It’s as beautiful as it is brutal: thousands of wildebeests and zebras jump into the river to swim across, while hungry crocodiles snap at them, some of the animals get trampled by others, and others drown in the river due to the strong current.

Migratie in Serengeti, Tanzania
Thousands of wildebeests in the Serengeti in Tanzania. Daniel Rosengren

You can experience this spectacle, either in Tanzania where the animals cross the Grumeti river, or in Kenya in the Maasai Mara National Reserve where they cross the Mara river. But there’s more to the migration than river crossings, you can see the long caravan of animals searching for juicy grass, hundreds of thousands of animals will pass right by.

In October, around half a million herbivores make their way from the north of Tanzania to the south via the east, because of the drought. After the wet season, in April, they head back via the west to Kenia. Their route resembles the shape of a clock.

Migratie in Tanzania
A typical image of the migration. Haplochromis

During their trek, the animals make good use of the weather conditions that enable vegetation to grow. Scientists have discovered that the animals cover around 800 kilometres each year, with predators such as lions following their tracks. About a third of the Serengeti is in Kenya, the rest is in Tanzania.

Best time:
The best time to visit the Serengeti is April, May and June when the animals have to cross the dangerous Grumeti and Talek rivers.

Maasai Mara:
To see the migration in Maasai Mara the best time is July, August and September, when the animals cross the Mara river.

Tourists can witness the animals leaping into the river to cross, but be aware that some of the things you’ll see won’t be pleasant, the animal kingdom is brutal. You’ll always see parts of the migration, because this takes place year-round. You’ll always see a caravans of animals walking past.