The annual Wildebeest Migration is one of nature’s most incredible phenomenons, and if you are fortunate to see it in person, you are promised an amazing, indelible experience. It’s a natural cycle that replenishes and renews the grasslands of East Africa. Each June, around 1.3 million wildebeest gather in the Serengeti, found in Tanzania, bordering Kenya to the north. They slowly mass into a huge single herd, until the dry season withers their supply of fresh grass.
The scent of rain to the north begins to draw the herd throughout July, and soon the planet’s greatest animal migration is underway. Kenya has many remarkable attractions, but the migration ensures that the Masai Mara is Kenya’s most popular. What’s key to note though is that the Mara still has abundant game even when there is no migration.
Moira Smith, Goway’s AFRICAExperts’ General Manager, summed up the appeal of the Masai Mara as follows:
“This is the total sensory experience holiday. Your senses are constantly stimulated by the sights, smells, and sounds of the Mara and its many inhabitants. The thrill of leaving camp at dawn, in search of big cats, is an experience that is difficult to repeat.”
There is no better time to visit the Mara than during the Great Migration. The sound of the approaching herd is a deep, primal rumbling of thundering hooves and low grunts. The sight of the wildebeest is staggering – a continuous charging mass that stretches from one horizon to the other, and is mottled with black and white as zebras join the throng.
Over the course of the Migration, visitors to Kenya have the opportunity to follow the progress of the herds and experience the full grassland cycle firsthand. Africa’s largest concentrations of predators are drawn to this perfect opportunity for easy hunting. Lions are frequently seen attacking the herds, especially at night, as they drag down straggling individuals. At the same time, packs of hyena freely weave throughout the herds, singling out and separating the young and the weak.
Predators are not the only obstacles that the wildebeest face. Kenya’s heavy rainfall in the highland Mau escarpment turns the Mara River into a raging torrent. As happens each year, the herds gather at the banks in preparation for the most perilous stretch of their journey. As sheer pressure builds, the herds are finally forced to surge into the river, often hurling themselves off high banks. In the struggle across the Mara River, many are drowned or swept away by strong currents. The crossing attracts massive crocodiles, who each year, await this season of bounty.
By September, the herds will begin reaching their goal, and spreading out to graze across the expanse of the Mara. For this beautiful game reserve, it is a time of renewal, as the dung from the visiting herds fertilizes the plains. October will see the herds turn southward and repeat the same journey back to the Serengeti, where the renewed grasslands await.
The Migration is the planet’s last great epic of life and death. Of all the calves born in the Serengeti, two out of three will never return from their first and most demanding migration.
It is this inextricable binding of renewal and sustenance… feast and famine… life and death, that makes this event one of nature’s greatest wonders.
The migration can be experienced on early morning game drives in customized vehicles, walking safaris with Masai Warrior guides, horseback safaris in areas surrounding the Mara, or even from hot air balloon safaris over the herds. Our experts will guide you to the best accommodations and locations according to your preference and budget.
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