Kenya Wildebeest Migration – Great Wildebeest Migration Masai Mara
Witnessing the wildebeest migration is without doubt a dream come true. The Kenya wildebeest migration is a lifetime experience for nature and wildlife lovers on Kenya safari tour. Over 1.5 million wildebeests cross from the Serengeti to Mara reserve every year from July to September.
Millions of wildebeests are accompanied by over 12000 elands, 400000 zebras, 300000 grants and thompson’s gazelles during their trek from the Southern Serengeti National Park to Kenya’s Mara National Reserve.
The annual long migration is with no doubt a distinct natural phenomenon and timing of this event all depends on environmental factors, weather conditions etc.
The wildebeest trek often follows the rain pattern. They trek for 800kms clockwise in a circle via Serengeti-Masai Mara eco-systems while in search for greener pasture and water to drink. Most of the migration cycle takes place in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and spend months moving in the Masai Mara National Reserve plains.
When is the best time to travel for Kenya wildebeest migration?
While the Kenya wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara begins in July and ends in September, the dates aren’t predictable till the first huge wildebeest herds congregate along the Northern side of the Serengeti National Park.
It is generally unpredictable experience but, the ideal months of the year to consider visiting Masai Mara to witness the Kenya wildebeest migration is during the dry months of the year that is July to September.
It is a gradual event and occurs for some weeks at various locations on the Serengeti-Masai Mara border. August is probably the best time to watch the wildebeest migration while on Kenya safari.
July to August these are the months of the year when huge herds of wildebeest exit the arid plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to look for what to feed on and water to drink. This makes it the best time to witness the dramatic wildebeest Mara river crossings.
August is a celebrated month of the year to observe wildebeest. Reason, it is when huge concentration of wildebeests and other grazers gather at the Mara Reserve. During this months, most big cats can be observed too as they prey for wildebeests.
September- This is when the large herds have peace and ample moment. It is ideal time for tourists to enjoy the best of Masai Mara game drive. October is when the Mara starts to experience some rains and by November, wildebeests begin trekking back to Serengeti which makes it an endless cycle.
Where do the wildebeests move to and from?
Wildebeest movement takes circular pattern and starts from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania into Masai Mara National Reserve. This is normally determined by significant factors like climatic rainfall, mating, availability of pasture, calving/birthing seasons etc.
Note, the migration takes place at any time of the year. It is a clockwise movement and it is witnessed in the Southern, Central, Western Serengeti prior the wildebeests trekking to the Masai Mara in Kenya from July to August. Wildebeests trek back around late October and it is less spectacular.
How best can you enjoy the Kenya wildebeest migration?
Kenya wildebeest migration can be enjoyed while on guided safari game drives in the Masai Mara National Reserve of Kenya. Specialized driver guides and 4×4 vehicle are required for this spectacular experience.
During your exploration, it is a good idea to station yourself at one spot to enjoy clear view of large herds of wildebeest migrate. The highlight of Kenya wildebeest migration is the Mara river crossings- this is the powerful experience never to be missed on Kenya safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve.
Kenya wildebeest migration by months
When it comes to wildebeest migration, many travelers are left to think that it only occurs once a year. But, this is an all-year-round event, each event providing a distinct and remarkable wildlife encounter.
The Mara river crossing is remarkably the most spectacular of all and interestingly, it coincides with the peak season in Masai Mara National Reserve. This is clearly witnessed from late July to August.
December to April
Large herds of wildebeests can be observed South of Serengeti National Park as they roam between Ndutu plains and Ngorongoro but this may depend on the rain pattern.
You can spend these 4 months in the extreme South of Serengeti N/Park. From February, it is birthing season and this is an amazing experience of its own.
Most of the predators such as leopards and lions can also be witnessed during calving season. The movement begins again towards the end of March or April taking the Northward side and this is when majority of them can be witnessed in the Central and Western side of Serengeti.
Wildebeest begin moving to the North for fresh pasture and water. They move in large columns of up to 40kms or 25 miles long. During this long movement, thousands of other animals can be observed including zebras, gazelles. Rainy season ends in June and this is the best time to enjoy the Grumeti river crossing.
July to September is when huge even takes place- when the spectacular Mara river crossing is witnessed. Huge herds will be at the Western part of Serengeti and Grumeti Reserves ready to cross. From August, those that survive proceed to the North to Serengeti National Park and start crossing into the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
This is when wildebeests start their movement once again. They go to the South via the Western Loliondo and Lobo area of Serengeti NP. Large herds can be observed in Lamai and Kogatende.
Location of Masai Mara
Masai Mara National Reserve/Maasai Mara Reserve is 1510sq.kms nature reserve, located in Narok county about 5-6 hours’ drive from Nairobi city. It is situated in the Southern side of Kenya along the mighty rift valley region.
From Nairobi to Mara National Reserve, it is 224kms’ drive and the reserve is perched close to Tanzania’s popular Serengeti National Park. It is a popular wildebeest migration and big five game safari destination in Africa.
Where to stay?
All categories of lodges and camps exist in Masai Mara National Reserve- budget, mid-range and luxury. They include Mara Serena Lodge, Richard’s River Camp, Little Governors’ Camp, Mara Expedition Camp, Ol Seki Hemingway’s Mara Camp, &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Elephant Pepper Camp, Mahali Mzuri- Luxury options.
Budget options- Talek Bush Camp, Maji Moto Eco Camp, Oseki Maasai Mara Camp, Mara Chui Resort, Mara Sunset Camp, Mara Frontier Hotel and others. Mid-range options include Sarova Mara Game Camp, Mara Eden Safari Camp, Amani Mara Camp, Ashnil Mara, Wildebeest Eco-Camp, Mara Bush Camp and others.