Best Time to Visit Serengeti – Weather, Great Migration and Calving

The best time to visit Serengeti is late January and February for the calving season and from June till September for the Wildebeest Migration and a great classic safari. But these are also the most popular and touristy months. The less crowded and cheaper period is from November till May, known as the Green Season.

For most travellers, the best time to visit the Serengeti revolves heavily around the movement of the Great Wildebeest Migration. However, with all-year-round opportunities for wildlife encounters and lower off-season rates, the Serengeti National Park has so much more to offer. The best time to visit Serengeti will depend on what you hope to gain most from your Serengeti safari

In this article:

Best time to visit Serengeti

Overall Weather and Seasons in the Serengeti

June to September: The best time to visit Serengeti for the Great Wildebeest Migration is from June till September.

During these months you might be able to catch the herds crossing the Grumeti River or Mara River

Late January to February: The best time to visit Serengeti for calving or baby animals

For someone who finds the wildebeest calving period fascinating and jumps at the chance of unprecedented predator action sightings, then late January-February would be the ideal time for a Serengeti safari.

November to May: The best time to visit Serengeti on a budget, Green season

A traveller looking to visit the Serengeti on a smaller budget, taking advantage of the wet season in the Serengeti from November-May would usher in the best deals and discounts. This time of year is also the best for travellers that prefer to avoid large crowds, especially in April and May.

November to April: The best time to visit Serengeti for migrating bird species

Experienced birdwatchers would find November-April the best time of year to visit the Serengeti as European and North African migratory bird species make this landscape their winter home.

Additionally, this is how the weather in the Serengeti National Park is normally classified as follows:

  • Dry season: from late June to October, this time of year is also known as peak season and is considered the best time to visit the Serengeti
  • Wet season (November – May):
    • Short rains: November to December
    • Long rains: March to May
  • Peak tourist seasons:
    January to February (calving or birthing season)
    June to October (classic safari)

The dry season (June-October) is considered to be the best time to visit Serengeti National Park because the Serengeti’s rainy periods often make road conditions very poor and restrict access to the plains filled with the wildebeest herds. 

Acacia tree in the plains of the Serengeti

Here is a detailed breakdown of the benefits of various times of the year.

January – February (Classic safari)

While the exact timing is unpredictable, January-February generally marks the dry spell between the short and long rains. 

March-May (Season of the Long Rains)

The long rainy period is ushered in from March-May, which are the highest rainfall months. While it may still be a good time to visit Serengeti National Park, your trip will be impacted by the amount of rain and type of conditions the Serengeti receives that year. Tourists who find hot, humid conditions unpleasant should preferably avoid these months. 

June – October (Classic Safari)

There is little to no rainfall from June-October, which makes it Serengeti’s dry season. Spotting wildlife is more predictable during these months as the vegetation thins out and animals gather around waterholes and rivers. 

While early mornings and evenings might be cold, the temperature during this period is fairly predictable and often reaches up to 25C (77F). Many visitors prefer this over the hot, humid rainy months. 

There is, however, the risk of an occasional cold front in July when temperatures can reach close to freezing. Another benefit to consider is that during this time of the year there are fewer mosquitos and a smaller chance of catching malaria. 

November – December 

The Serengeti’s wet season takes place from November-May with two types of rainy periods. The unpredictable ‘short rains’ take place from November-December and draw the herds back to the Southern grasslands. While wildlife is easier to spot in the dry season, the Serengeti never fails to offer wildlife viewings throughout the year. 

The short rains are not as prolonged as the long rainy spells in the Serengeti, but they are less predictable. Afternoon thunderstorms are usually expected to take place, but safaris are unlikely to be impacted. For this reason, the short rainy season is still considered an excellent time to visit the Serengeti.

Tip: To minimise the risk of malaria during the wet season, anti-malaria precautions must be taken and it is highly advised to pack repellent and take the necessary anti-malarial medication. See our article on vaccinations and medications for more information.

Off-Peak Season Advantages: Cheaper, Quarter and Just as Amazing (April-May)

Cheaper Safari

While the dry season is considered the best time to visit the Serengeti, visitors who brave the wet season (November-May) have the advantage of better safari and accommodation prices. 

Fewer Crowds

For experienced safari-goers, a major draw-card of the off-peak Serengeti season is smaller crowds. Serengeti safaris offer spectacular wildlife viewing throughout the year, and fewer tourists usher in discounted safari rates and the opportunity to stay at lodges that would have otherwise been unaffordable. The safari experience is also heightened by the fact that you don’t have to navigate through the peak-season crowds.

It might come as a surprise to discover that some tourists plan a trip to the Serengeti to avoid the Great Migration altogether. The Serengeti National Park has so much more to offer beyond the great wildebeest trek. 

Great Birdwatching

Bird watching enthusiasts will be delighted to discover that the Serengeti is home to more than 500 bird species, five of which are found nowhere else on earth. While bird watching is considered to be good all year round, the ideal season is from November-April. During this time European and North African migratory bird species make the Serengeti their home. 

The Great Wildebeest Migration Seasons

Understanding the pattern of the Great Migration will help you choose the best time of year to visit the Serengeti. In general, the migration tends to be in the Southern Serengeti for the calving season from February to mid-March. At the same time, during the period between December and March the hurds head out in the direction of the Ngorongoro Crater.

The best months to see the migration are from June-September as animals concentrate around watering holes and rivers. 

Calving Season – Late January till February

As the migration slows down, this period not only offers a chance to witness the wildebeest drop their young but also brings with it an unprecedented opportunity for predator action sightings as lurking big cats look to strike when the herds are most vulnerable.

For experienced safari travellers, the calving season is probably the best time of year for intensified wildlife encounters with baby wildebeest, cheetah cubs, elephant calves and more. The movement of the herds is most predictable during this time. 

In pursuit of fresh, lush plains, the herds then head out north. This period gives travellers the chance to witness around 1.7 million wildebeest and countless herds of other kinds of antelope trek across part of their 800 km journey. 

Generally, April-May is regarded as the low season when conditions are least favourable for wildlife viewing. 

Wildebeest River Crossing – June-September

From June-July, it’s easier to spot the herds in the park’s Western Corridor, as they gather near the Grumeti River. From August-September, the grazers move into the Northern Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve

During this season you have the chance of witnessing the famous river crossings across the crocodile-infested Grumeti River from June-July, and the Mara River from August-September as they cross into Kenya. The sweeping herds then head back down to the Southern Serengeti, and the cycle starts again.

Great Wildebeest Migration River Crossing in Serengeti
The Great Wildebeest Migration River Crossing in Serengeti

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