Great Wildebeest Migration

Posted August 6th, 2011 by   |  Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

Each time we go to Tanzania, one of our main goals is to photograph the great migration. Literally, millions of animals participate in this spectacle that brings them through the Serengeti and through the two great East African nations of Tanzania and Kenya.

This is the image people think of when they imagine the wildebeest migration. Millions of animals for as far as the eye can see. Nikon D300, 70-200mm f2.8.

This is the image people think of when they imagine the wildebeest migration. Millions of animals for as far as the eye can see. Nikon D300, 200-400mm f4.

The difficult part of planning trips to Tanzania is that you never know exactly where the herds will be. The Serengeti is a massive area and the animals always follow the rains. If the rain doesn’t fall in the plains, then the animals stay in the Northern areas in the higher woodlands. While the animals are in the northern forests, you don’t see the massive herds because the animals are scattered throughout the woodlands.

The herds are streaming out of the woodlands and heading for the open plains. Nikon D300s, 200-400mm, five image panorama.

The herds are streaming out of the woodlands and heading for the open plains. Nikon D300s, 200-400mm, five image panorama.

You know the animals are all around you, but you don’t get the grand sense of scale you normally see in the plains.

Some years the rains don't fall in the plains, so the wildebeest stay in the woodlands. Nikon D300s, 200-400mm f4.

Some years the rains don't fall in the plains, so the wildebeest stay in the woodlands. Nikon D300s, 200-400mm f4.

Once the rains begin to fall, there’s a massive movement to the open plains where you can see wildebeest from horizon to horizon. The sight is quite something to behold. So are the flies!

Falling rains mean green grass. The wildebeest follow the rains simply to live. There were over 200,000 wildebeest in front of me when I took this image! Nikon D700, 70-200mm f2.8.

Falling rains mean green grass. The wildebeest follow the rains simply to live. There were over 200,000 wildebeest in front of me when I took this image! Nikon D700, 70-200mm f2.8.

Wildebeest live all throughout the Tanzanian national parks. They are scattered throughout the country, so you don’t necessarily need to track down the migrating herds to find them. In fact, you’ll see more wildebeest than almost any other animal on Safari. Some people love photographing them since they have such interesting faces and horns. Other people take one pic and that’s enough.

Wildebeest are everywhere in Tanzanian national parks. This group is not a part of the great migration and is located further south in Tarangire NP. Nikon D90, 24-70mm f2.8

Wildebeest are everywhere in Tanzanian national parks. This group is not a part of the great migration and is located further south in Tarangire NP. Nikon D90, 24-70mm f2.8

On our November safari, we photograph the herds as they are leaving the Mara River and headed to the grasslands. During the May safari, we photograph the wildebeest rut on the central plains. Both trips offer great opportunities for migration photography.



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