Camera, Action, Africa! – The Great Migration as a Picture StoryBeyonder Experiences
– By Beyonder Team with inputs from Harita, Hemanth, Malini and Amoghavarsha.
Photo credit : Hemanth and Amoghavarsha
Seen it on TV Channels? Read about it in the books? Now is the time to experience – the Great Wildebeast Migration. Over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October. It is a round trip of around 1200 miles, over two countries (Tanzania and Kenya), across plains where predators—lion, cheetah and leopard—wait to pick off them, and through rivers with crocodiles waiting; battling disease, starvation, thirst and fatigue; with around 250,000 animals perishing along the way.
So what is the story behind Great Migration?
The Great Migration, known as “The World Cup of Wildlife” is probably the biggest real life drama unfolding on earth and a living example of Survival of the fittest theory. The key players in this are the Wildebeest, Zebras and the carnivores. It all starts with the birth of half a million calves and depleting food resources at the end of rainy season. Thus starts the movement of the wildebeest for a greener pasture. The rainfall and the migration ensure that the grass grows back in the place the wildebeest have moved on from. The journey is full of danger in the form of predators over land and in the river. The survivors celebrate by feasting in the northern Serengeti and begin crossing back into Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve… and the cycle starts again.
Survival of the fittest
The wildebeest are perhaps aware of the predators both over land and in water. Yet they have an inherent instinct to trek in a certain direction, looking for shallow waters with lesser vegetation where the enemy can’t possibly hide.
The natural selection steps in once more: the wildebeest that crossed the lakes in previous generations survived to breed, and produced superior offspring. Those that did not make it gave no further input to the gene pool. The wildebeests face multiple river and lake crossings but the toughest of them is the Mara river – right at the end. Thousands of wildebeest perish each year during the many crossings, to crocodiles, stampede and chaos. Come to think of it, this is Nature’s way of maintaining the numbers. Else, the wildebeest population would have spiraled out of control with almost half a million calves born each year!
Best Place and time to visit
Although the migration spectacle can be seen across many rivers and lakes through most of the year, the best is saved for the Mara river, which is the migration cycle’s last and toughest point due to the swirling waters and the crocodiles in them. July to September is the best time to experience migration.
What is experiencing the Great Migration like?
“Absolutely breathtaking” said Hemanth and his father of their experience of the Masai Mara. This father-son duo who travelled together with Beyonder Travels. Hemanth said “I borrowed a long lens camera from a friend and shot the vast, sweeping landscape and many sightings of wildlife and nature at its best”. “We could see animals beyond the peripheral wall of the lodge in the night” said Mr Padmanabhan. Of the trip itself, they said the sightings were many and varied because they moved across three reserves.
Malini, travelled with her husband and elderly parents to Masai Mara for The Great Migration. Since the entire family were wildlife enthusiasts and this was not their first trip dedicated to nature and wildlife.
What made it even more special was a group of like-minded people from various walks of life getting together with the sole purpose of enjoying the Mara.
“Weather was surprisingly pleasant and the mornings were chilly, contrary to what we expect of Africa’s weather – hot and dusty. We did not feel the need to even turn on the fan” said Hemanth.
The naturalists who came along on the safaris were all friendly and well experienced and indeed added to the experience, echoes everyone from the group.
When you set out on an expedition in an unknown territory, it is natural to wonder about what you’ll get to eat. “…A big worry before leaving was about food , given a bunch of vegetarians and vegans in the group, but in reality no one had to worry about food at all. There were plenty of options available and all we did was experience the wildlife in a great setting. And how can we forget the warm and friendly Mara tribe , their stories on culture, tradition and day to day life ! Glad, that we were there,” they all chimed in.
Intrigued enough? Still thinking?
Well, we say that the Big 5 is calling. Answer it. Come Beyonder to witness the Great Migration.