Wildebeest Mara river crossing started?

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Jul 26th, 2012, 06:10 PM
  #1
kdd
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Wildebeest Mara river crossing started?

Hi,

Has anybody seen the Mara river crossing by wildebeests this year? We were in the Serengeti Mara area up until July 19 and only a small number of wildebeest had arrived there and did not appear ready to cross the river which was rather disappointing.

Wondering what the situation is now? Have the millions arrived and have they started crossing the river?

Thanks.
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Jul 27th, 2012, 02:44 AM
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No, not yet. That's too soon. It's not even full moon yet.
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Jul 27th, 2012, 10:55 AM
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Mid-July is early to be at Serengeti Mara, especially this year when the entire migration is taking it's time. There's been plenty of rain earlier in the year, so lots of grass for the zebras and wildies to eat, so they're all taking their time.

Did read somewhere though that some of the herds have been seen arriving from the Northeast Serengeti (the herds that move from Central rather than Western), coming down the hill to the Sand River (borders Mara/Serengeti), and crossings there.

Patience please as the wildies do what they do when they want and not when we've paid to be there.
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Jul 27th, 2012, 06:19 PM
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First you have to be there at the right time frame period.

July 19 is much too early

Then even if you are there at the right time, you have to be lucky to see the actual migration across the Mara River.

I was lucky and saw the migration on August 30th at 12 Noon.

So you were about 6 weeks too early.
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Jul 27th, 2012, 09:45 PM
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I've also heard about the wildies hanging back this year, kdd, but it really is the luck of the draw. For what it's worth, we saw minimal wildies in the Western Corridor roughly at this time last year (where the big herds are reported to be right now) and on July 19 and 20th, saw two big crossings up near the Mara and 1 big crossing at Sand River on the 21st. When they get it into their heads to move, they just move - and travel huge distances in no time. One day it was as if there were no wildies in the Serengeti at all, and the very next day, they were wall to wall on the horizon.

So don't despair at all. Anything is possible. And if the wildies won't come to you, see if you can't go the wildies. You may not see a Mara crossing but who knows, you may just see a Grumeti crossing if you can arrange that with your guide. Be flexible if possible and see if you can work around their movements.
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Jul 27th, 2012, 09:47 PM
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Oops, sorry, just realized you are back from your trip already! Sorry, don't know what I was thinking.
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Aug 8th, 2012, 06:55 AM
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My DH and I are in Nairobi having just completed a six-week self-drive through Tanzania and Kenya. We ended our journey with five nights of camping in the Mara Triangle. We flew from the Mara North Conservancy to Nairobi just a few hours ago.

As of the 7th of August, the wildebeests are crossing the Tanzanian border and arriving in the Mara Triangle. Yesterday, when driving in the Mara Triangle along the Tanzanian border, we saw tens of thousands of wildebeests - it was spectacular! No Mara River crossings as of yesterday, but they should start in the next few days. Trip report to follow! CR
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Aug 8th, 2012, 12:56 PM
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Our Adventuress, Ms. Robin, you did it again! Good for you. Can't wait to read your report - where, when, places stayed (when not vehicle), game viewing, etc. etc. Welcome home!
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Aug 9th, 2012, 05:52 AM
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Thanks Sandi! Still in Nairobi awaiting our flight to Heathrow later tonight. We had a wonderful time in Tanzania and Kenya and have survived to tell the tale. Only close call involved an encounter with a massive male lion - we were standing eating breakfast off the hood of the 4x4 one morning when some survival instinct told me to look towards the back of the vehicle. There was the lion, not 20m from me. Looking into the eyes of a lion is quite unsettling when you are not in the safety of your vehicle. Yikes! We have no ides where it came from - we had checked the area carefully before getting out of the Land Rover. It must have been lying in tall grass nearby.

In addition to the migration, we had some amazing sightings. One of my favourites was in the Mara. At dawn one morning, we came across a lioness with three tiny/month-old cubs stashed in some rocks. She retrieved them while we watched, and then led them down the road past our vehicle, carrying one in her mouth. Such a treat!

Another memorable moment, a story to tell and a first for us - we got the 4x4 stuck in some sloppy mud and spent over two hours in mud up to our knees trying to dig ourselves out. In the end, we had to call the rangers to rescue us. They had difficulty finding us because we were in the middle of nowhere in the Mara Triangle Wilderness Area and there were no landmarks nearby to use as a reference. We had a GPS and could give them a waypoint, but they did not have the ability/equipment to use it. It took them over an hour to locate us and then several attempts to tow us out. The Land Rover was truly stuck - they refused payment so we tipped them generously! Our runners were ruined and we both were a tad sunburned from our two-hour digging session. We should have turned around about half an hour earlier, after towing out a safari vehicle - that should have warned us that we were in dangerous territory. The escarpment road is still wet and muddy, with much water coming off the escarpment. Lesson learned!

We loved Lemala Camp at Ngorongoro, Oldupai Tented Camp and Serian Camp in the Mara - in each case, it was the staff that made the visit memorable.

The part of the trip that I was not looking forward to - having to have askaris on our campsite in the Mara Triangle - turned out to be a highlight of the trip. We were assigned the Oloololo warden and the same armed guard for all five nights and they were wonderful - entertaining and fun. They arrived about 7pm each evening and left at 6am. We spent a couple of hours around the fire with them each evening and it was great fun - a wonderful opportunity to get two know two local Kenyans very well - both have worked in the Mara for over 15 years. We were the only self-drivers that they had guarded since askaris became mandatory on the campsites in the Mara a couple of years ago (after the tragic murder of a camper on a special campsite), so we were treated like old friends. We so looked forward to those fireside chats!

