Sunday, December 14, 2008

Storm brewing over the Serengeti

Storm approaching over the Serengeti.

There has been a lot of rain over the Serengeti over the past week. The main migrating herds are located on Ndutu grass plains, but are spread across the entire south eastern Serengeti.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Migration Update: Wildebeest arrive on Ndutu short grass plains

The migration is currently in the southern and south eastern Serengeti, spread from Seronera towards the east to Loliondo Game Controlled Area and south to Ndutu. The short rains have been falling through the Serengeti during the past few weeks. The migrating wildebeest are making their way south to the Ndutu short grass plains. This is where they will calve from late in December through to February. This is the favourite resting place of the wildebeest, with rich short grass. The first herds are already grazing on the Ndutu Plains, but within the next week most of remaining herds will be based around Ndutu and east towards Oldupia and as far east as the western outer slopes of the Ngorongoro Crater.

The objective of the wildebeest is to settle around the rich grazing of the Ndutu area for the next few months. This is the best grazing in the Serengeti eco-system. They will only leave this area when the grazing is depleted and their foals are ready to start moving west – around March next year. The rains have caused new shoots and the area is very green.

The rich dark soil of the Serengeti is very muddy making moving around on safari quite difficult in places. Some of the smaller roads will be closed to protect them from excessive erosion. This is not typically a very busy time of the safari season, but guest are still experiencing excellent sights. As always, the predators are following the migration closely, picking off the weak and vulnerable. The best place to be based for a safari at the moment is around Seronera, Ndutu or Loliondo Game Controlled Area. Most of the mobile camps are set up around Seronera, but will be moving to the Ndutu campsites in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Migration: Mobile Tented Camps

As the migration enters the central and southern Serengeti, one of the best accommodation options is the mobile tented camps which are now set up in the central Serengeti. One luxury mobile tented option is "Tanzania under Canvas":

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Migration update: Wildebeest in the central Serengeti

The migration is in the central Serengeti and heading south. There has been a some heavy rainfall in the central Serengeti.

The short rains have not yet started to water the Ndutu short grass plains, so the wildebeest are still only making a slow procession south. The herds are spread from Seronera to Lobo and to the Loliondo Game Controlled area.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Migration Update: Central Serengeti and Loliondo

The migrating herds are in the central Serengeti, moving south through Seronera and Loliondo towards the Ndutu plains. There are still some herds in the Masai Mara, but these will probably remain as resident herds or trail behind later. A smaller group of wildebeest and zebra, which form the Loita herds, have also moved towards the eastern Masai Mara. These will eventually end up on the Loita Plains in Kenya and not migrate into the Serengeti. The migration has left the Mara slightly earlier than usual this year, but this seems to have been the trend in 2008 as they arrived early too.
The Mara River is flowing strongly causing problems for the remaining wildebeest trying to cross. Thousands have perished try and getting caught in the strong currents.
The Serengeti has seen good rains over the past week. There is new green grass throughout the southern Serengeti. It has had a chance to recover while the wildebeest have been in the north.
The wildebeest are heading to the short grass plains of the Ndutu as quickly as possible. Ndutu has the best grazing in the region, with short rich grasses. They will stay in this area as long as they can and will foal here later in the year. Eventually, towards March or April 2009, they will reluctantly be forced to move away from the Ndutu plains as the area is overgrazed. But, until then they will be in the southern Serengeti.
The best place to be based at the moment is around Seronera. There are a few large lodges (e.g. Sopa Lodge) in this area, but we recommend one of the smaller mobile camps that are now all set up in the private camps in the Seronera area. There is also a mobile tented camp in Loliondo that is ideal for the migration at moment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Migration News: Wildebeest die crossing the Mara River

Between 3000 and 4000 wildebeest died this week crossing the Mara River. These were some of the last herds that will cross the Mara River this year. They chose the wrong place to cross (at a steep bank) and were swept away by the river.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Migration News: Migration in the dry Serengeti

The migration has left the Masai Mara. The last of the herds were seen crossing the Mara River on the Serengeti side over the last 2 weeks. Some dramatic scenes were experienced by safari guest staying in the northern Serengeti.

The herds continue to move south through the bushy northern and eastern Serengeti. The rains are expected shortly and this will probably hassen the move to the Ndutu grass plains. The Serengeti is dry and grazing sparse.

