NAROK COUNTY: The first batch of about 70,000 wildebeest has crossed Mara River to kick off the annual spectacle at the Masai Mara Game Reserve.
About one million others are expected to cross the river from Serengeti in Tanzania.
The Gnus crossed the Sand River Gate crossing point on Wednesday evening a spectacle that was witnessed by dozens of tourists from UK, US, Australia, India and Russia.
However, hoteliers have expressed fear that the wildebeest might go back to Serengeti early because there is no pasture to sustain their stay in the Mara until October.
“The migration has started one month early. Because of lack of rains, there is no enough grass to sustain them until October when they are expected to return to northern Serengeti. The news of migration will certainly elicit interest that will see the number of tourists swell,” said Stephen Mpaayei, the Keekorok Lodge Manager.
Mpaayei said, yesterday, the hotel is expected to remain fully booked from mid next month to mid-October, with visitors mainly from UK, US, Australia and Asia.
Despite earlier advisories from UK, US, Australia and France against its citizens, he said the tourist numbers are good and most of them have booked their stay between August and September.
“Despite the advisories, which seem to be ignored, most tour companies have booked citizens from those countries. We will remain fully booked until early November,” said Mpaayei.
Narok County Tourism Executive Allan Twala said security has been beefed up and all visitors and vehicles would be screened before being allowed to access the park.
Thomas Were, the Ashnil Hotels Ltd General Manager, said though there have been cancellations following the travel advisories, the Mara expects to receive tourists from August.