No one looks forward to the wildebeest migration than the crocodiles at the Mara River. The hungry crocodiles will pound on the thousands of wildebeests and zebras attempting to migrate across the river. It’s survival for the fittest as thousands of wildebeests manage to maneuver across the river were crocodiles were waiting to prey on them. For the wildebeests and zebras, crossing the Mara River is a miracle in itself.
History of the Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara National Reserve is occupied by the Masai and was established in 1961. The area covers 1,510 sq km and mostly consists of small bushes and a spectacular plateau with lush grasslands surrounding the famous Mara River. Scattered bushes make up the most part of the reserve. But the landscape at the Mara is very varied with areas that have a romantic feel, which explains why the popular film, Out of Africa was filmed at the Siria Escarpment.
How do wildebeests migrate?
The migration is driven by the search for food. In reality, the animals do not move in a single straight line. It’s so hard to determine where and when to see the migration. But July and November are the prime months when the wildebeest migration in Kenya takes place. The herds will be located at the Masai Mara where they move depending on the weather patterns.
When does the wildebeest migration in Kenya take place?
From December to March, the migration is in Serengeti for the calving season where new wildebeests are born. By the time April approaches, the migration has started moving from the Southern plains of the Serengeti to the Central part and eventually cross the Grumeti River by mid-July. From August to October, the migration is finding their way to cross the Mara River where all the action happens.
The nature of wildebeests
The wildebeests will spend several months on the grasslands of the Masai Mara feeding and looking for new areas to graze. Wildebeest have been created to withstand long periods of travel without losing energy. Wildebeests can even mate on the move. As soon as the newborn wildebeest is born, it is up and running.
Why do wildebeests migrate?
The main reason why wildebeests migrate for miles is to fend for food. They are able to travel long distances in order to get grazing for their animals. The only reason why wildebeests move in large numbers is so that they are able to overcome their predators. Furthermore, most of their predators cannot follow the wildebeests through the distance they travel because they are territorial and thus cannot abandon their territories. Unlike most wild animals, the young ones of wildebeests are independent right from birth. They are able to move far away from their mothers after birth.
How the migration changes the entire region
The wildebeest migration in Kenya is such a huge event that attracts the highest population of tourists in the region every year. Even though Masai Mara National Reserve is not the largest reserve in Kenya, it has become the most famous because of the migration. Hotels and lodges at the Mara are usually fully booked when the migration is happening and it’s almost impossible to find free accommodation options when the migration begins.
If you choose to travel to the Masai Mara in April, May and November, expect some parts of the reserve to be muddy and even inaccessible. The best time to travel to the Mara is during the dry season which starts from July to October. You will avoid the heavy showers while on your safari plus get to enjoy the wildebeest migration in Kenya.