safari regardless of where the wildebeests are in a particular moment.

 

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Serengeti Migration Safari (November-June)

Topics: Planning, Tips, and Tools, Destinations

AUTHOR BIO | Samantha Barbitta

Samantha is Bushtracks' Division Specialist Independent Travel and safari expert. Africa safari tours are all about animals and adventure. And so is Samantha. She studied marine biology at university, is a certified SCUBA diver and worked at a sport fishing lodge in Costa Rica for two and a half years. Some of her favorite trips have been to Rwanda (to spend time with gorillas), Brazil (to spot jaguars) and Kenya and Tanzania (to see too many animals to name.) When she’s not traveling or working, she also spends quite a bit of time riding horses. And not to be without animals while she works, Sam often brings her very personable greyhound, Libby, to the office. If you’re looking for animals and adventure, Sam's expansive experience and enthusiasm for adventure make her a superb person to help you plan your Africa safari luxury vacation.

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