The Wild, Wild West
ByEbenezer and Elia – Resident Guides at Ubuntu Camp
The Great Migration is the largest herd movement of animals on the planet. In fact, with up to 1,000 animals per km², the great columns of wildebeest can be seen from space.
The circuit takes the animals from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (although not into the Crater itself) in the south of the Serengeti in Tanzania, up through the Serengeti and across into the Masai Mara in Kenya, and back again. The journey is beset with danger: young calves are snatched by predators, the slow are brought down by prides of lion, brave beasts break legs on steep river slopes, crocodiles take their share of the stragglers, and the weak and exhausted drown.
The Western Corridor
The ‘Western Corridor’ of theSerengetiis a narrow strip of lush grassland that stretches almost all the way to Lake Victoria. During this stage of the migration, the wildebeest move slowly through this region, grazing and tending the newborns. There are two rivers in this region – the Grumeti and the Mbalageti – that the wildebeest will cross on their way northwards to theMasai Mara.
Ubuntu Camp – one of our three mobile migration camps is in the area from May to July – placing you in the perfect position to experience the Migration in the Western Corridor.
What Makes The West Interesting?
Because of the area’s geographical features, the west has a lot of hills and plenty of woodland areas as well. This means that when the herds make their way to the open areas such as Musabi Plains or the Nyasiori Plains, they are everywhere and you have the best chance of seeing huge numbers of wildebeest in one place.
The herds also are usually mating when they arrive in the West. This means that there are extremely large numbers of wildebeest as well as thousands of helpless wildebeest calves and, obviously, the predators have followed. The predators know to expect the herds around this time of the year and gorge themselves on the easy targets – there is a lot of food to go around at this time of the year and all the big cats are walking around with full bellies. You can read more about the calving here.
Grumeti River Crossings
The Grumeti River is not as open as other rivers – there are lots of dense bushes and trees that line the river banks which makes it hard to see the wildebeest crossing and means it is harder to find a good spot to sit and wait with your vehicle.
So the reality is that Grumeti River crossings are not the easiest to see but when you do – oh boy, are they action packed! We’ve has some seriously exhilarating sightings of crocodiles trying their luck at catching a wildebeest while it was crossing the river or having a drink of water. There are a lot of crocodiles around at this time of the year – they too have learnt to expect the herds.
How Long Do The Herds Stay in the West?
The herds don’t spend very long in this area – generally around a month and a half or two months. The rains are the driving force behind the herd’s movements so if there was not enough rainfall in the area this means the herds are likely to move on quicker in search of more drinking water. If the rains decide to stay longer in the West, so will the herds!
Once the herds drink up all the water in the West’s natural pools they begin making their way towards the Northern Serengeti region.
Our Funniest Moments of The Great Migration in the West
One of the funniest things we see are the males as they chase one another around and fight one another for the smallest piece of territory – they take it very seriously! Even if a vehicle comes close, they sometimes want to challenge the vehicle for territory – they really are such funny creatures.
We would love to welcome you toUbuntu Campwhen we are in the West and have you here to experience this part of the Great Migration with us!
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