2-March-2016, Central Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa.
It was the day and time for me to depart from Ndutu and drive into Central Serengeti. I had an excellent time last year and with earnest thought of riding on the same luck, I got into the jeep. Knowing the fact that it was a long journey on the road, had stocked snacks, coke and few water cans and more importantly, my camera equipment was pretty much in the stand-by mode! It has to be, is it not?
Warm morning…clear blue skies…dusty roads… and we slowly exited Southern Serengeti. It took more than an hour before we hit the main corridor road – by this time sun was blazing enough to bake a cake. Out there was endless plains, a mix of green and brown meadows all through, with stray mammals here are there. There was no end of sight barring few small sized mountain, very far across and on either sides. Watching these few impalas and zebras grazing on the brown grass, letting their guard down, it was a dry and also a tiring feeling. For sure there were no signs of predators out here. I don’t know when I drifted into sleep – Guess, I would have slept for half an hour or so – With warm air hitting me, long journey and no predatory excitement (J ), it was but natural for me to take few winks!
Hyena! Our Naturalist who was manning the wheels pointed at this lone predator, and stopped the jeep! This hyena was quite far. I was surprised since this was not a typical prey base especially this stretch had no herbivores movement – but you never know! ; He was running to the other side, may be to catch up with his clan. Moving on, back on the road! I looked at the watch – 12.00noon! Another 3 hours for sure to reach Central Serengeti! I was dying to get through this journey. After an hour or so, saw a thick cloud of dust on the farther side of the plain. We were quite curious and out came the binoculars.
Vow! Cloud of dust, mid-day, blazing sun and I see nothing less than a thousand of Wildebeest running towards the road we were on! For few minutes, I noticed there were few hundreds of them already towards our right, it was so hot, I could see mirage formation so very clearly. These seemed like waves … and I could literally see heat waves… and as the herd came close, thumping sound of wildebeests literally knocked me off. Not one, not two… but hundreds and thousands of them. The dust formed an enormous layer on the ground and more or less, became a layer of cloud as hot wind pushed the yellow dust upwards. I was sweating in severe heat but this was a spectacle I could have never missed! I was in trance – surrounded by hundreds and thousands of them, they sure were in a hurry to cross the road and move towards Central Serengeti for greener plains and more importantly water holes. This was the pre-migratory period – a time before the actual migration towards up-north.
As I was framing them, I could see nothing but a layer of tusks, mirage and sky of dust. Even as hundreds of Calves were jumping to get to the other side of the road, I was going hysteric hearing the distinct sound they make “UhhAaaaah” (in my own verbiage) – Imagine - all of them grunting together. It was nothing but a sea of them! Here is one such image I made during that moment.
My Gear: Canon 70D, 70-200 IS II.