One of the best camps at this time of year is the permanent Migration Camp. Watch the video of the camp:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Migration moving south

The migration has started to move out of the Masai Mara and into the northern Serengeti and Loliondo to the east of the Serengeti.

Game viewing is still excellent in the Masai Mara. The BBC's Big Cat Diaries are still broadcasting live from Governor's Camp and the past week has seen some amazing footage of the Marsh lions, leopard and cheetah.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Migration News: Migration enter the Serengeti

The main herds are now in the northern Serengeti moving south. The rear of the migration is still in the Mara, but in fewer numbers than a week ago. The Mara is grazed out, but the moderate rains will quickly restore the savannah plains.

This movement south is earlier than usual. The last migrating herds normally depart from the Masai Mara in November, but it looks like it could happen within the next week or two.

Game viewing is still excellent in the Masai Mara, with good wildebeest and zebra populations as well as all the resident game (that do not migrate) and predators. The BBC Big Cat Diaries is currently based at Governor’s Camp on the Mara River. They are following prides of lions and cheetah and have seen some dramatic predatory scenes. This is also an excellent time for birders as the migratory birds are arriving from the northern hemisphere. Some will remain in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti, while most will continue further south towards the end of November.

The best place to see the migration at the moment is the northern Serengeti or the Masai Mara. Alternatively, visitors should base themselves at Seronera, in the Serengeti, as the advanced herds are just north of this area.

The vegetation in the north eastern part of the Serengeti is a lot thicker than the grass plains of Ndutu or the Masai Mara so safari guest will not necessarily see the full extent of the migration. The herds are also spread across a wide area from the Masai Mara in the north, Loliondo Game Controlled Area in the east and Seronera in the south.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Migration Update: Moving south from the Masai Mara

There are still lots of wildebeest and zebra in the Masai Mara, but most have moved out of the Masai Triangle. They are spread from the central Masai Mara down through the northern Serengeti. There are even good populations north of Seronera in the central Serengeti, but they are likely to turn back as this region is still very dry and there is not enough grazing to sustain them.

The migration will probably start moving south shortly.

The best place to be based at the moment is the northern Serengeti and Loliondo Game Controlled Area. All the camps in this area are reporting good sightings. Some of the best camps are Klein's Camp or the mobile camps that are based in the northern Serengeti. The camps of the Masai Mara are also a good option with lots of game in the Mara. But, the dramatic migration crossings of the Mara River are mostly over.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Migration heads south into the Serengeti

The main wildebeest herds have rapidly moved south into the northern Serengeti. This is likely to be a temporary movement and most of the rangers and guides expect them to head back into the Masai Mara in the next couple of weeks.

The northern Serengeti experienced some short rains over the past few weeks which caused new grass shoots across the region. This rich grazing and water allowed the wildebeest to move south earlier than usual, normally around late October or early November.
Most of the herds that were in the Mara Triangle and Engoikwateet salt lick have moved south into the Serengeti. The herds that were in the central Masai Mara, have also headed south and crossed the Sand River. The game viewing is still excellent in the Masai Mara, but for the moment, the main migration has abandoned the area. They will probably return shortly as there is some light rain in the Mara which will draw the herds back. In other words, the spectacle of the Mara River crossing is unlikely to be over. In fact, this movement of the herds is good news for safari enthusiast as they are likely to return to cross again and again.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Video and Photographic Competition: WIN a 7 day Kenya safari

Enter our video and photographic competition and you could win a 7 day safari to Kenya to see the migration in 2009! The prize is worth $6830.

The competition is sponsored by SUNSAFARIS, in association with Porini Camps. You and your partner will journey through some of the most spectacular game reserves in Africa. This safari includes 2 nights at Amboseli Porini Camp, 2 nights at Porini Lion Camp, 2 nights at Porini Rhino Camp and all internal transfers. Send us your latest videos or photos or upload your entry directly on our video & photo website.

Read more about the competition.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Migration Update: Herds split towards north, west and east

The migrating herds have split into a few large core herds. The bulk of the migrating herds have moved south towards the virtual unfenced border between the Serengeti and Masai Mara. This area of the Masai Mara is known as Engoikwateet salt lick. They drifted south from the Mara Triangle which now only has a few smaller herds. A large number of wildebeest and zebra have also moved south east from Burrungat plain and Topi plain towards Meta plain and the east part of the Masai Mara. At the same time, most of the herds that were on Paradise plain have moved north into the conservancies around the Masai Mara. This movement pattern is likely to change again as the weather changes. The herds will stay close enough to the water source of the Mara River. They may drift away to the south or north for a while, but will return quickly depending on the supply of water and grazing elsewhere.

