Whatever time of year you're planning to safari in Africa, we can put you close to the Great Migration.
Africa specialist Mark offers his tips for organizing a safari around the Great Migration and describes the pattern of the herds' journey over the course of a year.
You watch and wait as sometimes 20, sometimes 200, wildebeest gather along the banks of the Mara River. A leopard sits on the bank, watchful for stragglers. Suddenly one animal falls in, as the bank crumbles or the scent of rain impels it on, and the herd jump in. Then your eyes are fixed by the motion, dust and danger of the river crossing.Africa specialist Mark
What is the Great Migration?
Africa's Great Migration is the annual journey of two million wildebeest from the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania to the grasslands of the Masai Mara, Kenya. Pure instinct and the smell of rain drives the herds from their birthing ground to the fertile Mara to feed.
How sure can I be that I'll see the Great Migration?
If I had to pick a time and place to watch the Great Migration, it would be the Mara River from late July to mid-August, when seeing a wildebeest river crossing is pretty much failsafe.
The herds don't follow a strict pattern, they can veer along different routes, which makes pinpointing the action imprecise. But we work with great local guides who keep a close eye on the herds' movements. They can also guide you to the resident lion prides that lie in wait of the herds.
Where will I stay?
We tend to use mobile camps as they leave no footprint and you'll sense you're really in the wild - you rarely see another person or vehicle. Or, if you'd prefer, we can arrange for you to stay in a permanent lodge.
Mobile camps are very comfortable, usually consisting of 8 to 10 'bed' tents and a communal dining tent. Bed tents are spacious and you'll sleep on a large, proper bed. Each tent comes with an en suite bathroom with a flush toilet.
The Mara River, which splits Tanzania and Kenya, is the focal point of the Great Migration in the summer and we'll arrange for you to stay in private land on the Tanzanian side, away from the big groups of tourists.
Wildebeest congregating for a river crossing
Zebra and wildebeest in the Ngorongoro Crater
Lion in the Masai Mara, Kenya
Where to see the Great Migration, month by month
January to March
The herds converge on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti and the neighbouring Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The females give birth to their young in the safety of numbers that millions of animals bring.
February moves into March and the herds begin to exhaust the short grasses and move northwest to the southern and central Serengeti areas of Kusini and the Seronera Valley.
April to June
The 'long rains' fall, drawing the herds towards the first river crossings. By June most of the herds are stomping and snorting on the banks of the Serengeti's Grumeti River.
The first of the animals plunge into the river to risk the teeth of the crocodiles and the strong flow of river waters swollen by the floods of the rains.
This is the famous time of multiple river crossings. The wildebeest, zebras and gazelles are driven by instinct to keep moving to find fresh grazing and stay alert enough to avoid the big cats.
August to October
The herds remain in the Mara and the northern Serengeti, splitting into groups that cross and re-cross the Mara River.
November to December
As the grasses are exhausted and the birth time approaches, the herds will cross the Mara for the last time and wander back south, through the Serengeti. From here, they'll continue on to the short grass of Ndutu and the place of new beginnings.
The Great Migration through Kenya and Tanzania