My next stop was the Mara region of Serengeti National Park. It lies in the far north, just below Kenya’s Masai Mara. The area is very hilly and is dotted with kopjes and small hills and the Mara River winds its way in a southwesterly direction roughly parallel to the Kenya border. Relatively inaccessible for years, the area, referred to as Mara Serengeti or Northern Serengeti, now has three permanent tented camps, Sayari Camp, Serengeti Bushtops, and the newly opened Lamai Camp. These are joined by a dozen or so seasonal camps which are erected for several months each year, normally from June to October when the great migration is most likely to pass through on its way to and from Kenya.
The best months are July and October when, with some persistence and a bit of luck, guests have a decent chance of seeing one of the famous “crossings” – when the herds of wildebeest jump into the croc infested Mara River on their way to greener pastures. Crossing times and places are impossible to predict, and the rains which drive the herds movements seem less dependable than in years past, but half the fun is trying; and crossings or not, visitors are sure to be rewarded with beautiful scenery and fewer crowds than other parts of the park.
This trip I stayed at Lamai Camp, perched on top of one of the many picturesque hills in the area. Since my arrival, we have not seen the number of animals we would have in the central Serengeti, but we have seen lions on a kill, serval, elephant, zebra, reedbuck, giraffe, buffalo, dik dik, klipsspringer, zebra and, of course, wildebeest.
While the major crossings had already taken place, we were fortunate enough to witness three separate attempts. Usually, the wildebeest nervously gather at river’s edge until one brave (or stupid) animal plunges in. Then in a shot, the rest follow, frantically jumping in and swimming as fast as they can, crocs and hippos watching on. Sometimes the crocs pursue, although this late in the season most are too stuffed to bother.
Next, I head to Loliondo and central Serengeti. Tune in to the next blog to read about my adventures there!