The river crossings along the Mara River and Talek River have continued to be spectacular with thousands of wildebeest and zebra crossing in stampedes. More wildebeest get killed in the stampedes than would ever be taken by crocodiles. The banks and river beds of the Talek and Mara Rivers are lined with carcasses and the walking wounded, with broken legs caused by the stampedes. Carcasses have also been seen floating down the Mara River.

We continue to recommend splitting your safari time between a camp that is based close to the Mara or Talek Rivers and a camp in one of the private conservancies. Most camps are still have late availability, a sign that tourism still has not fully recovered in Kenya. See our detailed map of the Masai Mara Reserve for a full list of camps in the Reserve and adjacent conservancies.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Recent video of a lion killing a wildebeest

This is a good video of a lion killing in the Masai Mara during the migration which is still in full swing. These safari guest were lucky not to have too many other vehicles around at the time. The driver is very irresponsible getting so close to the kill and potentially disturbing the lions, but it does illustrate how the migration works and the type of action tourists have been experiencing the the Masai Mara.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Migration Update: Migration still in the Masai Mara

The river crossings have been spectacular over the past week. Literally millions of wildebeest have been criss-crossing the Mara River of the past couple of weeks. The Talek River, which is virtually dry, has also seen lots of activity. The constant stream of wildebeest crossing the rivers has entertained safari guest for hours. Crocodiles have been picking off individual wildebeest with ease. Lions have been on killing sprees, often taking more wildebeest than they can eat. There have been reports of a pride of lions killing 13 wildebeest in one day! Leopards and cheetah have also been very active and taking wildebeest at random.

There has been some sporadic rain across the Mara region over the past weeks. The northern Serengeti has also seen some rain. This always causes confusion amongst the migrating herds and has resulted in them turning back on their path a few times. Some of the herds have gone back into the Serengeti following the rain, but the core herds are still spread across the Masai Mara Reserve and adjacent conservancies and ranches. Koiyaki and Olare Orok Conservancies have seen large herds cross through their land. The Mara Triangle, Paradise plain, Olorukoti plain, Burrungat plain and Rhino ridge all have large herds of wildebeest, zebra, Topi, Thomson’s gazelle and buffalo.

The migration is likely to remain in the Masai Mara for some time.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Masai Mara: Recommended camps for the migration

The migration is in full swing with over 2 million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson's gazelle spread across the Masai Mara and northern Serengeti! Any camp in this region will offer excellent game viewing. Depending on your budget and preferences, the Masai Mara has a wide variety of camps and lodges.

Sunsafaris specialise in tailor made safaris to Kenya and Tanzania. We recommend small personalised safari camps which we feel offer a superior safari experience.

For this time of year, we recommend:
Porini Lion Camp: A small tented camp in the Olare Orok Conservancy bordering the Masai Mara. They currently have resident cheetah and offer exclusive access to the conservancy, away from the large crowds. It is a bit of a drive to the Mara River, so we recommend that you split your time between this camp and a camp closer to the Mara River.
Little Governor's Camp: Little Governor's Camp is located along the Mara River and an excellent location to be based to see the wildebeest crossing the Mara River.
Karen Blixen Camp: Karen Blixen Camp is set on the bank of the Mara River in a private concession of land leased from a Masai landlord.

For more recommended camps and the best place to be located to see the migration, contact us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Migration News: Mara River rises following some rain

There has been rain over the Mara in the last week. This has quickly filled the Mara and Talek Rivers and temporarily halted the crossings. The herds are backed up at Paradise and Pump-House crossing points waiting for the rivers to subside a bit. The rain should bring some much needed sustenance to the grass plains that have been maintaining huge herds of wildebeest. The herds are spread across most of the Masai Mara and adjoining Maasai community land, conservancies and ranches.

This has been a spectacular season for the migration. The wildebeest numbers are probably the highest seen in a number of years and at least comparable to 2001. There has been sufficient rain and generally the migration has been running a few weeks ahead of the normal migratory pattern. The grass was burnt back around June in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti. This was following by a decent level of rain which resulted in excellent grazing conditions for the arriving migration. They will now stay north in the Masai Mara and northern Serengeti until the first signs of rain in the southern Serengeti. They are likely to start heading south only towards October, giving them a long stay in the Mara this year.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Crocodile and lion killing wildebeest crossing the Mara River

This is an excellent video that was taken this week in the Masai Mara. It shows a huge crocodile taking a wildebeest crossing the Mara River. These safari guests then saw a lion ambush a lion. The video also shows the migration in full swing.

