The "Mini" Migration, Maasai Mara, Kenya Africa

The Great Migration in the Maasai is probably on every photographer’s bucket list. It is one of those once in a lifetime trips with a price tag to match. During the Great Migration over a million wildebeest, 500,000 Thompson gazelles and 200,000 zebra leave the Serengeti in Tanzania and head north to graze in the Maasai Mara. With all the animals come hoards of tourists and photographers. Camps start out at $700 per night per person and can easily exceed $1000. This is peak season from July to September in the Maasai Mara.  

There is another migration in the Maasai Mara that many people are unaware of. It is the Loita Hills migration often referred as the Mini Migration. Loita Hills is located north east of the Maasai Mara. Up to 250,000 wildebeest and zebra head into the Maasai Mara and the nearby conservancies. Best of all this mini migration often starts in late April.

The low tourist season called the Green Season occurs during April and May in the Maasai Mara. Rates at most camps are 50% to 75% off peak rates.  They call it the green season because of the long rains. However, in May the rains are short and usually at night. It actually rained less during my May trip then when I was there during August and September during the “dry” season. I stayed in the North Conservancy which is in the heart of the Loita Hills migration. 

The biggest advantage of the Green season other than the discounted rates is the fact that very few people are there. I often went all day without seeing another safari vehicle. During the Great Migration you can easily see 20 plus vehicles at a lion kill. I photographed several lion kills in May with no one else around.

Most safari guides communicate with other guides to help them find predators. During the Green Season you need a good guide to find the animals. This adds to the adventure. Also the time spent looking for predators allowed many other photo opportunities that I may have missed otherwise.

As far as all the other animals no searching was required.  Right outside the camp (and sometimes in the camp) were giraffes, elephants, hippos, Thompson gazelles, wildebeest, buffalo, topi, dik-dik, warthogs, reedbucks, impala, zebra, hyenas, waterbucks, baboons and monkeys. Best of all there were lot of babies from just a couple of days old to a couple of weeks. My favorite unexpected animal was a huge monitor lizard.

I stayed at the Royal Mara Safari Lodge. It is a small camp with only 8 luxury tents. Each tent is on an elevated platform with a deck that overlooks the Mara river filled with hippos. The tents were huge - bigger  than most luxury hotel suites. The game drives were incredible. The food was excellent and the staff were very friendly. I enjoyed several walks thru the bush. Walking down to the river and getting eye level with hippos is an experience to remember. The walking safaris were free while other camps charge $100 plus per walk. 

There is never a bad time to visit the Maasai Mara but the Green Season is one of my favorites and should be added to your bucket list. Click the link below to view several slide shows from this trip.