A week since arriving back from witnessing natures greatest spectacle, the Great Migration, life has gone back to normal. It always amazes me how quickly reality sets in after experiencing a life-changing event.
I sit here, on our back deck listening to the birds, sipping on my hot coffee and reminiscing of the time Rory and I were sitting in the open air land cruiser with an iced cold beer waiting for the wildebeest to cross the famous Mara River.
We were in the Serengeti for 7 nights and we were lucky to have seen 5 river crossings over that time. We stayed at 2 luxurious migratory camps with Asilia Africa, Olakira Camp and Kimondo Camp. Most guests won’t stay 7 nights in the same area as there is so much to see of the Serengeti, although we wanted the best opportunity to witness the millions of wildebeest crossing the Mara river. It was definitely worth the time spent. Specifically, on our last 2 nights, we saw 2 major river crossings. Both crossings had herds of over 2,000 wildebeest all waiting to cross the river.
The first of the river crossings was successful. Each of the 2,000+ wildebeest crossed the river with no injuries or death. The second river crossing they weren’t so lucky. Choosing quite possibly the toughest crossing point of the river, the 3,000+ wildebeest and 50+ zebra weren’t all successful like the previous herd that crossed the afternoon prior. The herd were challenged by 7 monstrous crocodiles and very rocky terrain which many succumbed to.
Waiting for the crossing to happen can take several hours. Over the 5 crossings, we waited over 14 hours. The scene is set for quite a funny reality TV show as you listen to yourself and other people in vehicles around you commentate and become storytellers. As the beers start to flow, the creative juices go into overdrive. I have no doubt that the next script for an animation can come from the banks of the Mara River waiting for the wildebeest to cross.
When the first wildebeest decides to cross, they all follow. A stampede occurs, within a matter of seconds, the silence turns to loud screams and cries as the wildebeest do everything in their power to successfully cross the river. It’s exhilarating, drama-filled and sombre all at the same time. I felt as though I had dived into the TV set whilst watching the epic National Geographic documentary of the Mara River Crossing and we were privy to the front row seats of the greatest natural event in the world.
As your camera continues to take hundreds of photos, and the last of the wildebeest either successfully or unsuccessfully cross the river, you start to feel the raw emotion of what you’ve just witnessed. With that experience, there are many life lessons which I was reminded of.
- Be Patient
- Take the opportunity when it presents itself
- Don’t hesitate
- Help others
- Take the time to mourn for those you’ve lost
- Live life to the fullest
- Be observant
- Family is everything
- No regrets
- Capture and appreciate life’s moments
- Life is unpredictable
With this reminder, we left the Serengeti rejuvenated and ready to get back to the amazing work we are doing in South Africa. I feel very fortunate to be able to work in an environment where we are helping people in need and working to improve a system that’s been broken for a very long time.