Take one part horse, one part bull and add a sprinkling of moose and you have the wildebeest, which looks like an evolutionary grab-bag. However, this antelope species is one of the most successful animals in Africa with healthy populations throughout the continent making for spectacular wildebeest migrations accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebra.
Their greatest concentration is in the Serengeti ecosystem that straddles the Kenya / Tanzania border. Here, in the vast rolling grasslands where the Masai make their home, the wildebeest has found its ideal habitat.
The Setting (See Migration Map here)
The most famous of these wildebeest migrations occurs in the Serengeti where herds up to two million strong wander between the southernmost parts of the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the Masai Mara to the north. This migration follows a vague pattern, which tends to be affected by rainfall and the availability of food.
Just after Christmas, huge herds congregate on the short grass plains in the south to give birth. Then, in one of the most amazing sights in the natural world, the wildebeest migrate north via the western edge of the ecosystem towards Lake Victoria. Operating by ancient GPS, they may travel 40 miles in a particular direction on one day then do the same in the opposite direction on the next. This is often the case during the rainy season when dazzling thunderstorms may be localized but very heavy.
Time of Year
This time of year is also ideal for the famous wildebeest river crossings when the gargantuan ancient crocodiles that live in the rivers wait for the unwary wildebeest to enter the water. Camps such as Sala’s and Rekero overlook the rivers allowing guests to wonder at the action from the comfort of the camp. Other terrific camps in the area include Serian, Offbeat Mara, Kicheche and Kicheche Bush Camp, all of which offer authentic tented accommodation in superb locations.
A trip to see the wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara can be combined with visits to many amazing lodges in other parts of Kenya. There, guests can enjoy countless adventure activities including riding safaris, fishing, birding, Kilimanjaro or simply relaxing in the pristine wilderness.