You can hear the galloping hooves before you see them, the sheer number creating a noise that resounds over the savannah plains of Kenya’s Maasai Mara and reaches you in the game drive vehicle. Rightly called the ‘greatest wildlife show on earth’, witnessing part of the annual journey of 2.5 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle as they follow the rains is a once-in-a-lifetime safari experience.
It is natural instinct that leads these plains animals to find greener pastures and fresh water sources, taking a circular route that moves in a clockwise direction from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya. They travel some 2600 square kilometers across the two countries, facing often fatal challenges in the form of predators, both on land and in the rivers, as well as exhaustion, thirst and starvation. Here are four reasons that explain why watching the Great Wildebeest Migration is an experience found at the top of many a safari enthusiast’s bucketlist:
Located in an internationally celebrated ecosystem
It bears the title of ‘seventh’ natural wonder of the world as it has the largest concentration of terrestrial wildlife on earth and a significant diversity of habitats including open grassland, riverine forest, acacia woodland and swamps. The Maasai Mara is a 583 square mile (1510 square kilometer) national reserve found in south-western Kenya.
High success rate of Big 5 sightings
Given the title ‘Big 5’ by large game hunters for being the most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot, encountering the magnificent buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino on safari is a priority for many wildlife enthusiasts. It is the black rhino of this highly endangered species that may be spotted in the Maasai Mara.
Thrilling predator-prey interaction
The Great Wildebeest Migration passes through the Maasai Mara from around July to October every year and the unmissable presence of game animals on the plains does not go unnoticed by the big cats and other predators. The over half a million wildebeest born in the Serengeti in January and February are still young calves by the time they reach the Maasai Mara, making them ideal targets for predators.
Authentic luxury safari experiences
Many consider Kenya to be the birthplace of the traditional safari and, having celebrated its centenary birthday this year, Cottar’s 1920s Safaris is the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa. Staying at Cottar’s Safari Camp is like stepping back in time yet with all the modern creature comforts and world-class hospitality that is expected of luxury safari experience.
Calvin Cottar is Director and Owner at Cottar’s 1920s Safaris. Cottar’s 1920s Safaris is an award-winning luxury 1920s safari camp and private bush villa located in the famous ‘seventh’ natural wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and owned and managed by the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa.