The drumroll of wildebeest hooves is one of Africa’s greatest sounds, a percussion that echoes across the air and permeates through the canvas of camps. The most abundant of Africa’s mammals, there are 1.5 million wildebeest in the Serengeti and Masai Mara alone. But the wildebeest aren’t just about the migration. With its ebullient morning gallops and distinctive wispy beards, this excitable antelope is a wonderful sight across Africa.
Spotting Wildebeest on the Move
These slender mammals have an exceptional stamina and cross great stretches of wilderness. Males make flamboyant displays of virility by rutting, essentially a short exuberant burst of bucking and galloping. On many morning game drives you’ll be treated to this almost comical sight, the males bouncing about as the females feign indifference.
Once the day’s heat takes over they’re not quite as impressive as individuals. But what herds! During the great wildebeest migration you’ll see hundreds of thousands together, stretching out beyond the horizon in every direction. Spirals of dust are unfurled as they march onwards, while the percussion from the hooves follows you back to the camp.
The Great Wildebeest Migration
The annual movement of wildebeest is one of Africa’s most famous highlights. They migrate in batches of 200,000 – 300,000, moving off in clusters from their calving grounds in the southeast of the Serengeti. Three months later and they’re making a daring swim across the Mara River to the Masai Mara.
This isn’t a static phenomenon and the routes are evolving, changing subtly every year. It’s also a year-round event, so whatever month you visit East Africa, it’s possible to see the great wildebeest migration. The challenge of course, is that the wildebeest are on the move, so you’ll need to be in the right place at the right time. Our intimate knowledge of Africa ensures you get the best seats in the house for this dramatic wildlife theatre.
Wildebeest Across Africa
It’s blue wildebeest that you’ll see across Tanzania and Kenya. Most of the parks are home to these grazers, the babies chaperoned between shabby manes and the strong males making you laugh out loud with their antics. These wildebeest are also dappled across Southern Africa, joined in parts of South Africa and Namibia by the black wildebeest, an even shabbier cousin.
Different Ways to Encounter Wildebeest on Your Safari
We like to encounter the herds outside the safari vehicle. They’re curious creatures and will often approach people who are on foot, before galloping off in their humorous style. Walking safaris and mountain bike rides are perfect for getting immersed in the world of the wildebeest and we can recommend some great parks for this experience.
Of course, you can’t beat the watching the world’s largest herds during the great wildebeest migration. Tell us when you’re planning to go on safari and we know the best camps for watching the great wildebeest migration.