2023–2024 Calving Season in Tanzania’s Great Wildebeest Migration : Traveling to Africa is exciting year-round because there are so many amazing places to see, including the Ngorongoro Crater, the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Murchison Falls National Park, Zanzibar Island, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Volcanoes National Park, to name a few. However, there are certain times of the year that are truly magical. Traveling to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park at the beginning of the year gives you the extremely uncommon chance to observe the great wildebeest migration calving season, during which thousands of wildebeest are born every day! “Wonderful, isn’t it?”
Calving Season-The Great wildebeest Migration’s Best Kept Secret: When one thinks of the Great wildebeest Migration, pictures of thundering herds of wildebeest diving into muddy rivers teeming with toothy (and ravenous) crocodiles come to mind. And while watching these river crossings is a dramatic and exhilarating experience, there is a hidden migration season that is frequently missed. If you’ve ever wondered why over two million wildebeest endure the hardship of the migration each year, the Serengeti great wildebeest migration calving season will explain it.
After the November rains, the southern Serengeti grasslands grow green, and the wildebeest require fresh grazing to fuel their energy-demanding calving season. Several hundred thousand wildebeest are poised to give birth, and things are going to get lively. Despite being brief, the season is massive in scope. Massive herds of wildebeest poured into the southern Serengeti in December from the Masai Mara National Reserve. Following that, the animals disperse into nearby regions, including the Ndutu region, Lake Masek, and even the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
It’s an incredible sight: the world’s last significant gathering of large, wild animals—and the Serengeti’s short-grass plain, which is dotted with koppies, the leopards’ preferred resting spots. Pregnant wildebeest typically give birth starting in January, and by February, almost 8,000 newborn wildebeest are being born every day. March marks the continuation of the calving season, which is now joined by other animals. Thousands of zebras and gazelles have traveled with the wildebeest on their journey, and they are using the safety of numbers to give birth to their young as well.
Of course, such large populations of young, inexperienced animals attract Africa’s predators. The big cats, including lions, leopards, and cheetahs, as well as spotted hyenas, black-backed jackals, and African wild dogs, prowl the southern Serengeti. During the Serengeti calving season, there is a very high likelihood of witnessing predator-prey interaction and even a kill, which is excellent news for wildlife photographers but bad news for the wildebeest.
The newborn wildebeest calves, however, take a short time to get up and may sprint with the herd in just three days. The southern Serengeti’s grasses are worn out by the end of March after the majority of them withstand the onslaught of animals. When they reach the muddy rivers that obstruct their path back to the Masai Mara, the wildebeest start walking west in long lines over the central Serengeti. The infamous migration river crossings are about to start, so the wildebeest pause here.
THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SERENGETI’S CAVING SEASON
What is the calving season?
The Great Migration’s calving season typically occurs between January and February of each year. The migration route hasn’t changed much over the years, but the precise timing of the journey varies according to seasonal rainfall; thus, these timings are only a guide. The herds typically roam the southern Serengeti region of Tanzania between January and March in search of new grazing grounds.
While not quite entering the actual crater, the wildebeest travel as far south as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where they spread out across the verdant plains to feast on the new grasses that have just sprouted following the rains. These plains are ideal for giving birth to female wildebeest due to their quantity of food.
Numerous zebra and gazelles also accompany the wildebeest on their migration, serving the useful purpose of consuming the longer grasses that the young wildebeest find less appetizing. The tender, nutritious shoots remain exposed after the zebra and gazelle have finished grazing, making them ideal for tiny wildebeest calves to easily chew on.
What makes the South so special?
The animals migrate south to graze and give birth for a reason. It turns out that the sweet grasses of the southern Serengeti are not only delicious but also the ideal food for young wildebeest to consume during their first few weeks of life, 2023–2024 Calving Season in Great Wildebeest Migration.
Why is this grass so nutrient-rich? The shocking reality dates back to a time when the region near Ngorongoro was intensely volcanic. The ash from these exploding volcanoes was carried across the plains of Ndutu and deposited here, nourishing the soil and tempting mother wildebeest and her young.
On these huge grasslands close to Ndutu, something quite amazing takes place. Over 500,000 wildebeest give birth in two to three weeks. In a single day, up to 8000 wildebeest calves can be born. Of course, this makes for some sweet and lovely moments, but don’t be deceived into believing there isn’t turmoil involved. Even though wildebeest calves are masters at joining the herds shortly after birth, this does not guarantee that opportunistic predators aren’t seeking a way to make a meal of the weak and the defenseless.
Prey is consumed by top predators: It should come as no surprise that the number of predators in the vicinity increases to an all-time high during this time of the year with all of these baby wildebeest wobbling around on their shaky legs. A simple supper is not a guarantee, though!
These mothers have been traveling this path for years and are familiar with the majority of predators’ techniques. Wildebeest women are aware of the need to give birth on the shorter grass plains where predators can be more easily seen. In order to give the youngest and most defenseless new members of the herd the best chance of surviving, other mothers join them here and practically construct a protective barricade around them.
