HOME Blog This Week At Angama #135

This Week At Angama #135

The unpredictability of the Great Migration is staggering. You can go out one afternoon and be greeted by hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, the river pulsating with drama. A few hours later and they are all gone; but look closely and you will see there is always something to capture your interest
Migration season is a time of plenty for the Mara's preditors

The rains have started. The days are warm. Clouds build up across the plains and in the evenings short bursts of rain fall throughout the landscape. Thunder echoes and wildebeest run.

A typical late afternoon scene. Clouds build up and move across the horizon f 4.0, 1/2000, ISO 320, -1.33

Trying to predict the movements of these animals is near impossible. We know they follow the rain, but when the rain is scattered and falling on both sides of the Mara River, and in both Kenya and Tanzania, it has the effect of splitting the herds into smaller groups. The reality is that the longer you spend in the Mara, the greater the chance you have of witnessing these smaller herds congregating into mega herds, and in seeing these mega herds trying to cross the treacherous river.

A large migratory herd, a common sighting at this time of year f 11.0, 1/400, ISO 320, -0.67 – photo by Adam Bannister

Like this herd which has begun to gather and make its way in an orderly fashion in the direction of the river.

A slow pan of a wildebeest f 16.0, 1/60, ISO 100

A slow shutter speed of 1/60th of a second allows you to show movement, illustrating that these animals are often on the go.

A cattle egret enjoys a free ride f 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 320, -0.67

River crossings have a tendency to dominate the spotlight and a theoretical ‘heat-map’ showing the car movements in the Mara at the moment would show 99% of all the cars along the meandering river tracks. My suggestion is that if you happen to be in the Mara on one of the days when the wildebeest are not congregating en masse at the river, then perhaps drive in the complete opposite direction. In the vast Mara Triangle, it's easy to get far away and enjoy the absolute isolation. The wildlife is spread throughout the reserve and sometimes the most magical, moving and memorable sightings are the ones which you have all to yourself.

Olalashe, the male of the Owino Pride f 5.0, 1/1250, ISO 500, +0.33

Like this sighting of Olalashe, as he looks out over his territory at the base of the Oloololo Escarpment.

Mrefu, one of the two males often found around Eland Plains f 5.6, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.33

A little further along, we came across Mrefu who seems to have settled comfortably into a territory once belonging to the legend Scarface.

A gorgeous lilac-breasted roller enjoys a late afternoon snack f 5.6, 1/2000, ISO 640

Veering away from the river roads also led us towards this roller enjoying a sizeable lunch, tossing the frog up and down, squashing it in the process, before being able to swallow it whole. The more you explore the Mara, the more opportunity you have to find wonderful things. Whether it be a new jackal den-site with four pups, or a tree that makes for the perfect sunrise shot. There is magic around every corner.

A typical Mara sunrise f 5.0, 1/1000, ISO 100, -1.0

Nothing beats being out in the park at first light.

Two of the newest additions to the Mara Triangle f 7.1, 1/640, ISO 500

These young jackal pups are currently being stashed away in a termite mound south of the Salt Lick near the Tanzanian border.

One of the best ways to experience the Mara is from above

Of course, there are also other options if you feel like a change from heading out on the roads. Hot air balloons allow you to soar, silently across the grasslands, over the forest fringes and above the Mara River. As the sun rises to the east over Rhino Ridge the light dances. Shadows flicker and the warm rays caress your cold face.

Up here you need to relinquish control. The winds determine where you will fly and how far you will go. Your job is to watch as life wakes up below your feet.

The carcass of an unlucky wildebeest f 6.3, 1/250, ISO 200, -0.67

Witnessing life and death is part and parcel of the safari experience. Currently, rather macabre carcasses are dotted across the plains – each death providing life to many others. This wildebeest must have made it across the river, only to fall short at another obstacle.

Some predators, which ordinarily struggle to get by, can now feast and gorge themselves. Scavengers snack on the leftovers and the final remnants disintegrate back into the soil. The circle of life plays out daily here. How fortunate that we are allowed to witness this most natural of cycles.

The Owino Pride enjoys a meal of a young wildebeest f 4.5, 1/400, ISO 640, -0.33

From above, we saw just how well all three cubs of the Owino Pride are doing - and at last the pride seems to be settled.

A snapshot of daily camp scenes

Back at the lodge you can relish the comforts of life. Dip your toes in the pool whilst looking out over what has to be one of the greatest views in Africa. Enjoy the seamless design of the lodge, and join us in the boma for an evening of Maasai culture and performance.

The Week Two Years Ago

The legend, Scarface f5.6 1/320, ISO 400

Scarface: every sighting is to be treasured. Two years ago Jeffrey Thige took a photo of this magnificent male lion hiding under a bush for shade. At the time we all thought he was on his last legs. We underestimate him; and two years later he still continues to provide us with infrequent, but special encounters.

Angama's in-house photographer, Adam Bannister has documented the change, diversity & beauty of the past six months in the Mara Triangle

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Great Migration , Maasai Mara , Mara Triangle , Photographic Safari , Safari Photography , Wildebeest Migration

About: Adam Bannister

A South African-trained biologist, safari guide, author, filmmaker and photographer, Adam is, above all else, a gifted storyteller. After spending the past 10 years working in some of the world’s most beautiful wild places – the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, Rajasthan in India, Brazil’s Pantanal, and the rainforests of Manu National Park in Peru – he is delighted to share his stories of one of the loveliest game reserves of them all, the Maasai Mara.

Browse all articles by Adam Bannister Meet the angama team

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