Article Review:

April 1, 2024

The greatest show on Earth: tracking the wildebeest migration across Tanzania’s Serengeti

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Wildebeests ford the Mara River as they cross from Tanzania’s Serengeti to the Kenya’s Maasai Mara and back.

Sarah Marshall’s article, “The greatest show on Earth: tracking the wildebeest migration across Tanzania’s Serengeti,” published in National Geographic Traveller (UK), offers an immersive exploration of one of nature’s most astonishing phenomena: the annual wildebeest migration across the Serengeti ecosystem. Through vivid descriptions and engaging storytelling, Marshall takes the reader on a journey alongside 1.3 million wildebeests as they undertake their epic 1,250-mile trek in search of greener pastures, accompanied by zebras and Thomson’s gazelles.

Marshall’s account is not just a travel narrative; it’s a deep dive into the ecological significance of the wildebeest migration, highlighting its role as a cornerstone of the Serengeti’s biodiversity. The migration, a spectacle of life and death, is presented as a dynamic force that shapes the ecosystem, benefiting numerous other species along the way. The wildebeests’ journey is fraught with peril, from treacherous river crossings to the ever-present threat of predators, yet it is crucial for the renewal of the grasslands and the survival of the Serengeti’s predators.

The article also reflects on the human connection to natural cycles and migrations, contrasting ancient human nomadic patterns with the ongoing rhythms of the natural world, of which the wildebeest migration is a prime example. The narrative is enriched by personal experiences and observations made during Marshall’s travels in the Serengeti, including encounters with her Maasai guide, Moinga, and insights into the challenges and changes facing the migration today, such as the impact of tourism and climate variability.

Marshall’s exploration extends beyond the wildebeests themselves to the broader Serengeti ecosystem, including the efforts at conservation in the Grumeti Game Reserve and the innovative sustainable practices at Asilia Africa’s Sayari Camp. The article culminates in a reflection on the significance of the wildebeest migration, not just as a natural wonder, but as a reminder of the interconnectedness of life and the importance of preserving such extraordinary ecological phenomena.

“The greatest show on Earth” is a compelling reminder of the wildebeest migration’s majesty and fragility, offering a powerful argument for conservation and a call to witness and protect one of the planet’s most spectacular and vital natural events. Through detailed descriptions, personal anecdotes, and a clear passion for wildlife, Marshall captures the essence of the Serengeti and the awe-inspiring spectacle of the migration, making it an essential read for anyone interested in nature, wildlife, and conservation.

To fully experience the grandeur of the Great Migration, selecting the right accommodation is crucial. Staying in strategic locations within the Serengeti and Maasai Mara ecosystems can provide unparalleled opportunities to witness the migration, river crossings, and the diverse wildlife that accompanies this natural spectacle. Here is a curated list of lodges and camps that offer prime viewing opportunities for the wildebeest migration:

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania:

Sayari Camp: Renowned for its proximity to the Mara River, Sayari Camp offers an excellent base for witnessing dramatic river crossings. Its luxurious tents and sustainable operations make it an appealing choice for eco-conscious travelers.

Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge: Centrally located, this lodge provides easy access to various migration points within the Serengeti. Its design is inspired by traditional African architecture, blending seamlessly with the environment.

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti: For those seeking luxury amidst the wild, the Four Seasons offers an unparalleled experience with its elegant accommodations and exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities.

Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya:

Governors’ Camp: Established in 1972, Governors’ Camp is one of the oldest luxury camps in the Maasai Mara. Its location along the Mara River makes it an ideal spot for migration and river crossing views.

Mara Serena Safari Lodge: Perched on a hilltop, Mara Serena offers panoramic views of the savannah and the Mara River. Its strategic location allows for excellent migration sightings, especially during the peak season.

Angama Mara: Overlooking the Mara Triangle, Angama Mara offers luxury tented suites with breathtaking views. Its elevated position provides a unique perspective on the migration.

Private Conservancies:

Olare Motorogi Conservancy: Lodges like Kicheche Bush Camp and Mara Plains Camp offer exclusive safari experiences in less crowded settings, with high chances of witnessing the migration in a more intimate setting.

Singita Grumeti Reserves: Located in Tanzania, Singita’s lodges and camps, including Sasakwa Lodge and Sabora Tented Camp, offer luxury accommodations and a front-row seat to the migration on the western corridor of the Serengeti.

When planning your visit, consider the timing of the migration, which varies slightly each year based on rainfall patterns. The accommodations listed above provide diverse options in terms of luxury, location, and the type of experience they offer. Booking well in advance is crucial, especially during the peak migration months, to secure the best possible viewing opportunities.


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