The Great Migration

Each year around the same time, the circular great wildebeest migration begins in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of the southern Serengeti in Tanzania.
We planned our honeymoon in fall season hoping to have chance to attend at at least one Mara river crossing… And we succeeded!!!
Looking for a wildebeests crossing is a matter of luck, at first. The region involved in river crossing is really huge and you don’t know where a bunch of them will try to cross the river.
I say “try” because it’s very common that a bunch attempts to cross the river, decides to approach it, and then, after an hour or two spent in your jeep waiting for this moment and looking at these animals, the bunch suddenly decides to go back and try another way to cross.
At the same time, the timing of your guide is essential: only a well trained guide knows how to get close to the crossing zone without scaring the wildebeests, and move quickly across not defined paths when they seems to attempt the crossing.
Of course our guide Sudi was amazing, the best safari guide in the world, so we had the opportunity to admire two crossing: the first one before lunch, the second one in the late afternoon.
The first crossing involved a small bunch of wildebeests but it was an emotional experience. I almost started to cry when the first ones lunged into the muddy river, like it was the end of the world.
During the river crossing each wildebeest thinks for itself only: family relations, maternal love don’t exists no more. The only thing that matters for them is to reach the other side of the river alive, no matter what it takes.
The second crossing was ten thousand times more emotional than the first one: we caught sight of them before lunch and we decided to keep a watch on them, hoping to see them crossing the Mara river during the afternoon.
We waited for almost five hours, moving along our bank, while the bunch of wildebeests – and zebras too – were planning how to cross the river.
Meanwhile, another bunch of wildebeests reached them and we realized that they’re up to attempt the crossing all together.
If the first bunch seen crossing seemed to me big, this one was really huge. Our guide Sudi told us that they might be almost five thousand items.
Not so far away from them, flocks of vultures and storks – they eat dead bodies of animals just like hyenas – were creepy flying in circles, waiting for their feast.
Because crossing the river it’s really a carnage for wildebeests.
When finally, after all those hours waiting for it, they started to cross the river, it was simply overwhelming.
The crossing of a bunch of five thousand wildebeests took more than twenty minutes.
During this time you can see them jump into water, climb into and push each other, being hurt by the rocks in the river, or by other wildebeests.
You can see them drown, or be dragged by the river flowing. You can see them reach the bank safely or die in the attempt.
It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
I cried a lot, I supported them, I took photos and when the crossing finally ended, I was so tired and relieved that the most of them had reached the southern bank of Mara river safely.
But their journey never ends, after the crossing, they circularly migrate across the Serengeti, looking for food and water, giving birth to their babies, ending their lives eaten by predators like lions or at the next attempt to cross the Mara river.
Sad but true. That’s the Circle of Life in Serengeti National Park.

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