The Great Migration
Every year, at some point between late-June and early July, the wildebeest start to arrive in search of pasture from the dry plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania. They pour into the reserve and stream across the rivers, where crocodiles and other predators lurk in waiting.
This movement, the Great Migration – now billed as one of the natural wonders of the world – is in reality one phase in a continual cycle of nomadic pasture-seeking, mating, calving and more pasture-seeking, that sees the majority of the herds ever on the move, according to the onset of the seasonal rains, the rise and fall of the river waters and the growth of the rich oat grass and other pastures
Although wildebeest often form lines while moving towards the scent of better grazing, and tend to follow each other’s footprints and paths. Huge numbers cross the Mara River in Tanzania and head north into the western part of the Maasai Mara National Reserve (the Mara Triangle), from where they may then turn right and cross back over the Mara into the Musiara or Sekenani sectors of the reserve. Others, in their hundreds of thousands, head north into the Maasai Mara’s Sekenani sector across the shallow Sand River, and then turn left to cross the Mara or Talek rivers. The herds swarm far into the north where they spread out across the conservancies and they cross and re-cross the rivers, drawn by fresh pasture and driven by herd instinct and the threat of predators, especially to young and weaker animals.
It’s true that the migration is an awe-inspiring experience ….
Balloon flights in the Maasai Mara
Taking a ‘balloon safari’ is a treat that many people hope to do, and it’s certainly a memorable experience. The hot-air balloons, launched at dawn , spectacular inflation process, carry a dozen or more passengers for about an hour in a southerly direction across the reserve, at a height of anything from a few metres to several hundred metres above the plains. The best flights follow the course of the Mara or Talek rivers, allowing you to peer down into the forest, skim past vultures’ nests and watch the monkeys’ early-morning routine. By 7.30am, the balloons are dropping down onto the plain for a bush breakfast and sparkling wine, followed by a game drive back to camp.