Best Time To Witness Masai Mara wildebeest Migration
July to September is the estimated time when the great migration in Masai Mara National Reserve picks momentum. This timing however may vary with time because of inconsistent the rain patterns in different years. At times the rains may arrive early and the great migration starts earlier than expected then end early and vice versa
Most Popular Safaris
The temperate climate of Masai Mara National Reserve coupled with a wide range of wildlife make it an all year round destination however, the Wildebeest great migration is top on the list of favorite time for a Mara safari. Locally the word Mara in Masai language means “spotted” but the reason for this name is still not clear.
The topography of the reserve is generally flat making visibility of wildlife including birds a lot more easier compared to most African game parks. Masai Mara National reserve is one of the world’s African safari destinations because of the great migration of wildebeests, Thomson’s gazelles, grant’s gazelles, impalas and zebras.
The rich wildlife component of Masai Mara National Park and great migration has won it international recognition. It is one of wonder of the world because no one triggers the movement of crowds of wild animals over a certain period of time.
This great angulate migration is entangled with predators like lions, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, excited vultures ready to clean up. All these have a wide range of prey to select from amongst the crowd. It is one of the most visited National wildlife reserves in Kenya.
The Masai Mara Reserve was opened in November 1974 and currently occupies an area of about 1510 square kilometers. Its highest altitude is 5000 ft. from Nairobi the capital of Kenya, you take about 275km on the road.
What You May Expect In Masai Mara National Reserve Throughout The Year
In January during normal time in Masai Mara National Reserve, the temperatures are slightly higher although some rains may be received averagely. Although not so many animals may be see compared to those in the busy seasons there is some activity in the park.
This is also the starting time for infantry as new births come forth. This is the time for ornithologist to shine in Masai Mara as lots of birds linger the park. For keen birders you may get the chance to spot migratory birds that are common to Europe and parts of North Africa. Over 470 bird species including about 57 raptors live in the Masai Mara National Reserve and the list is still growing.
February is commonly filled with lots of infants because of food availability for grazers as well as the grass is taller to be a hiding place for new borns from predators. If you are a wildlife photographer, this is one of the best times to visit Masai Mara National Reserve because of less obstruction from safari vehicles and clearer scenery.
When you travel to Masai Mara National Reserve in March, expect to see more infants especially with the ungulates. If weather conditions remain constant, March is one of the renowned rain seasons in Masai Mara.
The tracks in the park may be a little more slippery because of flooding rivers and non-stop rains all day round. The reserve receives less visitors, which prompts most lodges to close for refurbishing.
April is normally low season when road conditions may not favor game drives on Masai Mara National Reserve. Although some animals may be spotted, a great number of them hide away from the extremely cold and wet conditions.
May sometimes is wet or slightly dry depending on the prevailing weather conditions for the year. At times, the temperatures may rise slightly more than the previous months or even receive some whole-day drizzles. This may cause slightly slippery roads with a sticky mud that may cause poor treads of car tyres not to function as expected. This is not a definite weather condition because of the changes in climate all over the world.
June normally starts the period of dry season in Kenya all factors kept constant. It is the beginning on peak safari season in Kenya. The grass that has grown over the previous rainy season may still cover the animals. Temperatures in Masai Mara National Reserve start to rise higher as the dry season is ushered in. Although the reserve by this time receives less visits, preparations for the high season are in high gears.
During July, the earlier migrating wildebeests may arrive in Masai Mara from Serengeti to feed on the leftover grass from of the previous rain seasons. This time the elephants, lions, Rhinos, leopards, Buffaloes ( big five) are likely to come into view with less difficulty and majority of wild animals keep closer to there water sources because of dry weather. The numbers of tourists are in higher creating a crowd of especially safari cars as peak season picks up.
In August, witnessing the great migration of Masai Mara National Reserve is expected to be more evident. Because of the extremely dry weather all factors kept constant, the animals may cross the Mara River more than once in a day. Temperatures in the park area slightly higher than normal drying off some grass and creating a wider scope for wild animal visibility.
September normally continues with the high temperatures and wild animals may still be on the Masai Mara side. The great migration can still be witnessed during this month. A lot of predator action can be witnessed as the grass is dried out because of the extremely dry temperatures in the reserve.
The month of October is normally dry with many of the wild animals that are on a move starting to return home. Majority of the wildebeests, gazelles, zebras are still feeding closer to Mara River before crossing back to Serengeti national Park in Tanzania. Towards end of October, the temperatures in Masai Mara National reserve may start to drop slightly as the rain season on November begins.
