Our trip to Angama Mara was planned over a year ago and was to be a full scale learning experience for a group of keen amateur photographers with an expert photographic guide. The fact that construction at Angama Mara had not yet commenced did not deter the would-be enthusiasts one bit...
Our trip to Angama Mara was planned over a year ago and was to be a full scale learning experience for a group of keen amateur photographers with an expert photographic guide. The fact that construction at Angama Mara had not yet commenced did not deter the would-be enthusiasts one bit.
So 6 intrepid photographers with our guide Marius Coetzee of Oryx Photographic Expeditions headed to the Mara. What a win – one vehicle all focussed on getting great wildlife shots. We had heard that the migration was in town and were welcomed by hundreds of thousands of wildebeest on the plains of the Mara Triangle contentedly moving slowly in one direction. Then just one animal moved in the opposite direction and the mass followed. Logic does not appear to be part of the wildebeest make-up but then perhaps we just don’t understand.
We knew that the real drama of the migration happens when the animals cross through the Mara River from one bank to the other. We had seen those images before and naturally we also wanted to get those iconic shots.
On Day One, after seeing a myriad of wonderful non-migration game, we ended up at the river where a number of wildebeest appeared to be getting ready to cross. We jostled with the other vehicles but eventually we were in position with our big lenses poised. After an hour of waiting, the wildebeest moved away, slowly at first and then at a canter! So we moved to a second crossing point and wasted another hour waiting for nothing to happen. That night we decided to change our strategy – take books and wait.
Day Two, and armed with books we found a great spot and waited for the crossing. Two hours later, no action but we hear that a crossing is about to happen some three kilometers down stream. We charge there. As an aside our young Argentinian photographer had never seen a lion. As we sped to the next crossing point passed a beautiful male lion on a termite mound 10 metres from the road – and he wasn’t even sleeping. We sped right by and explained that we would come back after the crossing to do justice to this amazing beast. The crossing never happened. And of course the lion had gone by the time we got back. To rub salt in our wounds, a young Australian at the lodge had capured amazing crossing pictures that day – with his iPad. Another change of strategy – getting good crossing pictures was clearly a matter of luck.
So for the next few days we focussed on the abundant game everywhere and shunned the migration and crossings. What a feast of photography is on offer in the lovely Mara Triangle.
Happily on our second last day we came upon a mass of wildebeest who looked like they wanted to cross from the opposite bank towards us. We were in pole position. It happened within an hour, took 6 minutes from start to end and we had our classic crossing shots with all the drama and heartbreak perfectly captured. We retreated for a desperately needed comfort break and a Tusker celebration.
Note from the Editor: All the images used in this post were taken by James on his safari (September 2015).