Nigel Archer is one of YPA’s expert safari guides focused on tailor-made experiential safaris throughout East Africa. Nigel recently guided some of our YPA guests in the Masai Mara and chatted to us about why the Great Migration should be at the top of everyone’s African adventure bucket list.
Nigel has been guiding ever since he left university in 1995, where he studied a BSc in Natural Resources Management. It’s safe to say that he’s seen it all, yet he’s adamant that witnessing the migration remains one of the most magnificent sights there is to behold in Africa.
“It is such a thrill to see over 2 million animals funneling into the Masai Mara Game Reserve,” he enthuses. “On one side of the funnel, to the East, you have the Loita Hills. To the West, you have the Siria Escarpment, which the White Bearded Wildebeest do not traverse. The fact that a migration of this magnitude still exists is enthralling. All too often these wonders of the world are ruined by man-made interventions and tourism, which makes it all the more incredible that we still get to witness this extraordinary experience here in the place that I love to call home.”
Although the wildebeest certainly steal the spotlight, there are many other natural marvels to behold once the dust starts to settle…
“Apart from the wildebeests’ migration, you’ll see zebra, topi antelope, eland, Thomson’s gazelles, Wattled Starlings (eating insects) and dung beetles (helping to clear up the mess) migrating in vast numbers as well,” he says.
If you’re going to witness the Great Migration, Nigel advises you do so from the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, which is approximately 45 minutes’ flight from Nairobi or a 6-hour drive.
“All of the camps and lodges situated in the heart of the Reserve will give you the best all-round viewing of the migration (which takes place in the Mara only for a few months in the year), together with the best opportunity to see the migration crossing the famous Mara River,” he explains. “This is also where the Wildebeest rutting occurs, which is a spectacular chance to see the larger males fighting for dominance.”
“Approximately 8 months later, wildebeest calving happens at Ndutu near the Ngorongoro Crater. This affords visitors an amazing chance to see the Eastern and Western herds come together and +-300 000 wildebeest being born over a three-week period.”
Nigel’s passion for Africa is clear, as is his knowledge and hard-earned experience. The beauty of experiencing these wonders with a private guide like Nigel is that they are with you throughout the entire safari. Not only are they incredibly clued up on all the different National Parks, Game Reserves and Wildlife Conservancies throughout Kenya, but they’ll wow you with fascinating animal facts, entertain you with stories of their bushveld experiences, and make every game drive an adventure.
We asked Nigel what he’d recommend for first timers visiting Kenya. Here’s his itinerary of choice:
“For first timers, I would definitely advise a hot air balloon safari, for breathtaking aerial views of the plains, as well as an authentic bush breakfast or dinner. I’d also recommend a cultural visit to watch the Masai women making their beautiful beaded jewelry – it’s a great activity for the kids to see, and getting a sneak peek into how the Masai tribes live is something a lot of guests find fascinating.”
If you had any doubts about whether or not a trip to Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve is for you, let Nigel’s love of the bushveld set your travel dreams alight:
“Each and every time you’re in the bush, you’re guaranteed an incredible adventure. I can honestly say that 99% of our clients have a life-changing experience whilst on a private guided safari. They don’t only make unforgettable memories, they often make a lifetime friend or colleague along the way as well.”
Your Private Africa supports sustainable tourism and therefore we try not to place unnecessary pressure on a fragile and precious eco-system. That’s why we recommend year-round viewing of the migration – for example staying at the Legendary Maswa Mobile camp on the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti is great in January and February when it’s the calving season of the migration. Or the Grumeti area and Nyasarori area where you have amazing year round viewing too. Also we love that Nigel has a mobile camp from which guests can experience the migration in lesser known locations.
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