Best Month for Experiencing The Great Migration


Jul 3rd, 2014, 08:43 AM
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Best Month for Experiencing The Great Migration

We are thinking of a safari to Tanzania or Kenya next year and want to see the Great Migration. I've read that June & July are good for seeing them near the Grumeti River and Aug-Oct they are in the Masai Mara. When, in your opinion, is the best time to see the Great Migration and which area would you concentrate on?

Does anyone have any suggestions on good tour operators? How does this area compare to Botswana? We've been to S. Africa and spent time at a private reserve in Kruger in the past where we saw a lot of wildlife.

Any suggestions for our next safari would be appreciated.
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Jul 3rd, 2014, 02:26 PM
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This was our first safari, but we just came back from two weeks in Tanzania basically doing the northern circuit. We went with Naipenda Safaris and loved our guide Modi and all the preplanning and everything went very well. We stayed in the Grumeti Reserve (were there in June) and they said the migration had come very early that year - in May; so just want to mention that there is no guarantee. Despite that we had an amazing time, saw tons of wildlife. Of course, as I mentioned, this was our first safari so missing the migration was probably less of a let down for us then if that was your main purpose.
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Jul 3rd, 2014, 03:51 PM
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The calving time is Jan-Feb (hard to guess 2 months ahead of time) in the Ndutu area. Ndutu lodge becomes fully booked months before then. Also not to far away is Ngorongoro Crater that is not to be missed if you are within 300miles of it. All typically accessible out of Arusha. Recommend Roy Safaris in Arusha.

I safaried there in Feb 2011 for 17 days. My Fodors trip report here -

No rhino there, you will see many more cheetah than around Kruger. Leopards are not as many as near Kruger. Lions for sure. Elephants but not as many as Kruger area. And buffalo, I think they are very few also. EXCEPT in Ngorongoro which has them all! (But no vehicle off roading in NG). Big 5 viewing up close and personal has been always best for me in private camps bordering Kruger. Although admittidly I have not been to Botswana.

regards - tom
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Jul 3rd, 2014, 11:51 PM
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I advice Jan-February when the migration give birth to their young ones in Ndutu side of Ngorongoro Conservation Area. May/June is wonderful time to experience them crossing grumeti river in western Serengeti and on July crossing the mara river in North Serengeti heading to Maasai Mara. Aug-Oct they will be in Masai Mara in Kenya and then back to Serengeti. I traveled with Happy World Safaris, tony was our driver guide and it was incredible safari experience
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Jul 4th, 2014, 12:29 PM
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Migration goes on the entire year, just in different areas. Between Jan-mid-Mar*, is the 'calving' of the young in the Ndutu and/or Southern Serengeti. Then the wet season Apr/May, but rates low, few vehicles/visitors, though green and lots of flowers. The wildies/zebra/gazelles are still handing around Ndutu/So.Serengeti.

*not unusual for the wildies in the Ngorongoro Crater to calve earlier.

Then late-May/June the herds move towards the West, but no guarantee crossing of Grumeti River as often insufficient water... some of these herds may also move from the Central Serengeti to the north. From late-Jul thru Oct, those herds that don't make it into Kenya's Masai Mara remain in Northern Serengeti. However, here there are few camps and those that are tend to be rather expensive.

From November, the herds from the Mara and No Serengeti commence trip south towards Central till arriving at the Ndutu area to 'calve' again.

Above is what is expected, but from year-to-year, things can/do change. As this year the herds seemed to pass the No. Serengeti and headed direct into the Mara. Other years (last year), the herds were already in the Mara when they decided early Sept (I believe) to turn around to No. Serengeti but stayed only a few days and then back to the Mara in Kenya where they hung around for weeks on end. We referred to it as "the 2nd comming of the migration." Eventually the herds moved south.

The wildies move with the rains and new grasslands, so while various maps will show the herds at specific areas during specific months, this can easily change. I've a few years been in the Mara late-May/early-June with already arriving in the Mara which was a surprise to everyone. And last year, when the herds arrived Mara mid-July (usual) many were complaining they were late... ugh!

