Get plugged into nature: be part of an animal migration

Written by  Kat Mackintosh

I often wonder how much the circle of life is moving me. When thousands of years of human evolution and time on this planet are controlling me via instinct, and when I’m acting entirely of my own accord. Several years ago I was lucky enough to watch the first few moments in the lives of a family of baby turtles. Buried in the sand they hatched from their eggs and without eating or drinking or being shown what to do they dug their way out into the air above and skittered, as fast as their tiny, newly hatched flippers would carry them, towards the ocean. Even if they feel the air or hear the ocean from inside their eggs, they’ve never experienced those things before, so it’s baby turtle instinct which must dictate to them what to do. In that moonlit moment I thought baby turtle instinct must be one of the most powerful forces in nature, but that’s really just the tip of the animal iceberg. It was like being plugged in to nature.

Instinct is clearly not to be reckoned with. Birds manage to embark on epic journeys twice a year and reach the same destinations, salmon fight their way upstream to spawn in the creeks they hatched in, and herds of wildebeest rumble in great packs across the Serengeti. We can’t always understand why these creatures face these challenges, but we can appreciate that it’s something pretty powerful, and witnessing one of these epic animal migrations will give you a sense of being part of something vast and painstakingly slow and ancient, yet also of the potential for renewal. Better for your soul than refreshing at a spa!

So which are the epic migrations worth planning your own cycle around? The Serengeti wildebeest migration is the best known – thousands of wildebeest tracking miles of dust into the air, predators awaiting them at every ridge - and can be seen from a safari truck or helicopter. Whales are amazing creatures, but along the route of their breeding migration they’re at their most playful and social as they mate, calve and greet their new calves - go out amongst it in boat. Greys and Humpbacks especially so.

Quieter migrations are no less magical, and in the case of the Monarch butterfly migration, only more incredible, as a whole landscape is covered in softly beating wings. The great sardine migration, turns the waters off South Africa’s east coast into a bed of churning silver as their slivery bodies press together so tightly to seem like some kind of sea monster rather than a billion strong shoal and the huge, red land crabs of Christmas Island are like a brightly sparing carpet at the height of the breeding season. Bird migrations take place all over the globe, but there is a particularly popular breeding ground on the Isle of Lesbos.

More Amazing Wildlife Experiences

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