Between January and March the epic journey of Africa’s most notorious wildlife begins in the south of the Serengeti, a region that spans the northern part of Tanzania. The largest animal migration in the world occurs here, and luckily for wildlife enthusiasts and experienced photographers, Natural Habitat Adventures provides a front row seat to this marvel.
Africa’s Great Migration is one of the oldest and last land migrations on the planet. Some 2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle make an annual 1,800 mile journey over the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania into Kenya’s Maasai Mara and back again. This migration is seasonal, and is circular, driven by the ancestral instincts of these large mammals.
If you’re looking for unforgettable sights, this African expedition is for you! Luxury and excitement await every moment at both Nat Hab’s private migration base camp at Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve and at Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.
Unique Wildlife Shots to Last a Lifetime
Your journey begins in Nairobi, Kenya, where you’ll travel to Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. This ecologically preserved wilderness spans across the south western region of Kenya, bordering Tanzania. The landscape consists of miles of rolling hills, grassy plains, and from mid-June to late November it becomes a site for extreme activity as hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebras arrive from the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania.
Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve is named after the Mara River that flows through its grasslands and the Maasai tribal people who have called these lands home for centuries.
When your expedition begins, private camps along the migratory corridors bordering Kenya’s Maasai Mara provide a private view of herds as they arrive to cross the Mara River. Thundering hooves cover the landscape as far as the eye can see. Our campsite for the first week is located near the Mara River and travelers get private all access to these once in lifetime sites. Our private enclave gives each traveler ample time and space to capture stunning photos of the animals scrambling through the water and up the opposite bank, attempting to elude crocodiles lying in wait.
The grassy landscape of Maasai Mara is home to a multitude of other species, including gazelle, impala, hartebeest, topi, and other antelope. These fertile grasslands are nutrient and mineral rich, as volcanic ash deposits from millions of year ago have mixed with soils, creating a healthy growth of plants abundant enough to support the regions animals . The grasslands support large herds of elephant, giraffes, hyenas and more lions per square mile are found here than anywhere else in Kenya. You’ll get unparalleled access to all of these stunning creatures.
After capturing some soul stirring images of wildebeest and zebras battling strong currents and as they cross the Mara river, we cross the border into Tanzania, making our way to Serengeti National Park. The next week will be spent here at one of Serengeti’s premier migration corridors. It is here where you’ll see the plains covered with the movement of enormous herds, bustling to avoid being taken down by the lions and hyenas that pounce on the weak and young.
Predator-prey interactions are witnessed throughout the region as migration patterns push wildebeest, zebra and gazelle across the sweeping grasslands of the African savannah, constantly interacting with elephants, lions, and other big game. No year is the same and the exact movements and timing of the herds movements vary from year to year.
The annual migration patterns of the wildebeest and zebras are largely driven by the seasonal changes in the environment. In January and February, the golden grasslands of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania come alive as hundreds of thousands of wildebeest are birthed within a three-week period. It isn’t until April that the herds start the travel north with their new calves. By June, Tanzania’s dry season is underway and it pushes herds further north in search for more fertile lands.
In June the migration herds formed in the western Serengeti prepare to cross the southern banks of the Grumeti River. Herds can congregate alongside the banks of the river for up to two weeks, avoiding the crocodile dense, shallow waters. During this time, the savannah is teeming with life as the migrating wildebeest enter their mating season, also called the rut. More than 500,000 wildebeest mate over a four-week period.
The journey continues north as the grasses become exhausted and herds leave in search of greener plains, many arriving at the Mara River and Lamai Triangle in the northern Serengeti in mid- to late-July. By November, short rains arrive in this region and pushes the now very pregnant wildebeest back south towards the rejuvenated Serengeti plains, and the circle of life, continues.
Cross the African Savanah with Expert Photographers and Naturalists
During your journey you are guided by Nat Hab’s Photo Pro Expedition Leaders. You get continuous guidance from some of the worlds most accomplished professional nature photographers and wildlife guides.
Local knowledge is just as important as a traditional wildlife science background. East Africa’s: A Photo Pro Expedition has two excellent guides that are two of the most highly trained and certified safari guides in East Africa. Both Paul Joynson-Hicks and Paul Kirui are dedicated to providing exceptional and educational experiences for all travelers.
A seasoned safari guide, like Paul Kirui, who, was born the northern outskirts of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, can catch sights that an untrained eye might miss. Small differences in animal tracks, can lead to major discoveries, and even better photos. Paul has been a safari guide in Kenya, northern Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda for more than 25 years, and is one of the highest ranking safari guides in Kenya.
Your second guide Paul Joynson-Hicks has been a wildlife photographer for 29 years, publishing books such as Safari Dreaming–An African Adventure in The South Luangwa Valley. He is a Tanzanian citizen who speaks fluent Swahili, and can support all travelers in understanding the local culture and history born from such a majestic environment.
Nat Hab’s East Africa’s: A Photo Pro Expedition is a one in a lifetime opportunity to witness Africa’s Great Migration, one of the animal kingdoms most epic wonders. Better, yet, your whirlwind experience traversing Eastern Africa can stay a lifelong memory with expert quality pictures.