TRAVEL
08/10/2012 07:38 am ET Updated Aug 10, 2012

Kenya's Great Migration Bring's Drama To Africa's Plains (PHOTOS)

FILE - In this Wednesday, May 21, 2008 file photo, a male lion surveys the plains in the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya. Br
FILE - In this Wednesday, May 21, 2008 file photo, a male lion surveys the plains in the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya. British billionaire Richard Branson says he plans to open a luxury camp in a new reserve next to Kenya's famed Masai Mara game park next year, calling the waves of wildebeest that migrate from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park north into the Mara once a year one of the top "wonders" in the world. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo, File)

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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