Marvel At An African Migration

Right now, Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve is bare, but as the summer wanes, the whole landscape will change into a real-life scene from The Lion King. Over one million wildebeest, 360,000 Thompson's gazelle and 190,000 zebra will soon stampede across the Mara River en route to the National Reserve, where the grass is fresh and rich for grazing. And you can watch.

The annual wildebeest migration is a roughly 300-mile round trip. The timing varies, but generally the animals remain in the Mara ecosystem until October, when they move south toward the Serengeti until the end of January (when they'll repeat the whole trek). 

Know before you go: If you're visiting the Maasai Mara in hopes of seeing the migration, go with a guide. Be prepared for anticipation (read: waiting)...potentially, a lot of it. Herds often linger at the riverside, waiting days before one brave member takes the plunge that sends the rest dashing across the water. Remember, while it may sound like a Disney movie scene, you're more likely to be hit with a scene from the Discovery Channel—that is, a (very) bloody battle between the migrating animals and the predatory alligators, lions, tigers and scavenging hyenas.