The Great Migration Calving Season 2019

Migration Status

2018 has been an unusual crossing season, with very little “normal” behaviour or movement of the migration. There are still huge numbers of wildebeest and zebra on the Masai Mara side and big numbers have moved down from the northern Serengeti to the western Serengeti corridor, Grumeti River area. This is the complete opposite of what is suppose to happen if we look at traditional “migration maps”, like this one (courtesy of Scott Dunn) and has us wondering what will happen in Calving Season 2019.

Traditional-Great-Wildebeest-Migration-Map
Traditional Migration Map

The short rains have started and it is the end of October. There is moisture being pushed into East Africa (Lake Victoria depression) from two sides: From the east or coastal region, moisture is pushed in with the east winds blowing and more moisture is being pushed in from the great lakes regions, west of the Serengeti.

Possible Calving Season Scenarios

If we have lots of early rain which stops in January, February and March. This is the most likely scenario – there is only so much moisture that can fall! The moment the trade winds start blowing off the coast then we might have a fairly dry February/March 2019. This scenario will cause the migration to look for permanent water when the plains have dried out. Possible locations could be the Maswa Game Reserve / Kusini / Kakessio areas west of Lake Ndutu. Or movement to Seronera where there is permanent water in the Seronera valley river system.

The second scenario sees continuous rain from November to end May 2019. There are predictions of a very wet short rainy season, if this connects with the traditional long rains of April May then there would be a constant supply of water and grass on the southern Serengeti plains. This might cause the herds to be spread out from Kakessio in the west to Oldupai in the south to Goll kopjes and even Piyaya in the east.

How to plan your safari for the calving season and what to look out for

The border between the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority is an “imaginary line” which basically splits the southern plains in half. Many camps and lodges are either on the Serengeti side or the NCA side of the plains. Very few companies will pay double park fees to accommodate their tourists and give them access to both sides on the same day. This leaves clients with a 50/50 chance of being on the wrong side of the imaginary line.

How do I fix this and make sure I get to see the calving season from end January to end March 2019

  1. Make sure you have park fees paid for both sides of the southern plains
  2. Book your safari with Great Migration Camps – guaranteeing you will be with the herds

When to come on safari to witness the calving season

The calving season is a window between end January and end March. Gathering in massive numbers, the wildebeest synchronize their birthing, for safety reasons. Needless to say, there are very good animal interactions and predator activity throughout this time. February – March are the two ideal months to come to the Serengeti / NCA. It is a special season due to the sheer numbers and abundance of wildlife and activity.

Talk to us about the migration and where to go when!

GMC Mobile: Game Package Rates $330 and Full board Rates $230 (excludes Park Fees and getting there).

Contact: +255 686 493 065 |  Email: info@greatmigrationcamps.com

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October 2018 – Migration Updates

Migration Updates – what happened in September 2018?

Wildebeest Whisperer, Carel Verhoef, reports back on an eventful month of the great migration – with a lot of confusion as the wildebeest moved back and forth across the Mara River.

Towards the end of August there was significant rainfall (50 mm!) on the Serengeti side from the central Seronera and eastern Barafu Kopjes to Kogatende in the northern part of the Serengeti. Lots of rain on areas that had been burnt earlier in August. This caused the herds to start moving from north to south, and some concern that the herds would not move north to Kenya at all. Big herd numbers were gathered around the Sand River. The rain seemed to split the herds into a northern and southern group, with some large numbers in Kenya from earlier crossings and many wildebeest wandering south – making it as far as Mbuzi Mawe!

To cross of not to cross
This image by Brendan Allen sums up the season – to cross or not to cross? #Zebra

The Kenyans burnt a large area in the Masai Mara from Talek to Lookout Hill on 6 September. Not long after this there was another shift at the wildebeest headed north again arriving in Kenya and the Mara Triangle towards the end of September. There were some big crossings at the Sand River into the Mara Reserve with large numbers arriving in the Mara North Conservancies.

At the moment the herds are scattered with some as far north as the Mara Triangle and southern conservancies, some around Kogatende and as far south as Lobo on the Serengeti Side. Mara River crossings are happening on both the Kenyan and Tanzanian sides.

Migration Predictions

The big question is when the short rains will start as this will impact on the movement of the herds. If there is no rain, the herds should stay up north in both the Serengeti and Masai Mara as there is permanent water and some good springs. Great Migration Camps suggests this is the likely scenario for the next couple of weeks at least.

If the rain comes, the area of rainfall will help make the decision for the wildebeest herds. Rain further south means the herds could move towards Kleins Gate and Lobo sooner rather than later.

Of course all these micro-movements have us here at Great Migration Camps asking the question about where calving season will be? Potentially the herds may not move all the way south to the Ndutu and southern Serengeti plains… but have no fear, Great Migration Camps will still be there – wherever they may be! Calving season bookings are open.

Migration Update 28 August

Huge crossings of the Mara River on the Serengeti side from north to south. Update from Danny Akiyoo – guide at Asilia Africa. Watch the video here.

Migration Update 02 Sept

Lenny Koshal with news of wildebeest herds crossing the Sand River north to south update. Take a look at this crossing! 

Migration Update 04 Sept

Great crossing Serengeti side at Makutano north to south again. Update from Asilia Africa guide Elia Edward

Migration Update 18 Sept

Zebra Crossing! It’s not just the wildebeest who migrate or cross rivers – look at this huge Zebra crossing on the sand river near Sala’s Camp moving south to the Serengeti.

Migration Update 20 Sept

Frank Gabriel, from Lemala Camps and lodges, always sends fabulous updates like this huge herd crossing the Mara River on the Serengeti side – headed south! 

Migration Update 21 Sept

Ainslee Wilson from Alex Walker’s Serien reported a big wildebeest crossing at No 7 headed from north to south.

Migration Update 22 Sept

In mid-September there was still movement of the herds from north to south – crossing the Mara River on the Serengeti. Update from Asilia

Migration Update 25 Sept

Huge herds near Nomad in the Serengeti – 20 km south of the Mara River, doing some wildebeest stuff. 

Migration Update 28 Sept

Mashine (Joseph Swai) sent footage of a massive crossing on the Serengeti Side at No 4 headed north. Watch the video. 

Migration Update 30 Sept

Herds cross the Mara River at Lookout Hill from east to west in Kenya. Update from GMC-mobile and a great thunderous dusty crossing. 

Migration Update 7 Oct

Northern end of the migration in the Kenyan Conservancies – Mara North and Olare Motorogi. Crossings headed north across the Mara River – update from Baraka Willium

Migration Update 9 Oct

Governor’s Camp collection reporting from Mara Triangle, huge herds around Little Governor’s Camp. What happens next is anyone’s guess…. watch this space or follow us on Facebook for the latest updates about the movement of the wildebeest from the field. 

Calving Season

Where will the herds be when the wildebeest drop their calves en masse come February? Traditionally the herds gather on the Southern Serengeti Plains near Ndutu for calving season.  Will they be there at the start of 2019 or will the wildebeest keep us all guessing. One thing we know for certain, is that where ever the herds go, so will GMC Mobile!  Book now for calving season and be sure you are in the right place at the right time.

Game Package Rates $330 and Full board Rates $230 (excludes Park Fees and getting there).

Contact: +255 686 493 065 |  Email: info@greatmigrationcamps.com

Send us your #migrationupdates via Social Media