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No matter how often a person visits East Africa, its magic never wanes. The Great Migration, an epic event that sees over a million mammals thunder across the plains of the Serengeti, is a spectacular sight to behold. The Great Migration takes place annually in East Africa between Tanzania and Kenya, with the exact timing and route of the migration changing from year to year.
Over a million wildebeest lead the charge, joined by an estimated 300,000 zebra, along with other antelope. They all gather up their young and start their long trek north in search of food and water, travelling from Tanzania’s dry Serengeti plains to Kenya’s eco-rich Masai Mara National Reserve. Their journey runs in a clockwise circle and the animals cover a distance of almost 3,200km. It’s a tough journey and every year an estimated 250,000 wildebeest don’t survive the trip. The animals are motivated by the rhythm of survival and only the strongest survive.
It’s stunning to see hundreds of animals standing on the plains during the migration, with many of Africa’s most impressive predators attracted by the large number of prey. Lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs follow the herds and give clients headed on an African safari tour during this time of year a great chance of seeing a kill in action. One of the most spectacular sights of the migration is when the herds gather to cross the Grumeti River in Tanzania and the Mara River in Kenya from July through September. As the herds cross the river, crocodiles lie in wait for the weakest animals that get separated from the pack.
The Masai Mara is regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s wildlife viewing areas. In the Masai Mara National Reserve alone there have been some 95 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and over 400 bird species recorded. If your clients head there, they have an excellent chance of seeing the Big Five as well as cheetah, serval, hyena, bat-eared fox, black-backed and side-striped jackal, hippo, crocodile, baboon, warthog, eland, Thompson’s gazelle, impala, oribi, zebra, and many more. In addition to catching the thundering commotion of nature’s most majestic event from the ground, travellers on Africa tours in Masai Mara during the Great Migration can also enjoy game viewing, camping, night game drives, visits to Masai cultural villages, hot air ballooning, and bush dinners.
The vast plains of the Serengeti are some of the greatest wildlife-watching destinations on the planet. Teeming with life year-round, Serengeti National Park is truly the stuff of African legends. On an African safari here, your clients will see the iconic African landscapes they’ve dreamed of seeing, along with lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, giraffe, buffalo, and many other animals.
While in Tanzania, a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater is a must. This is where sightings of many of the major game species are virtually guaranteed, including lion, elephant, hippo, and rhino, as well as exotic birds and flamingos on the central soda lake.
This upcoming July, the first crossings of the Mara River during the Great Migration begin, with the frontrunners of the mega herd pushing north. These river crossings are fantastic to watch. River crossings at Kogatende start to occur every day in August as a large herd settles in the area. For August, September, and October, game viewing here is fantastic with river crossings happening every day. There is no distinct movement, as the herds tend to cross back and forth over the river, following the rains and the resulting fresh grasses. Travellers may even see different herds crossing in different directions on the same day. It’s truly a spectacle to behold.
Whether your clients travel to Kenya and Tanzania together or separately, be sure to remind them to bring their binoculars and a camera—they’re about to witness the most unforgettable wildlife show on earth!
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