News from the Masai Mara

The wildebeest and zebra are spread across most of the Reserve, with more arriving from the Serengeti in the south. The highest concentration of herds are on the central and north plains. The core herds have been moving north from the Mara triangle onto Paradise Plain. Huge numbers have been crossing the Mara River in an almost constant procession, at Paradise and Pump-House crossing points.

There were light rains a few days ago. This has caused the herds to spread out across the reserve and move north from the Serengeti. The herds have also moved into some of the ranches that border the northern part of Masai Mara, notably Olare Orok Conservancy.

The Masai Mara is the best place to be based to see the migration. At the moment, almost any camp is ideally located for the migration. There are still some herds in the Serengeti, Tanzania, but not in great numbers.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Migration News: Mara River crossing continues

The wildebeest and zebra continue to cross the Mara River and spread out across the Masai Mara. Grazing is good on both sides of the border, in Kenya and Tanzania. The wildlife numbers are impressive with herds as far as the eye can see. All camps have reported excellent sightings of the migration herds and some spectacular predator action.

This time of year is also great for predators, with lots of sightings of cheetah, leopard and lion. There are a number of resident families of cheetah in the reserve and adjoining ranches.

Monday, August 4, 2008

News from Porini Lion Camp

One of our favourite camps in the Masai Mara, Porini Lion Camp in Olare Orok Conservancy, currently have resident cheetah. These cheetah were recently seen chasing a hyena off their kill. This is an extremely rare sighting.

The camp shares an unfenced boundary with the Masai Mara Reserve, offering easy access into the reserve, but also exclusive access to the conservancy.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Current location of the wildebeest migration

The map shows the migration across the Serengeti and Masai Mara, concentrated in the Mara Triangle. The wildebeest continue to cross the Mara River in search of grazing and water. I have indicated the Mara River on the map.

Here is an update from Governor’s Camp:
“The Wildebeest Migration has arrived in the Masai Mara.
This photo was taken on the 26th of July 2008 and since then we have been seeing almost daily river crossings.
The Governors’ Collection of Camps are located in the heart of the best game viewing area of the Masai Mara, only 30 minutes away from the regular river crossing sites.
There is still the opportunity to book a safari to see this year’s wildebeest migration.” Source: Governor’s Camp

The last comment from Governors is generally true about most camps in Kenya this year. In other words, the over-stated media coverage of the political unrest from the recent elections is still being felt in the tourism industry and the number of visitors in the Masai Mara is down this year. Given the fact that 2008 is turning out to be a superb year for the migration and there are fewer safari guests in the reserves, this is an excellent year to visit the region. Contact us to assist you in planning your visit.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mara River crossing continues unabated

The Mara River is still the place to be for the migration, whether on the Kenya or Tanzania side. The wildebeest and zebra are still crossing the river in huge numbers and facing the threat of the waiting crocodiles. Safari guests have been privileged to see excellent action by predators, whether crocodile, lion or hyena.
The main herds are now in the Mara Triangle and will cross back and forth over the Mara and Talek Rivers during August and probably most of September. There is good grazing in both Serengeti and Masai Mara, especially where rangers burnt back the long grass in June. New grass shoots, after the moderate rain over the course of July, are sustaining the herds. The Mara River is lower than usual, but still the best source of water in the eco-system at the moment. This will keep the herds in the north until the rains start in the southern Serengeti. The herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle are spread across a large area of the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara, especially towards the west and north around Burrungat plains.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mara River crossing video

This video of the Mara River Crossing was produced by CNN. It shows wildebeest and zebra crossing the Mara River into the Mara Triangle. It also has some great aerial shots of the migrating herds and panoramic views over the savannah plains of the Mara.

Migration Update: Serengeti or Masai Mara?

There have been large numbers of wildebeest and zebra crossing the Mara River in both the Serengeti (Tanzania) and Masai Mara Reserve (Kenya). Unfortunately, visitors are still not allowed to cross directly between the two reserves. Maybe, one day the Tanzania and Kenya authorities will consider creating a transfrontier park. Until then, safari enthusiast are stuck on one or the other side. At the moment, both the Serengeti and Masai Mara are experiencing excellent game viewing and camps are reporting large numbers of game, including predators.

