The Great Migration

The Great Migration is known – for good reason – as one of Africa’s most awe-inspiring natural phenomena. Even for those unacquainted with wildlife and the world of safari, will, on hearing the phrase, conjure up images of dense herds of wildebeest en masse crossing river beds and vast plains, all done so with a wild and frantic energy.

Widely talked about but not often well understood, we wanted to write a newsletter on things that you probably don’t know about the migration. We hope you enjoy our visual inspiration and information below.


Contrary to popular belief, the Great Migration is not a one-time annual spectacle but, rather, a year-round phenomenon. Spanning the Serengeti and Maasai Mara ecosystems, it unfolds in a clockwise fashion, with approximately 2 million antelopes and zebras embarking on a perpetual journey from the Maasai Mara into the Serengeti and back again, completing the cycle over a span of around 12 months.

Zebra and Wildebeest The Great Migration


It’s during the months of July to September that the most dramatic river crossings take place, marking the pinnacle of the migration’s journey up north and back again. Two river crossings stand out – The Grumeti River in the Serengeti and the Mara River in the Maasai Mara.


What drives this incredible journey that has persisted for thousands, perhaps millions, of years? It’s a combination of factors; including the need for fresh grazing grounds and the instincts deeply ingrained in the DNA of these magnificent creatures. We still don’t really understand how they know where to go, but their herd mentality and ancient innate wisdom has them treading the old migratory path of their ancestors.

By sticking together and traversing vast distances, the migration not only ensures the survival of the species but also plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of its ecosystem. If they were to stay in the same place they would exhaust the grass. Instead, their movement fertillises the ground of the plains; their hooves are like a massage for the soil. It’s also due to this migration that the landscapes look the way they do; without this movement trees, bushes and shrubs would grow across East Africa’s vast open plains.

Unlike the antilopes, their predators are territorial and do not migrate. Instead, they lie in wait for what, essentially, is a feast delivered to their doorstep; a sort of ‘all you can eat season’ of the animal kingdom. For example, the crocodiles who lie in wait in rivers sometimes eat only once a year. This is therefore a season of bounty, movement and excitement.

The Great Migration Kenya, Masai Mara


While witnessing the migration in action is undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s essential to consider the full scope of this phenomenon. From the months of November to March, the southern plains of the Serengeti come alive with another migration – the calving season. Here, amidst the vast savannah, visitors can witness the circle of life in its rawest form… an experience that feels even more special due to the dearth of fellow tourists during this time of year. The combination of babies, great predator tractions, lush greenery and having the place more to yourself makes for a magical combination.

The Great Migration Wildebeest and Zebras


The Maasai Mara and northern Serengeti can get extremely busy during the migration season; indeed so much that there is almost a second migration, that of the tourists, especially as the peak part of the migration falls over school holidays; making it a prime family holiday season.

To fully immerse yourself in the wonders of the migration, we recommend staying in neighboring conservancies or opting for a mobile tented camp in remote corners where the magic of the migration unfolds undisturbed. By choosing these off-the-beaten-path experiences, this allows you to escape the crowds and connect more deeply with nature.

Great Migration Wildebeest

Image credits: Thank you to Asilia, Cottars, David Lloyd, Great Plain Conservation, Lowis & Leaky and Singita.

If you’re inspired to witness the migration firsthand or learn more about this remarkable event, please reach out to me at [email protected]. I’d love to discuss it further.