Best Guide to understanding the Great Wildebeest Migration: If an African safari is your fantasy vacation, you’ve probably heard about the Great Migration, when 1.5 million wildebeests and hundreds of thousands of other plains wildlife follow the rains and richer grasses between Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. This yearly mass migration of animals, often known as the Greatest Show on Earth, is an amazing spectacle to witness and, quite properly, should be on everyone’s bucket list. Here is everything you need to know about the Great Wildebeest Migration.
When is the best time to see the Great Wildebeest Migration in Masai Mara, Kenya?
The Great Migration may be seen at any time of year since the herds are always moving in a clockwise manner between Tanzania and Kenya. The wildebeest remain in the Serengeti from January to June, grazing in large numbers on the wide plains with their calves as they make their way north into the Masai Mara.
The greatest time to witness the migration in Kenya is between July and September, when the wildebeests traverse the Mara River back and forth. The river crossings are considered to be the most sought-after moments as the animals launch themselves into crocodile-infested waters; be prepared to experience a range of emotions such as anticipation, excitement, and heartache for those who succumb to the perils of this treacherous journey right in front of your eyes.
Time is of the importance here, and being hurried is not an option. It’s also important to remember that river crossings can never be foreseen and may not happen at all for you on any given day. Sometimes it might take many hours for one brave individual to descend down the embankment, causing a breath-taking rush in a matter of seconds.
On the other hand, you could be extremely lucky and arrive to find the action in full swing, possibly witnessing up to several crossings over a couple of hours, as they indecisively thunder back and forth, sometimes right into the open mouths of lions or crocodiles waiting in ambush on the other side.
How best can I capture the Great Wildebeest Migration?
If you’ve been on safari before, you’ll know that the most important aspect in witnessing any wildlife sighting is patience. As previously said, be prepared to wait at the river’s side for quite some time! Make careful to fully charge all of your camera equipment the night before to avoid running out of batteries!
It is critical to depict ‘chaos’ in your photographs. Make sure you have a wide-angle lens for this. You don’t need a huge zoom lens to capture the migration – some of my favorite photographs of crossings were taken with a 24-70mm lens, allowing me to catch the complete scene rather than just a few wildebeest.
Many visitors travel to the Mara solely for the migration, and some may have even acquired new photographic equipment for the occasion. This may seem apparent, but be sure you understand how it works.
Some tourists wait several hours for a crossing only to wonder how their camera works when the wildebeest eventually cross. Before you fly, practice a little at home, since a little familiarity with your equipment will go a long way when that magical moment arrives.
Finally, and maybe most significantly, observe the situation before photographing it. The difference between watching anything ‘in real life’ and via a viewfinder is enormous. A river crossing may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so take it all in.
As a result, your photographs will become much stronger as you locate the most fascinating focal areas inside the subject. So, in essence, familiarize yourself with your equipment, take it all in before picking up the camera, and don’t forget to zoom out.
Why not schedule a morning hot air balloon tour to get a completely new viewpoint on migration? The experience starts early in the morning, at a launch place behind Little Governors’ Camp. Enjoy the sight of the balloons swelling against the night sky before softly flying flight as the sun rises. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the Mara plains’ wildebeest activity before landing for a wonderful breakfast replete with bubbles!
Where should stay when watching the Wildebeest Migration?
There are several camps and lodges from which to experience this incredible wildlife event; however, make sure to select a package that includes game drives. While researching, you may discover that many resorts offer full board prices with an extra charge for game drives, which may be rather perplexing – or even disappointing – if this is not made plain to you from the beginning.
It’s also a good idea to pick a location with a water supply that attracts a variety of wildlife that passes through the camp. There are a number of good camps and lodges that you can stay at including; Sand River Tented Camp Masai Mara, Mara Bush House, Saruni Mara, Governor’s Camp, Sala’s Camp, Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, and Angama Mara Lodge to mention but a few.
What to pack for your Great Wildebeest Migration Safari?
Take note that July and August are the coldest months in Kenya, with temperatures occasionally dropping below 10 degrees. Having saying that, this is also our driest time of year, so pack accordingly. Your morning game drives and early nights may be cool.
Our safari vans and land cruisers are open for excellent game viewing, but the clear sides may be pulled down if rain falls unexpectedly. Strong winds on the broad plains might catch you off guard, but the noon sun will have you ripping off your sweater as the day heats up.