The Mona Lisa, Migration & Not Another Soul in Sight

26 September 2017 | The Mara |

Reading Time: 3 MINUTES

Tyler Davis set off on a full day safari right in the heart of Migration season and shares his sightings and a best-kept secret for how to enjoy the magic of the Migration without another soul in sight

It’s no secret that the Maasai Mara can get a tad busy during the peak season – and I’m not just talking about the millions of wildebeest. Head to a Mara River crossing at midday in July or August, hoping for drama, and you’ll likely be lining up with dozens of other vehicles – but drama a-plenty you will get. Think of it like going to see the Mona Lisa: if you’re in Paris in mid-summer, and go to the Louvre late morning in hopes of seeing the world’s most famous painting, you can expect to be jockeying for position with a least a few other folks in order to snap that selfie (at least the Migration will hold your interest for more than a few minutes, the average amount of time spent looking at/snapping selfies with Ms. Lisa). The fact of the matter is that this is the price one must pay to see a wonder of the world, and most would agree that it is absolutely worth it.

But what if I told you that, instead of viewing the Mona Lisa with the masses, there is a little-known room full of da Vincis (and Rembrandts, and Picassos, and van Goghs . . .) for you to enjoy all to yourself, for as long as you want?


And this is perhaps the best-kept secret of the Mara Triangle: even during peak season, with the highest concentration of fellow safari-goers, there are hidden cut-grass tracks that only the best guides know about, leading to off-the-map locations that offer the magic of the Migration without another soul in sight.

To prove this point, in mid-August, four of us set off with Guide Douggy for a full-day game drive after enjoying a leisurely breakfast in camp – 9am is such a civilized departure time for a full day safari, don’t you agree? Knowing that most safari enthusiasts concentrate around the Mara River this time of year, we headed south towards the Tanzanian border.


En route, while still on the main roads, we enjoyed quiet moments viewing lion and cheetah, sharing each sighting with only two other vehicles. After the cheetah sighting Douggy took a turn off the main road and onto a cut-grass track that we hadn’t even noticed. For the next 6 hours we meandered through the Mara Triangle, off the beaten path without seeing a single other vehicle. Remember this is August in the Mara.

Wildebeest herd

We bumbled through the mega herds surrounded by tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of wildebeest. We stumbled into lions hiding in the grass, patiently eyeing the passing parade. We tallied 75 bird species, including one of the most sought-after species on the continent: the enigmatic and vulnerable Blue Swallow, with an estimated 3,000 individuals left in the world. We relaxed with a delicious and nap-inducing picnic under a magnificent fig tree in the middle of nowhere.


It was a privilege enjoying the wonders of the Mara and the spectacle of the Migration, shared only with the people sitting next to you.

And at the end of the day, as we climbed back up the hill towards Angama, with a sinking sun setting the Mara aglow behind us, we all agreed it was one of the most magical game drives we’d ever experienced. No, we hadn’t seen the Mona Lisa today – but we made a conscious decision not to, and instead enjoyed the rest of nature’s creations at leisure and undisturbed, reveling in the solitude and beauty of it all.


AUTHOR: Tyler Davis

Guide and birding fundi, Tyler was also one half of the regional director couple that lead the team at Angama Mara for the first five years. Being the birding extraordinaire that he is, he was known to let his attention wander during meetings. The trick to keep him focused was to place him with no direct view of anything feathered. Tyler ensures that we are a grounded and well-rounded team. He also sometimes forgets to take his binoculars off at dinnertime.

Annette Nagni
September 27, 2017

Gosh Ty, how lucky you are; firstly to drive with Douggie (please send him my warmest regards) & then to enjoy these magical little corners of the Mara. Beautiful article & photos!!

Shari Provenzano
September 28, 2017

Wow, Tyler. What a splendid day! Brought back to life our magical Mara days!

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