I am always curious about a person when I receive an email, or read a comment complaining about too many vehicles in the Mara. I often wonder what their personal motivation is behind discouraging others from coming to one of the most renowned wildlife reserves in the world, a reserve immortalized by countless BBC and National Geographic documentaries and a reserve visited by the top wildlife photographers every year.
The Maasai Mara during the migration is, hands down, the greatest, most exciting, action -packed, wildlife experience in the world. I can’t imagine missing out on experiencing the greatest migration in the world, a mind-blowing event, just because it the busiest time to be in there. It is the ying with yang, the balance of nature, the good with the bad. As I like to say, “if you eat a lot of good food you you put on a few pounds, if you eat less and healthy you loose a few pounds”. There are not many situations in life when you get to have the perfect situation all to yourself. Is that a reason to avoid it all together?
I try to never forget what made me pick up the camera in the first place; the curiosity and the excitement of a place; more than a photograph, an experience. Don’t get me wrong, I am very serious about my photography, but when I lose the emotion of the experience, it becomes just another job. With that said, “there is a crazy amount of vehicles in the Mara during the Migration and it can be very frustrating, pull your hair out maddening!” This is why I use such an experienced team of drivers who are great at out maneuvering others and getting us into position, as I cannot imagine missing this event. It is called “compromising.”
Like Africa, being in the Mara during the migration is an addiction. This will be my 11th year, witnessing and photographing this unbelievable phenomena! I went down to the Sand River today and saw the first herds crossing over from Tanzania. There were thousands and thousands of wildebeest and zebras. I was so excited you would have thought this was first time I had seen the migration For me, it never gets old. Yes, all of us photographers wish we were the only ones out here, with no other tourists, but that is not the reality. Too many vehicles, bring it on, I will be right in the middle of it all!!
I agree that dealing with these type situations is not for everyone. If you have no desire to experience and photograph the great migration, in particular the crossing of the Mara River, or you are just completely intolerant of crowds and compromise, then I would say you should definitely stay away from the Mara during the crowed migration season. This does not mean stay away from the Mara completely because the Mara is great during the off-season, which is becoming known as the Big Cat season.
Words are powerful. Don’t give one person’s opinion so much power that it influences you in the wrong direction. Evaluate the information, do your own research, and understand what may be behind their opinion. Ultimately you have to make decisions that fit your goals both photographically and in experience.
Many of you reading this blog have been to the Maasai during the migration, what is your option?
In 2016, I will be running four safaris to the Maasai Mara; two during the migration season and two during the off season.
Great Migration Safari 2016-
This is for all us passionate, adrenaline rushing, crazy photographers that just want to be in the thick of the action! We will stay in three different location in the Mara during the height of the Migration season. Details-
Kenya Wildlife Safari 2016 –
This is for us photographers that want to experience and photograph the migration, but wish to visit a few other top reserves in Kenya. The Ultimate Classic African Safari is timed during the migration, including 5 nights in the Mara. Details-
Kenya and Tanzania 2016 –
The best of the best! This is for photographers who wish to experience the migration, but not the madness of the Mara. This safari takes you to the famous Serengeti for the birthing season. Each year around this time, approximately 750,000 wildebeest give birth during a three-week period. This natural phenomenon draws the attention of predators. Then we fly from the Serengeti into the Maasai Mara during the Big Cat season with very few vehicles in the reserve. Details-
Ultimate Big Cat Safari 2016 –
This is for photographers who wish to focus on creating dramatic, award winning images, which is hard to do in the high season. One of the best-kept secrets in Africa, this is the time of year when the crowds are down south in Tanzania with the migration, but the hungry predators remain behind. This allows us to spend quality time with these big cats, virtually undisturbed. Details –