The last surviving multi-species migration spot on planet earth- Masaai Mara Game Reserve
Possibly your local reserve has lions, leopards, zebras, elephants, Rhinos or even wildebeest, but surely not about 1.3 million of them. Masaai Mara Game Reserve or Maasai Mara or Masai Mara is one of the annual migration cycle spots for the transboundary millions of wildebeest. Masaai Mara Reserve is a top bucket list destination for many Kenya safari tourists and even Kenyans themselves.
This hot pursuit destination is located within the Great Rift valley (which is a fault line about 3,500 miles (5,600km) long stretching from Ethiopia’s Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, into Mozambique). The reserve is covered with open grassland with the reserve’s western escarpment having the highest wildlife concentration contiguous to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
Masaai Mara Reserve is just a fraction of the Greater Mara Ecosystem and it stretches for about 1,510 sq. km (580 sq. miles) raising to an altitude ranging 1,500-2,170 m above sea level. Its about 305km from Nairobi-Kenya’s capital on a 5 hours and 30 minutes’ drive by road or about 45 minutes by flight.
Masaai Mara the name to this famous Kenya safaris destination is derived from two words Masaai which is as an honor to the Maasai people the nomadic pastoralists who inhabited this place earlier. Mara is derived from the description by the Masaai of the area when looked at from a far, Maa in the Masaai language refers to as “spotted”. This was as a suitable description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that define the area. At the edges of the reserve are many Maasai villages the community of which over centuries has developed a synergetic bond with the wildlife.
What to see and do in Masaai Mara Game Reserve
Masaai Mara Game reserve is graced by varied unique and superb wildlife and bird life.
Wildlife in Masaai Mara Game Reserve: With abundant wildlife like no where in Africa, the reserve is globally known for its population of lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, rhinos and cheetahs. About 40% of Africa’s larger mammals can be found here and of course with a glimpse of the big five which are part of the sought-after animals and a must see when you safari Kenya. Without fences, animals roam outside the reserve and there can be as many animals in the ‘dispersal areas” as in the reserve.
Wildebeest in Masaai Mara Game reserve: One of the worlds wonders is the wildebeest migration which is an annual movement of millions of wildebeest within the region of Masaai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania. These are interdependent wildlife havens in 2 different countries yet host to the world’s last surviving multi-species migration. Also known as the Great migration, the annual migration of Zebras, Thomson’s gazelle and wildebeest involves over 1.5 million animals that dot the yellow savannah black arriving Masaai Mara in July and departing in November. July is probably the best time for a Kenya tour and November for a Tanzania wildlife safari to Serengeti. The most dramatic part of the migration is when the animals are crossing the Mara river with predators in hot pursuit. This is one of the most breathtaking sights of nature and Africa’s most diverse, incredible and most spectacular game viewing eco-systems to traverse on an African safari. The migration or wandering is an un weary search of water and food determined by the rain patterns in Serengeti’s south and Masaai Mara’s north. During the millions of wildebeest migration many die to predators (lions, cheetahs and leopards) yet thousands are birthed with a birth fest always in the Serengeti plans in February.
Popular for the numerous wildlife, Masaai Mara Game Reserve is also a popular spot for Kenya birding tours with more than 400 bird species noted in the area.
Best time to visit Masaai Mara game Reserve
July-October are the best times to glimpse at this great migration. However, the dry season between December and February is great for sighting of the big cats and other wildlife species. Visiting all year round is possible since its open throughout.
The dry season is great for any safari be it a Uganda wildlife safari, gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda or a Congo gorilla safari. Just always plan your safari right with the best tour operators, pack right and never forget your full lens camera.
Come visit magical Kenya’s Masaai Mara and glimpse at the dramatic distinction between life and death as the wildebeest make one the magical migrations you can ever see on safari.