The annual wildebeest migration through the Serengeti and the Masai Mara is the largest mass movement of land mammals on the planet – with more than a million animals following the rains. But that is not where the game viewing ends; large prides of lions, elephants and giraffes in grasslands, gazelles and eland to mention but a few. Aside from traditional vehicle safaris, hot-air ballooning over the Mara plains has become almost essential and you can even do a horseback safari.
The most dramatic spectacle of the area is the migration of zebra and wildebeest. In May every year, they leave the dry south in herds of thousands and head west and then north to the greener grasses. Lion, cheetah, hyena and wild dog follow the wildebeest and zebra, making sure that only the fittest survive. In November, when the grazing is finished in the north, this army of animals surges back to the now green pastures of the south where they calve and mate before starting the entire cycle again.
You will also be likely to spot the ‘Big 5’ here – buffalo, elephant, rhino, lion and leopard. It’s little known but the term originally referred to the 5 large animals that proved the most challenging to early colonial hunters – and therefore became a much sort after prize. Nowadays visitors prefer to ‘shoot’ the animals with cameras rather than guns. The park also has very healthy populations of cheetah, zebra, giraffe, hippo, hyena, jackal, eland, crocodile and a wide variety of birds.
Several sub-tribes of the Masai people live within the Mara area. These are a proud semi-nomadic, non-hunting people who live and raise their cattle in harmony with the surrounding wildlife. Despite the growth of modern civilization, the Masai have largely managed to maintain their traditional ways.
You can view animals in the Masai Mara throughout the year, however, the annual wildebeest migration usually reaches the Masai Mara in July and ends around October, which is when they move back to the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Kenya has almost 50 different national parks. It makes it the most diverse African safari destination.
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