The origin of wanderlust
We humans aren’t the only ones that love to travel. In fact, there are many well-travelled creatures in the animal kingdom that could outdo even the most worldly travel bloggers of today. Although we like to think we invented the concept of a holiday, Mother Nature has been doing it for eons, traversing inconceivable distances with no maps or GPS devices, year in and year out, relying on nothing but primal instinct. Clearly not all those who wander are lost.
The granddaddy of migrations
Of all the documented animal migrations, East Africa’s Great Migration is one of the world’s most famous, sought-after and photographed wildlife events. It is the astounding, never-ending natural trek of hungry herbivores across the limitless plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti. We’re talking more than 1.5 million wildebeest, 500 000 zebra, 18 000 eland and 200 000 Thompson’s gazelle that are constantly on the move.
To witness this enormous mass of grunting gnus as they thunder across the vast open plains, relentlessly in pursuit of fresh new grass to graze and forever being stalked and hunted by blood-thirsty predators, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that belongs on every wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list.
Expect the unexpected
While it is common knowledge that the Great Migration does have a high season, this is perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions. The truth is, there really is no “best” time to see it. This arduous journey happens all year, every year. Some guests have their hearts set on seeing that first brave wildebeest boldly hurl itself off the steep, rocky riverbank into the hippo and crocodile-infested rapids of the Grumeti or Mara River, while others prefer to witness the quieter, yet no less photogenic, calving season when wobbly newborn legs take their first steps.
No two years, and no two safaris are ever the same in terms of timing, routing and sightings. The animals’ path is entirely dictated by the ever-unpredictable Mother Nature herself, whose constantly changing rainfall patterns either entice the herds to fresh, palatable grasses or drive them off quickly in search of a meal elsewhere. Although this unpredictability does make safari planning a challenge, it is also the beauty of Africa’s Great Migration — every migration safari is entirely and uniquely your own.
Perhaps one of the Serengeti’s best-kept secrets, wildlife lovers can enjoy their own private Serengeti in the Western Corridor from August to March. With far fewer crowds and vehicles, enjoy having the game-rich plains to yourself, where wildlife abounds. Witness huge resident prides of lion and an abundance of big-cat predators, hyena clans, buffalo, elephant, hippo and herds of plains game.
Take advantage of our Fly Me to the West offer: spend 3 or more nights at &Beyond Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp and the flights there and back are on us.
More than just the migration
There’s no denying just how captivating and emotional those nail-biting river crossings are. While some guests get lucky and witness more than one crossing during their safari, others can spend an entire day riverside, waiting patiently for hours on end, their cameras poised and ready for action.
The wildebeest may or may not make an appearance, and even if they do start gathering in numbers by the river’s edge, they could well dip a hoof in the water and decide that today, quite simply, is not the day. The build-up, anticipation and uncertainty are what make it such a special, enigmatic adventure.
© Grant Telfer
Thankfully there is so much more to a migration safari than ‘just’ the drama and excitement of the Great Migration itself. Forever romanticised by intrepid explorers, royal families, wildlife photographers and award-winning filmmakers alike, the magnificent Mara/Serengeti ecosystem is home to an astounding year-round abundance of wildlife.
Witness roaming herds of up to 200 elephants, playful pods of hippo, some of Africa’s largest pride of lion up to 60-strong, large dazzles of zebra, Africa’s biggest crocodile and the endangered African wild dog. With herbivores in such great abundance, this results in plenty of exciting predator action. The game viewing is unsurpassed and the sunsets will have you falling in love with East Africa all over again, each and every night.
© Daniel Dolpire
© Daniel Dolpire