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  • Alex Tett

Route of the Migration from Tanzania to Kenya in September

The Great Migration, though commonly referred to as an annual event with its peak in September, is actually a year-round trek of zebra and wildebeest traveling across Tanzania and Kenya. The circuit route they follow has a total length of 1,200 miles. Consider it a never-ending spectacle taking place in East Africa’s most beautiful parks and reserves.

During the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem’s year-round cycle, around 1.5 million wildebeest, 400,000 zebra, 300,000 Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelle, and 12,000 eland swarm the terrain in search of fresh pastures. The constant movement of columns of wildebeest, joined by a host of companions, follows an age-old route in search of grazing and water. Thousands of creatures are taken by predators along the route, and thousands more are born, replenishing the numbers and continuing the cycle of life.

Due to erratic rainfall patterns, the timing of this phenomenon varies, with herds splitting and traveling in different directions before reassembling. This movement is a natural occurrence caused by grazing availability.

In terms of specific timing and direction, the migration is never exactly the same from one year to the next.

As such, the following should be treated as a rough guide to the animals’ annual movements. There is no start or end to the migration, but we will begin with the start of new life.

  1. From January to March, the herds typically calve in the southern Serengeti’s shortgrass plains. This location contains nutrient-rich soil that helps the mothers provide the best milk. Some 400,000 calves are born here within a period of two to three weeks, or nearly 8,000 new calves every day.

  2. From April to May, the herds move across the central Serengeti, in splinter herds and dramatically long lines, to the western corridor of the Serengeti. Columns of wildebeest can stretch for several miles.

  3. Splinter herds usually converge in the western corridor between June and July and begin traveling north. The herds migrate northwest, crossing the Grumeti River into the northern Serengeti depending on precipitation.

  4. Huge herds assemble in the northern Serengeti and the Masai Mara from August to October. The herds cross over to the Masai Mara after the rains, and then return to the Serengeti. This back and forth can continue for months, and there are more than ten common river crossing sites.

  5. From November to December, the migrating herds move again and frequently split, migrating south at different speeds through the eastern, western, and central Serengeti.


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