Close

SERENGETI TO MARA

Explainer: The Great Migration

The National Geographic has referred to the migration as one of the Eight Wonders of the World.

In Summary
  • More than 1.5 million wildebeests make a daring, perilous journey from Serengeti in Tanzania across the Mara River into the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
  • The crossing into the Mara is only part of a year-long migration of the wildebeests, which begins in Serengeti in February.
The wildebeest migration
The wildebeest migration

Around July or August every year, tourists throng the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Narok county to witness the great wildebeest migration.

More than 1.5 million wildebeests make a daring, perilous journey from Serengeti in Tanzania across the Mara River into the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

On the trip, they are joined by thousands of zebras, elands, gazelles. Predators among them lions and crocodiles wait on the wings to make a kill.

 
 

The crossing into the Mara is only part of a year-long migration of the wildebeests, which begins in Serengeti in February.

On the move all the time, wildebeests migrate in search of fresh mineral rich grasses and water sources. They mate, calve, move and circle back to Serengeti in December.

At the start of the year, the herds are spread out across the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti. They graze, the female ones heavily pregnant and waiting to calve. Tens of thousands of calves are born daily in February.

In March, they move west and north towards Western woodlands. The huge herd moves again to the central Serengeti in April. In May they start moving in the direction of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

But first, the mating season begins in June and herds briefly stay by the Gurumeti River. Later in the month, and in July the herds cross the Gurumeti towards the Mara.

In August, the bulk of the migration continues north and into the Maasai Mara.

This perhaps the time the densest herds witnessed in the country. Crossings of the Mara River are frequent. The herds jostle by the banks before plunging into the deep crocodile-infested waters. Crossings take place frequently, randomly and in both directions.

 
 

In October, the reduced herds start the long trek back to southern Serengeti. By December the migration is in residence again to graze on fresh grass. The cycle soon begins again.

The National Geographic has referred to the migration as one of the Eight Wonders of the World.

According to the History Channel, people have, since at least the 19th century, suggested new wonders, or brought attention to a site by calling it “the eighth wonder of the world,” as a nod to the original Seven Wonders of the World.  

The Pink and White Terraces in New Zealand, the Terra-Cotta Army in China and the Aswan High Dam in Egypt are some of the wonders that have been thus christened.

Sometimes called The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the original list was based on a 225 BCE work by Philo of Byzantium called On The Seven Wonders. The only site still standing is the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The others, lost or destroyed, include: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes (which inspired the Statue of Liberty) and the Lighthouse at Alexandria.