The September high season in Kenya’s Maasai Mara has its obvious rewards.

The skies are sunny, crowds are thinning somewhat, dramatic river crossings are still going strong in Mara side with few crossing between Lamai and Kogatende, predators have hit their stride, and the ‘big five’ are all out in view.

Giraffe maasai mara kenya

A giraffe with calf surveys Kenya's Maasai Mara

Where is the wildebeest migration in September?

If the lifecycle of the wildebeest follows its usual patterns, the last herds are now slowly heading eastward through the Maasai Mara and Kogatende. They will wander around in search of fresh grass, so be prepared to see big herds of hundreds of thousands of animals filling out the vast golden fields on the Kenyan side of the park.

As the river crossings continue, there’s also plenty of predator activity. With a bit of luck, your chances of seeing lions and cheetahs in action are high. But keep in mind that only one thing is for certain – you will encounter a lot of animals. Some guides will even guarantee you the ‘big five’, and the most fortunate will see them all in just one day.

Is September a good month to see the great migration?

After August, September is arguably the next-best month to visit the Maasai Mara. Safari-goers can expect sunny, dry days with postcard-perfect sunrises and sunsets. The big crossings still take place, but the summer vacation crowds begin to thin.

Some even say this month is better than August, which in recent years has become a little more unpredictable.

What is the 'Big Five'?

The ‘big five’ is a group of five big game species: cape buffalo, African elephant, leopard, lion and rhinoceros. The term was coined by the colonial ‘great white hunters’ in the hunting heyday of the 19th and early 20th centuries. They grouped these five together for their difficulty to hunt and ferocity when cornered.

Considered a rite of passage for well-heeled travellers, everybody from American presidents to European royalty and heads of state came to Africa to shoot a large, dangerous animal. The ‘big five’ quickly became known as the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. The name stuck — although today, shooting is best done through a camera lens.

Out of the ‘big five’, the buffalo is the most aggressive. In the Maasai Mara in August and September, you will have a great chance of spotting them all, but some sightings are rarer than others. The shy leopard is perhaps the most elusive, and the rhino is the most endangered.

About the authors

Where Is The Wildebeest Migration In September?

Hans Cosmas Ngoteya

Hans Cosmas Ngoteya is a conservationist from Tanzania, a National Geographic Explorer, and co-founder of numerous conservation organisations including Ngoteya Wild, Landscape and Conservation Mentors Organization and Tanzania Wildlife Media Association.

Where Is The Wildebeest Migration In September?

Heather Richardson

Heather is an award-winning journalist and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She writes for the BBC, Sunday Times, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Departures Magazine, among others.

Where Is The Wildebeest Migration In September?

Anthony Ham

Anthony is a renowned travel journalist and guidebook author and is one of the world's leading authorities on Africa safari, wildlife and conservation. He has been travelling to Africa for more than two decades to research Africa safari guidebooks for Lonely Planet. He is widely published in The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, The Monthly, Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR), National Geographic Traveler, BBC Wildlife, Lonely Planet Traveller, Africa Geographic, The Independent, Travel Africa, among many others.

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