The northern Serengeti is relatively remote with very few camps. Klein’s Camp or the mobile camps around Kogatende are good options for Northern Serengeti at the moment. The lower tourist numbers do add to the safari experience, but the cost is generally higher than the equivalent in the Kenya. The easier and safer option is the Maasai Mara as you are virtually guaranteed to see the Mara River crossing and there are lots of excellent camps. One of our favourites is Porini Lion Camp in Olare Orok Conservancy. They currently have resident cheetah.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Migration News: Hot Air Balloon over the Masai Mara

There are huge populations of wildebeest abd zebra in the Mara Triangle. The Loita herds from the north have merged with the Serengeti herds.

Hot air ballooning over the Masai Mara offers spectacular views over the savannah with hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Migration update: Highlight of the year in underway

The Masai Mara migration is in full swing. Herds have been crossing the Mara River into the Mara Triangle and also heading north towards Burrungat plains. There is now game spread across most of the western and northern Masai Mara Reserve and across the adjoining conservancies and ranches. The limited amount of rain in the last 2 weeks has allowed new grass shoots to germinate providing good nutrition to the herds.

There are still huge populations of wildebeest in the northern Serengeti especially around the Sand River.

Some experienced game rangers have commented that the migration populations are extremely good this year and may be some of the highest in a number of years, but this is hard to verify. There certainly are very good concentrations of game across the Maasai Mara and Serengeti.

The best place to be based for a safari is along the Mara or Talek Rivers. The ranches and concession areas around the Reserve are also excellent options to allow visitors to do a game drive in the reserve and then escape to the privacy and exclusivity of the private concession in the evening.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Highlight of annual migration

The Mara is full of wildebeest, zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and their predators. Game has continued to stream into the Masai Mara and have been crossing the Mara River. Visitors have been treated to spectacular crocodile kills. Lion prides have also been rampant. This is truly the highlight of the annual migration.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Migration Update: Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara

The southern and western Serengeti is extremely dry so the wildebeest have quickly moved
out of the western corridor and into the northern Serengeti and the Masai Mara. The grazing and water are good in the Masai Mara and around the Mara River.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Masai Mara Safari

The “early arrival” herds of ungulates continue to stream into the Masai Mara Reserve from the Serengeti. The best place to be based for a safari is along the Talek or Mara Rivers or anywhere close to the Mara Triangle in the Masai Mara Reserve. We recommend that you split your time between one of these camps and a camp in one of the private concession areas or private ranches. This allows you to see the wildebeest crossing the crocodile filled Mara or Talek Rivers for a couple of days and then get away from the abundant other visitors that inevitably accompany the migration. This is still limited availability in the Mara, but we are also already getting solid enquiries about the migration in 2009!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Migration Update: Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara

The migration covers the northern Serengeti and have just entered the Masai Mara around the Sand River Gate.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Masai Mara migration of 2008 has begun

One of the highlights of the annual migration, the arrival of the wildebeest into the Masai Mara, has commenced. The first arrivals from the Serengeti have started crossing the crocodile infested waters of the Mara River. This is what most people consider to be the quintessential “annual wildebeest migration” and this year looks likely to be a spectacular event. Only the first few thousand, of an estimated 2 million plains game, have arrived in the Masai Mara, but their arrival is a great source of excitement amongst safari enthusiasts.

There is plenty of water and the Mara and Talek Rivers are flowing strongly. There has been some rain in the last few days. New fresh shoots of grass are appearing where rangers burnt the long grass over the last few weeks. In other parts of the reserve the grass is still long making game viewing a bit more challenging. This will soon change as the wildebeest, zebra and gazelle churn up the soil with their hooves.

Camps in the Mara and adjacent ranches are reporting strong interest in this year’s migration, but most camps still have limited availability. This is unusual for the high season as most camps are normally fully booked 6 months to a year in advance. The current lower tourist numbers is probably due to the bad publicity associated with recent elections in Kenya, the increase in the price of international flights and the downturn in the world economy. This is good news for those visitors that do get see the crossing this year as there may be less people around. But, it is still early enough in the season for this to change.

