The Great Migration of Masai Mara

With our overland safari tour already off to a good start, we wasted no time in kicking the adventure into full gear. We arrived at Masai Mara National Reserve in the afternoon after a long drive through Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. For the next few hours, we were treated to an amazing array of animals everywhere we looked.

The great wildebeest migration was well under way. Over the course of about a month, a staggering 1.5 million wildebeests make their way from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara. For wildebeests, it means fresh pastures and new sources of water. For lions, hyenas, cheetahs, and vultures, it means a buffet line just walked into their house. For us, it meant more exotic animal sightings in one place than we could dream of.

Here are my favorite shots from 2 days within the reserve. I hope you enjoy!

Vulture in tree in Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya

Vulture surveying the field.

Giraffe in Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya

It’s hard to hide when you’re 20 ft tall!

Family of impalas in Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya

Family of impalas taking a stroll.

Wildebeest in the distance in Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya

Black shouldered kite swooping in for a kill in Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya

I initially thought this was an eagle, but an internet search leads me to believe it’s a black shouldered kite. Can any birders out there confirm?

One-antlered Topi or Hartebeest with wildebeest scattered in the background. Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya

Not sure if this is a topi or a hartebeest. Either way, it walked around like a boss despite missing an antler.

Ragtag bus with overflowing luggage off-roading in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

This bus!

3 vultures in a tree top looking menacing in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Vulture in flight soaring over Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Just look at those wings!

Ostrich in field of gold at sunset in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Shades of gold

Saggy widlebeest in golden field at sunset in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Lone hyena in golden field at sunset in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Hyena on a sunset stroll

Topi gazing across golden field during sunset with wildebeest in the background at Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Topi

That night we slept at the campground on the edge of the park. Nothing between us and the untamed wildlife but 2 Masai guards and their spears! Masai Mara is far from city lights, so the night sky was just as impressive as the landscape. If we didn’t have to wake up before dawn the next day I would have stayed up to watch the stars and listen to the howling of the hyenas.

Day 2

We set out before sunrise the next day to catch the action before the animals took their midday siesta. As an added bonus, our timing provided us with the glorious lighting of the morning golden hour.

3 hot air balloons above a herd of wildebeests in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

How do they make sure they don’t land in a lion den??

Apparently, we weren’t the only ones to get an early start. If anyone out there wants to sponsor a return journey and a hot air balloon ride, I’d love to see the savanna from their perspective!

2 hot air balloons firing above wildebeests in Masai Mara National Reserve, KenyaHerd of wildebeests at sunrise in Masai Mara National Reserve, KenyaLone impala in golden field before a stunning sunrise in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Herd of elephants marching in the morning golden hour. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

One of my favorite moments was watching this herd of African elephants marching right past us.

Herd of African elephants hiding their baby as they march through Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Can you spot the baby?

Herd of African elephants walking away. Masai Mara National Reserve, KenyaOstrich standing in golden field during morning golden hour in Masai Mara National Reserve, KenyaHyena in tall grass in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Hyena posing for the camera. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Hyenas are both cute and terrifying all at once.

Grant's gazelle barely visible in the tall grass of Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Grant’s Gazelle doing his best to blend in.

Tight shot of zebra staring at camera

The hypnotic patterns of a zebra’s face put me in a trance.

Several zebras blending in together

Zebras win the prize for best-coordinated outfits on the savanna.

3 vultures guard the remains of a lion kill in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Scraps from the lions’ dinner last night.

Side-striped jackal in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Side-striped jackal looking playful.

Lions sleep under an acacia tree as a vulture warms its wings. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

You can hardly see them, but there’s a pride of lions sleeping behind this tree.

Pride of lions sleeping in the distance. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Catnap from a distance.

Mother and 2 baby warthogs, or pumbas, running past an impala in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Baby pumbas on the run!

Wide angle photo of wildebeest migration in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

A very orderly wildebeest migration.

I can’t believe how close we got to this cheetah. Thankfully, it was resting with its belly full from a recent kill. Otherwise, it could have pounced on us like chew toys.

Tight photo of cheetah resting after a kill in Masai Mara National Reserve Kenya

The face of a killer.

Wildebeests in field with dozens of vultures circling overhead. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Marabou Stork is an ugly bird in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

They say the Marabou Stork is the ugliest bird in Africa. They are correct.

 

Like these photos? I’ve got tons more from my travels around the world. Check them out by following the links below. Think a friend would find this blog interesting? Sharing is caring!

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