One of the most amazing wonders of nature is the annual migration of wildebeest in East Africa, straddling the countries of Tanzania and Kenya. You have to see it to appreciate the sheer scale of it. Some call this phenomenon the eighth living wonder of the world.
Over 1.2 million Wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and back to the South of the Serengeti in Tanzania covering 1,800 miles over the course of a year. This journey is in search of fresh grazing fields that are generated by the seasonal rains that occur according to weather patterns typical for the region.
From January to mid March, the Wildebeest herds roam around the Southern areas of the Serengeti, where they give birth to literally thousands of calves. Minutes after birth, the new born calves must get on their feet and be able to gallop. Or else they will fall prey to predators, mainly Hyenas. The herds move slowly towards the Northern Serengeti plains and cross to Masai Mara in Kenya by mid July. Through autumn they move to their starting point in the South of Serengeti.
My first visit to Masai Mara in Kenya was in early September 2008. Thereafter I visited the park twice in 2009. My main focus was to see the Wildebeest crossing the Mara River. Out of the six nights I stayed at the Game Reserve in 2008, I visited one of the main crossing points on two occasions and we were fortunate to observe the spectacle of literally thousands of Wildebeest crossing the Mara River.
In 2009, we visited the park again in early September. Unfortunately, the migration was almost over on the Mara side and we were not able to see a single crossing. But the Mara plains are home to a richly diverse, abundance of wildlife and we had many other interesting sightings. We saw Lions mating, a Cheetah hunting a Thomson Gazelle to feed two young ones, and a Leopard feeding on a Wildebeest kill. We also saw a pride of Lions feeding on Wildebeest game on two occasions in two different locations and on an Ostrich kill on another occasion.
The Wildebeest life span in captivity can be over 20years, and an adult weighs over 300 to 550 lbs. Female Wildebeest are smaller in size than the male and both have horns.
If one has an interest to see the Mara River crossing, the best period to visit is from mid July till late August. Early August will be ideal and one must try to get accommodation in lodges close to the Mara River, such as Mara Serena, Governors Camp etc.