Even though the big news is that the migration has started entering the Masai Mara, it is important to note that the entire migration is spread over a large area covering the Serengeti and Masai Mara. The tail end of the migrating herds is around Ikorongo in the western corridor of the Serengeti, large populations can be found in the northern Serengeti, while some herds are heading in easterly direction towards Lobo. For the next couple of months the wildlife will move back and forth across the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara, constantly criss-crossing the rivers and Kenya-Tanzania border.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Predators of the migration

The main herds have left the Grumeti heading north. Despite this, there is still excellent game viewing with lots of predator activity around Grumeti. The below photographs were take by Singita game guides in the Grumeti Reserve in the past few days. Photos: Courtesy of Singita.

Cheetah startling a Thomson’s gazelle. The subsequent pursuit and kill were caught on camera by a game guide:

The female cheetah later carried the gazelle under the shade of a nearby tree and consumed the entire carcass. Guest at Grumeti experienced this hunt occur in front of their open 4x4 game vehicle.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Serengeti Migration News: Herds heading north

The migration has been moving north out of the Grumeti through Ikorongo and Robanda. They are heading towards the Masai Mara and north east towards Lobo. There are still some wildebeest along the Grumeti River, but the main herds have moved off. June has been dry in the southern Serengeti and the new grazing and water in the northern Serengeti and Masai Mara Triangle are drawing the herds north. The north has received decent rainfalls.

Rangers are predicting the arrival of the migrating herds in the Mara Triangle in the next week, earlier than usual.
The best place to be based at the moment is Sayari Camp, the mobile camps based in the northern private camps or around the Mara Triangle. The Mara Triangle already has good populations of zebra and some wildebeest. The Grumeti camps are still reporting excellent game viewing. This week, both crocodiles and lions have been seen with kills.

Some camps to consider are:
Serengeti Premier Camps: Sabora Plains Camp, Faru Faru Camp, Grumeti River Camp
Serengeti Luxury Camps: Sayari Camp
Serengeti Comfortable Camps: Robanda Private Camp
Masai Mara Luxury Camp: Mara Explorer Camp, Rekero Camp, Governor’s Camp

Monday, June 23, 2008

Migration Update: Masai Mara

The main herds of wildebeest are still in the Grumeti area and moving north, but there is already talk about when the wildebeest may be in the Masai Mara. There have been reports of the first wildebeest on the border of the Serengeti and the Mara Triangle, but these are likely to be small break away groups that came directly from Ndutu through Seronera, bypassing the western corridor. It could also be resident herds that were left behind during last year’s migration. It should be remembered that the migration is not one single mass of 2 million plain’s game moving in unison. Instead, there is an overall movement of wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelles (and their ensuing predators), but this is made up of smaller pockets of game that may break away, regroup and turn back on themselves numerous times.

Another indication of the arrival of the main herds into the Mara is arrival of the zebra. The zebra herds generally precede the wildebeest herds and these herds have been seen in large numbers crossing the Mara River. Human pressures may also be partially accountable for this as the zebra herds have been grazing in Maasai pastoral land and have been competing for grazing with cattle.

No-one can be completely sure about how all these factors affect the migration paths and rate of movement, but most of the experts and guides seem to believe the migration could arrive early in July. The long grass has also been recently burnt clearing the way for fresh sweet shoots that will be a draw card for the plains game.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Serengeti Migration Update: Grumeti River

The migration is spread from north of Maswa Game Reserve through the Grumeti River and into the Grumeti Reserve. There has been good rainfall over the past week in the western Serengeti.

The Grumeti Reserve has approximately 1.3 million wildebeest spread throughout the reserve. They have been moving back and forth following the rains. Initially, they looked like they were heading west towards Nyasarori, but a lot of rain fell around Ikorongo pulling the main herds back east. All the Grumeti Camps are reporting spectacular game viewing. On the open plains between Sasakwa and Sabora Plain Camp, guides have reported seeing some of the biggest populations of wildebeest in many years. Sabora Plains Camp has reported wildebeest drinking out of their pool. A wildebeest bull even fell in! Lions, cheetah and hyena have been very active in the area.

