Tanzania 3: Migration

Tanzania 3: Migration

The short rains have not arrived (January/February) and so the usual migratory path of one million wildebeests  converging in the southern Serengeti to drop their calves has not appeared.  Since this is one of the reasons we’re here, we head up to the central Serengeti to find them. We drive on dusty roads past different types of skittish gazelles – running on cue with the grace and power of a flock of birds in flight – scanning the far horizon for the purplish grey bearded beests.

The topography changes from flat and dusty savannah to rocky outcrops – kopjes-  where lions linger.  And then there they are: long lines of wildebeests stretching into the distance, meeting, forming patterns, clustering at water holes, kicking up dust, gathering in circles under Acacia shade. And accompanied by similar sized herds of zebras – each with their unique striped pattern, distinct as human fingerprints.  Strength in numbers from predators at the buffet.

Life and death at the water hole. Crocodiles? Big cats?

We watch them at a water hole – testing to see if there are crocs in the river.  The zebras are much braver, trotting into the water and snorting. Shimmying away at any unusual movement, then gathering courage and pushing forward. In remarkable order, they trot in to drink, splash and move out to let others in. Nobody pushes and no stampede happens.  (Unlike, say, at a soccer stadium).  It’s amazingly orderly, given the huge numbers of wildebeests that approach in long lines from several directions with their distinctive low-slung backs and high shoulders.  Not the brightest animals, evidently, and only one out of three newborn calves will survive.  Birthing hasn’t started yet; but in a few places we see calves that are just standing and still wet from birth.

Then the long dusty drive back to our Nomad migratory camp in the southern Serengeti where we settle into scenes from “Out of Africa” in our comfortable tents with bucket showers, treated to flaming sunsets turning to blue velvet dusk, drinks around the fire pit, the stories of new companions and fresh, local dinners.

Lounging with drinks post game drive

Family tent at Nomad Migratory camp

Setting up a two bucket shower.  Each bucket holds 20 liters of water.

Our tent at night.

Looking up, up, up at the lacy Acacia patterns.

Two views: sunset and dusk.

Philip prepares breakfast on the savannah

Detlev, Sash, EB and Philip at Nomad Serengeti Migration camp. Bundled up for morning game drive.