I was on a Wild Eye photographic safari in Kenya‘s Mara Triangle specifically for the great wildebeest migration, sharing a land cruiser with a couple from Australia, Paul and Elise McCulloch, and our Kikuyu guide and driver, Sammy.
A large herd was on the far side of the river and slightly upstream from where we parked. We sat behind our cameras ready, eyes glued to our viewfinders. It was the McCulloch’s first crossing (first safari too) and I was anxious to see their reaction. They loved the sightings we had in our first 24 hours: giraffe, zebra, ostrich, the elusive pangolin, but I knew this would blow them away.
What is the Great Migration?
Wildebeest crossings are one of nature’s most astonishing life and death dramas. Each year from July through October (give or take a few weeks), millions of wildebeest journey during the Great Migration from Tanzania to Kenya and back again, chasing the rain and the grassy plains that follows.
Winding through the countryside, the Mara River is a formidable obstacle to the wildebeest migration, forcing the herds to navigate steep embankments, rushing water, and opportunistic predators lying in wait. For the lions and leopards and other meat-eaters, the migration is a highly anticipated moveable feast.
From our vantage point––as if they needed any more dangers––we could see there was also a gauntlet of rock-strewn rapids. Trapped between the stones, carcasses lay, bloated and split with decay. Every now and then the wind would change and we’d get a whiff of the foul, gag-inducing stench.
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