The Masai Mara National Reserve is a spectacular wilderness travel destination with exceptional year-round game viewing. Slot it in your calendar on a day that coincides with the tail end of either of the rainy seasons. Masai Mara experiences two dry seasons and two rainy seasons. When water and vegetation are scarce, wildlife traverse from the deep interiors to more open areas in search of food and also converge at permanent or last-remaining water sources especially the Mara and Talek Rivers. This is the ideal time to experience the reserve in all its glory without spending half the day tracking. You want to avoid coming in the middle of the rainy season as the black cotton soil is a nightmare to traverse. The long cool-dry season from July to October is considered by most to be the best time of year to visit Masai Mara but is also the costliest season The absence of rain means that the flora is less dense, so animals are easier to observe. Additionally, insect levels, including mosquitoes, are lower during the dry season.
The long dry season also corresponds to the Great Migration that arrives in Masai Mara from the Serengeti National Park (read more on the Tanzania side of the migration). Approximately 1.5 million wildebeests and hundreds of thousands of zebras, elands and gazelles cross the crocodile infested Mara River in the reserve in search of food and water. Although their arrival varies from year-to-year, in general, the herds arrive in late July through August and also parts of September. Road conditions are excellent for game viewing allowing you to see varied terrestrial fauna including massive gnu herds up-close and personal. With a high number of prey animals speckled across the reserve, predators are actively seeking out their next meal with the easiest catch being riverside once the wildebeests have crossed over. One of their most sought-after preys for feline cubs testing their hunting skills may be a newborn gazelle or impala or another young mammal. The long dry season in the Mara does have some shortcomings. International tourist arrivals levels including AfricanMecca guests are highest during this time of year, so you may see more safari vehicles and signs of human presence than other times of the year but the Masai Mara has opened up to private conservancies, so guests and vehicles are limited in these regulated, low ratio areas thus the effect is lessened but not diminished. November and December mark the short rainy season. Visitor levels generally fall somewhat during these months, with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s. The rains bring new life to the plains in both food sources and water, so many animals return slightly more inland into the bush and forest wilderness. Road conditions remain fair as the moisture evaporates quickly in equatorial Kenya.