The Great Migration - the annual pilgrimage of up to two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle across the Serengeti plains - is possibly the most extraordinary and dramatic wildlife spectacle on earth. Every year visitors are drawn to East Africa to witness columns of wildebeest several kilometres long as they travel north in search of fresh pastures, though crossing through predators territory means danger for the wildebeest and great opportunities for safari goers to see kills. The phosphorous-rich short grass plains of the southern Serengeti (bordering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the southeast) are the home of the wildebeest where they are found in the rainy season between December and April, giving birth to some 500,000 calves each year. When the food resources here are exhausted, the migration begins westwards towards the Grumeti area and northwards to the Masai Mara. The Mara River is crossed sometime between late June and mid-August (depending on the rains), where crocodiles lie in wait to pick off some of the animals crossing the river. The wildebeest that make it across the river enjoy the plentiful grazing and water supplies in the Masai Mara until they head south again in November, drawn back to their home in the Serengeti by the short rains that replenish its mineral-rich grasses, and completing an extraordinary 3000km round trip.
The Masai Mara is the finest wildlife reserve in Kenya and one of the most famous in all of Africa. Though quite small at just 1,500 km², the abundance of wildlife and the rolling plains and riverbank woodlands of the Mara make for great game drives. Part of the Serengeti ecosystem, it hosts the annual migration of wildebeest where immense herds head north from the Serengeti between July and October each year in search of fresh grazing lands. The huge numbers of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles means plentiful food for lions, leopards and cheetahs which can hunt in pristine wilderness. Other animals include elephant, black rhino, hyena and warthog while the Mara River is home to numerous hippos and crocodiles which prey on the game crossing the river during the Migration. The Mara isn't a national park which means the Masai people have retained their traditional way of life within the reserve, allowing visitors to see them herding cattle and learn of their culture during village visits, witnessing a wonderful harmony between people and nature.