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Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Safari Kenya

Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Safari Kenya

The Masai Mara in Kenya is nature’s epic masterpiece, perhaps there’s no better place to view the dramatic river crossings during the great migration. The Mara Triangle has some of the highest concentrations of wildlife you will encounter during your Africa trip. This quiet corner of the Masai Mara and gateway from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara is a remote and less crowded place to be for an authentic safari experience.

This part of the Masai Mara lies between the mighty Mara River and the Western Oloololo Escarpment in Southwest Kenya. The Mara Triangle can only be reached through the Oloololo gate or by way of the New Mara Bridge. Because of its limited access, it’s far less visited and less crowded than the rest of the area.

Which animals participate in the annual Wildebeest Migration in Serengeti?

Over 1.8 million wildebeest will lead the way as the rains approach in the Serengeti and Masai Mara from July to November and this is accompanied by 400,000 Thomson’s gazelle, 400,000 Zebra, and 11,000 Eland. These are the main migratory wildlife and they cross the ranges of over a quarter of a million other resident herbivores and, of course, carnivores. The lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, and lesser predators will always follow the migration and this will be evidential as more numbers of predators are seen following the wildebeest migration at the beginning of the circle.

The Actual Mara River crossing

Wildebeest arrive at the Mara River in their tens of thousands and gather waiting to cross. For days their numbers can be building up and anticipation grows but many times, for no apparent reason, they turn and wander away from the water’s edge. Eventually, the wildebeest will choose a crossing point, something that can vary from year to year and cannot be predicted with any accuracy. Usually, the chosen point will be a fairly placid stretch of water without too much predator-concealing vegetation on the far side, although occasionally they will choose seemingly suicidal places and drown in their hundreds. Perhaps, once again, this is because crossing places are genetically imprinted in the minds of the animals.

Predators during the Masai mara wildebeest migration

While the wildebeest are drawn into migrating by the needs of their stomachs, the fact that they’re constantly on the move has the added benefit that they outmatch large numbers of predators. The predators are unable to follow the moving herds very far, for many are territorial and can neither abandon their territories nor invade those of others. Moreover, the young of most predators are highly dependent upon their mothers, who can’t move very far from them.

Some of the common predators during the Annual Wildebeest migration are Lions, Cheetah, Hyenas, Leopard, and jackals will follow along together with vultures.

Month to month guide to wildebeest migration in Masai Mara.

It is important to note that there is resident wildebeest in Masai Mara all year around, however the migratory herds start arriving in Masai Mara in mid-July from Serengeti

  • July: In July, as available grasses are exhausted and begin to dry, the herds move northward for fresh grazing. With some of the herd still in the Western Serengeti and Grumeti Reserve, they continue to move northeast in search of greener plains, many arriving at the Mara River and Lamai Triangle in the northern Serengeti in mid-to late-July. These front-runners may begin the treacherous crossing of the crocodile-filled Mara River, while others graze in the northern Serengeti.
  • August: In August, wildebeest and zebra herds begin their annual crossing of the Mara River, which cuts across the northwest corner of the Serengeti and up through the Masai Mara. They continue in search of fresh grasses on the other side of the river. While herds pour across the unfenced border into Kenya, some also stay in the northern Serengeti, though river crossings, though unpredictable, can be seen almost daily at this time of year.
  • September: In September, the migration herds continue to arrive and feed on the grasses in Kenya’s greater Masai mara viewing wildebeest and zebra crossing the Mara River in herds is also still a common occurrence. The abundant local wildlife only enhances the overall experience, and this is simply an excellent time of year to be in Kenya.
  • October: In October, the migration can still be found in the Masai Mara and northern Serengeti as herds continue to graze in large numbers with lions and other predators always in the vicinity. River crossings can still be seen on occasion. As the short rains begin to brew toward the end of October, the first of the herds begin to journey back south along the eastern edge of the Serengeti and Loliondo following new grasses.
  • November: In November, the short rains have begun to fall, and the bulk of the migration herds move quickly south with the goal of reaching the short-grass plains once again. The mega-herd breaks into pockets of wildebeest and zebra that can be found in the northern Serengeti moving to the central Seronera plains, while many are found along the eastern border near the private reserves of Loliondo.
  • December: In December, the migration continues moving south toward the short-grass plains of Ndutu in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Some herds can be spotted in the central and eastern Serengeti as they move south, while early arrivals can be found already in Ndutu feasting on fresh grasses. This is a nice time to see large herds thundering across the plains and beginning to gather in the south.

Closing the Circle of the Wildebeest migration

By late October, when the first short rains are falling on the Serengeti’s short-grass plains, filling seasonal waterholes and bringing new flushes of growth, the wildebeest start heading south again. The herds trek down through the Eastern woodlands of the Serengeti, some 90 percent of the cows are heavy with the new season young ones. Tightly grouped as they pass through the wooded countryside the wildebeest scatter and spread out again once they reach the open plains and that marks the end of the circle. By January and February again the wildebeest start a new circle.

When to go to Masai Mara National reserve

July to October is considered the best time of the year to visit the Masai Mara. Game viewing is optimal at this time as there is plenty of predator and prey interactions.

This crossing usually occurs at Mara River around late July to August with parts of September and again on their return south, around the last two weeks of October through early November.

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