January 8th, 2020

Africa's Top 5 Alternative Migrations

Written by:

James Handley

Category:

Safari 101

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When it comes to wildlife migrations in Africa, it's difficult to think beyond the world's most famous...

We are, of course, talking about the Great Migration of Wildebeest and Zebra through the Serengeti and Masai Mara! 

There are however several alternative migrations made by animals large and small that rarely get a mention and are equally, if not more spectacular! 

These are our five most breath-taking alternative African migrations that you can witness yourself:


Plains Zebras

Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans - Botswana

Given the country's landscapes and unique weather systems, much of Botswana's wildlife needs to migrate just to quench their thirst! 

The grass is always greener here as animals hunt fresh pasture growth from rainfall, or seek the furthest reaches of the Okavango Delta floods as they stream down the Boteti River. Where plains game are always on the move, predators are never far behind...

WHERE TO STAY: Our top choice would be to stay at Jack's Camp or Camp Kalahari in the Makgadikgadi Pans. The activities on offer are superb!

WHEN TO GO: The best time to stay at Jack's Camp or Camp Kalahari is between January and March to see the migration in full swing. Camps further west would be better visited later in the year.

Experiencing Botswana's zebra migration on horseback from Jack's Camp


Straw-Coloured Fruit Bats

Kasanka National Park - Zambia

The Serengeti’s annual movement of wildebeest and zebra may be the most well-known migration in Africa, but it's nowhere near the largest. That accolade goes to the phenomenal number of bats that travel to Kasanka National Park in Zambia.

Each year around 10 million surprisingly large straw-coloured fruit bats (that's the same population as London!) descend on a small patch of forest to gorge themselves on fresh fruit.

The scale of the spectacle is truly immense as clouds of bats so gigantic blot out the setting sun.

WHERE TO STAY: Luwombwa Lodge and Wasa Lodge are both within Kasanka National Park and are within an easy 30 min to 1 hour drive from the area of forest. Alternatively, seeing the bat migration can be combined with the slightly more luxurious Mfuwe Lodge.

WHEN TO GO: The migration lasts around 6 - 8 weeks between October and December.

Straw-Coloured Fruit Bat Migration at Luwombwa Lodge - Kasanka National Park


Humpback & Southern Right Whales

Africa's East Coast

The resurgence in the number of humpback whales over the past few decades is fantastic to see and something that we have been following closely. 

These majestic cetaceans have one of the longest migrations on our planet (over 10,000 miles!), and are some of the most exciting to witness with their spectacular breaching displays.

WHERE TO STAY: Thonga Beach Lodge on South Africa's Elephant Coast offer a superb 'Ocean Experience' to get a unique perspective on these incredible animals. Alternatively, Vamizi Island off the coast of Northern Mozambique is another great option. Closer to Cape Town, the De Hoop Nature Reserve is home to a few quality lodges from which to witness the migration.

WHEN TO GO: The whales are along the coast for around 6 months of the year between June and December as they travel between their feeding ground (Antarctica) and breeding ground (Mozambique) 

Thonga Beach Lodge's 'Ocean Experience'


Lesser & Greater Flamingo

Great Rift Valley - Kenya

Surely one of the most bizarre animals in the world (possible after the ostrich!), tens of thousands of wonderful flamingo migrate each year to profit from the rich feeding and breeding grounds of the Great Rift Valley Lakes.

The warm, shallow, high altitude lakes of Bogoria, Nakuruare and Naivasha are slightly alkaline and and provide the perfect conditions for algae to bloom - a flamingo's favourite food (and interestingly the reason whey they are pink)!

Marvelling at huge flocks of birds as they soar over you in perfect V formations is truly a sight to behold.

WHERE TO STAY: Nestled on the shore of Lake Naivasha, Loldia House is our top choice in Kenya's Great Rift Valley. Flamingo's are present throughout the high altitude lakes in both Kenya and Tanzania however.

WHEN TO GO: The best months to see the flamingos in the Rift Valley are April, May and June.

Flamingos on Lake Naivasha - Loldia House


Wildebeest

Liuwa Plains - Zambia

A fraction of the size of East Africa's Great Migration, but equally spectacular, Zambia's blue wildebeest migration follows the same pattern of movement as huge herds of ungulates traverse the plains in search of fresh pasture. 

Liuwa Plains provides the ultimate setting with dramatic landscapes, lush scenery and top quality predator action.

WHERE TO STAY: Time+Tide's King Lewanika is the ultimate lodge to base yourself to witness this migration.

WHEN TO GO: The wildebeest move towards the southern area of the National Park (around King Lewanika) from October to mid February each year.

Zambia's wildebeest migration from King Lewanika Lodge

So there you have it - from some of the largest animals in the world, and some of the most peculiar, our top five alternative African migrations! We hope that we've inspired you to make your own journey to Africa to witness some of these first hand.

If you're still craving migration facts, or would just like to compare the spectacles above with the Great Migration, take a look at our article on '5 Fast Facts about the Great Migration' here.

Thanks for reading,

The Bonamy Travel Team

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