Many hotels in Masai Mara Game Reserve are reporting full bookings as hundreds of tourists rush in to watch this year’s wildebeest migration, which has started one-and-a-half months early.
Already, an estimated 800,000 wildebeests and zebras have crossed into the game reserve from Serengeti in Tanzania through Mara River. All lodges and camps inside the park are busy after the event, one of the wonders of the world, started.
Most facilities had sent their workers on long and unpaid leave due to lack of business between March and last month as the low season unfolded. Managers of Keekorok Lodge, Sarova Mara Game Camp, Serena Mara Lodge, Sopa Lodge, Mara Intrepid and Ashnil Mara Lodge are recording a steady increase in business volumes, with most guests checking in at least for two nights.
Temporary tented camps, which come to life during peak seasons, are also in business. Hoteliers put bed occupancy at about 70 per cent since the activity began. “All our rooms were taken by visitors from various parts of the world. We will remain booked until mid August,” said John Pere, manager, Keekorok Lodge.
The arrivals, hoteliers and Narok county government officials say, are getting a boost from easy access after the completion of upgrading of the 60km Narok-Sekenani gate road. “Unlike before, more tourists are arriving by road. Air operators who took advantage of bad roads are now facing stiff competition,” says Parkire Kuyioni, Masai Mara Senior Warden.
About 1.7 million wildebeests are expected in the Mara by August. Ecologists say the migration has started early because of climate change. “There is fodder in both Serengeti and Mara because of the ongoing rains. After continuous grazing, it is time to leave for Kenya for mating then return to calve came early,” says Nick Murero, the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem Coordinator for Lake Victoria Basin.