Google “Serengeti Migration” and you will see that the Great Migration of zebras and wildebeest is alternatively dubbed the One of the 7 Natural Wonder of Africa, One of the 10 Natural Travel Wonders, One of the 7 New Wonders of the World, or even the 8th Wonder of the World.
It certainly makes you wonder!
The Great Migration: A Natural Phenomenon
No matter which of these rankings you ascribe to, the Great Migration in Africa is a natural phenomenon that sparks the imagination and the urge to travel to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Kenya’s Masai Mara and witness it firsthand. Like the Grand Canyon or Mount Everest, fellow listed natural wonders, the sheer magnitude of the Migration humbles the viewer, but unlike these, this wonder actually moves: a high drama with life and death fueled by the search for food.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about the Migration is that you can enjoy a completely different experience depending on the time of year you choose to visit the Serengeti.
The mention of the Migration evokes the dusty thunder of thousands of wildebeests crossing the plains, or a herd of zebra scrambling up a steep embankment as a hapless straggler fights the gaping jaws of a crocodile. These iconic images depict the autumn, or July to September, when the herds make their dramatic crossing of the Mara River in the Serengeti’s north.
When are the Best Times of Year to Visit the Serengeti?
If you plan to view the Migration this time of year, it’s important to make your travel plans well in advance as you would for any hot-ticket item. A Bushtracks' safari, would feature ideally located, smaller camps which balance the large-scale wonder of the migration with a personalized experience – but these smaller camps fill up quickly. You’d begin in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, a wildlife-rich habitat where elephants, migratory zebra and wildebeest and others, flock to seek out water. From there, you’d head north to Manyara, Tanzania, to a comfortable lodge within a striking distance of the Ngorongoro Crater: a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its remarkable density of wildlife, and its archeological findings. You’d end in the north of the Serengeti National Park, where you will be ideally positioned for the path of the Great Migration.
But seasoned safari-goers know you don’t have to travel in July through September to enjoy the Serengeti.
The Serengeti's Green Season: January through March
The Serengeti’s Green Season runs from January through March. During this time, the 1.5 million wildebeest don’t simply disappear: they graze on the grasses of the southern Serengeti’s endless plains, and calve their several hundred thousand babies over a 4 to 6 week period between February and March. So, in addition to herds of wildebeests, you’d be treated to the more intimate marvels of babies of all shapes and sizes: wildebeest and zebras, leopards and cheetahs. To capture all of this beauty, a Bushtracks safari running in November through June would follow completely different routing. You would begin in Manyara, and excursions to the Ngorongoro Crater, then head to the southern part of the Serengeti National Park with a game-viewing focus on calving, before heading to the north of the park to get up close to the big cats resting on the kopjes, the rocky outcrops that provide excellent views over the savanna.
Go with the Expert Travel Planners
So when you’re thinking about a Serengeti Safari, disregard any advice that restricts the time of year you make your once-in-a-lifetime visit. Any time of year will place you in the heart of Eastern Africa’s remarkable wildlife. The important thing is to work with an experienced travel planner to modify your routing and pick the best camps and lodges to optimize your wildlife-viewing experience during the time of year you choose to travel.