The Extra Mile

Tanzania or Kenya, which is the best country to see the Great Migration?

Our travel experts answer your questions

01 December 2019 - 00:00 By
Wildebeest make the perilous crossing of the Mara River during the annual Great Migration.
Wildebeest make the perilous crossing of the Mara River during the annual Great Migration.
Image: 123RF/rixie

Q: Can you please tell me which, between Tanzania and Kenya, is the best country to see the Great Migration? Do you recommend we book on a tour or at a specific place? What places do you recommend? - George Lotter

A: The Great Migration is one of Earth's great spectacles. It usually begins roughly around June, when wildebeest on the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania begin trekking northwards in search of water. Some 2 million plains game — zebra, wildebeest, eland and gazelles — make the circular trek from Tanzania to southern Kenya, where they will eat grass for five months before heading south again.

However, as travel operator notes, predicting when the migration will begin is tricky as it depends on when the rains begin.

The big herds are most likely to be found in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, from where they move slowly to the Mara River and cross into Kenya around August and September.

The Mara River crossing is high drama, with wildebeest leaping into the churning waters and swimming frantically to the other bank. Many are taken by waiting crocodiles.

The best way to see the Great Migration is on a package tour. There are lots of tour operators offering tours to the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and the Maasai Mara and quality and prices vary widely.

You might find a relatively cheap deal by using local operators but it will be less hassle - and much more expensive - to use a South African tour operator such as andBeyond. Their nine-day "Treasures of Tanzania Safari " package visits Arusha, Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park and includes free transfer flights between camps. The price is an eye-watering $8,680 (R127,957) per person and that excludes flights from SA.

A cheaper option is to use online bookings outfit Safari Bookings, which markets safaris in Africa. Current Great Migration offers range from a six-day budget camping safari (from R22,190 per person) to a seven-day safari (from R85,061 per person). Both exclude flights.

The cheapest way of seeing the migration would be to drive yourself, although you will need 4x4 driving skills and a deep well of patience to navigate the "herds" of other safari vehicles. Tanzania-based tour operator Shaw Safaris offers various self-drive itineraries.

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