Tanzanian Bucket List ~ The Great Migration

“Do you see that black line on the horizon? Keep watching”, said Joseph, our guide.

Incomprehensible. Miles and miles of wildebeest and zebra herds trot in front of us at a steady pace. It’s the Great Migration. We keep a respectable and legal distance as we watch this unending procession of animals as if it is a river flowing through the Serengeti. I keep checking the horizon and it still remains black. No end in sight.

Wildebeest are calving in front of us and within two or three minutes the new born is up running along side its mother. Placenta and afterbirth are still attached and trailing behind her and if it could speak would cry out, “Wait for me! I don’t want to be a part of the dusty plain, trampled and forgotten.”

Within three weeks the majority of calving will take place adding a half million more to the 1.5 million wildebeest already en route in search of water and grassland.  It’s easy to spot the 2-3 week old calves; larger and more agile. At times we heard one crying mournfully, lost from its mother, but there is no slowing down to look for one’s missing offspring. No sympathetic adoptions taking place on the migratory route. The same is true for the zebras. We observed an abandoned zebra calf cruelly and aggressively bumped out of the way, ignored and almost trampled on. It is frozen to one spot. It will not survive. Around 250-300 thousand zebra are part of the Great Migration.

Lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs and jackals are just waiting for their moment to feed on the abandoned and especially those newly born who didn’t spring up quick enough. Nature’s way.

We passed a pride of lions while approaching this area “ laying around the campfire” so to speak, apparently well fed and uninterested in the spectacle unfolding a short distance from them. I’m actually thankful we didn’t witness a kill and feeding frenzy. I was wondering how I could save an orphan.

Mesmerized with the impact of this endless black and white procession, we learn from our guide that the migration covers 1800 miles, a circulatory route starting from the southern Serengeti plains in Tanzania (our location) and up to the northern edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

What we didn’t know is this yearly phenomenon began in the 1960’s. We  thought this yearly ritual of animal behavior had been in existence “forever.” Not so!

To find out more about the Great Migration refer to:



For more great travel photography visit  www.RonMayhewPhotography.com


About travelerlynne

Traveler. Writer. Retired Educator.Traveling on and off the beaten path with my photographer husband. Volunteering locally as well as in Haiti and Tanzania, an enriching and humbling experience. A sun lover! Shelling, boating, fishing and watching sunsets. Growing mango, banana, key lime,and pineapple.Making smoothies and chutneys. Enjoying family and friends! Savoring each new day!
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10 Responses to Tanzanian Bucket List ~ The Great Migration

  1. meanwhilein3 says:

    I cant believe this is a recent migration!

  2. The Great Migration is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating back to the early 1960s. In the late 19th century a rinderpest epidemic eliminated over 90% of the wildebeest and cattle in the region. To prevent a further spreading of the disease, cattle was inoculated by veterinarians, and the disease soon disappeared from the area. As a result, the wildebeest population boomed in the 60´s and 70´s, from 260,000 to the 1.4 million individuals that currently inhabit the Serengeti – Masai Mara ecosystem. http://www.masai-mara.net/masai_mara_great_migration.html
    Thanks for your question and for following my website.I look forward to reading yours.

  3. Gigi Galore says:

    This is a very powerful piece Lynne! If a little scary! 🙂

  4. Thanks, Gigi, for your comment. I was thrilled to witness this migration and the sheer magnitude of it. Knowing that a certain percentage aren’t going to survive keeps it in perspective. What is incredible is knowing how sensitive wildlife are to epidemics transmitted from cattle. Now, because of vaccinations, the numbers of wildebeest have grown out of proportion and they must search for food…creating The Great Migration.

  5. This must have been incredible to witness! I am so glad I found your blog!

  6. Wow, Lynne! It must have been amazing to witness this! Beautiful photos!

  7. This part of the trip was exceptional. Loved the tent camping and the proximity to the wildlife. We learned so much and having a knowledgeable guide made the difference.

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