In a migration that makes our looming national back-to-school rush look like a Starbuck's line, up to two million wildebeests and hundreds of thousands of other animals migrate across the plains of East Africa toward Kenya's Masai Mara Game Reserve every year. The so-called Great Migration, which can also be seen in the northern Serengeti, has been attracting safari-goers since it was set off by a population explosion in the 1960s credited to the destruction of rinderpest, a cattle plague that had kept herd numbers low.
This massive spectacle is currently underway.
Though travelers may not have heard of this huge event, anyone who has ever spent a few hours under the spell of the Discovery Channel has assuredly seen pictures: The Mara River crossing has provided videographers with footage of crocodile and lion attacks for decades. The river becomes such a dramatic setting during the migration, that it is now the centerpiece of many safaris.
The mass movement will linger in the Mara through fall, but it might be best to go now to catch the tail end, as it were, of the Mara River debacle and stay among the animals inside the park. The trip also offers a great excuse to visit both Kenya and Tanzania -- the animals observe no boundaries -- two similarly beautiful countries with vastly different if equally engaging cultures.
Travelers feeling particularly adventurous can tack a Kilimanjaro climb on to the end of the trip. The snows aren't too far from the herd.
Photos Courtesy of Kenya's Tourism Board
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