Updated: Sep 18
During the Great Migration which happens around July through October, millions of wildebeests, Thomson’s gazelles, elands, topi and zebras stampede across the river and plains of Maasai Mara. People await this annual natural event and even refer to it as the “World Cup of Wildlife.” In fact, this remarkable wildebeest migration is recognized as the 7th wonder of the world. If you’re lucky enough to time your Kenya safari holiday between July and August, you’ll be able to witness the eventful and utterly intense river crossing. Why intense? Because it is no ABC for the migrants as they try to cross the river alive. The huge Nile crocodiles act like blood-curling immigration officers (except they eat you, not deport you).
Timing of the Great Wildebeest Migration
It all starts from Ngorongoro Plains which is a conserved area in Serengeti. The rainfall season
ends in April and this marks the end of their stay in Ngorongoro and the beginning of a long
journey to Kenya. During the season when they arrive at Ngorongoro the cows are pregnant and
the season is about giving birth. By April most of them are strong and set to go. Unfortunately,
most calves are never able to make it as they are too weak for the journey. Others are ready food for hyenas and wild dogs.
The strong and the mighty start the move towards the northern and southern part of Serengeti. Their sisters, the zebras, actually set the pace of the movement as they are after the tall grass while the wildebeest go for the short grass. Between June and July, the herds start entering Masai Mara National Park where there are green pastures. They join up with the smaller population in the Kenyan land and together they spend time for another thre
e months. The drama that is involved during the journey until the two parts meet is what makes the Great Wildebeest Migration.
The Drama at the Mara River Crossing
Because of the high rains, the Mara River is always overflowing with violent water from Mau
Escarpment. It is always full of crocodiles and hippos. The green grass across the Mara River is what gives the wildebeests and zebras the zest to cross it regardless of the hungry and brutal crocodiles. The scene is always a wonder and uniquely natural, one someone would want to see every other year. One brave wildebeest will jump into the water and quickly swim towards the river banks, others would follow hopping blindly into the violent water. In the process, some will get trapped into the rocks, others will get hunted by the waiting brutal crocodiles while still others will be swept off by the violent waters of River Mara.
The episodes have been photographed, captured on video and shared across the world year after year.