From now until October, something magical happens in East Africa. The wildebeest, some one and a half million of them, migrate from Tanzania to Kenya in search of water and tender grasses. Watching this great spectacle is one of life’s great thrills, made more thrilling by a fabulous camp in the midst of the action.
My personal pick for the best view of the migration is Governors’ IL Moran Camp in the Masai Mara. Talk about location: It’s on the banks of Kenya’s Mara River, where it all happens. Being here means you have the best chance of witnessing the all-important river crossing. (Even so, you have to be a little lucky, since this doesn’t happen every day.) This is when the massive herd of wildebeests, along with some “pilot” zebras, dive into the river, their reluctance a deafening chorus of groans. Most make it across, but the young and infirm aren’t so lucky, as enormous crocodiles lurk on the banks, ready to devour the easy prey. I always thought I would be revolted by the sight of this; instead, witnessing it made me feel intensely the raw power of nature. It was, to use an overused word in its true meaning, awesome.
Another activity not to miss: the hot-air ballooning over the plains. You will have to get up early for this (4 a.m., to be precise), but the reward is worth it. Watching the sun rise over the Mara, feeling the cool mist of morning, and having a bird’s-eye view of animals running across the plains is an unforgettable experience.
The very exclusive IL Moran, one of the famous Governors’ Camps of Kenya, has only 10 tents, but all have fabulous views of the river. Dining is alfresco by the banks of the Mara, with music compliments of nature. The symphony of hippos or the distant roar of lions are constant reminders that we are not necessarily at the top of the food chain here. The best part, of course, is the game viewing. The rangers at IL Moran are very skilled at finding game and timing experiences like the river crossing or a lion kill.
If a safari is on your bucket list, this is definitely one that won’t disappoint you …
Dining alfresco at Governors’ Camp. Governors’ was built in 1972 and is still an East African classic.
A bath at IL Moran camp. Running water and flushing toilets included!
At IL Moran, dining is alfresco above the banks of the Mara River. The very definition of rustic elegance.