At WLS, we have spent years tracking down our migrations and animal congregations, so have good first hand knowledge on how to predict these events!
While not on the scale or predictability of the great East African migrations, Botswana boasts several mass movements of herbivores that are impressive to witness. In our desert ecosystems, mammals are forced to move great distances between available grazing and available water. They do so according to weather, climate and other less understood circumstances. Fortunately, the movements are predictable enough to plan your safari around improving your chances of seeing the animals congregate in big numbers.
Migrations in Botswana:
- Greater Makgadikgadi zebra and wilderbeest migration (about 20,000+ animals). You can catch them on their dry season range on the Boteti River from about May through to November. The zebra disperse onto the salt pans during the rest of the year. We have campsites in both seasonal ranges.
- Savuti – there is a small zebra migration that passes through Savuti during the early rains (November and December) and remain in good numbers throughout the rain season. Zebra also gather on the Mababe Depression further South.
- Nxai Pan plays host as the wet season range of a herd of zebra that arrive during the first rains from the Chobe River. This park is mobile safari friendly and we have great private campsites there!.
- You can see the “Nxai Pan” zebra on the floodplains of the Chobe River during the dry season (about May through to October). Numbers here are impressive with raised views from high on the Chobe fault-line.
- Huge numbers of flamingoes migrate into the Makgadikgadi Pans during our wet season (December – March).
- The “Catfish run” or “Barbel run,” while not a migration in the true sense of the word, is still impressive to witness. This annual event happens during our hottest months (September and October), when the catfish move in huge feeding swarms devouring small fish on the edge of the papyrus beds. The resulting frenzy of birdlife, crocodiles and fish is spectacular. There are good lodges available to see this event but we can also camp on this northern section of the Okavango River.
- Red-billed quelea colonies – again, not a migration, but rather an impressive large gathering of millions and millions of birds. (Best time – March and April).
- Carmine Bee-eaters migrate to Botswana in huge numbers to breed from late august. You may be lucky enough to come across a breeding colony of these birds. Do ask us for more details about seeing the nest sites. Between December and March, the Bee-eaters can also be seen on the Savuiti Marsh – “hawking” from the back of Kori Bustards and even Ostriches!
At WLS, we have spent years tracking down these migrations and animal congregations, so have good first hand knowledge on how to predict these events. Timing is everything here, and success is never guaranteed due to the fickle predictability of our rains!