Kenya, Safari, Travel

The wildebeests’ dramatic Serengeti-Mara border crossings


The Great Migration
/ ðə ɡreɪt mʌɪˈɡreɪʃ(ə)n /

The most humbling drama ever put on by life on earth. It is staged by 1.5 million wildebeests backed by herds of zebras, antelopes and a couple dozen of crocodiles. The cast moves clockwise between Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, crossing borders between July to August and November to December. Following their natural instincts, the herbivores bring with them the show of life


Luxurious Africa is the next big thing.

It has been a thing in pockets of the continent, but there is definitely more to come. More to come because this is where life unfolds in its simplest, purest and fullest forms. We should all come back to where life began on land.

As with most things natural, timing is difficult but serendipity is present. Thanks to the safari game watching god out there, my “on the beach” time coincided with one of the last crossings of the season.

It was a nerve racking display of survival. A sight not for the faint hearted.

The herbivores migrate to chase greener grass on the other side. That’s as literal as it gets. Getting to the other side requires bravery, support and a bit of insanity. And for the wildebeests, they wait for someone else in the herd to be that someone insane. As a result, we spent hours watching the wildebeests milling around, running down to the river banks, urging each other to take a swim in the deathly Mara River dotted with crocodiles, only to find no one was interested. And off they went, back into the bushes.

But finally, after one of the longest 3 hours of my life, the herd hurried back to the river bank for the fourth time. This time, one brave soul took a deep breath and went for the river. Closely followed by 3 others, they carefully tread the water. And before we know it, the herd charged altogether and the swim for life began.

Waiting for them were the crocodiles, 3 where we were at. As expected, they snapped their jaws as wildebeests stumbled across the water. No mercy was shown. Limbs thrashing in white water, two wildebeests went down as 3 crocodiles attacked. Another wildebeest got caught in the boulders by the river, slipping down into the river as his fellow herd mates rushed past him for dry land in the Serengeti.

The zebras hearing the news, joined the remaining wildebeests. Our guide David told us, zebras are smart about the migration and only jump in the rivers once the crocodiles are full from their wildebeest feast. With that, they waddled quickly across the river and no one was hurt.

Top tip: the Serengeti has a smaller crowd compared to the Mara when it comes to the Great Migration viewing. For best game viewing, follow the herbivores: head to Tanzania from June to July and hop over to Kenya from August to October. The big cats are resident animals so they will always be around!


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2 thoughts on “The wildebeests’ dramatic Serengeti-Mara border crossings

  1. Pingback: A Masai welcome for first-time safari explorers | Bee on the beach

  2. Pingback: Throwback Zanzibar | Bee on the beach

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