Safari101: What Wildlife You’ll See During the Migration
The main attraction of a Migration Safari is the herd of over 1.5 million wildebeests, but there’s so much more to see! Let’s get into it.
How the regions differ
Millions of wildebeest, gazelles, zebra and other plains game journey along their circular migration route from the north of the Serengeti in Tanzania to the south of Kenya’s Masai Mara. One of the most frequent questions we receive is which country is the best place to experience this phenomenon.
This is not a black or white answer, rather something that will be determined by examining a few similarities and differences between the two.
The Serengeti (Tanzania)
When most people think of the Serengeti, they picture a barren, dry grassland, however, the Serengeti is trans-formative, largely due to the seasonal rainfall.
There is flat, golden savannah, lush grassy vegetation, wet season wildflowers around the Ngorongoro Crater, as well as forests and lakes.
As you travel North in the Serengeti and towards the Masai Mara the landscape becomes hilly and has a higher density of trees.
The most important geographical hallmark of the Serengeti is the Grumeti River which not only provides necessary water, but also poses an obstacle in the migration paths of the animals – quite a spectacle to watch!
June is best for the Grumeti crossing.
Tanzania is generally the pricier of the two as it is a far bigger country and almost all travel outside of the Northern Circuit requires transfers by light aircraft.
The Masai Mara (Kenya)
The Masai Mara is much smaller than the Serengeti, however, they are very similar in landscape, particularly as they meet at the Mara River.
September marks the climactic Mara River crossing and should not be missed! This is not one isolated event, but rather a slow, steady series of events.
The Mara is crossed numerous times as the wildebeest move from east to west, back and forth within the Masai Mara, constantly searching for water and food.
Kenya is a bit more budget-friendly for the average traveler, however, both countries offer great off-season deals.
Generally, Kenya is considered the better option for families with younger children, while Tanzania has superb luxury options if you’re willing to splurge.
Kenya and the surrounds of the Masai Mara have more private concessions than Tanzania’s Serengeti. It is important to note that certain activities such as night game drives, walking and horseback safaris are prohibited in national parks, while private concessions and reserves have no such limitations.
The other stars of the show
Zebra and antelope migrate along with the wildebeest, although in much smaller numbers.
The large group of herbivores attract plenty of predators including cheetahs, lions, leopards, jackals, hyena and wild dogs.
These animals do not follow the herd but are bound to their unique territories, almost waiting for the ‘travelling buffet’ to cross their paths.
Elephant, giraffe, warthog, other plains game, black and white rhino and an astonishing amount of birds are spectators themselves to this wild migration, in both the Serengeti and the Masai Mara.
You can spot the Big 5 during your Migration Safari, you might just have to work a bit harder to find them – which makes the experience that much more rewarding when you do!
The best place for reliable Big 5 spotting is the Ngorongoro Crater in Northern Tanzania.
Are you ready for this exhilarating experience?
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