Who remembers the tragic scene in The Lion King when Simba’s dad, Mufasa, gets run down by a herd of stampeding wildebeests? Okay – maybe that’s not the best way to advertise this next adventure. However, you have to admit that there is something majestic about thousands of animals running in perfect cadence with each other.
Heart of Africa
Next time you plan a safari adventure, I suggest you travel to Tanzania or Kenya, during the peak of the Great Migration. Each year, nearly 2 million animals go on a lengthy migration adventure through these countries due to seasonal rain and drought. One million wildebeests, 200,000 zebras and herds of galloping gazelles will all be joining the party – you might as well too.
Although the timing of the annual migration varies from year to year and cannot be predicted with certainty, there are some general movement patterns of the animals. From December to April, you can expect to find the herds scattered across the plains of southern Serengeti and the northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. During this time, hundreds of thousands of calves are born. However, from May to July, when the plains begin to dry out at the end of the rainy season, the herds will move westward and then northward in search of food. This would be the best time to witness the migration in action.
But don’t worry if you missed it there. From July to November, the plains of western Serengeti eventually dry out as well, and so the migration continues across the Mara River into Kenya’s Masai Mara. A visit to the Masai Mara National Reserve in August or September is sure to be an unforgettable event. The herds will also stay in these grasslands until October or November, when the start of the rainy season will prompt them to begin their adventure back to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The trek along the way, however, is far from easy. The journey runs in a clockwise circle, and roughly covers around 1800 miles. There are hungry predators and long stretches of tested endurance. An estimated 250,000 animals don’t make it.
Nevertheless, this event is something everyone around the world should travel to see one day. Yes I know that The Lion King is great. I can’t argue with that. However, I can promise you the real thing will be 100x times better.