One of the highlights of any safari to the Serengeti is seeing a herd of wildebeest crossing a river. A thousand or more animals line up on the far bank of the river and then all it takes is one or two bold ones to trigger the rush. Dust flies into the air and creates back-lit clouds, the wildebeest plunge into the water, and swim across to climb the other bank. Sometimes the risk doesn’t pay off – a crocodile takes one or a weak one stumbles and gets carried away by the current – but the sheer size of the herd dictates that you will see massive numbers of wildebeest emerge on the near bank, fur appearing black from being soaked in the water.
It’s a treat to wake up at a true mobile, tented camp in the middle of the Serengeti. We spent three nights here and I think it’s the most authentic way to experience a traditional safari.
On our first day, we took breakfast with us so we could drive to the river early. I was very encouraged by the massive herds of wildebeest that we drove by. It’s impossible to predict exactly when the herds will be in place to make the crossing so it’s a small gamble when you book your airfare. In other years, I might have missed by a couple of weeks.
We drove north to the Kogatende airstrip then east along the southern side of the Mara River, looking for herds massing near the riverbank. Watching the herds cross is a waiting game because they are unpredictable and get spooked easily. You wait some distance back from the river so the herds don’t get scared away and then, once they look like they are starting to cross, you move forward as fast as you can without spooking them (which means pretty slowly). And as much as you want to be alone while doing this, many other people in the area have the same idea so there’s a bit of jockeying for position as well. More ›
As always, our camp was located in an incredible setting in the middle of the Moru Kopjes, south of the center of the Serengeti, our final park on this safari. We were there for 4 nights and were treated to excellent wildlife sightings, the calls of lions and hyena in the night, and vibrant sunsets as we ate dinner while watching the migration herds go by on the plains below.
This year, the migrations herds came south early so they were right around our camp for our entire stay. We had many opportunities to shoot them as they wound their way south: More ›