You will also get the opportunity to see younger, less experienced predators. For their young to have the best chance of surviving, they have also coordinated their birthing schedules to coincide with the birth of their prey. It is much simpler for a mother lion, cheetah, or leopard to obtain food for her hungry cubs and offer them the chance to practice hunting independently when there are millions of newborn wildebeest wandering around. Young cubs acquire important lessons that will be essential to their future success by practicing on young calves before they are forced to go out and fend for themselves.
Why should you choose a calving season for your upcoming safari?
A migration safari during the calving season will provide amazing opportunities to see wildebeest and their young, as well as numerous big cats scavenging for prey.
There is a lot of exciting activity to behold, but there is also the magnificent sight of the seemingly infinite Serengeti grasslands scattered with grunting, grazing wildebeest as far as the eye can see. Not to mention the abundance of cute young animals, 2023–2024 Calving Season in Great Wildebeest Migration.
Where should you stay, and for how long should you stay?
The Ndutu region, located south of the Serengeti, has the ideal camps for the calving season. Because many are semi-permanent tented camps that are erected each year along the migration route, you can leave camp early in the morning and go right into the action. The typical shape of your lodging is a sizable, walk-in tented suite with a huge bed, an outdoor lounging area, and a private bathroom.
To enhance the migratory experience, we advise spending three nights in the Ndutu region and two nights somewhere else. Perhaps a camp in the Central Serengeti, which has good resident wildlife, or a resort at the adjacent Ngorongoro Crater, which offers Africa’s most reliable Big 5 game watching since Ndutu is a part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
When should I book for the Calving Season?
A little forethought is required to fully enjoy the Serengeti calving season. Since the weather is typically dry and the game watching is so good, it is high season, and lodging quickly sells out. The pertinent months are January, February, and March; if you have specific dates in mind, we recommend making reservations up to a year in advance, especially for February when the spectacular calving season is in full swing.
We suggest making reservations six to eight months in advance if you are not definite about dates during the January to March calving season. The earlier you book, the better for February!
What Activities Will I Take Part In?
During the calving season, wildlife watching is typically enjoyed from the comfort of an open-sided 4X4 in the capable hands of a trained professional guide. A spot-light will guide both of your daily drives, which will take place in the early morning and late afternoon, 2023–2024 Calving Season in Great Wildebeest Migration.
The Serengeti National Park is not where we advise staying during the calving season, so your guide will have the advantage of being able to drive off-road for outstanding views, and you will have the opportunity to go on walking safaris with Tanzanian Park Rangers.
Another well-liked activity is visiting a village. Together with your guide, you can go to a nearby settlement to learn about Maasai customs and culture, and you might even get to see Maasai warriors perform their renowned “jumping dance.”
Although hot-air ballooning is not an option in the Ndutu region, it is unquestionably a possibility in the middle Serengeti. The ideal choice is to combine a stay in the center of the Serengeti with a journey from Ndutu that takes an hour and a half in the early morning.
Is it only the wildebeest calving season, or do other animals also have their young at this time?
This is the time to go if you want to view lots of baby animals of all kinds. On the southern plains, there are also a lot of zebra foals and gazelle fawns running around, trying to avoid predators by hiding behind the hundreds of thousands of wildebeest calves.
Many local animals enter their primary breeding season as a result of the unexpected growth of vegetation; as a result, the wide forests are suddenly home to warthog piglets, newborn baboons, wobbly-legged giraffes, and baby elephants with trunks they can’t quite manage.
Large carnivores in Africa make sure their breeding season coincides with the beginning of the migration because of the abrupt abundance of herbivores. At this time of year, lions, cheetahs, and leopards typically have their cubs, making these sights among the most sought-after for photographers.
Where Else Should I Go During the Calving Season?
Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park is a fantastic option if you want to stay close to home but would also like a total contrast to the Serengeti and Ndutu. There will be some rain, and it won’t be peak tourist season in January, February, or March, but the scenery will be stunningly green, there won’t be many other tourists, and the animals will be totally different from what you’d see during a migration, 2023–2024 Calving Season in Great Wildebeest Migration.
Zanzibar Island, which is located in Tanzania, is the best and most accessible beach location. The months of January through March are ideal for visiting Spice Island since the weather is warm and sunny and the Indian Ocean is at its clearest during this period, which is perfect for snorkelers and divers.
Gorilla trekking in the tropical jungles of Uganda and Rwanda puts you in close proximity to a family of one of the largest and most endangered primates in the world, making for a wildlife adventure with drama on par with the calving season. The best months for gorilla trekking are January, February, and March. One of the two dry seasons in the area occurs during these months, when the rainforest is at its most comfortable.
Anyone planning a safari in Africa should not miss the 2023–2024 great wildebeest calving season; we strongly advise everyone to place it at the top of their travel to-do list because it is a truly magnificent, magical, and once in a lifetime experience. You will particularly enjoy this safari experience if you make your reservations through a trustworthy tour operator like Focus East Africa Tours, who is knowledgeable about all the details and most recent news regarding the Great wildebeest migration. If you’re interested in witnessing the great wildebeest migration calving season, get in touch with us right away. We guarantee it will be an experience you won’t soon forget because you’ll see not only the calving season but also many other thrilling attractions, like predators like lions in action. Amazing, huh?