Trip Report: Great Migration Safari Week 4

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan 2 Comments

Needless to say, but at the start of every new Great Migration week, there is a tremendous amount of excitement!  Excitement not only from our guests, some of whom are returning to the Mara, and some of whom will be experiencing the Mara for the very first time, but also from us as Guides.  What will this week have in store for us?  Can it live up to the reputation or preconceived ideas the guests have?  Can it match the previous week’s action?  These are all questions that go through our minds as we sit at Wilsons airport waiting for our charter into the Mara.

After being welcomed by the ever friendly faces of our Guides Jimmy, Sammy, Ken and James it was time to divide everyone into their respective vehicles before heading straight to the river to see if there were any build ups of Wildebeest and potential crossings.

For those that have been to the Mara before on a few occasions, you will know that not any week in the Mara is the same.  The movement of Wildebeest, isolated rains and water levels of the Mara River all have an impact of what is likely to happen.

As much as many people come to the Great Migration to witness a River Crossing, the Migration is about so much more than that.  Driving through herds of hundred of thousands of Wildebeest in the Mara Triangle has got to be one of the most amazing experiences.  The numbers are staggering, unlike anywhere else and unlike any other Safari experience.

As these herds move from the vast open plains towards the River, we position ourselves not to interfere with their movement, yet with the best possible view, and then the waiting starts…  Herds move towards the river at a steady pace…  Its gonna happen, they are going to cross…  Only to find them staring at what only they will know is in the water…  For hours!!  Scanning with our Binoculars to see if we can see any of the Mara monsters perhaps patrolling its way upstream…  But nothing.  The waiting continued and after 4 hours on the banks of the river, the light started to fade and the Wildebeests and a few Zebras amongst the Herd decided to move away from the River and back towards the open plains.

As I mentioned before, the river crossings are synonymous with the Great Migration, but never a guarantee.  There are a few things that we have that will increase your chances though:

  1.  Having our own Camp means that there are no time limits to activities.  Every morning we take a packed breakfast with us, and if need be, lunch will also be delivered to us.  In fact during this week, we only went back to Camp for lunch on two occasions, something that you won’t find anywhere else.
  2. Our local Guides are there to ensure that all our guests get maximum opportunities out in the field and will never give you the perception that they want to return to Camp.
  3. We have a great relationship with Park Rangers in the Masai Mara and if there are any other potential crossing points they will let us know.

It is hard to think of a place with better predator viewing than the Masai Mara.  During this week we were based at Ndovu Camp and had either Lions, Cheetah or Hyaenas within a Kilometre from Camp on most days.  The Big Cats in this area are especially opportunistic, making for fascinating viewing and also creates unique photographic opportunities.

By the end of the week we were so spoilt with all the predator sightings that we had, that we drove past numerous Lion sightings if they weren’t doing anything in particular, how often can one say that?


During a week in the Mara it is always difficult to single out one particular highlight, but there were a few sightings that stood out this week…

Our first afternoon delivered a Cheetah taking down a young Thomsons Gazelle, not more than a few hundred meters from Camp.  We also enjoyed an incredible morning with the “famous” Scar as well as his three brothers and some Females.   But the sighting that had everyone talking and buzzing in Camp was that of one of Scar’s brothers, a big Male Lion cross the Mara River late one afternoon.

It was another incredible week in the Masai Mara, one which delivered as always and put to bed any possible doubts we could have had before the week.   Guillermo summed it up perfectly in his poem:

As I sit here by the Camp’s fire

Listening to the branches in the fire crack

I’ve come to admire

Admire the dark

Admire the light

Make the best of each moment 

Capture everything on sight

Focus on all the movement

They give all the right signs

They might be right they might be wrong

But patience shows what it will bring 

Inconsistency all along

Tomorrow will be a new day

Today was mighty fine as well

You have no control how it sways

But live to tell its tale.

It truly is a spectacular Safari, an unbelievable destination and an incredible experience.  If the Great Migration is on your bucketlist, then best you get in touch and allow us to share this spectacle which is considered to be the greatest wildlife one on the planet with you.

A special thank you to our guests Ian, Barbara, Karthik, Lynn, Erwin, Lori, Steve, Guillermo, Nicky, Joao and Silvia for joining us, Andrew and I thoroughly enjoyed hosting you.


About the Author

Johan van Zyl


The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

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Comments 2

  1. Lynne Kruger-Haye

    G, you nailed it – well said! Thank you again to Andrew, Johan, Ken and the rest of the Mara team for the experience of a lifetime! You have definitely changed the way I see thw world. Much respect xxx

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