Must go and finish packing. We are having an early dinner and then heading to the airport. I will get to the trip report ASAP - having been away for over a year, things will be a little chaotic at home. Luckily, I have a couple of weeks before I have to return to work. My poor DH will be back to work on Monday. He has some wonderful photos, which I will post with a list of highlights. Thanks again! Robin
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Aug 9th, 2012, 08:55 AM
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... and it wouldn't take much for that male lion to jump on vehicle, why best to stay inside or know you have quick getaway option. How did you get back into vehicle?

A momma simba with little ones small enough to carry in her mouth, wow! Hope they make it and can grow to take care of themselves, when so many die too early for different reasons.

Mud... welcome to Africa. But even with GPS trying to locate someone in the entirety of the area can be challenging. So how did you manage to find the one place you should have avoided?

But so glad to read that your experience with the KWS rangers for your campsite worked well and that it was fun making new friends. While I can understand some campers nitially not wanting strangers interrupting the solitude of the campsite, for safety it's important and one shouldn't prejudge the need for them and the overall impact it will have on the safari without incident.

Safe travels homeward and do catch up when you can.
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Aug 12th, 2012, 01:32 AM
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Now in the lounge at Heathrow awaiting our flight back to Canada - Heathrow is remarkably quiet given that it is the last day of the Olympics.

We dove into the 4x4 through the front doors, which we had left open, scattering breakfast makings in the process. Luckily, the lion was well fed and showed little interest in us. He wandered past the vehicle and up onto a nearby kopje. Phew!

I didn't envy mom. The cubs were playful and all over the place - she had her hands full. The Mara rangers were very protective. We were the first to find the lions due to the proximity of our special campsite, so we had them to ourselves for over an hour. When more vehicles showed up, the rangers shooed the vehicles away and closed the road.

We really couldn't avoid the mud. There is only one road along the base of the escarpment that leads to the Mara Wilderness Area - a beautiful area that few vehicles head to because it is so far from Serena. We are able to drive in the wilderness area all day and not see another vehicle - normally a good thing, but not this time! We drove the road in 2009 with no difficulty, but it was much wetter this year and there was still much water coming off the escarpment. When the rangers had towed us out, they were most apologetic and admitted they should have warned us that the road was in poor condition. We readily admit that we should have turned back after we pulled out the safari vehicle. Hard lesson learned - my nose is still peeling from the sunburn!

I have such fond memories of the two askaris - we have already been corresponding with them by SMS and email. They were thrilled with Kenya's two gold medals in the men's 800m. While in the Mara, they were following the Olympics and giving us updates on Canada's performance. Two very special people! I certainly felt safe with them on the campsite - they were well armed. It is a great pity that it has reached the point (in the Mara) where security is needed to keep campers safe, but given the violent incidents on the special campsite and the more recent one at Serena, I think it is wise - the Mara Conservancy cannot afford any more poor publicity.

Will be in touch! Robert and I went through a few photos last night, and he does have some wonderful ones. I long to return to Africa already. Robin
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Aug 12th, 2012, 11:43 AM
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Can picture the two of you diving into the vehicle

Do find it interesting that even in the bush, the locals do keep up with the outside world... oh, technology.

Did I miss something... happened at Serena?

Now again... safe travels home, unpack, laundry and plan for the next adventure.
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Aug 12th, 2012, 12:01 PM
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I was in the kenya Masai Mara last week and can assure you that the wildies have arrived...see my trip report for Pics and and videos for proof! we saw portions of both the Serengeti migration and the Loita migration. I get my bearings a little off but we saw huge herds coming in from Tanzania (we stood on. The border marker) and also near Mara intrepeds which were coming in from an entirety different direction it seemed...it's in full effect I'm certain now...
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Aug 13th, 2012, 12:19 AM
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kdd
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Guys, I have a question (and pls pardon my lack of knowledge) - if the wildebeests are in Mara triangle or in Masai Mara in Kenya already, does it not mean that they have crossed the Mara river? Wonder why Robin has said no Mara river crossings as yet?
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Aug 13th, 2012, 06:52 AM
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Sandi - below is the link to the relevant Mara Conservancy newsletter describing the incident at Serena. See the 5th paragraph under "security." Now home and unpacking! Robin

http://maratriangle.org/connect/mont...-january-2012/
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Aug 14th, 2012, 04:01 AM
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KDD: For the gnus to be anywhere in the Mare they will have crossed the Mara River. Also note that the gnus criss cross the Mara River on a fairly continuous basis from early July through September.
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Aug 14th, 2012, 02:57 PM
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The Mara River is not the boundary between Tanzania and Kenya, so the wildes can cross the Mara River in the Serengeti and still be in Tanzania. Or, they can cross the river in the Masai Mara and be in Kenya on both sides. We saw a couple of crossings in the northern Serengeti (August 2 and 4). However, we also saw a few zebras crossing the Mara River in the Masai Mara July 24 and lots of wildes were in the Mara then. The herds can be spread out over both countries. Many of the wildes never leave Tanzania, staying in the Lamai Wedge area of the Serengeti.
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May 21st, 2013, 06:50 AM
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I know this is way old by now but wanted to post my video of a Mara River Crossing on AUG 3 near the Mara Bridge in Kenya...like others have said, once the migration reaches the Mara Triangle, three are multiple crossing sometimes back and forth....I don't suppose there's much rhyme or reason to it---some is herd mentality, perhaps its rain and the promise of new grass...we saw this wildebeest crossing but also a fair number of mainly zebras crossing at the "Main Crossing Point" relatively near Mara Serena the same week...

The migration was considered "late" last summer because of good rains in the Serengeti, but even then, the migration arrived early AUG...we saw wildies by the thousands, tens of thousands...

Here was our "National Gerographic Moment" complete with croc attack---pardon our babbling!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urJRG5m6Qyg
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