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By: kilian ross

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Thursday, 7-Feb-2013 09:53 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Great Migration Safari: Tanzania

Like thousands of viewers round the world, you've probably watched the amazing Great Migration on television, where millions of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles traverse the Endless Plains of the Serengeti to cross over into Kenya in what has been termed the Greatest Show on Earth!

In January-March, the massive herds of animals move in search of fresh pastures during the calving season. This is an additional attraction, as visitors can get a glimpse of the utterly beautiful new-born calves of wildebeest, zebra and other bovids being escorted by their mothers across the plains. An incredible fact about wildebeest is that the calf is able to run beside the mother within minutes of being born!

As the fertile rainy season ends, the animals begin their journey to the Grumeti River. In early July, the Great Migration begins to the Kenya border and they remain here till the end of the dry season. In November, they return to their homelands in time for the new calving season. This endless cycle of life and death continues, with the enormous herds being followed by predators like lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and vultures, who in turn must also feed their young and survive the blistering African environment. The expedition of 1800 miles and back is indeed one of Nature's greatest wonders.

The calving season is particularly attractive in Tanzania in December-March and visitors can also catch a glimpse of the drama of predators stalking their prey. The Western Serengeti in early June is where the herds begin to gather and form massive groups as they head for the Grumeti. For visitors, the best time of year to view this great spectacle is July-September, especially when the animals cross the Grumeti River. Thousands of crocodiles gather here in the treacherous waters to trap the weak and the unwary, and predators wait on the banks hoping to capture a meal for themselves and their young. Thousands of wildebeest lose their lives crossing the river as the rushing waters of the swollen river can cause them to miss their footing and drown.

There are hundreds of camp-sites along the Grumeti and if you're looking for accommodation here, it's best to book early. Ensure that you do get a good view of the migration, since the place gets extremely crowded and many unscrupulous tour-operators may promise a ringside view when in fact their camp-sites may be located miles away! It's also important to remember that the Great Migration is not a single event but a journey across two countries, spread over most of the year, so you can catch the show at different times of year.

Depending on your budget, preferences and interests, you can pick one of the safari packages available and witness the Great Migration for yourself!

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