Here’s the latest weather and game report from our partners at Governor’s Camp in Kenya. October is one of the most exciting months in the Mara as the migration enjoys one of its peak times.
Weather & the plains
The Masai Mara had plenty of rain in the first two weeks of the month, with rain showers becoming isolated and lighter towards mid month and drying out in the last week. Towards the end of the month the midday temperatures were higher, reaching around 30 Celsius and the days longer. The sun is rising noticeably earlier with first light at 6am. The grass on the plains has been short and lush, it would be a couple of feet higher after the unseasonal amount of rain we have had over the last months, but for the constant grazing by the zebra and wildebeest. Fireball and Pyjama lilies dot the plains bringing unexpected splashes of colour to the grasslands.
The Wildebeest Migration
October has been a great month for the wildebeest migration, the vast herds moving around a little more, following the smell of rain and searching for the new nutritious growth. From one day to the next they moved around, travelling from the marsh area, over Rhino Ridge and to the Talek River and back again. The last two weeks of the month saw the majority moving south towards the Serengeti, but some large groups remained in the area and we managed to see some really good river crossings. The crocodiles were still hunting the wildebeest as they crossed. There have been huge herds of zebra moving into the long grass which still stands at this late stage, followed by the wildebeest and topi. These immense herds have been providing spectacular game viewing from the hot air balloon.
The resident Loita migration has settled back into the Northern part of the Mara. The Loita plains to the east which can be seen on the flight to Nairobi before the rift valley drops away has not received the rains that the Mara has.
Our very large resident buffalo herd with all its maturing young has spent most of its time in search of any remaining long grass that the zebra and wildebeest may have graciously left behind. They return every few days to the marsh for water or drink from the pools left by the seasonal streams leading to the Mara river. The buffalo herd practiced a great survival tactic, giving birth to their young whilst the migration were in the area, this meant their main predators, lion and hyena were busy preying on easier game.
Most plains game had their calves in October in anticipation of the November rain. The gazelles and warthog gave birth toward the start of the month and the impala, topi and hartebeest at the end. Right now there are some very anxious and protective mothers, bounding away from the slightest threat with their calf following in hot pursuit on their precarious legs.
The elephant have some very young calves too, still so small they fit easily under their mother’s chest and with a thick protective coat of bristled hair.
We have had a few migratory birds through the Mara: European and White-fronted bee-eaters, Montague and Pallid harriers, Common Kestrels, Steppes Eagles, African Cuckoos, Spoon-billed storks. There have been a couple of rare sightings of Egyptian Vultures.
The trees and lianas in the Mara River forest have been flowering and fruiting, one in particular the Turrea floribunda has flowers and has a beautiful scent almost like Jasmine. The Pristemera polyantha seeds have dropped off and fly away cleverly as mini helicopters. The bright red fruit of the Lepisanthes senagalensis is a big favourite with the baboons as well.
We have had few sightings of the rhino our side of the river, but on one occasion a male just stayed undisturbed whilst our guests managed to get some great shots and spend some time with him. The ballooners have been lucky enough to see the mother and calf and a male rhino on many of their flights and game drives.
The Mara River hippos are very content as they have plenty of grazing, although moving further out on to the plains than usual. There has been the odd mating, but no serious fights and territorial displays, so all fairly peaceful in the river.
Photos courtesy of Justin Grammaticas and Sue Lawless