MIGRATION ARRIVES IN THE MASAI MARA ‘WAY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE’
(Posted 01st June 2014)
‘The migration is back’ came the shout yesterday from the Kenyan side of the transboundary Serengeti – Masai Mara ecosystem as the advance ‘troops’ of the million and a half strong herds of wildebeest and zebras have reached the rivers and are piling up numbers before the first major crossings will provide visitors once again with sights often equated with one of nature’s greatest spectacles.
Unusually early, the migration normally arrives by mid to late June and at times as late as July, is the return of the great herds a boost for Kenya’s struggling tourism sector as the annual migration is one of the country’s major selling points for safaris.
Adjoining the Masai Mara are a number of conservancies which provide a crucial buffer between the main reserve and the land used for grazing cattle or farming. These large tracts of land have regenerated over the space of a few years, have become real wilderness areas again and are now home to a large number of game including the big cats like lion, cheetah, leopard, hyenas but also of a number of smaller predators like foxes, jackals, Civet and Genet cats and even wild dogs, aka hunting or painted dogs.
Tourists seeking that special added touch of greater privacy therefore often opt to stay at the tented safari camps, there are no lodges on the conservancies, all of them small, intimate, offering great personalized service and are at times outrageously luxurious. There guests can take guided walks, do night game drives, enjoy sundowners and when the migration is on enter the main Masai Mara Game Reserve on full day game drives to see the great herds at the river crossings.
Multiple daily scheduled flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, like with Safarilink, Kenya’s premier safari airline, deliver visitors within an hour from the Kenyan capital to the Masai Mara, an altogether different world where companies like Porini take their guests back in time to the good old days of the classic tented safari camps while at the other end of the scale for instance the Olare Mara Kempinski is an oasis of unadulterated luxury. This gives visitors to the Masai Mara and the conservancies a wide range of options, from the very exclusive small properties where a host of staff is at their visitors’ beck and call to the main lodges inside the reserve and even the budget camping options for those who merely want to take in the sights and do it on a small budget by using mini-busses for road transport and game drives.
Kenya is a perfect example of a destination where both the super-rich as well as the average Tom, Dick and Harry can come for a vacation, and each of them, according to their budget and accustomed lifestyle, find exactly what they were hoping to find during their holidays.
Some may opt to take airline shuttle buses from the airport to the city centre and walk to their budget hotel and others may afford the stretched limo service from Royal Home Town Limo and Event and stay in suites at hotels like the Kempinski, the Fairmont Norfolk, the Sarova Stanley, the Nairobi Serena and other 5 star properties.
Some may opt for road transport to the parks, others may afford to use the scheduled flights and yet others may decide to go for private charters, taking off at a time of their own choosing. From the sundrenched beaches of the Indian Ocean where a wide range of accommodation facilities from self-catering to boutique resorts are found to the safari parks across the country, Kenya very much has what it takes to make a holiday become that dream come true, and the annual migration, now that the big herds have returned, is but one of nature’s spectacles tourists can expect.
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