Wildebeest surround Sabora Plain Camp. Photo: Courtesy of Singita.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Masai Mara Update: Mara River crossing

The big news to report during May is the unexpected arrival of the zebras in huge numbers. Thousands of them are in our area of the Mara covering the Musiara Marsh, Paradise and Topi Plains. These zebra are the residents of an area east of the Masai Mara Game Reserve and they normally migrate into the Reserve every year but this year the migration has happened earlier than we would expect. This may be due to competition for grazing with Masai Cattle in the concession areas bordering the Game Reserve. The zebra have been filing down towards the Mara River in large herds and towards the end of the month we were seeing them crossing the Mara River on an almost daily basis. The resident crocodiles seem delighted as their annual feeding frenzy arrived a few months early and we have seen very large crocodiles manoeuvring into strategic crossing points along the river. On the 23rd five hundred zebras crossed the Mara River; on the 28th a further two hundred crossed with the crocodiles snatching a couple of zebra on each occasion, and on the 30th a very large herd crossed the Mara River and six were taken by crocodiles. On another occasion twelve Thomson gazelles bravely took the plunge and crossed the river ahead of the zebra herd. Sadly all twelve Thomson gazelles were taken by crocodiles and the following herd of zebra all managed to cross without incident! The following day many zebra were seen crossing again and our driver-guides remarked that these are the best sightings of zebra crossings we have had in many years.

Source: Governor's Camp, Mara River, Masai Mara 16 June 2008

Zebras filing up to cross the Mara River

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wildebeest Migration News: Herds heading north

The migration is heading north towards the Masai Mara. They have entered the Grumeti Reserve and are still crossing the Grumeti River.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Masai Mara Update: Zebra entering the Mara Triangle

The Masai Mara has seen a lot of rain in May. There is good grazing with long grass. Movement of the migration into the Masai Mara is notoriously hard to predict and 2008 is no exception. However, the first indications are that migrating wildebeest may arrive earlier than usual. It has been reported that a large herd of resident zebra has migrated from the Loita Plains into the Masai Mara Reserve. Their entry into the park is usually a precursor to the arrival of the wildebeest from the Serengeti. These herds of zebra were seen moving across Olorukoti and Paradise Plains, crossing the Mara River at the main crossing point onto the Mara triangle.

Grumeti River Crossing

Increasing numbers of wildebeest have been arriving and crossing the Grumeti River. The herds are moving north into the Grumeti Reserve on their way to the Masai Mara where there is more water.

There are dramatic scenes of herds across the river. Predators have been active and making the most of the easy hunt. Crocodiles have been feasting on unfortunate wildebeest, lions have been ambushing them and the hyenas and vultures have been scavenging at every opportunity.

Game drives have been outstanding with guest experiencing the migration at its best. The Grumeti area remains the best place to be based for a safari. The weather is also excellent for game drives. Roads have opened after the heavy rains closed them during the earlier part of the year. Rangers have been back-burning on the short grass plains.

Grumeti River Camp is in the heart of the action at the moment. The Singita camps; namely Sasakwa, Sabora Plains and Faru Faru; in the Grumeti Reserve are also good options for the next month. Robanda private camp is an excellent location for a mobile camp over the next month. It is outside the Serengeti National Park so guest can enjoy game walks and game drives amongst the migrating herds.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Migration Status 2008: Grumeti River crossing has started

One of the highlights of the annual migration, the Grumeti River crossing, has started! The advanced party of wildebeest and zebra have already crossed the river and are moving into the Grumeti Reserve. The main herds have not reached the river yet, but their arrival and crossing is imminent. The crocodiles lie in wait and have already had successful kills. Other predators have been able to pick off prey as they approach or exit the Grumeti River. This is the start of the high season in the western corridor of the Serengeti.

All the permanent camps are busy and most of the mobile camp operators have set up camp in the area. All lodges between Seronera and the Singita camps in the Grumeti Reserve are popular at this time of year, but for the safari purist there is no beating being camped along the Grumeti River. Camp guests await the main herds and the spectacle of the greatest safari experience in Africa.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Migration Update: Grazing is sparse and dry

The grazing on the plains from Ndutu to the central Serengeti is getting sparse and dry. The herds are spread across a large area and broken into a few groups. Smaller herds can still be found east of Ndutu, but the main concentrations are moving west. There are also herds that have split and heading north west.

