How you can see the epic Serengeti migration

Nothing can prepare you for the thrill of seeing hundreds of thousands of wildebeest galloping towards the rains. CATHERINE FAIRWEATHER takes a view on this great natural wonder


The millennia-old journey of the wildebeest, chasing the rains and grasses on their cyclical loop through the vast Serengeti ecosystem, is a drama of life and death. On the vast rolling plains of Tanzania’s Southern Serengeti, the ground beneath our Jeep vibrates, and the horizon is a blur of muzzle and hooves. The wildebeest are on the move; snorting, moaning, kicking up the earth and sending dust devils spiraling into the air. One and a half million of them, trailing herds of zebra, Grant’s gazelle, eland and impala in their wake.

The thousands that are not carried off by predators will die of thirst and starvation, while thousands more are born in the southern savannah between January and March. To experience the great migration in an area as vast as the Serengeti National Park – the size of Switzerland and entirely dependent on the unstable fluctuations of the rains – it pays to travel with an experienced outfit like Legendary, which is mobile and flexible enough to carry you to wherever the action is.

Beyond the wildebeest trail, the Serengeti offers up an amazing array of wildlife
Take in the vast African plains from the cooling heights of a hot air balloon

Insider tip

You can explore the Serengeti by land cruiser or on foot, but we recommend hot air balloon. It’s a strangely intimate way of observing the wildlife, before the balloon, given another blast of heat, lifts high over the chocolatey Mara river and the plains that sparkle in the first fresh rains.

Where to stay

When the migrating herds spill into the region from the Serengeti National Park on the northern boundary, on their way to the birthing pastures of the Ngorongoro Crater, the luxury lodge Mwiba in Tanzania offers an amazing corridor for viewing away from the crowds in the privately managed Mwiba Wildlife Reserve. On 126,000 acres of acacia woodland, surrounded by coral trees and giant euphorbia, the lodge is the private home of Texan tycoon Dan Freidkin, who makes it available to paying guests when he isn’t in residence. Lit by lanterns and decorated in shades of cream and earth with collections of tribal artefacts, it must surely contend as Africa’s most romantically remote abode, with no other in the area to compete for wildlife sightings. You don’t even need to leave your private terrace to see the elephant and buffalo coming to drink water from the natural springs that surface from the river bed below.

Mwiba Lodge offers safari luxury in a stunning setting with prime views of the wildlife corridor

When to go

The yearly cycle begins in the south of the park, where half a million calves are born between January and March. But when the rains end in May, the land dries fast and the grazing animals must move on, making this the best time for migration viewings as they head for their dry-season refuge in the Maasai Mara.

Need to know

Experience the dream safari adventure with Journeys by Design, who can offer expert advice on the best times to see the migration and organize stays at Legendary and Mwiba Lodge.