A safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve, one of the most popular protected areas in Africa, is an unmissable way of encountering a huge selection of native wildlife, including all members of the coveted “Big Five” of African game animals.
What’s more, the Great Migration, the annual event that sees up to 1.7 million wildebeest and thousands of zebra and gazelles head north in search of water and grazing pastures, ends in Maasai Mara National Reserve, making this a superb destination for a safari in Kenya.
To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the wildlife that this national reserve has to offer, we’ve put together this short guide highlight the best times of year for visiting the park.
A safari in Maasai Mara: possible throughout the year
As with planning a wildlife watching trip to any part of the world, the best time for a safari in Maasai Mara National Park is dependent upon the seasons, particularly as the region experiences two periods of rainy and two of dry weather each year.
However, as a place with ample game, including high numbers of predators, such as Masai lions and African leopards, it’s an excellent destination for a year-round safari.
The Great Migration
If you’re hoping to catch sight of one of the globe’s most incredible migrations, there are certain months when it’s better to plan your safari to Kenya.
July through October
- During these months, the wildebeest and zebra that make up the large part of the Great Migration are normally to be found in the Maasai Mara National Reserve,
- Bear in mind that numbers of animals and the exact timeframes in which they are in the park are dependent upon rainfall and the behaviour of the animals and so can vary slightly each year.
- This period of time coincides with what is known as the “long dry season”, which is sandwiched between periods of rainfall in May and November and is considered the best time to visit Maasai Mara, although also the most expensive.
The Crossing of the Mara River
- One of the most anticipated events in the Great Migration calendar is the crossing of the Mara River, where anxious wildebeest must run the gauntlet of a waterway filled with hungry crocodiles as tourists watch from a safe distance away.
- This takes place between early August and the start of September and again when the animals return to the south in October and early November.
Other considerations for a safari in Maasai Mara
Although most visit from July through October, tourists who head to Maasai Mara National Reserve in November are in for a surprise. Although you can expect daily rainfall, consisting of short but heavy showers, this is one of the best months for booking a safari in the reserve, as, thanks to the rain, rivers are replenished, increasing the chances of seeing animals.
This is also a great time to visit if you don’t want to be sharing the Savannah with other tourists.
April through May
Avoid visiting the Maasai Mara between April and May, when heavy rainfall (during what is the second and more extreme rainy season) can damage roads and leads many lodges and tour agencies to close for the duration.