Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is known as the best safari destination in Africa. There are world-class opportunities from grasslands to woodlands, rock formations, and mountain peaks. Home to the Great Migration each year, Tanzania sees millions of animals make their way across the land in search of water and fresh pasture. These are wildebeest, gazelle, and zebra brave the raging Mara River, filled with waiting crocodiles. In Tanzania, you will have the opportunity to see cheetahs, hunting dogs, lions, and leopards.
Discover Africa Safari and experience its breathtaking natural phenomenon and a must-see safari for adventures, wildlife enthusiasts, and those seeking a little more from their African vacation.
What are the Interesting Facts about Tanzania
1. Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa. It is a little more than two of the U.S. state of California that can fit within Tanzania.
2. Tanzania is a multilingual nation with many different languages. Swahili is the official language, and English is widely spoken.
3. National Parks such as Serengeti and Kilimanjaro, with Mount Kilimanjaro as the tallest freestanding summit in the world, were included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Mount Kilimanjaro is 5,895 meters above sea level and is the tallest mountain in Africa. It is home to almost different ecological systems, from cultivated land to rainforest, alpine desert, and arctic summit.
4. Tanzania is the best safari destination in Africa, having the most sizable animal population density out of any country in the world.
5. The Great Migration sees over 2 million animals travel across the plains.
6. Lake Tanganyika is the second largest lake in the world.
7. Baobab trees found in Tarangire National Park of Tanzania can live 1,000 years or longer.
8. Tanzania is home to distinctive and delicious cuisine, which has the enormous crab in the world, the coconut crab. It is also one of the tastiest crabs in the world.
9. Tarangire National Pak is Home to Unique Tree-Climbing Lions.
10. The beaches of Zanzibar are regarded, as some of the most beautiful coasts in the world, with white sand, blue waters, and swaying palms.
What is the Great Migration
The Great Migration in East Africa is the largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. This historic Great Migration is a famous journey of animals not only looking for food to sustain but also giving birth to future generations that will keep the annual migration alive. The route begins in the north and ends in the south, stretching about 3000 kilometers. Over 1.2 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebra along with other gazelle move through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.
There are three groups of migrant grazers as to their different grass-eating habits: The first group eats the top of the tallest grass, the next group will eat away some of the medium-height grass, until finally it is almost eaten, and the herds move on. This means each group sticks to their kind with only a small overlap in their distributions. The grasses of the plains have the highest protein content in the whole of the Serengeti, as well as being high in calcium.
Guided by survival instinct, each wildebeest will cover 800 to 1,000 km on its journey along migrations routes. The journey is beset with danger. For one, the young calves are snatched by predators. Another, the slow is brought down by the pride of lions, and crocodiles take their share of the stragglers.
When to Go to Witness the Great Migration at Its Finest
The Great Migration happens all year round, though the timing of the journey is unpredictable and exact locations are constantly changing, which is evolving based on current conditions. For one, the rain and the lack thereof dictates where and when the herds will be during a specific date of the year. The only thing you can rest assured of is the fact that the event will take place between Tanzania and Kenya, across the Serengeti National Park, and through the Kenyan Maasai Mara.
The Great Migration in January, February, and March
Around late January or February, the wildebeests occupy the short-grass plains that spread over the lower northern slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater highlands and around Olduvai Gorge. The plains are rich in nutritious grass, providing the herds with the best conditions for raising newborn calves. Some 400,000 calves are born here within a period of two to three weeks, or nearly 8,000 new calves every day. It seems reasonable to call the wildebeests’ birthing season the start of the migration.
The Great Migration in April and May
After bearing wildebeests’ offspring in February and March, the herd may move again in search of greener pastures. To see the actual migration in this period is more difficult, but chances are that you will encounter large herds on the move.
By May, the herd of wildebeest stretch for several kilometers as the animals start to gather by the Moru Kopjes, close to Dunia Campo, one of the few camps in the Serengeti that offers migration viewing at this time of year. During the migration, the herd will move towards the Western Corridor, where they will face the first major obstacle, crossing the Grumeti River. Many animals don’t survive the crossing as they are being awaited by the area’s population of oversized crocodiles ready to feast.
Toward the end of May, mating season begins, and male wildebeest battle head-to-head. The journey continues at leisure with the wildebeest; zebra, and gazelle as they go along. Safaris at this time offer great value since there are relatively low numbers of tourists in the Serengeti, yet the wildlife viewings remain excellent.
The Great Migration in June and July
When the dry season starts in May or June, the herd moves north towards the Masai Mara in Kenya, gnawing down the high green grass, quickly followed by the gazelles and zebras.
As June moves into July, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra continue to head north along the western edge of the park toward an even riskier barrier—the Mara River in the north of the Serengeti. These river crossings are one of the most exciting wildlife events in the world. They usually begin at the onset of high season in July, but the timing all depends on nature. This is the time that you may have the privilege to see more than a million marching animals in a column up to 40 kilometers long.
In July, the herds can be found in the Northern Serengeti. Later in July, those animals that have successfully made it across the Mara River will also be found in the Masai Mara. At this time, daily river crossings can be seen at the Mara and Talek rivers, both often central to incredible scenes.
The Great Migration in August, September, and October
The August to September period is not a preferable time to visit to see the Great Migration as the herd moves into the Masai Mara in Kenya. However, migration patterns show that about half of the herd stays on the Tanzanian side in the Mara Serengeti area. In this period, smaller herds of wildebeest (herds may count up to between 500 and thousands of individuals) frequently cross the Mara River, back and forth for no apparent reason. In years when the river is in full flow, the panic and confusion at the crossings combined with waiting predators and surging currents can cause massive loss of life. The lions and other large predators that patrol the banks are ready to ambush any wildebeest that make it to the other side.
From September to October, the chaos ended, and the migrating columns gradually moved eastward. However, as they prepare once again to cross for their return journey southward, the wildebeest will face the heavy waters of the Mara River once more. In this period the herd will cross the northern plains and Lobo area.
The Great Migration in November and December
The wildebeest move down from Kenya and into the eastern limits of the Serengeti past Namiri Plains after the East African short rains in late October and early November. Namiri Plains is an area known for outstanding cheetah sightings.
By December, they are spread throughout the eastern and southern reaches. The lucky ones will once again give birth to the next generation of East Africa’s migratory wanderers.
Each month has its own set of advantages in terms of weather, wildlife, migratory movements, predator encounters, river crossings, and where to stay to make the most of the tour to see the Great Wildebeest Migration.
Where and How the Great Migration Occurs
The journey of the great migration is generally believed that it is dictated primarily by their response to the weather; they follow the rains and the growth of new grass. While there is no scientific proof, some experts believe that the animals react to lighting and thunderstorms in the distance. It is believed that wildebeest can locate rain more than 50 km away.
Africa’s Great Migration takes place in a clockwise loop between Tanzania and Kenya; the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Loliondo Game Managed Area, and Grumeti Reserve is the main destinations.
Lastly, Tanzania and the Great Migration in Africa are for everyone, especially safari lovers, to have at the top of their bucket lists. Everyone needs to experience what nature can offer from the rich culture of Tanzania, exotic wildlife, and ancient cities at least once in their lifetime.