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Herd of wildebeest walking in a line in the plains of the Serengeti

Trip of a lifetime: charter a private plane to watch Africa’s Great Wildebeest Migration


Imagine seeing an event so magnificent that it’s been nicknamed ‘the Seventh Wonder of the World’. Imagine watching the surreal spectacle of millions of animals making a journey of 1,800 miles across East Africa. Imagine no more. Charter a private jet to watch the Great Wildebeest Migration and get ready for the safari holiday of a lifetime.

Annually, over a million wildebeest, half a million gazelle and other antelope, and almost 200,000 zebra and hungry predators on their heels, make the perilous trek over a multitude of terrains on their way from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve.

Where are they going, and why?

Herds of wildebeest and zebra grazing during the annual great migration
Herds of wildebeest and zebra grazing during the annual great migration

As with any creature on this earth, these masses of herbivores are travelling for food. This annual animal migration is essentially a clockwise round-trip, to find (or rather, follow) greener pastures, by tracking the rains that feed the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Where there is rain, there is better grazing, and vital sustenance for breeding.

Their journey starts in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and goes all the way up north to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Then once the rainy season has passed in the Maasai Mara, they return to the Serengeti again.

Why it’s unmissable

Two lioness watch a zebra running during the annual great migration
Two lioness watch a zebra running during the annual great migration

Whether you’re a safari enthusiast, or just someone who enjoys seeing nature showing off, the annual great migration will exceed your expectations. Not only will you be able to hear the earthquake-esque roar of hundreds of thousands of hooves traversing the land, and see wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and buck of all kinds, you could also very well watch a kill in action. Because yes, where there are prey, there are predators, and while the herbivores are following the rain, the carnivores are following their prey.

Watching the animals moving along the plains is a spectacular sight itself, but – and it’s not for the faint of heart – the lions, hyenas, leopards and cheetahs following close behind provide safari-goers with plenty of opportunities to see a dramatic kill.

Along the way, the herds gather to drink from the Grumeti River in Tanzania and then the Mara River in Kenya, both of which have parts that are risky at best, with strong currents and hungry crocodiles who can’t believe their luck.

Planning your journey

Herds of wildebeest and zebra near the water’s edge during the annual great migration
Herds of wildebeest and zebra near the water’s edge during the annual great migration

Because the migration is mobile in nature (being a migration and all), it can be tricky to plan a trip around it. But that’s what private jet safaris are for! If you charter a private jet for your thrilling safari holiday, you’ll be able to go anywhere on the route. You can then choose to watch from high in the sky in your private jet charter, or be whisked to one of the luxury camps in the Serengeti or Maasai Mara to watch from the ground.

Using a private jet charter can also come in handy because during the rainy season, some roads to certain lodges are impassable, unless accessed via the type of aircraft that can land in an isolated location.

Although it’s tough to put an exact time on when certain parts of the migration will take place, this guideline may help you when planning your luxury safari trip.

Tanzania

Herds of wildebeest and zebra on the plains of Tanzania for the great wildebeest migration
Herds of wildebeest and zebra on the plains of Tanzania for the great wildebeest migration

December to March

Throughout these months, the herds will gather in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation areas in Northern Tanzania. If you visit during these months, there’s a great chance you’ll be able to see newborn calves and get some big cat sightings.

April to May

This is an exciting time, when the herds start migrating to the plains and woodland in the Serengeti’s Western Corridor. However, the sometimes heavy seasonal rains can make it difficult to follow and view the herds.

June

When the rain stops, the herds will start moving northwards and smaller herds will congregate with bigger ones, forming gigantic herds that are really a sight to behold. During the middle of the year, around June and July, migrating wildebeest will mate. It’s during this time of year that you will see the most activity if watching the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Western Serengeti.

July

This is the time when danger abounds, as the herds must cross the Grumeti River, which is not only infested with crocodiles, but is very deep and treacherous in places and a big drowning hazard too. Camps along this river offer an excellent viewing opportunity for all the action.

Kenya

Wildebeest crossing the Mara River in Kenya
Wildebeest crossing the Mara River in Kenya

August

The herds continue to move north, and having crossed the Grumeti River in Tanzania, are now heading to Kenya’s Lamai Wedge and an area known as the Mara Triangle. If you’re looking for a Kenyan luxury safari for your wanderlust, now is the time to do it. The herds will have another perilous river crossing to make, this time on the Mara River, and there are plenty of stunning lodges to stay at while watching the spectacle. It’s the most popular time to stay in the Maasai Mara, so book well ahead.

September to November

When the migration is at this part of its journey, you can be awed by the Mara plains being packed with animals as far as the eye can see. Because the herds stay in this same general area for a good few months, you have a much better chance of seeing some real action and revelling in plenty of herd activity. The Mara River crossings seem to be getting later each year, too, so you might be lucky enough to still catch one.

November to December

The animals realise that the rains have begun in the south again, so now the herds make their way all the way back down to the Serengeti plains. When they get there, they will give birth to any young conceived en route.

Why a Private Jet Safari?

Hot air balloons at sunset over herds of animals during the annual great migration
Hot air balloons at sunset over herds of animals during the annual great migration

There are a wide variety of private jets for charter, that can whisk you to the remotest lodges and corners of Africa. But it’s not only this. If you’re in the right type of aircraft, you’ll be able to follow the herds as they move! Depending on your charter, you can fly from lodge to lodge, or track the herds from the air above. Being above the herds, you’ll be able to see the full scale of just how many animals are on this incredible journey.

By getting to the very best lodges, you’ll be able to watch river crossings, and take sunrise or sunset hot-air balloon rides, to hover just above the action.

Is going on a private air safari to watch the Great Wildebeest Migration something you’ve always dreamed of? Then dream no more. Get in touch with our team and we can help you plan and realise your dreams of this safari holiday of a lifetime.

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