The mid-afternoon sun scorched our backs through the open rooftop of our Land Rover. A friend had told us she’d seen “the crossing”, the Mara-Serengeti Wildebeest migration, after waiting six hours. We had only been waiting for two at one of the Masai Mara’s main crossing points, located inside the Mara Triangle. Resigning myself to many more hours of unfulfilled anticipation, I contemplated opening the lunchbox our lodge, Royal Mara Safari Lodge, had packed for us. All morning, the wildebeests had played us for fools, going back and forth across the multiple crossing points along the Mara River.
The First Move
“They are going to cross.” Our guide, Joseph Mbotte from Natural World Kenya Safaris, said, his voice excited. I took my attention away from the bee-eater I’d been watching and turned towards the herd. A large male at the front of the train was kicking up dirt, looking ready to plunge into the water. I was skeptical – we had seen this behaviour a few times before, when the animal did not, in the end, enter the water.
A Feast for Crocodiles
I was wrong. In a sudden flurry of motion, the beast, compelled by instinct, leapt into the air plunging into the mud brown Mara River. Inspired by their brave compatriot, the surrounding beasts began to follow suit, taking turns, one after the other. The many crocodiles, camouflaged along its banks came to life. It wasn’t long before we caught sight of one of these magnificent reptiles reaching for its victim. The crocodile’s jaws snapped over its victim’s neck, dragging the wildebeest down into its watery world.
The sudden flash of activity took me by surprise, especially after hours of nothing happening. It was a pattern I began to realise with each passing day being on safari in Kenya. This seemed to be the way of nature. Hours may pass with absolutely nothing happening, despite your best efforts. Then, just as you’re about to give up, something spectacular happens, making the long wait worthwhile.