Gameviewing has been good with sighting of predators. Everyone is waiting expectantly for the arrival of the herds in the Grumeti.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Migration Statistics: Herds posed to cross the Grumeti River

The Grumeti River crocodiles are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the annual migration. This is one of the highlights of the annual migration calendar.
The best place to be based to see the migration is Grumeti River Camp, Kirawira Camp or one of the mobile camps. These are now based at private camps between Seronera and the Grumeti.
An good example of a safari for this time of year: June Safari route

Friday, May 9, 2008

Migration heading west from Seronera

The core herd of over one million wildebeest, zebra and Thompson's gazelle are around Seronera. There are still stragglers as far back as Gol Kopje, but the general movement is west and north west. The rains have stopped and the Serengeti is drying up, making driving around easier. Game viewing has been excellent with abundant herds and foals playing and finding their running legs. Predators continue to follow the annual migration and pick off the weak and young.

The lead herds look like they will soon start to move towards the west corridor and the Grumeti River where there is better grazing at this time. The long grass of Seronera is quickly being depleted by the vast quantity of wildlife.

The best place to be based is obviously around Seronera or within driving distance of the central Serengeti. Robanda mobile camp in Ikoma Game Controlled Area is a good option for those wanting to do game drives and some walking safaris.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Migration update: Wildebeest moving towards Seronera

The main herds of wildebeest and zebra have started moving northwest away from Ndutu plains to Naabi Hill gate on their way to Seronera.
The best camps to be based at are the private mobile camps around Seronera, Kusini Camp or Serengeti Serena Lodge.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ndutu is muddy with lots of game

A number of the auxillary tracks in the south Serengeti are closed as they are impassable due to the extended periods of rain.

For those safari enthusiasts who do make it to Ndutu, they are rewarded with herds spread across the short grass plains and good sightings of predators. Cheetah cubs have been seen.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Migration Update: Muddy game drives

The rains continue to fall on the Serengeti plains. There have been good downpours since the middle of March. Road conditions are poor with loads of mud on most of the safari routes. Despite this, game viewing is good in the open short grass plains of Ndutu. Be prepared to get wet.

Wildebeest and zebra have been seen crossing the Olduvai River.

The below photo shows Nazli, Sunsafaris' East Africa Travel Specialist, in Ndutu in March 2008. Wildebeest can be seen grazing in the background. There is no major movement of the herds as they are grazing on the Ndutu plains.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Migration Update: March rain in the Serengeti

March has seen plenty of rain in the Serengeti. February was dry so the late March rains were welcome. The herds are spread out all across the southern Serengeti from Ndutu Plains all the way to the Olduvai Plains. The abundance of grazing means the herds are moving slowly back-and-forth finding the best grass on the short grass plains, but concentrated around Ndutu.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Migration Update: Ndutu region

The first half of March was dry, so the herds and following predators began to move north towards the Kusini area. In the last week there has been good rainfall, which brought most of the animals back south again. The core herd is now grazing the Miti Mitatu plains, between Matiti and Kusini. Wildebeest and zebra still cover the southern region from Ngorongoro all the way west past Kusini. The long rains only really started towards the middle of March around Ndutu region, resulting in some confused movement among the herds.

The best place for the migration: The mobile camps based at Ndutu, Kusini Camp, or the Seronera Camps.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Calving season is almost over in Ndutu

The main herds are still around Ndutu, as far south as Maswa Game Reserve and have been seen west of Kusini Camp. The wildebeest foaling season is almost over with most of the foals already finding their feet and enjoying the abundance of rich grazing.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Migration moving through Loliondo and Ndutu

The rains have remained localised and sporadic. Heavy rains have been seen, but have not lasted. The migration has been moving down through Loliondo and into Ndutu in the Serengeti. Some herds have been left behind and can still be seen in the Masai Mara, including parts of the Loita herds.
Due to the lower rainfall, the main wildebeest and zebra populations have moved to better food and water areas. In the last three weeks, they have spent time in the Loliondo, Gol and Sanjan area but as soon as it started drying up, they moved south and west, passing through Ndutu onto the mid grass plains on the other side.
There are still herds of wildebeest to be found all over this area but the main concentrations are in the south and west. The calving season is also nearing an end with the majority of the babies already born. Despite this, the other game remains excellent throughout the whole south and eastern areas of the eco-system, with plenty of cheetah and lion sightings.
In the Masai Mara, the short rains across the Mara plains recently have left a carpet of lush green grass across the plains. At the onset of the rains, most of the remaining herds of wildebeest started migrating back to their usual calving grounds further south, leaving some of the Loita herds breeding in the Mara, which is quite unusual. The Mara predators have grabbed this opportunity to feed their young who would have otherwise been starving had all the migratory herds left as usual.

The best place to be based to see the migration is around Ndutu, Seronera or southern Loliondo.

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