November may see the last bunch of ungulates as they return home in Serengeti National Park. The rains start to fall slightly causing a drop in temperatures as showers may be seen during the day causing extremely cold weather conditions in the evening. The grass starts to recover from the extremely dry season of the previous months.
In December, the earlier days are not so busy in Masai Mara National Reserve creating a window for quick lodge renovations as numbers of tourists are expected to increase festive time.
All the above monthly Masai Mara National Reserve activity analysis may change depending on the climate conditions of the year. The great Migration may change from time to time because it is a spontaneous event. The rainfall patterns contribute a lot of the great migration activities and grazing opportunities provided for the wild animals.
What To Know about Masai Culture
To enjoy the entire experience, using a knowledgeable Masai guide gives you a great experience inclusive of cultural fusion. The Masai are the indigenous occupants of this area and have preserved there culture since time immemorial.
They are pastoralists whose life is defendant on cattle. During cattle grazing, they may use the perimeters of the Masai Mara. They measure there wealth by the number of cattle that cattle heads that one owns.
The Masai live in Manyattas where they communally protect their cattle from wrestlers and predators like lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals and others. Although they lose some of their cattle to raptors, they have overtime adopted to co-existing with the wild animals.
The Kenyan government with other conservations bodies do some community sensitization about the relevancy of the wild animal to the Masai community. Although it is not yet completely a successful step, some former poachers are helping there community with support of conservation organizations to preach the conservation gospel.
In Masai Culture, wearing necklaces designed from beads with a rapper skirt and red robes is a fashion. Most of them have tattooed their faces with dots and women sometimes have long holes on there ear lobes fitted with large earrings, braided hair. Their unique dance moves of jumping may keep your camera rolling all time. They have an amazing architecture of beehive like huts constructed out of mud and polished with cow dung.
How To Get To Masa Mara National Reserve
The drive from Nairobi to Masai Mara National Reserve may take about 275 km. Drive guides can be hired but having a knowledgeable Kenyan guide gives you more confidence. No one want to take a safari with someone with less information about the destination because its makes the trip boring.
A number of domestic flight companies are available in Kenya to save you the trouble of spending a lot of time on the road. Sometimes the countryside roads are slippery from the over flooded rivers making movement to the Masai Mara National Reserve challenging. Sometimes, hiring a plane saves you a lot on the road. You can charter too or book a seat on the daily domestic scheduled flights.
What Is The Cost Of Safari To Masai Mara National Reserve
The cost of safari to Masai Mara National Reserve varies with the tour package you choose. As long as you pay the park entrance fees, which cuts across all budgets, other costs, vary with what you what you wish to do in the park, accommodation to stay at during the safari, number of people travelling with, number of days in the reserve and so much more.
Masai Mara packages vary from Up Market package ( Luxury), to Midrange safari package to Budget Safari Package.
Even the timing of your safari may contribute to the cost of your safari package in Masai Mara National reserve. During the Peak seasons that is June to September and December to January, the lodge prices are slightly higher than Low season. This is because of high influx of tourists from all walks of the world ready for holiday experience in the African wilderness especially watching the great migration.
In case you viewing the great migration is on your bucket list, you need to book accommodation in advance because lodges get filled to capacity in the peak season. Late booking may cause you to be waitlisted in some lodges which creates uncertainty and may ruin your safari excitement.
What To Pack For Safari In Masai Mara National Reserve
- Safari hut. Wearing a hut to protect your hair from buzzing insects in the wilderness is a great decision. The tracks are dusty too so you need to protect your head too
- Safari attire. Packing convertible safari wear in colors that are nature friendly makes the trip fantastic. You can wear trouser during cold early morning game drives and later covert them to shorts when it gets too hot. Pack safari wear in colors like Khaki and tan that will you are comfortable wearing under dusty roads.
- Insect repellant
- To smear the body with and keep away stinging insects.
- A camera with a good lens especially for photographers and those who wish to capture great memories of there safari experience.
- First aid kit in case of emergencies while on safari.
- Some hard cash to use for personal purchases or transactions just in case you need too.
- A pair of binoculars for clearer viewing in case of far ranging animals.
- Safari boots to protect your feet from wild insects or creepers just in case you get the opportunity to step out. This is not recommended without an armed ranger guide.
- Toiletries in case your lodge doesn’t provide them or you have a sensitive skin.
- Flip flops to change into in case you need some aeration especially after a long day in the field.
- Sun screen to wear on your skin in case you have to busk by the sun on the pool
- Sun glasses to protect your eyes from the scotching sun.
- Swimming costume to use at the lodges with pool service.
- Bug spray just in case your lodge is infested with bugs.
- A torch to use in case solar power runs low.
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