In what is one of the most quintessential wildlife experiences on the planet, the annual Great Migration in Tanzania and Kenya is an event unlike any other. Picture millions of wildebeest, zebras,gazelles, elands, and other antelope species making this incredible journey across Tanzania and Kenya every year, giving birth and facing scores of different predators on both land and water. For many tourists, witnessing such a spectacle is an emotional experience that could never be fully captured by mere words or photos. Thus, making this one of the most sought after safari tour.
While every aspect of the Great Migration delivers a unique wildlife viewing experience, the river crossings are not to be missed. The dramatic event is one that showcases nature at its rawest. Life and death hang in the balance in a survival of the fittest among the large herds as they battle hungry crocodiles and hippos, as well as turbulent waters in their search for greener pastures.
There are two major river crossings along the path of the Great Migration. They are the Grumeti River crossing in Tanzania and the Mara River crossing in Kenya. The Grumeti River is the first water obstacle that these bumbling herds will encounter on this journey. Here, large Nile crocodiles lie in wait as the herds are forced into the water in spite of the obvious threats. This predator activity is beyond anything you can imagine. It is a spectacular event to behold, but it is not as challenging as what they’re about to face when crossing the Mara River further north.
The Mara River is almost 400 km long and is deep, wide, craggy and treacherous. It is also home to Africa’s largest crocodile population as well as a robust population of hippos. As the herds clamor and struggle to cross the river to get to the greenery on the other side, these large Nile crocodiles and territorial hippos await, unfolding what is without a doubt one of the most dramatic and chaotic scenes in the animal history of the world. In many ways, this river crossing represents the climax of a long and arduous journey. The rivers are torrential, swollen with water and the two game reserves are teeming with enough animals hungry for the flesh of the migrating beings.
On the banks of the river, there are plenty predator vs predator encounters as well. This is mainly because predators are highly territorial. So even when the migratory herds are well beyond the river,these predators, like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas don’t leave the area right away. Instead, they stay for a while, which is where it gets nasty as stiff competition for food and territory becomes brutal and intense. This is one of the main reasons the Great Migration river crossings attract so many visitors. It provides some of the most thrilling and unreal predator sightings on the planet.
This is one of the most common questions that tourists ask their travel agents and tour operators. The thing to understand is that the exact timing of the migration is driven by the weather so an unusually dry or wet season can cause a variation in the timing. That said, the months of May to October are the most likely periods to witness the river crossings.
The river crossing is not a single event so you can expect to see animals crossing the river throughout the dry season in large groups ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands. When a particular herd arrives at the banks of the river, they usually search for a place to cross where the banks are not too steep. Naturally, they are hesitant to cross and it may take hours before they amass the courage to take that dreaded plunge.
During this time, tourists will be required to stay out of sight of the animals so as to not spook them with the sounds of their safari jeep engines, windshield reflections, and any other distractions.It is only when the wildebeests have begun to cross that the safari vehicles will surge forward so that visitors can score the best viewing spot the greatest animal migration in Africa along the river bank.
Want to experience this spectacular event? Contact us today to discuss your travel plans. You should note that the Great Migration is an extremely popular event so will need to make your reservations about six months to one year in advance.
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