While we were driving from camp to the river crossing location, we came across an area where wildebeest were moving in a column, for as far and the eye could see in either direction. I tried creating a stitched panorama, but even that only provides a hint of the overwhelming number of animals on the plains.
Although seeing the river crossing was an all day adventure, the actual crossing itself happened in a flash, without any time to prepare. (If you missed previous posts on this, you can find some of them here or here).
Once I had the best shots I could capture of the wildebeest crossing the river, I decided to try something different, slowing down the shutter speed to highlight the movement of the animals. Nice crisp shots are all well and good, but this photo is more like the experience of being there; things happening so quickly that it is all a bit of a blur.
I’ve shared some photos and stories before from my time at a Mara river crossing, and thought I would share a few more images for my monochrome Monday post. I hope you enjoy, and wishing everyone a great week.
It may seem a little strange to post photos from a Masai Mara wildebeest river crossing for a post on ambience, but honestly, the ambience was a very integral part of the experience for me. When you are watching a nature program, they presenters do an excellent job of making a river crossing seem like an amazing spectacle – which is absolutely is!!! They also do an amazing job at making it seem like a secluded experience, which it absolutely is not!
We left our camp at 6am for a 2+ hour drive to the potential crossing point, in the hopes of getting a good parking spot to watch the action. On route we passed wildebeest in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, some marching the direction we were headed, and others, heading in the direction we had come from.
I had never anticipated being the only person there, but I also didn’t expect to find quite so many other people there. But, the atmosphere was a lot of fun. I spent time chatting with my guides and with the people in the vehicle next to us while waiting to see if possibly the wildebeest might make a move. They were certainly taking there time, and a good number of people gave up as the afternoon wore on.
The view from our vehicle at the crossing point. Land cruisers, jeeps, minibuses and land rovers, packed in like sardines and even double parked, all in an attempt to see the action.
When the gazelles approached the water and the crocodiles practically licked their lips, we collectively tried to will the little antelope back from their gruesome fate.
And when at 3:15 the wildebeest started crashing through the water, those that were left were all uttering the same things “amazing”, “mind-blowing”, “unbelievable”.
The atmosphere surrounding that stretch of river on that day in late September, really made the experience that much more special.