MAASAI MARA GAME RESERVE

Only 10 km from the bustle of the city, Nairobi national park, With 1520 square kilometers of pristine Africa wilderness, the reserve is world famous for its vast assemblage of plains’ game together with their assorted predators. It is perhaps the only area remaining in Kenya where one may see wildlife in the same super abundance as existed years ago, or for that matter, to witness one of the wonders of the world-the annual migration of million of wildebeest and zebra. It provides breath-taking vistas, a panorama of vast rolling plains and hills of groves of acacia woodlands and thickets of scrub. Also present are the largest population of lions to be found in Kenya, as well as huge herds of Topi and the rare Roan antelope not seen elsewhere into his country. The area is bisected by the Mara River which every now and then comes into tumultuous flood, and which is boarded by a section of luxurious riverine forest. Hippo laze in its waters, while drowsy looking crocodiles sunbathe on the banks, mouths agape. Despite the marvels of the annual migration, the Mara is rich in resident wildlife and avifauna. The bird life being profuse with over 400 species readily identified.

Patterns of the Great Migration:
The great trek usually begins in Tanzania and the Serengeti in January after the herds have exhausted the available pastures.

The migration involves well over a million animals and approximate 500 miles of travel. The true migrants are the Wildebeest or White bearded gnu and Zebra. Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles participate but only partially while the predators only trail the herds for obvious reasons – easy prey! It is questionable whether the Zebra make the full journey and it is certain that the gazelles do not leave the Serengeti

January/ February/March
At this time of the year the wildebeests are scattered across the medium and short grass plains south of Serengeti depending on the water and grazing. They criss-cross the plains with large concentrations remaining around Lake Ndutu and Olduvai Gorge. Many travel onto Ngorongoro crater increasing the numbers of animals in the crater considerably.

At this time, there are scattered thunderstorms on the plains, the surface waterholes are full and the grazing is good. Wildebeest calving occurs in February and there are literally hundreds of calves. Predatory activity is high with an abundance of Lion, Cheetah, spotted Hyena with frequent sighting of Leopard.

By the end of March, the rains begin to taper off and the surface waterholes begin to dry up, the grazing is becoming short and the animals begin to panic. The wildebeest begin to gather into large herds and start moving north and west towards Lake Victoria as they graze. The herds continue west following Grumeti river and reach within 20 miles of Lake Victoria. It is for this reason the western arm of the Serengeti was included in the national park and is called the migration corridor.

April
The animals move off the plains into high country and the corridor.

May
The herds are still moving off the plains and into the corridor.

June
The great herds are now in the corridor. At the same time during June the herds move north again through Musoma and head for the Masai Mara in Kenya. Depending on the rain and grazing they reach the Mara river towards the end of July.

July, August, September
The great herds are more concentrated now and remain in Masai Mara area approximately 2-3 months. During this period the courtship and breeding takes place. By the end of September they have consumed most of the grass from the Mara river to the Loita plains in Masai Mara.

They become restless and start moving south through the Keekorok (Masai Mara) and Lobo (Serengeti) Valleys en-route to the plains.

October/November
The herds are normally in the highlands, acacia woodland around Lobo in Tanzania. They arrive on the long plains of the Serengeti around Seronera at the end of November and stay in this area for about a month before dispersing onto the vast plains that form the medium and short grass areas of the Serengeti ecosystem.

December
The herds are in Seronera area (central Serengeti) and the long grassy plains.

January
The cycle repeats itself.

MARALAL GAME SANCTUARY

A tiny game sanctuary, it actually lies within the legal boundaries of the frontier township of Maralal. On the cedar clad hillside and in the acacia scrubland below, there is a profusion of residents’ game with buffalo, zebra, and impala living in harmony. Seasonally, elephant descend from forested slopes to the north. Leopards are baited in a small forest not far from lodge and can be seen in safety from a specially constructed blind. To reach Maralal, one has to journey through wild countryside across this arid northern section of Kenya until, as the mount is reached; one has breathtaking views of wild lunar landscapes all around.

Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves

These two adjoining reserves are situated in the arid and rugged part of the country, north of Mount Kenya and the equator. Both are watered by river Uaso Nyiro which apart from supporting life in this dry area, is home to an impressive population of Crocodiles, usually seen sunning themselves on the banks.

Along the riverbed the rare Doum Palms dot the otherwise scrubby, dry landscape adding to the beauty of the scenery. Rolling hills form a stunning backdrop to the landscape making this a photographer’s paradise. There are rare species of animals found only in this region and these are the reticulated Giraffe, the Somali Ostrich and the Grevy’s Zebra.

Other game include Elephant, Buffalo, Impala, Gazelle, the long necked Gerenuk, the beautiful Kudu, Dik Dik, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard and Oryx. It was in Samburu national reserve that a Lioness adopted an Oryx baby three times protecting it from other predators and seemingly affording it motherly love. Scientists have since been investigating this strange and abnormal behavior by the beast. Birdlife in this area is prolific. Over 300 species have been identified.

Shaba National Reserve

This reserve is adjacent to the Buffalo Springs National Reserve and is where the late Joy Adamson wrote her books on the rehabilitation of a leopard. The reserve’s northern border is marked by the wide sauntering flow of the Ewaso Nyiro on its way to disappear in the Lorian swamp. This jewel in the dry rocky part of northern Kenya is a worthy introduction indeed to a safari in Kenya.

Over 100 species of colorful birds can easily be encountered in a days viewing.

The river, with its pools and streams of fresh water, literally attracts thousands of sand grouse and doves together with a galaxy of smaller birds.

There are rare species of animals found only in this region and these are the reticulated Giraffe, the Somali Ostrich and the Grevy’s Zebra.

Other game include Elephant, Buffalo, Impala, Gazelle, the long necked Gerenuk, the beautiful Kudu, Dik Dik, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard and Oryx. The landscape is beautiful and full of eye-catching scenery.

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