The Wildebeest Migration in Kenya
The wildebeest migration in Kenya is one of the world’s most sensational natural experiences awaiting you to enjoy on Kenya safaris. With more than 1.5 million wildebeest, 12,000 elands, 400,000 zebras, and a thousand more Thomson’s gazelles and grants all trekking from Southern Serengeti to the sweeping plains of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, ‘great’ in Great Wildebeest Migration may not be the best term to describe this unique experience.
The circular and constant annual-long migration is a distinct natural phenomenon and it occurs depending on environmental factors including weather and wildlife themselves. In general, the overall movement is guided by the rain patterns. Over 800kms clockwise trek is covered during wildebeest migration via the Serengeti and Masai Mara eco-systems while the wildebeest and other grazers search for greener pastures and water for drinking.
During the wildebeest migration in Kenya, these mammals spend most of their cycle in Tanzania’s Serengeti savannas and spend many months trekking through the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
The highlight of the wildebeest migration in Kenya
In the course of wildebeest, gazelles, and zebras entering the Masai Mara Reserve, they encounter several predators awaiting them. In addition, over 3000 crocodiles can be lurking in the murky Mara River waters during the river crossing. This is a dramatic bit of it watching large herds of these mammals jump from the riverbank into the water. After they have crossed, they get the best of the sweeping savanna plains of the Maasai Mara full of food supplies and the food supply reduces, they begin their trek back.
Best time to go wildebeest migration in Kenya
July, August, September, and October are without doubt the best months of the year to enjoy the remarkable wildebeest migration. These are also the busiest months of the year in the Masai Mara National Reserve.
July to August is months when large herds of wildebeests exit the Serengeti National Park plains to look for food and water to drink. It is the best period to witness the dramatic Mara River crossings.
August is when wildebeest plus other wildlife reach the Masai Mara. This is also when most big cats can be witnessed hunting down these mammals. September is when wildebeest have a peaceful moment in the Masai Mara and a high number of tourists on a game drive is recorded.
Rains start to fall in Masai Mara and by early November, the wildebeest also begin trekking back to the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania. This is what makes the entire wildebeest migration an endless cycle.
What is the pattern of wildebeest migration like?
Wildebeest migration takes a circular pattern. The movement begins from the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania crossing to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The determinant factors include mating, rains, the presence of pasture and water, birthing, and more.
To have the most of the wildebeest migration in Kenya, you will embark on a guided game drive in the Masai Mara. A 4×4 safari vehicle is preferable for your guided game drives and with a pop-up roof for a clear view of wildlife including the big cats and other species.
Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara is a spectacular wildlife reserve in Africa, found in Narok county 5 to 6 hours’ drive away from Nairobi city. It is an extensive savanna plain reserve covering up to 1510sq.km of land area in the Southern part of Kenya.
Besides wildebeest, gazelles, elands, and grants, the Masai Mara also protects a long list of other wildlife and attractions. These include elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, leopards, rhinos, cheetahs, 500 birds – including the Kori bustards, crowned cranes, yellow-billed storks, saddle-billed storks, secretary bird, great white egret, black-headed heron, goliath heron, pygmy kingfishers, martial eagle, pygmy falcons, bateleur, ross’s turacos, lazy cisticola, red-throated tit, purple grenadier, rosy throated longclaw, cinnamon breasted bunting, African wood owl, African finfoot, Ayres’s hawk-eagle, yellow mantled widowbird, trilling cisticola, Tabora cisticola and more.
Places to stay in Masai Mara
On wildebeest migration experience, there are plenty of accommodation options to retire for the night in and around Masai Mara Reserve. They include budget, moderate and luxury accommodation – that is Mara Expedition Camp, Mara Serena Lodge, Ol Seki Hemingway’s Mara Camp, Little Governors’ Camp, Elephant Pepper Camp, Mahali Mzuri, AndBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp – ideal luxury accommodation.
Budget – Mara Sunset Camp, Mara Chui Resort, Talek Bush Camp, Mara Frontier Hotel while mid-range options include Amani Mara Camp, Mara Eden Safari Camp, Wildebeest Eco-Camp, and Maji Moto Eco Camp.