Thus if trying to plan a year ahead, it's often a guestimate unless you wish to visit both the Serengeti and Mara which many visitors do if you have sufficient time. And it's also not unusual when it comes to the 'calving' period that the herds never made it as far south as Ndutu and simply stopped at the Central Serengeti (very unusual).

I sure don't compare safaris from one country to another. All have been different as every day on safari is different... some where I've never seen a lion, but lots of cheetah and surprisingly a few leopards. When at Kruger, though plenty of various sightings, but when I specifically asked for a leopard, no issue for guide locating one for me - thus first thought and during other drives, seems they know all the game on their specific conservancy... kind of like cheating!!!. Or when at Chobe known for in excess of 40,000 ellees, saw only three in that number of days.

Why I no longer have any expectations and often encounter surprises... too many to mention.
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Jul 4th, 2014, 03:44 PM
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Thank you all for your valuable feedback. This will certainly help us in our planning. Sounds like we shouldn't plan to see the migration and be happily surprised if we do.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 03:04 AM
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The rainfall patterns keep changing hence the migration dates are not specific. From Jan to around june they are in Tanzania from where they move itno Kenya upto late November. I had a great time with Kevin the guide from Autoscope safaris based in Kenya during my 4 day nakuru and mara safari.
I didn't know much about Botswana as i have never been.. would like to go myself!You could find this helpful though,
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Jul 16th, 2014, 08:01 PM
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Thanks carol91. I think we are leaning towards Kenya next September and Hope to see the migration.
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Jul 17th, 2014, 05:49 AM
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The migration is such an incredible spectacle. There's this beautiful dance as herds of varying sizes trot down to the Mara River and then return back to the grassy plains then head back to the river again. All just waiting for one to make the leap. Amazing sight!

There's some great lodges/camps to pick from. A special thing to do is to arrange a hot air balloon ride. It's amazing to float above the herds - you feel like an eagle. We also visited a Maasai village and the leader (with an interpreter)introduced us to his 19 wives and they showed us their village. I have some incredible photos. Let me know if you'd like to see some.

We were there in August and saw thousands of animals but since it's a natural event, it is hard to predict the time when the majority of animals will be there.

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Jul 17th, 2014, 11:41 AM
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Where did you stay when you were there?
We are doing research on the various camps and it's a little overwhelming and hard to choose. Most of them have great reviews. We are interested in off road driving so want to spend time in the private conservancies.

If you can post a link to your pictures, I'd love to see them.
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Jul 17th, 2014, 06:17 PM
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We stayed at Bateleur Camp but I also saw Kichwa Tented Camp while there. I'd love to share a link to my photos. Email me (it's on my profile)and I'll email you back with the link. Both my husband and son are accomplished photographers. The photos are incredible. Wait till you see the balloon shots and the visit with the tribe!
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Jul 18th, 2014, 07:47 PM
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great tips thanks
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Jul 18th, 2014, 10:06 PM
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Too true: have no expectations. Too unpredictable! Besides, it is just the icing on the wonderful cake.
Returned two weeks ago from wonderful Kenya. On June 26 we saw thousands of wildebeest and zebra cross the Mara River. Amazing, breathtaking. I cried! The next day, a couple staying at the same camp (we stayed at Porini Lion and were luckily in the Mara that day)saw this spectacular event also.
Two yrs ago, i stayed at Mara Serena in the Mara Trianglein August (supposedly the best month to witness migration) and watched for two days--from probably THE most spectacular vantage point in the Mara--as parades of thousands zebra and wildebeest approached the river, turned back, approached, etc etc...but didn't cross.
The point is--you just need know! no matter whether see it or not, you will have an amazing trip!!
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Jul 22nd, 2014, 12:34 PM
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CaliNurse, even if we don't see crossing, I'm sure we'll be thrilled with it all.
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