A Guide to the Serengeti Great Migration in May

By Julian 10 July 2017

Tanzania's Serengeti Great Migration; a guide to May

The Serengeti is the ‘mother’ of all safari parks and the Great Migration one of the planets most impressive wildlife events; this is a park that epitomises the very essence of safari. Home to the largest herds on earth and with Africa’s Big Five on show, the Serengeti is one of those rare places that exceeds your expectations.

The 1.5 million strong 'Wildebeest Great Migration' is the parks major attraction and the majority of trips to the Serengeti should be designed around it. In this 12-part month by month blog series, I look at each month’s movements of the herds and all the other wildlife caught up in the action. I will also link you to my suggestions for the best places to stay throughout the year, to make sure you’re in the thick of the herds whenever you travel. And there are a few suggestions for how you might like to combine your Great Migration trip with other areas. Intrigued? Read on…

A Guide to the Serengeti Great Migration in May

May is the major moving month as the herds start their big push north to the dry season grazing grounds of the northern Serengeti and the Maasai Mara. Some herds will head directly north but the major move is to the Serengeti’s western corridor, another area of rich grassland. We’ve always believed that Moru is superb in May, an area just south of the centre of the park, however towards the end of the month the Mbalageti and Grumeti river systems are superb,. The huge mass of wildebeest stretches from the Mbalageti and Grumeti areas of the Serengeti (the west), through the heart of the Seronera River Valley in the central Serengeti and on down to Moru just south of central. This is one of the most productive big game viewing times to travel as the heart of the park and Grumeti are packed with predators...and with so few tourists.

Summary – You may well catch the rains in May but the game viewing, the Great Migration, and prices are absolutely exceptional! We’ve always believed that Moru is the best place in May, but the western corridor can be superb towards the end of the month.

VIDEO OVERVIEW - Below is a 60 second video overview of the movement of the Great Migration in April.

WHERE TO STAY? I've written an accompanying blog and video on where best to stay for the herds in April.

WHAT IS THE BEST SAFARI IN MAY? Beneath the video below is more information on the parks I would combine with the Serengeti in May, and also my suggestion for the best safaris.

What parks are best to combine with the Serengeti in May?

  • The Ngorongoro Crater is virtually impossible to turn down. This spectacular game-drive area can be very busy at other times of year, but May sees the ‘Crater’ in one of its quietest periods. Besides, how often are you going to have the opportunity to drive on the floor of an extinct volcano… and with one of the highest densities of animals anywhere all around you?! The setting is nothing short of exceptional.
  • The Serengeti is vast. In May I’ve always believed the best trips involve two locations in the park so you either a) maximise your chance of seeing the ‘mega’ herds by spitting your time across two locations in the southern plains or b) explore a quiet part of the park (such as Singita or Grumeti in the west), where you will have luxury lodges at low prices and basically have a game drive area all to yourself!
  • Nearby Lake Manyara is always a nice ‘soft’ introduction to the region. Famous for its tree climbing lions it is a busy park in terms of tourists and for that reason, is a location that splits opinion amongst guides. It’s interesting for an afternoon drive on a first day but the villages in the area are the main reason for my inclusion of Manyara on many trips.
  • Only a few people visit Tarangire in May; the majority of the good camps are closed due to the rains. Much of Tarangire becomes a swamp!
  • And finally, the beaches of the Zanzibar Archipelago or Tanzania's mainland coast may be slightly 'iffy' at this time of year due to the rain…but further afield, the likes of the Seychelles or Mauritius are superb. The Seychelles is wonderful in April.

The Best Serengeti safaris in May

I’ve always believed the best trips in May start with the Ngorongoro region (potentially with Lake Manyara) before heading into the Serengeti for a stay with the herds in the southern plains of the park specifically around the Moru kopjes. I’ve always believed Moru comes to life in May.

I’d then suggest splitting your location in the park and including a location in the Serengeti’s western corridor. I’d suggest this split stay throughout April and May because of the sheer quality of the camps here and their low rates at this time of year….but also because of the predicted movement of the herds to the western corridor that creates a need to cover both parts of the park.

&Beyond Grumeti River Camp is a cracking price at this time of year but for clients looking for the best of it all then Singita’s private Grumeti Reserve in the far west is superb. Budgets go sky high with this option, but combining somewhere like Singita’s Faru Faru with the Ngorongoro and Serengeti mobiles is as good as safari gets. And Mays low season rates make the trip more competitive than peak season…by far!!

Are you looking to arrange a safari?

If so, then we would love to help you design it! With all the information on the net today we quite often find clients somewhat confused and flooded with information. The best thing you can do is to speak to someone in the YZ office about your plans. We have three members of staff who have worked in the Serengeti and can talk you through the best options for you, at the right time of year.

Wies ([email protected], pronounced Veece!) is a professional safari guide and camp manager, while Lauren ([email protected]) worked for Legendary Expeditions and Mwiba. They know the Serengeti backwards… and they love to chat about it!

Please feel free to get in touch with either them or myself on [email protected].