Natural Habitat Adventures

Travel Stories

Six Fascinating Facts About the Wildebeest Migration Across the Serengeti

By Chris Kassar

Wildebeest in East Africa

Imagine enormous herds of wildebeest and zebra traversing the East African plains while predators follow in stealthy pursuit. It's something you've almost certainly seen on film, and now you can witness this dramatic event in person during the Great Migration. Here are some interesting facts you might not know about this amazing natural event and its star—the wildebeest.

1. No two years are ever the same.
Each year, nearly 2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle make a circular tour between the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Maasai Mara in Kenya in search of greener pastures. They make their annual trek north toward the Maasai Mara between July and October, but their exact movements and timing vary from year to year.

2. Water crossings are one of the most dangerous obstacles for wildebeest.
Hippos and Nile crocodiles lay in wait at many river crossings. In addition to predators that take advantage of the water, hundreds of wildebeest may drown if they choose a time or spot to cross where the water is too high or fast. 

Wildebeest making a water crossing

3. Wildebeest cows drop their young all at once. During a two- to three-week period in January and February, wildebeest cows give birth to some 300,000 to 400,000 calves. This provides a feast for predators such as hyenas and lions. However, because the predators quickly become satiated and are unable to consume as much as they would if the wildebeest birthing were spread out over more time, they have less of an overall impact on newborn calf populations.

4. Wildebeest calves are born to run. Newborn wildebeests, known for gaining coordination faster than other ungulates, get to their feet two to three minutes after birth and are able to run with the herd after just five minutes. Before long, they can even outrun a lion!

5. Wildebeest have built-in GPS.
In March, when the short-grass plains of the southern Serengeti dry out, the wildebeest head west toward the Tanzania woodlands. There are two theories, or a combination of both, that likely explain how the wildebeest know where to go: they follow instinct (etched on their DNA after generations of survival and natural selection); or they respond to the weather, following the rains and the growth of new grass. 

6. The Great Migration helps wildebeest stay alive. Though this massive seasonal movement is driven by the perpetual need for food, being constantly in motion helps wildebeest evade large numbers of predators, many of which can’t follow herds very far because they are territorial and/or have young depending on them. Learn more, and see the incredible wildebeest, the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, African elephant, Cape buffalo and black rhinoceros)—plus other fascinating species such as zebra, giraffe, hyena, cheetah, eland and gazelle, on a Great Tanzania Migration Safari.

Wildebeest wandering across the savanna during the Great Migration

All photos © Nick Grossman
See the Wildebeest Migration on These East Africa Safaris
Repeater Layout : vertical-2up
Tanzania’s Great Migration & Ngorongoro Crater
New Trip!

Tanzania’s Great Migration & Ngorongoro Crater

Witness one of nature's most exhilarating spectacles: thousands of wildebeest and zebra making their annual trek across the Serengeti! Itineraries custom-designed to follow the herds.

  Photo departures available
10 Days / Dec–Mar & Jul–Oct
From $12995 (+air)
Limited to ~12 Travelers

Countries: Tanzania
New Trip!
The Great Kenya Migration Safari

The Great Kenya Migration Safari

Experience one of the world's most incredible wildlife events in Africa's most classic safari destination—Kenya, home to the massive movement of creatures that is the Great Migration!

  Photo departures available
8 Days / Jun–Sep
From $9995 (+air)
Limited to ~12 Travelers

Countries: Kenya
Travel Stories

Get Weekly Updates

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more.
Privacy Policy
We're Proud of the Reputation We’ve Earned
Outside
Voted "World's Best Travel
Company"
by Outside Magazine
Outside
Natural Habitat Adventures Ranked
“Best Outfitter”
NatGeo
Voted Best Winter Trip: Natural Habitat Adventures' Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico
VIEW MORE AWARDS

Send Me Travel Emails

Get the Inside Scoop on the

World of Nature Travel

Our weekly eNewsletters highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Natural Habitat & WWF Discovering Our Planet Together

Request Your 2022 Catalog

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Nathab 2022 Catalog

Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the planet, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Request Your 2022/2023 Catalog
Continued - Page 2 of 2
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:
Thank you for requesting a catalog
We’ve received your request. If you have any questions about our trips, please feel free to contact an Adventure Specialist today by calling 800-543-8917.

Get Weekly Updatess

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list!

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Send Us a Message

Send Us a Message

Have a question or comment? Use the form to the right to get in touch with us.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Us a Message
Thank you for your message

We’ll be in touch soon with a response.

Refer a Friend

Refer a Friend
Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Refer a Friend

Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.

Thank you for the referral!

We've received your friend's information.

View Our 2022 Digital Catalog

View Our 2022

Digital Catalog

Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info in the form to the right.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
View Digital Catalog
Happy browsing!

Thanks for requesting access to our digital catalog. Click here to view it now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Our Trips

Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bear Tours

African Safaris

African Safaris

U.S. National Parks Tours

U.S. National Parks Tours

Alaska Adventures

Alaska Adventures

Canada & the North

Canada & the North

Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

South America Adventures

South America Adventures

Europe Adventures

Europe Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Adventure Cruises

Adventure Cruises

Photography Adventures

Photography Adventures

Family Adventures

Family Adventures

New Adventures

New Adventures

Questions? Call 800-543-8917

Contact Us

Have a question or comment?
Click any of the buttons below to get in touch with us.

Hours
Mountain Time

  • 8 am to 5 pm, Monday - Friday
  • 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday
  • Closed on Sunday
Call 800-543-8917
Click to Chat
Questions? Click to Chat
/articles/african-safaris/east-africa/six-facts-about-the-wildebeest-migration/