The Masai Mara is a top destination for African safaris. Every year, over 2 million ungulates make their way up into Kenya as they follow the rains and the lush, green grasses that ensue. If you’ve ever watched a wildlife program on the great migration, chances are you’ve seen a clip or two of wildebeest, zebra and other ungulates as they attempt to cross the crocodile-infested waters of the mighty Mara River.
So powerful is the imagery of these creatures on their annual plight across the Mara River, witnessing a river-crossing spectacle is one of the top reasons people give for booking a safari to the Masai Mara or Serengeti.
When to see the Great Migration in Kenya
The Masai Mara has ample wildlife year-round, but if you’re after the migration, the best months are usually July and October. These months also coincide with many school summer holidays, for those living in the northern hemisphere. For this reason, a disproportionate number of the 150,000 visitors that come to the Mara come during these two months.
At 560 square miles, the Masai Mara is a relatively small park. During the peak season, it can get uncomfortably crowded as vehicles jockey for position around a pride of lions or, even worse, a cheetah during its hunt. Not only is the vehicular conjestion during these periods frustrating for visitors, it’s stressful for the animals.
Masai Mara in September and October
If you’ve the flexibility in your schedule to travel to Kenya in September and/or October, it is highly recommended you visit at this time. You’ll be helping to lessen the peak-season crowds and will probably have better viewing opportunities. The migratory action will be just as good as it was in earlier months. In fact, in October, the migration normally starts to head back south into the Serengeti.
Many tour operators cover both countries and the ability to follow the migration from one country into another is not normally possible in mid-July and August, as most of the herd has already made its way into Kenya. If you’re a birder, another reason to consider September or October is because migratory birds make their way back to Kenya in September and are around until the end of March/early April.
Whichever month you choose, you will be spoilt for choice on lodging. The Mara boasts a wide array of options, and it’s recommended that you try a few lodging types to get the full safari experience.
Javier Luque is a Co-Founder and Director of Your African Safari.
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