10Best: Amazing Animal Migrations

  • Great animal migrations (and where to see them!)

    Wildebeest and butterflies, red crabs and polar bears ... animals of all shapes and sizes embark on spectacular migrations each year. These amazing animal journeys represent some of the most bucket-list-worthy wildlife watching experiences on the planet.

    Photo courtesy of GlobalP

  • Wildebeest in Kenya and Tanzania

    Throughout the year, approximately 1.5 million wildebeest, along with 400,000 zebras and 200,000 gazelle, migrate through Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya in search of fresh grazing and better water sources. It's considered one of the most spectacular natural events in the world, and for good reason.

    Photo courtesy of ajlber

  • Monarch Butterflies in Mexico

    Each autumn, some 60 million or more monarch butterflies migrate from Eastern Canada to the highlands of Central Mexico, arriving in late October to hibernate high in the trees of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. During February and March, when temperatures begin to warm, the butterflies begin mating, making it one of the best times of the year to see the colorful spectacle.

    Photo courtesy of AlbertoLoyo

  • Fruit Bats in Zambia

    If you think the wildebeest migration is the largest mammal migration on earth, think again! Each November and December, five million fruit bats migrate to the swamp forests of Kasanka National Park in what is the greatest concentration of mammalian biomass in Africa.

    Photo courtesy of Umkehrer

  • Grey Whales along the Baja Peninsula

    The gentle giant Pacific grey whales journey from the Bering Sea in Alaska to the warm waters of the Baja Peninsula each year – the world's longest mammalian migration. From December to April, the whales come to the sheltered San Ignacio Lagoon to calve, creating the ultimate opportunity to see (and touch) the whales from close range.

    Photo courtesy of renacal1

  • Caribou in Alaska

    During the early summer months, as many as 100,000 Porcupine River caribou congregate in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska. These large concentrations of animals are a sight to behold, especially since the herds often attract predators like wolves, bears and eagles who stay nearby in hopes of snagging a caribou calf to feed on.

    Photo courtesy of Jupiterimages

  • Polar Bears in Churchill

    Seeing polar bears in the wild is something few people get to do, and if you want to rank among those who've crossed it off the bucket list, you'll need to head to Churchill, Canada in the fall. During this season, hundreds of Hudson Bay polar bears migrate north along the shores toward Churchill to await sea ice formation so they can head out to their seal hunting grounds. From late October through late November, protected tundra buggies take visitors out to see the bears up close.

    Photo courtesy of webguzs

  • Red Crabs on Christmas Island, Australia

    Christmas Island in Australia might just witness the world's strangest migration. An estimated 50 million red crabs live on the island, and at the start of the wet season (usually October or November), they suddenly migrate en masse from the forests to the coast, where they mate and release eggs into the sea. During the peak migration, many island roads are closed as they become covered in a seething red carpet of crabs.

    Photo courtesy of Max Orchard / Christmas Island Tourism Association

  • Sockeye Salmon in Alaska

    The annual Sockeye salmon run begins in June, when the fish migrate upriver from the Pacific Ocean to the rivers of Katmai National Park. Seeing the salmon run is certainly trip-worthy, but things get even better. The salmon traveling upriver in huge numbers attract huge numbers of brown bears who come to feed. Brooks Falls within the national park is one of the top spots to see the bears catching fish as they leap up the waterfall.

    Photo courtesy of RobertPlotz

  • Emperor Penguins in Antarctica

    Each March, colonies of Emperor penguins from around Antarctica migrate to their breeding grounds – a journey of 60 to 100 miles. While obstacles may force the penguins to shift their path, they always return to the same breeding grounds. In late November and early December, when summer temperatures rise in the Southern Hemisphere, it's possible to visit a rookery and see the parents with their chicks before the adults migrate back toward the sea.

    Photo courtesy of Fuse

  • Whale Sharks off Holbox Island, Mexico

    If you've ever wanted to swim alongside the largest fish in the sea, you can do just that in the waters off the coast of Holbox Island near Cancun. From mid-May to September, harmless whale sharks congregate near the island to feed and mate and snorkelers from around the globe come to hop in the water and interact with the majestic creatures.

    Photo courtesy of Krzysztof Odziomek

  • Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska

    The typically peaceful Platte River Valley in Nebraska gets quite rowdy and raucous in early spring when 80 percent of the world's population of sandhill cranes stop over on their northern migration. They are joined by millions of other migratory birds, making it a must for any birdwatcher or naturalist.

    Photo courtesy of Larry Crist / USFWS

  • Green Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

    June and July in Tortuguero National Park on the remote coast of Northeastern Costa Rica sees thousands of endangered green sea turtles drag themselves onto the same beach where they hatched in order to lay eggs. Eco-tourism is alive and well in the park, with tour outfitters leading guided hikes, night patrols and other conservation projects to help protect the species that came very close to extinction during the 1960s.

    Photo courtesy of jarnogz

  • Flamingos in Kenya

    The alkaline lakes of Kenya's Rift Valley are rich in green algae, a primary food source for greater and lesser flamingos who migrate in unison between the lakes in the lead up to breeding season. Lake Nakuru is one of the best to witness large congregations of these long-legged, long-necked birds.

    Photo courtesy of ajsn