The Maasai Mara is a northern extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti, and is the site of the annual Great Wildebeest Migration which takes place from late July through to early October during which millions of wildebeest and thousands of zebra migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania.
The Maasai Mara’s Great Migration is regarded as one of the greatest wildlife spectacles and natural wonders to witness first-hand. By far the most anticipated part of this journey is the dramatic Mara River crossings that occur between July and September as the animals enter Kenya.
Along with millions of wildebeest and huge herds of zebra, antelopes and other grazers, this jaw-dropping spectacle is a magnet for predators. There is no better place to witness lion, leopard, and cheetah in double-quick time, helped by the open terrain and the cats’ ease around vehicles. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is therefore one of the best places in Africa for big cat sightings.
Maasai Mara Game Reserve: The Experience
Maasai Mara now also comprises a number of conservancies and group ranches bordering the main reserve and is home to some of the most diverse species of African wildlife and is also the site of the annual Wildebeest migration, simply called the ‘Great Migration’.
Everything’s big here: it’s a landscape of rolling plains and rounded hills, of groves of acacia woodland and dense thickets of scrub. The reserve is bisected by the Mara River and its tributaries, which are margined by lush riverine forest and the site of spectacular river crossings during the migration.
The reserve’s southern boundary is contiguous with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, which shares the Great Migration herds. It has been developed on the lines of a national park, where, unlike in the bordering conservancies, human settlements are unable to intrude and game-viewing is restricted to game drives and horse riding safaris.
Maasai Mara Game Reserve: Birdlife
The Maasai Mara isn’t one of Kenya’s birding hotspots. However, with more than 500 bird species recorded, this isn’t a bad place to mark off a lot of Kenya’s savannah species from your bird list. The park is particularly rich in raptors with 57 species present. Bateleurs can often be seen soaring above the grassy plains and predator kills are a good place to find up to six species of vultures scavenging. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
The Maasai Mara offers good bird-watching any month of the year, but the best time is from November to April when the migrants from Europe and north Africa arrive. This coincides with the Wet season when many species can be seen in breeding plumage. June to October is the Dry season, and tends to be best for general wildlife viewing.