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Masai Mara Holidays
This is the most popular of Kenya’s parks, with very good reason. Almost every species of animal you can think of in relation to East Africa lives on the well-watered plains in this remote part of the country. The landscape is mainly gently rolling grassland, with the rainfall in the north being double that of the south. The Mara River runs from north to south through the park and then turns westwards to Lake Victoria. Most of the plains are covered in a type of red-oat grass with acacias and thorn trees.
The Mara is 275 km southwest of Nairobi (five hours by road) in the remote southwestern corner of the country right on the Tanzanian border. The greater Mara covers some 1510 sq km ranging between 1500 m and 2100 m above sea level and is an extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, which covers some 40,000 sq km between the Rift Valley and Lake Victoria.Read more
If you can, time a visit with the annual migration, which, although it is determined by the times of the rains, generally runs as follows: hundreds of thousands of wildebeest (estimated at 500,000), gazelle and zebra move northwards from the Serengeti Plains in January, having exhausted the grazing there, and arrive in the Masai Mara by about July. In the Mara, the herbivores are joined by yet another 100,000 wildebeest coming from the Loita Hills, eat of the Mara. Once the Mara’s new grass has been eaten, the wildebeests, zebra and gazelles retrace their long journey south to Tanzania in October, where their young are born, and where the grasslands have been replenished in their absence. It is estimated that in four or five months, wildebeest alone deposit 60,000 tonnes of dung, which fertilizes the grasslands for the next year’s migration.
This lengthy trek costs the lives of many old, young, lame and unlucky animals, picked off by predators such as lions, leopard and hyenas. One of the highlights of the migration is seeing the animals crossing the Mara River. Sometimes thousands of animals will amass on the banks waiting for an opportunity to cross. First one, then another and then the whole frenetic herd leap into the water. Most make it to the other side but many hundreds either drown or are taken by crocodiles lurking beneath the surface.
To witness the migration is one nature’s most unique, spectacular and most memorable experiences.