No matter how often you visit the Serengeti its magic never palls. In this wild and open country you feel you could drive forever and never have enough of it. Out on the plains the light is dazzling. Colossal thunderheads trail shawls of rain across horizons wider than the sea, and wherever you look there are animals.
The key players in this 1,200-mile odyssey are the wildebeest – 1.5 million of them – accompanied by 200,000 zebras. For them, every year is an endless journey, chasing the rains in a race for life. The action takes place across 150,000 square miles of woodlands, hills and open plains, a wilderness that includes not only the Serengeti national park and Kenya’s Maasai Mara game reserve but also the dispersal areas beyond.
The yearly cycle begins in the south of the park, where half a million calves are born between January and March. But when the rains end in May the land dries fast and the grazing animals must move on, heading for their dry season refuge in the Maasai Mara.
With the beginning of the short rains in late October the migration makes its way back into the Serengeti, so this a good time to be anywhere in the north of the park between Klein’s Camp and the Lamai Wedge. By December, having emerged from the northern woodlands, the herds return past Seronera to mass on their calving grounds again and the circle is complete.