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Mara River Crossing

Updated: Apr 20, 2022

Why a Wonder: With more than two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle, this yearly event is the greatest animal crossing/migration in the world – providing countless photo opportunities for wildlife photographers.

Where: Mara River. Governor’s Camp in the Masai Mara offers fast and easy access to major Mara River crossing locations.

When: Peak Mara River crossings are from July through October. Changes in weather patterns effect the migration pattern. Therefore, as with all wildlife encounters, it’s important to remember the saying, “It’s not a zoo.”

Photography: You’ll be photographing from a safari vehicle, next to dozens of other safari vehicles, all vying for the optimum spot for photography. Once the animals start to cross (be prepared to wait for hours or even days), all the safari vehicles take off to the crossing spot – like drivers in the Indianapolis 500 – toward the riverbank.

Because you don’t know exactly how far you will be from the animals, it’s best to pack a 24-105mm zoom and a 100-500mm zoom. Those lenses will help you tell the story with wide-angle and telephoto shots of this amazing event. Dust is problem, so you probably do not want to change lenses during the action. It's best to have two camera bodies, with a lens on each body.

In addition to taking "group shots" of the animals at fast shutter speeds, go for action shots of individual animals. Use a slow shutter speed and pan during an exposure to add a sense of movement to a still photograph.

More: Join this photo workshop in Tanzania. Check out this KelbyOne class: Capturing the Wild: On Safari Photography.

© Rick Sammon

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