Traveling to Africa is exciting year-round as there is always game to be found across several countries. However, some times of the year are truly magical. For a few weeks at the start of the year, traveling to the Serengeti in Tanzania gives you the rare opportunity to witness calving season in the Serengeti, where thousands of wildebeest are born each day.
What is Calving Season?
Each year the Serengeti plays host to hundreds of thousands of animals during the migration. In June and July wildebeest make their way across the Grumeti River moving northwest in the park. It’s a sight that easily tops the bucket lists of many travelers. By December, the herds have started to make their way back down south to the southern Serengeti. There, they feed on the short green grasses of the plains. By late January and early February, perhaps the greatest spectacle of the Serengeti takes place with the wildebeest calving season. Approximately 8,000 young wildebeest are born every single day during the peak of the Serengeti calving season. There truly is nothing that compares to seeing a baby wildebeest take off running just minutes after being born.
The Predators of the Serengeti
Along with the overwhelming numbers of calves born come the predators. During calving season, the Southern Serengeti and Western Ngorongoro Conservation area host the highest concentration of predators in Africa. Lions, hyenas, and cheetahs show up in large numbers to patrol the grasses. They are waiting for the perfect time to make a kill. But an easy kill isn’t always guaranteed. Female wildebeest instinctively know to head to the short grass plains so that they can see approaching predators. There they form a barricade around birthing mothers to protect them and the young when they are the most vulnerable — during birth. This ensures the majority of the young survive.
Traveling to the Serengeti during calving season promises an exciting adventure full of wonder and plenty of action. The hunting of young wildebeest by large cats is part of nature. During the few weeks of calving season, you’re sure to see some magnificent kills, especially from the agile cheetahs.
Where to Stay to Witness Calving Season
There are several great properties in the southern Serengeti and Ndutu areas that allow you to stay close to the action. Mobile migration camps follow the herds throughout the year and position themselves close to the wildebeest during calving season. With tents of wood and canvas, they offer a true “Out of Africa” authentic luxury Tanzania safari experience with the promise to see exceptional game and predator activity.
If a mobile-tented camp is your preference, we recommend Olakira Camp, located in the Ndutu region of the southern Serengeti, Ubuntu Camp, positioned close to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Kimondo Camp, set deep in the southern Serengeti with views of a permanent waterhole. Each camp offers eight guest tents with en-suite bathrooms and a common area for meals and relaxing between game drives. From your private verandah or terrace, enjoy your morning cup of tea or coffee while keeping your eyes open for game.
If you’re looking for a permanent lodge in the area, consider Mwiba Lodge, one of our favorite properties in the southern Serengeti. It’s located in the Mwiba Wildlife Reserve in the greater southern Serengeti overlooking a rocky gorge on the Arugusinyai River. Lush botanicals, ancient coral and acacia trees, and 33 freshwater springs surround the lodge. Eight double suites are elegantly decorated with linen sofas, ornate wood carved furniture, and neutral tones of creams, tans, charcoals, and black. Rooms are open with retreat-like bathrooms with large soaking tubs, outdoor showers, and copper fixtures. A large deck looks out over the stunning landscape. From Mwiba Lodge, excursions can head into the heart of the calving area to see the phenomenon up close. Beyond game drives, Mwiba offers a wide range of activities. These include bush walks on the Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, cultural village tours, and rock art tours.
Wherever you choose to stay, you can be certain that game viewing during the calving season is one of the best times to be in Africa.
Calving Season with Ker & Downey
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