Great Migration – Kenya & Tanzania, East Africa (12.06.13)
It’s June and it’s Migration time!
The legendary grass plains of East Africa’s National Parks are now experiencing the start of arguably the world’s most impressive animal migration on the planet. This is the season for close to 1.5 million wildebeest and zebra to embark on their annual right to passage in search of lusher pastures. Congregating into a single herd they become a swarm-like mass, moving northwards towards renewed grasslands from the Serengeti (northern Tanzania) to Maasai Mara (Kenya).
It is a phenomenal sight.
Although we at Nomadic Thoughts have been arranging Mara Migration trips for clients over the last three decades, the sense of excitement and jaw-dropping wonder never ceases. Clients return brimming with delight, recounting thrilling stories of how they felt the chest thumping vibrations of a hundred thousand marching hooves, smelt the dustbowl of animal smells and watched the never-ending snake-line of animals as they charge towards the scent of the northern rains.
The world’s largest concentration of predators come to the party too, drawn to the smorgasbord of fine-dining opportunities. As well as being overcome by the sheer size of the plains and distances which these animals travel, I also remember the first time I saw a pride of lions gently eyeing up the nearest collection of migrating travellers. The glint in their eyes had the same sparkle as that of a gang of school children watching a summer’s ice cream van round the corner.
At times it seems as if everyone has come out to play: huge crocodiles and screaming hyenas join the prides of lions in their reception committee. All are waiting as the wildebeest and zebra negotiate, en masse, the swollen water levels of the Mara River, between Tanzania and Kenya.
As wildlife experts, tourists and local ground experts rightly continue to embrace this magnificent spectacle, perhaps one of the less appreciated facts is that throughout the rest of the year the Maasai Mara is still one of the world’s most thrilling natural environments, with a prolific year-round population of wildlife.
As safari camp availability tightens over the Mara Migration months, prices climb and visitor numbers swell in parallel. Although we at Nomadic Thoughts would always claim to be able offer the remoter and closer-to-nature safari options, there is no doubt there are considerable advantages to visiting the region out of Migration season.
Mara Bush Houses
Prices drop considerably and the chance to observe animals away from the larger tourist crowds increases. Through our long-standing local ground suppliers we continue to monitor the development of local safari camps and lodges, with many an exciting change to local game viewing facilities. This is an important service considering the multitude of local wildlife which includes lions, elephants, cheetahs, leopards, gazelle, giraffe, buffalo, rhinoceros, hyena, jackal, topi, eland, antelope, impala, duiker and fox … as well as wildebeest and zebra.
Of course, throughout the year visitors can twitch away at over 470 species of birds – from ostriches and crowned-cranes to vultures and pygmy-falcons.
We at Nomadic Thoughts have always held East Africa close to our heart. Exploring the region in my early travel days I immediately embraced all things wild and open, drawn to the big skies, and a never-ending sense of being close to the wilderness that is Africa. Indeed, the very first Nomadic Thoughts clients I arranged a holiday for travelled to East Africa.
I was also extremely proud when Nomadic Thoughts recently won the British Travel Awards ‘Best Sub-Sahara Tour Operator’ Silver Award.
No mean feat as things change regularly with different safari camps and ground handlers providing a shifting array of opportunities to experience and explore this magnificent region.
In a competitive market we have to ensure that our local ground representatives keep a beady eye on what’s new and what’s changing. For example, although some of our old favourites remain ‘top of the tree’, we are always looking for newer and often more dynamic facilities that change the way we are able to offer you a wildlife experience beyond your dreams.
The camps mentioned in this post are examples of what we feel represent some of the highest quality up-to-date safari options. So whether you want to touch that sunset or awake with that African dawn … we know how best to meet your own Maasai Mara nomadic thoughts.