The Maasai Mara, in Kenya is home to one of the natural events in the world. The Great Wildebeest Migration. This incredible annual movement involves a number of wildebeest well as groups of zebras and other herbivores creating a breathtaking spectacle that captures the essence of wildlife on our planet.
This extraordinary phenomenon takes place within the Serengeti Maasai Mara ecosystem, which stretches across the borders of Tanzania and Kenya. It encompasses areas such as the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Extends to include the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
During this migration around 1.5 million wildebeest, accompanied by 200,000 zebras and various other grazing species like Thomsons gazelles, embark on their journey. They follow the patterns of rainfall to find pastures and face challenges along the way including crossing perilous rivers and confronting potential predators.
The migratory journey typically commences in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area during January and February when wildebeest and other animals gather for calving season. As the shorter rainy season comes to an end and the grasslands in regions start drying up around March and April these herds begin their movement, towards Grumeti River.
During July or August the herds reach the point of their migration cycle, the Mara River that acts as a border, between Tanzanias Serengeti and Kenyas Maasai Mara. This river crossing is widely recognized as one of the events in the Great Migration.
The Mara River poses a threat to the migrating herds due to its population of Nile crocodiles. Witnessing thousands of other animals diving into this flowing river teeming with crocodiles is truly a breathtaking spectacle found nowhere else on Earth.
Upon reaching the Maasai Mara around July or August the feast on abundant grasses nourished by the regions prolonged rainy season. They stay there until October or November when they begin their journey to Serengeti as the short rains start revitalizing Tanzanias grasslands.
The Great Migration not benefits grazers. Also serves as a feast for predators in the region. Majestic big cats like lions, leopards and cheetahs along with hyenas and wild dogs closely trail behind these herds taking advantage of an abundance of prey. This migration period plays a role, for these predators by providing food for their young ones.The Cycle Goes On
The entire movement pattern is dictated by the rainfall and the subsequent presence of grass, for grazing. It’s a ending cycle of life, mortality and adaptation that highlights the wild magnificence of nature.
About Masai Mara & Wildebeests
The Maasai Mara National Reserve, also known as the Maasai Mara or The Mara is a wildlife sanctuary, in Africa. It is situated in Kenya. Borders Tanzanias Serengeti National Park forming part of the larger Mara Serengeti ecosystem. This region is home to a range of wildlife.
Named after the people, who have a cultural heritage and coexist harmoniously with the abundant wildlife the reserve is also defined by the Mara River that divides it.
Spanning 1,510 kilometers the Maasai Mara boasts stunning landscapes comprising rolling grasslands dotted with acacia trees and meandering rivers like Mara and Talek. The climate here is generally mild and temperate; wet seasons typically occur from November to May while dry periods prevail from June to October.
What sets this reserve apart is its reputation for a population of big cats, elephants, buffalo herds and the awe inspiring annual migration of zebras, Thomsons gazelles and wildebeests from the Serengeti. Known as the Great Migration due, to its scale this phenomenon occurs every year between July and October. It makes the Maasai Mara one of natures game reserves.
There are animals, in the game reserve such as rhinos, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals and bat eared foxes. Additionally you can find a variety of antelopes over 500 bird species and a rich assortment of flora in this ecosystem.
The Maasai People
The reserve gets its name from the people who live in Kenya and Tanzania. They are a nomadic ethnic group known for their unique traditions and clothing style. Within the reserve the Maasai maintain their way of life while coexisting harmoniously with the wildlife, in this beautiful landscape. Their culture and customs contribute to making this safari destination truly special.
About Wildebeest Migration in Kenya
Every year around 1.5 million animals undertake this migration adventure. Among them are 200,000 zebras and 350,000 Thomson Gazelles along with hoofed species. The main reason behind their migration is their search for pastures and water sources. Witnessing this migration is truly an experience.
Understanding how this migration unfolds helps us appreciate its pattern. The journey begins with an abundance of calves being born between January and February. Its estimated that within a period of time around 300,000 to 400,000 calves come into existence in areas, like the slopes of Ngorongoro crater mountain or around Olduvai Gorge and within the Serengeti itself.
The arrival of these calves attracts predators like lions and leopards leading to a high mortality rate, among them. However a significant number of them manage to survive and become part of the migration. These animals are known for their ability to follow the changing weather patterns. They typically begin their journey towards the end of March when the dry season starts in the Serengeti. Their destination is the grasslands and abundant rainfall of the Masai Mara. This remarkable trek covers an area spanning over 26,000 kilometers starting from the Serengeti and looping back.
Understanding the Migration Process
The migration commences from the Serengeti in November and December soon as rains arrive. The herd settles in both Ndutu area in Ngorongoro and southern parts of Serengeti before moving towards the region of the park from April onwards.
The Rutting Season and Crossing Mara River
During May and June which marks the rutting season numerous animals mate during this time. From their location in corridor within Serengeti herds gradually make their way towards Kenyas Masai Mara. At Mara River they gather in numbers before crossing it. This river crossing presents challenges as many animals fall prey to predators or struggle against currents.
Arrival, at Masai Mara National Reserve
After traversing through Serengeti herds continue northwards until they reach Kenyas Masai Mara National Reserve by crossing both Mara and Grumeti Rivers.
The rivers, the Grumeti are home, to crocodiles that hunt the wildebeests as they cross.
Conclusion of the Migration Cycle
During October the wildebeests commence their migration towards the south passing through the Loliondo to reach the Lobo area in Serengeti Park. By November they return to Serengeti marking both the end and beginning of migration cycles.
Where to Stay for Experiencing the Great Migration in Masai Mara, Kenya
In Kenya there are accommodation options for those who wish to witness this remarkable natural phenomenon. From luxurious to budget choices popular options include Royal Mara Safari Lodge, Kichwa Tembo Camp, Governors Camp and Mara Serengeti Safari Lodge.
Costs of Going on a Great Wildebeest Migration Safari
The expenses associated with experiencing the Great Migration depend on factors such as your duration destinations you plan to visit along with itineraries and your choice of accommodation. Please refer to the table below for estimated prices, for two individuals based on duration destinations covered during travel and corresponding costs.
8 Day Migration Safari; This journey typically covers Tarangire National Park, Serengeti National Park,
Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Arusha National Park.
If you opt for accommodations, in the. Lodges the price per person can range from $2,780 to $3,050.
For an 8 day camping experience during the Serengeti Migration the itinerary may include visits to Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Highlands & Crater Tarangire National Park and Arusha. If you prefer camping and more lodges the safari could cost you between $2,050 and $2,150 per person.
On a 7 day Tanzania Migration Safari package you will likely explore the part of Serengeti along with visits to Arusha and Serengeti National Park. If you choose luxury tented camps as your accommodation preference expect prices ranging from $3,820 to $5,150 per person.
A 6 day Wildebeest Migration journey may take you through the Northern Serengeti region as Central Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater before returning to Arusha. For. Lodge options along this route prices can vary from $4,150 to $4,750 per person.
A 5 day Tanzania Migration Safari typically covers Lake Manyara National Park alongside visits, to Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Highlands & Crater before concluding in Arusha. If you decide on luxury lodges for your stay during this experience expect costs ranging between $2,900 and $3500.