Categorized | Adventures, Africa, Kenya

Plan a Perfect African Safari in Kenya: 5 – When & Where

Posted on 04 June 2012 by David

Today, we are on the fifth part of our seven-part “Plan a Perfect African Safari in Kenya” series.  Planning to catch a migration?   Then you have to plan your trip to give you the absolute best chance to see one.   The wildebeest migration is not an annual event.  The herds move around the African plains depending on food availability  in the location where they are at.  When the grass is getting thin, it’s time for the wildebeest to migrate to greener pasture.

National flag of Kenya

Where?  Kenya or Tanzania?   KENYA

The best chance of catching a crossing is when the herds are in a concentrated area and are moving to reach more plentiful grasslands.   One of the best places where this happens is in the Mara North Conservancy of Kenya.

Transportation wise, it’s easier to fly into Nairobi, Kenya than into parts of Tanzania.

Health and safety are about the same for both countries.

Based on that we declared Kenya as the better choice.

Zebra in Kenya

When?   Best time of the year to go?   EARLY OCTOBER

It takes a little bit of educated guessing to figure out where the animals will be during any given period of the year.   However since the river crossings are one of the biggest highlights, timing is everything!

Based on our research we determined that the best time to go on a safari and catch a wildebeest crossing is early October.

In September the herds arrive in Kenya’s Maasai Mara in search of fresh water and grazing.  The herds linger in the Mara for the month, then in October, they begin to move south towards the Serengeti plains in search of fresh grass.

When the herds begin their move down south they have one major obstacle, the Maasai Mara River.  There is no way around this and all the herds must cross in order to get to more fertile land.

Please remember that although the general timing of the migration is consistent year-over-year, the exact timing of when the herds move (End of September? First week of October? etc.) varies by year, and it depends heavily on the rainfall that year.  If there were more rain, then the grass would be more plentiful in the Maasai Mara, and the herds would stick around a little bit longer.  Before we set on a date for our wildlife safari, we checked the rainfall forecast to increase our chances of witnessing the Mara crossing.

African Safari Lion in Kenya

Our experience?   

We nailed the timing and location on this part of our round the world trip.  We were in the Maasai Mara Conservancy October 9 through October 13, 2011.  During this period the wildebeest herds had gathered en masse near several points along the Mara River.   For the first couple of days there wasn’t much movement and then on October 12, 2011 the herds decided it was the day to move and we caught two crossings, one small and one big, in one day!

Stay tuned for our “Kicheche Camp Review” tomorrow!

Seven Part Series of our Safari in the Mara North Conservancy of Kenya:

  1. Introduction
  2. 10 Must-See Animals (including the Big 5)
  3. Five Tidbits about the Mara Crossing You Should Know
  4. Our Wildebeest Crossing Experience
  5. Choosing When and Where to Go (Current Post)
  6. Kicheche Camp Review
  7. Getting to Maasai Mara

You may also enjoy our Picture of the Week:

  1. Maasai Warriors Jumping Contest (Adumu)

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Traveler Says:

    We went in September few years back, and saw the crossings too!

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