Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Hotels, Best Time to See the Migration, & More
Planning a successful migration safari takes experience and local knowledge of where to stay at Mara to increase your chances of experiencing the Mara River crossing. That’s where our expertise comes in handy since when know the best Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Hotels.
AjKenyaSafaris.com has tailor-made Masai Mara Migration safari for thousands of travelers and ensures they catch every action of the migration. To help you be at the center of the action, we have looked at the top 3 best places to stay during this annual event.
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Best Places to Stay to See the Wildebeest Migration - Top 3 Accommodations
Where is the best place to see the wildebeest migration? Kenya has some of the most strategically placed lodges that give you the best view of the Mara River, where all the action happens. Here are our top 3 Masai Mara wildebeest migration hotels.
1. Governors’ Il Moran Camp
This camp is located on the wooded part of the Mara that attracts lots of wildlife and birds. If you are a bird watcher, then this will undoubtedly be paradise as more than 250 species of birds in the Mara call this area home.
The camp has spacious tented accommodation with piped hot and cold water, bathrooms, and a private balcony with unique pieces of furniture where you can settle to watch the wildlife below in the Mara River which is visible from the tents.
What Does the Camp Offer?
A Maasai Mara expedition would never be complete without a game drive. Governors’ Il Moran Camp gives you two guided game drives – one in the morning and another in the evening – to all the sites with wild animals.
You also get a hot air balloon safari early in the morning if you want to explore the expansive savannah from a better angle.
2. Keekorok Lodge
As the first lodge to be located at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Keekorok Lodge offers one of the best views of the expansive park as it is located smack in the middle of it. The rooms, all spacious and authentically furnished, offer a view of the Mara and its habitats, while the balcony provides the best place to relax as you watch the sun go down.
Because of its strategic location, the lodge also has the ideal view of the rising sun and the overall park – it’s like having a 360-degree view. The Mara River is also visible from the rooms, albeit not very clear as it’s at a safe distance, but you can watch the crossing from the balcony with a pair of binoculars.
You can choose to land at the Keekorok Airstrip or take a road trip here. The food is intercontinental and the service excellent. If you want to see all the Big Five in action, game drives are a must.
The lodge offers day-long safaris with packed meals to avoid having to head back to the hotel for lunch. Hot air balloon safaris are for the early risers who want to experience the Mara awakening.
What Does the Lodge Offer?
Excellent view of the entire Mara, a view of the river so that you don’t have to leave your room to see the animals crossing, and relaxation in authentically furnished rooms. The sunset and sunrise here are breathtaking, while the meals and service are worth every penny.
Governors’ Main Camp
The camp has been in existence for over 40 years, and it remains one of the most popular accommodations for most visitors. Why that is so is the location – close to the wooded areas of the Mara where elephants love hanging out and close proximity to the river.
Hot air balloon safaris that kick off at dawn show a clearer picture of the wooded area and the activities of the animals as they rise to start the day. During the crossing, the balloon hovers over the river to give you an excellent view of the action just before sunrise.
Walking safaris are also available in this camp with guides well versed in the place they have called home for decades. Animals roam the areas close to the camp freely, but they will never attack as long as you both stay in your lanes – they love the quiet of the jungle and will allow you to watch them from up close for as long as you want.
What Does the Camp Offer?
You will have excellent views of all the habitats of the Mara, informed guides for your driving or walking games viewing, and a visit to the nearby Maasai village should you want.
Best Time to See Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration in Kenya
So, what is the best time to see the Masai Mara wildebeest migration? Let’s first go through the migration itself, what prompts it, and how it starts.
The Masai Mara is home to the Cape buffalo, the African elephant, the black rhino, leopard, and lion (collectively known as the Big Five) and the distinctive Maasai giraffe, cheetah, Thomson gazelle, zebra, hyena, wildebeest, and topi among other animals.
It is also home to over 450 species of birds. These inhabitants roam the Mara and Serengeti freely, alternating their two homes depending on the season. The cycle begins in mid-December all through March in Serengeti.
At this time, short rains make vegetation abundant so that thousands of wildebeests, gazelles, and antelopes find it best for carving – over 80% of them give birth, and so close to half a million calves are born. There is still enough food to sustain the young ones as heavy rains start in April.
This is the ideal time for predators as they all have plenty to eat. May marks the end of long rains in Serengeti; food and water supply start dwindling and the animals have to find alternative plans. The animals –wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras – head north and live close to Grumeti River for a decent water supply and pastures.
The migration from Serengeti happens between July and October. Of course, weather patterns may alter this slightly since the animals follow pastures and water, but they eventually cross the Mara River in what has come to be known as the Greatest Wildlife Race of All Times.
What Month is the Great Migration in Kenya? - Timing is Everything
If you want to follow the great migration from Serengeti – and you have all the time – then it best start in May to document the move. However, if you just want to view the crossing, which most visitors are keen about, then make it between July and October.
The migration happens in phases as there are too many animals – about 1.4 million wildebeest and over 200,000 zebras, gazelles, and antelopes attempting to cross over. They linger along the river for as long as possible until the first brave wildebeest volunteers to dash.
A chaotic dash to cross the river follows, leading to the death of close to 250,000 through stampedes and hunting (mostly the elderly and the youngest) herbivores – during the entire migration. Don’t be too sad about the number as the animals reproduce in a few months to bring back the number to what it was before.
One of the best ways to capture this movement is through a wildebeest migration video, and it would be even better if captured from a hot air balloon. Once the animals are on the Kenyan side, they risk being eaten by the lions and other predators waiting in the grasslands.
The Nile crocs (the largest of their kind on the continent) kill lots of the wildebeest and will have plenty to eat as long as the migration lasts. The survivors will feed in the Mara only to make the journey back to Serengeti in late October and November when long rains end in Kenya.
Again, rainfall patterns decide how many animals cross over each year, and they also determine the Maasai Mara Wildebeest migration dates. You can expect to pay the highest prices during the migration season.
A Little About the Guest of Honor: the Odd-Looking Wildebeest
The Masai Mara wildebeest migration may not be the best-looking creature of all, and it certainly is not the smartest, but he is the star of this migration, right? This odd-looking beast, also known as gnu, plays a significant role in the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem.
They grow tall and big – up to 600lbs – a feature that helps them survive in the jungle. Although many of them lose their lives to predators at the Mara River and the grasslands, they reproduce in large numbers – the gestation period is 8.5 months – to replace the dead. They live and graze in herds to keep off predators. Interesting, huh?