The Great Migration: Masai Mara

by | Africa, Articles, Destinations, Kenya

The «great» in «Great Migration» may be an understatement, with 1.5 million wildebeest, 400,000 zebra, 12,000 eland, and 300,000 Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles migrating from the southern Serengeti to the Masai Mara.

The Great Migration in a nutshell

The year-round migration of animals is an iconic natural phenomenon whose timing is determined by environmental variables, weather, and, of course, the animals themselves. In a nutshell, the world’s largest animal migration follows the rains. In quest of richer, mineral-rich grasses and water, the herds travel 800 kilometers clockwise in a loop across the Serengeti and Masai Mara environments. These amazing animals spend most of their lives in Tanzania’s Serengeti, but they also spend several months roaming across the Masai Mara’s fertile plains.

Highlights

Wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles encounter more than their fair share of fatal predators when they reach the Masai Mara. Apart from the big predators, the lemming-like herds must also contend with roughly 3000 crocodiles waiting in the Mara River’s dark waters during their river crossing. To say the least, seeing the herds mindlessly leap from riverside cliffs into the river waters is breathtaking. The enormous herds are eventually rewarded with the treasures of the Masai Mara grasslands. Life is good for a brief time. Once the supply runs out and the rain moves on, the herds move on.

When might we expect the herds to arrive?

The season from July to October is the best time to watch the Great Migration in the Masai Mara. Keep in mind that Mother Nature is its own ruler. We’ll give you a rough idea of when to expect those memorable moments during the Great Migration, but there’s no way to tell for sure if the herds will cross a river at a specific time. Weather may be unpredictable, and late or early rains might cause a migratory trend to be delayed or early. But that is not a problem; there is plenty of wildlife to see all year long at Masai Mara. From July October, which are generally considered the finest months to visit the Great Migration, are also the busiest in the Masai Mara. During these months, it’s reasonable to assume that you won’t have the herds to yourself. Within the Masai Mara National Reserve, expect more safari visitors, and you may have to wait in line for safari game drives. During this time, staying in one of the Masai Mara conservancies is recommended for a more peaceful visit. Here’s a rundown of what the Great Migration will entail.

July

The herds depart the arid plains of the Serengeti in search of food and water from late July to early August. The best time to see the stunning Mara River crossings is now.

August

By August, most of the wildebeest and their migratory partners will have arrived in the Mara. They’re hailed by a large hunting party of huge cats, who are ready and excited for some flesh

September

In September, life in the Mara is good. On the plains, the cattle enjoy relative peace. We consider this is the best time of year to visit the Masai Mara National Reserve for scenic safari game drives.

October

The rains begin to fall in October, and the herds return to the Serengeti in November. As a result, the great migration’s never-ending cycle continues.