3 May 2018

The greatest show on Earth

The Great Migration is a natural spectacle like no other and a life-changing experience to witness. The ground vibrates with the thundering of millions of hooves as heaving herds of wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and antelope fill the Serengeti & Mara plains in the most epic journey and struggle for survival. 

Spanning across Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara, the herds follow a clock-wise, circular movement annually in search of food - the richly nourished grass that grows following the rains. It’s important to remember this piece of pivotal information: the entire movement of The Great Migration rests solely on the rainfall. The distances these herds cover can be vast and rapid, which is why confirming where they will be at any given time of year is not particularly easy.


The herds converge on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti in Tanzania and the neighbouring Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The females give birth to their young in the safety of numbers that millions of animals bring.

As February moves into March and the herds begin to exhaust the short grasses they move northwest to the southern and central Serengeti.


The herds move north, crossing the central Serengeti plains and continue along the Grumeti River.

As the 'long rains' fall, the herds are drawn to the rushing rivers, stomping and snorting on the banks. This is where the first of the river crossings occur, continuing the never-ending search for food.


The herds start heading northeast, crossing the Mara River before reaching Masai Mara, the geographic boundary separating Tanzania and Kenya.

This is the famous time of multiple river crossings, where the herds remain in the Mara and the northern Serengeti, splitting into groups that cross and re-cross the Mara River. They are completely driven by instinct to keep moving and find fresh grazing. There is a sense of high alert as the fear for not only big cat predators is very real, but also the fear of the massive crocodiles that inhabit this area.


As the desperate need to move on is witnessed, the herds travel back into Tanzania’s Serengeti, having crossed the full and flowing Mara River. The Great Migration moves South, and the cycle continues.

As the grasses are exhausted and the birth time approaches, the herds will cross the Mara for the last time and wander back south, through the Serengeti. From here, they'll continue on to the short grass of Ndutu and the place of new beginnings.


Spend time in two or more different regions to stand the best chance in catching some incredible scenery of The Great Migration 

Consider booking a private guide and vehicle – the freedom that this affords one to follow the action is priceless 

There are two very distinct types of accommodation to choose from – either permanent lodges or camps located in prime positions or mobile tented camps that moves seasonally, mimicking the movement of The Great Migration. Chat to us about the best option for you 


While being a part of this ‘show’ is often a bucket list item, it’s important to remember that East Africa is very much a year-round destination as a wilderness experience. While game-viewing is easier in the drier months, when the grass is shorter, the wetter months and the transformation of the golden savanna into a sea of sparkling emeralds creating a photographer’s dream scenery is incredible to witness in itself.

The Serengeti and Masai Mara is home to a plethora of wildlife including giraffe, zebra, impala, topi, hartebeest and the great predators such as lion, cheetah, hyena, leopard and sometimes wild dog. The sometimes comical antics of the smaller mammals like mongooses and bat eared foxes can be viewed, as well as the twitchers amongst is ticking off their birding lists. 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.


Related Item

You’ve arrived! Welcome to our travel diaries. We share the best in luxury travel, news and stories. And we like to keep it short and sweet! Enjoy the journey

Classis Escapes logo icon