Counties

Mara lodges hit by end of wildebeest migration

It is the world’s largest migration, involving more than two million animals in search of greener pastures in the Mara. PHOTO | FILE
It is the world’s largest migration, involving more than two million animals in search of greener pastures in the Mara. PHOTO | FILE 

Lodges and camps located within and around the popular Maasai Mara National Reserve are struggling with slow business since the wildebeest migration ended in October.

Between July and October, they enjoyed brisk business due to an influx of international tourists touring the world-famous park to witness the annual movement of wildlife to the Mara from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

It is the world’s largest animal migration, involving movement of millions of wildebeest in search of greener pastures from July to October.

“The reason why the Mara is currently having low visitor numbers is because the hotspot was promoted as a wildebeest migration destination,” Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi said yesterday.

Market all year

He noted that lodges and camps now have an average occupancy of between 30 and 40 per cent, down from between 80 per cent and 100 per cent during the migratory period.

“Due to being promoted as a wildebeest migration attraction site, international tourists come in droves only between July and October. Once the migration is over, the reserve ends up with few visitors,” he said while calling on the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to market the Mara as an all-year hotspot for game viewing.

“Apart from the wildebeest migration, the Mara is home to large number of wildlife species including the big Five as well as the captivating scenery...Wildlife enthusiasts in overseas markets should be informed that they can have game viewing from January to December and not just July to October.”

Mara Intrepids manager Kevin Muendo said the camp had since November been hit by low number of guests, a sentiment echoed by Ashnil Hotels managing director Rajan Bhandari.

Mr Hersi however says tourist numbers at the lodges and camps are expected to improve this month due to the festive season.