Best Time to Visit the Masai Mara National Reserve

One of Kenya’s world-renowned national parks, the Masai Mara National Reserve is in southwestern Kenya, along the border with Tanzania. Home to the annual Great Migration, the largest wildebeest migration on earth together with a large number of zebras, antelopes and gazelles. While the migration is one of the Masai Mara’s highlights, there are plenty of other incredible safari attractions:-

  • The Ol Kinyei Conservancy has the largest concentration of leopards and lions
  • The Mara Triangle is known for its scenic beauty and diverse landscapes that keep the animals from crossing to the other sides of the park
  • The Olare Orok Conservancy has the highest number of large lions prides in the Masai Mara
  • The largest Masai Mara National Park Conservancy – Mara North – is home to rhinos, wildebeest, buffaloes, zebras, antelopes, wild dogs, leopards, hyenas and much more
  • The Mara Noboisho Conservancy is the second-largest Masai Mara Conservancy known for its birds
  • The Ol Choro Oiroua is the education and economic centre for the Masai Mara locals
  • The Lemek Conservancy is known for off-road game drives, night-time game drives, community tours and nature walks

What is the weather and climate in the Masai Mara?

The January-February duration brings unpredictable rainfall, while there are long rains in the March-May period and short rains during the November-December season. The months of June-August and September-October are warm and  sunny. However, Masai Mara safari and game drives take people into the heart of the national park throughout the year.

The early mornings from November to March are the best weather conditions for bird watching. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a habitat for rare bird species such as pygmy falcon, white-headed buffalo weaver and bush pipit. The high turnaround for the Great Migration makes the Masai Mara National Park seem crowded. To avoid crowds, go for a safari during the off-season i.e. March-May.

When is the ideal time to see the Masai Mara migration?

To catch the great migration on time, one has to visit Masai Mara from July to October. It is the best time to visit Masai Mara.  We have created a migration timeline to shed light on the continuous migration cycle. Another crucial aspect of these months is that they also happen to be the wildebeest mating period.

The Great Migration Timeline

This timeline outlines the movement of wildlife during the annual migration from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The cycle is affected by the annual rainfall, but it follows roughly the same cycle each year.

  • January: Millions of wildebeest, thousands of gazelle, antelopes, zebras and other animals move to the South Serengeti following the rain clouds.
  • January-February: The calving season, which is also the hunting season for the predators. Around 100 wildebeest are born every day in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Due to the high number of births, the wildebeest survival rate is high. While some fall prey to lions, hyenas, wild dogs, leopards and other predators, the majority of the animals escape and get ready to move to the southern plains.
  • March: The wildebeest and the newborns get ready for a journey towards the southern plains.
  • April: The start of the long rains in the Serengeti southern plains, which herds the animals towards the western Serengeti.
  • May: The continuous and massive columns of rain in western Serengeti get the animals on the move.
  • June: The wildebeest have to cross the Grumeti River in June. It’s the first river crossing and where the wildebeest have to dodge the hungry crocodiles and lurking predators.
  • July: After crossing the Grumeti and fending off predators, the wildebeest have to do the same when they cross the Mara River and reach the Masai Mara from Tanzania.
  • August: The wildebeest arrive in the Masai Mara, running the gauntlet of big cats lying in wait.
  • September: The wildebeest and other animals graze in the Masai Mara National Park.
  • October: This months brings the gathering of the rain clouds.
  • November: The wildebeest start their journey back to the Serengeti.
  • December: The herds reach the central and eastern Serengeti National Park.

About author

MD and Co-Founder. Born in Zimbabwe, Robin has a long history in Africa, and safaris in general, from running lodges to marketing. He is always on the look out for new ideas and products from around the safari world.

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