My Memorable Moments: The first Wildebeest Crossing

Marlon duToit All Authors, great migration, Marlon Leave a Comment

Three years ago I touched down in the Masai Mara for the very first time. It was an exciting time of year as the large herds of White-bearded Gnu were scattered all over the Mara as part of their annual migration.

To say I was excited is a complete understatement!

Something that can’t ever be promised but always immensely hoped for, is a crossing.

It was a cloudy day and we were out and about looking for any large groups of wildebeest intent of crossing over the crocodile infested Mara River. It took us well over an hour when we finally arrived at a scene that took my breath away!

marlon du toit, masai mara, migration, photo safari, wild eye, travel , africa

Thousands of wildeebest were marching along, one after the other. Looking at the deeply rutted tracks ahead of them, we could tell that there were no doubt more of them ahead. We knew that this could be a great opportunity to see this army of gnu cross the “River of Death”.

The only problem was that we were on the same side of the river, and that they would end up crossing away from us, so we left the Mara Triangle side of the reserve, and crossed over to the other side. We managed to get ourselves in the perfect position to play witness to what would be my first ever wildebeest crossing over the infamous Mara River.

marlon du toit, masai mara, migration, photo safari, wild eye, travel , africa

marlon du toit, masai mara, migration, photo safari, wild eye, travel , africa

To explain such a sight to anyone is beyond words. It really is one of the events far better experienced.

The sight of thousands upon thousands of wildebeest pushing up against one another, jostling for space and leaping down embankments in order to get access to the river, is simply mind-blowing.

It is a spectacle of nature I have dreamed about experiencing for all my life, and to finally see it play out right there infront of me, was life-changing. It was one of “those” moments, the moments that stay etched in your memory for a lifetime.

marlon du toit, masai mara, migration, photo safari, wild eye, travel , africa

marlon du toit, masai mara, migration, photo safari, wild eye, travel , africa

They kept coming, one after the other!

The crossing lasted about 40 minutes, maybe even more. I lost track of time a little.

After a few initial images I simply had to put my camera down. I had to find a way to take it in, to digest what my eyes were seeing.

For those who have been privileged enough to experience these sights, you will know exactly what I am talking about. You too have experienced the sights, the sounds, the smell and the complete drama involved in these crossings! It is something to cherish, a story that you’ll forever tell when around a campfire, in company with good friends and complete strangers alike.

marlon du toit, masai mara, migration, photo safari, wild eye, travel , africa

For those photographers out there, always remember not to make it all about the image. Focus too much on that and you’ll forsake what made you yearn for that encounter in the first place.

Put that camera down a little, breathe, and take it all in.

Till next time,

Marlon

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About the Author

Marlon duToit

Passion, enthusiasm and an unquenchable thirst to explore and introduce you to our natural world’s wildlife perfectly sums up my ambitions. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. Through my African adventures I kept my photographic passion alive. Behind a camera aimed at a lion or a leopard is where I am most at home, my heart skipping a beat at the mere thought of it. My intention has never been solely for recognition but for the plight of what’s left of our natural recourses. Using my love and understanding of wildlife I am able to convey to the viewer more than an image or a fleeting moment. I aim to tell a story, to bring that moment alive to you and to capture your heart through it.

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