Every year, from July to October the Maasai Mara has its ‘peak season’ — this is the time of year when the rains stop, the weather cools and migrating wildebeest and zebra arrive in the millions. Over the last few years, I have visited Angama during this time, but last year I arrived before the Migration during the 'Green Season'. Beginning in April, the rains turn the savanna into hues of green and when I arrived in June, as the rains started to shorten and the landscape started to dry, I was blown away that the wildlife viewing was as awe-inspiring as during the Migration. The fresh green grass offers a lush environment and a beautiful setting for guests to view the animals.
As well as the aesthetic aspect of the change, this time of year leads to a multitude of changes in animal behaviour. As Angama Guide, Ekai, explained, ‘The Mara is generally fertile because it's not disturbed for a long while. The onset of rains brings about new shoots, especially in the burnt areas where the black ash propels the quick growth of grass. This attracts a lot of grazers in the form of antelope, buffalo, zebra and others.’ This change in grass gives way to a high concentration of life around the Mara before the Migration has even begun.
Of course, this plethora of prey does not go unnoticed by the predators around the ecosystem as they have new opportunities to hunt. ‘The Mara Conservancy does random controlled burns, which rejuvenates new short grass and thus attracts gazelles, hence, a good hunting ground for the cheetah,’ says Kenneth, another Guide at Angama.
Action at its best — cheetah hunts on the open plains make for great viewing and with the famous cheetah, Risasi, and her cubs around there was no shortage of cheetah sightings. But these moments of action do not outshine the other memorable wildlife encounters that can be observed during this time of year. Without the stress of mega herds of wildebeest and zebra, animals are relaxed and daily life is uninterrupted. These sightings are amazing in a different way, seeing nature take course on the ‘smaller side’ of what happens around the Mara.
While the huge groups prepare to arrive, sightings are calmer as most lodges are less busy. This allows for more personal viewing experiences — less cars, less noise, more wildlife. This is one of the main reasons I loved coming before the Migration. The sense of calm gives wildlife viewing a more natural feeling; often it is just you and the animals with no one else around.
Providing a different landscape, with quiet game viewing and new things to see, I found that pre-Migration season is truly a great time to come and experience the Mara. While unique in their own way, the seasons in the Mara have some things in common — fantastic sightings. The constant flow of beauty and life is why coming to the Maasai Mara is a trip of a lifetime, no matter the time of year.
Filed under: The Mara
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