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Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

Singapore, Singapore
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Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

Hi,

When is the best time to go to see the migration cross the river? Where will that be? Is there river crossing in Tanzania or only in Kenya? Where would be the best place to stay?

I have contacted a few TOs but they seems to have differing advice.

Thanks!

Edinburgh, United...
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1. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

If you want your best chance of seeing a river crossing, I'd go to the Masai Mara (Kenya) in September. You can also see river crossings in Tanzania, but chances are a bit slimmer. The upside is that there tend to be fewer other vehicles at these crossings. In Tanzania I would aim for the Grumeti area of the Serengeti in June, or the far north of the Serengeti in July/Aug/October.

Alexandra Matts- Travel Director- Extraordinary Africa

melbourne
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2. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

I disagree with the previous poster and wonder why the chances of seeing a crossing in Tanzania would be slimmer...this is not correct.

The wildebeest are the same and remember not all cross over into Kenya more than half stay behind. They also spend the majority of their time in Tz.

Kenya has far more lodges, camps, vehicles, and crowds than Tz. So to me Tanzania has a better wildlife experience.

There are some excellent lodges in Tz in the right locations for wildlife viewing. Wildebeest are animals they do not read time table like we do and can. They tend to move with the weather if it rains all over the Serengeti and remember Maasai Mara is a very small part of the Serengeti they will move differently to years when it rains in isolated areas.

To try and pick the window of a crossing can be a lot of luck.. Really good research can reduce the luck but still you might miss out no matter which country you are in. A window of 4 months is quite a long time.

I think the best area is the North of Tanzania and I would travel there in September.

Edinburgh, United...
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3. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

Hi-

I'd agree with sciguy that I certainly found the Serengeti side to be wilder, and with fewer people at the crossings, which is lovely if (big if) you get to see a crossing. However, I do stand by my comment that I think the chances are best of seeing a river crossing if you go to the Masai Mara in September than going to any other specific location at another time of year (and unfortunately, flight schedules and camp bookings do tie us to booking into a specific location a long way in advance rather than just tracking the beasties as they go).

The reason for this is as follows. When the migration herds are moving up through the Serengeti (crossing the Grumeti and later Mara rivers) they are often in long, strung out herds, with the frontrunners being as much as 50km in front of the rearguard. If you're waiting say on the Grumeti River, you've got chances of seeing some wildebeest cross, whist very many indeed are still a long way off. The sheer size of the Serengeti means you can't just hop from Grumeti to the Mara River with ease because the herds have moved on.

In September (generally speaking- as Sciguy says- it's nature, so there's no timetable) the herds are concentrated in the far north of the eco-system. Some in the Northern Serengeti, but the vast majority in the Masai Mara. So more wildebeest concentrated in one place. As humans, we're limited by the national boundary, and if I had to pick one side of it (specifically to see a river crossing rather than anything else) I'd go for the Mara side. The wildebeest are milling around crossing back and forth over both the Mara and Talek Rivers, both within an easy drive of each other, so there are more opportunities for spotting crossings.

This has certainly been borne out by the experiences of my clients on the ground, but as Sciguy quite rightly points out, that's not to say there aren't excellent crossings in the Serengeti too- there are- and if you do get to see one it is likely to be less busy than the Masai Mara crossings.

Alexandra Matts- Travel Director- Extraordinary Africa

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4. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

Ooops! I see above I've referred to noexpert as sciguy throughout the above comment. This is what happens when I write things before I've had a full cup of coffee in the morning- both excellent posters and entirely mixed up- no offence intended- please accept my apologies guys!

Alex

Edited: 11 March 2014, 09:54
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5. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

I don't mind being confused with Noexpert, and truly feel honored since he is so experienced and has a wealth of knowledge of Tanzania, but I am just a novice giving my advise and experience from my one time in the country.

melbourne
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6. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

I don't mind being confused with sciguy...should be called niceguy instead.

Even though you need to book months in advance I still think the best chance of seeing the crossings without more tourists than wildebeest and that long line of 50 mini buses would be Tanzania in what can be referred to as the Mara triangle and in September.

melbourne
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7. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

If you look at such wildebeest migration sites on the web like that of Expert Africa and @beyond you can get a "rough" idea of the migration patterns which show both Kenya and Tanzania. The months where they should be or where they might be.

If you are interested in wildebeest then I would prefer to travel in Feb. to the short grass plains of Ndutu and enjoy the calving. You should remember that the films that you see of these crossing often where taken over many weeks or even months. So for most who travel for 3-5 days to this area it is luck.

Cape Town Central...
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8. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

Hey I came across this tool recently - allows you to see where the migration is at any particular time of year, and where its heading in the future. Really helpful. www.discoverafrica.com/wildebeest-migration/

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9. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

Hi - for some reason it has always been an either or choice for many where the real answer is to visit both sides of the Mara River if you really want to see the crossings. 2013 showed us that the herds crossed into the Mara in July (most of them) then an early return to the Serengeti during September, then a return to the Masai Mara late in 2013 (November) and finally a last return to the Serengeti. This means if you would have been in either of the two at any of the above mentioned dates then you would have been on the wrong side last year - this happened to many people. So yes there are traditional assumptions where they would most probably be but if you are really serious about seeing them cross then go to both the Serengeti and then the Masai Mara.

Mara - focus on the Mara / talek confluence area or Governor's area

Serengeti - there are many options on the river but the Mara / Sand River confluence area is great

There is an easy flight between the two areas that could have you in the Mara from the Serengeti before lunch on the same day (2 / 3 hours later) via Tarime and Migori.

Crossings are very different from calving and I don't see that one could replace the one experience with the other so just saying that everyone should go to Ndutu in February is also not really the best answer. Saying that you should also only go to the Masai Mara in September is also not calculated.

Minimise risk is key and if you see them on the one side crossing then you can focus your time on the otherside on cats and or other species. If you see crossings on both sides of the Mara then wonderful.

I hope you see them - go to both if you can

Regards

Carel

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10. Re: Best time to see the migration crossing the river and where?

Great thread. Thanks for asking as I am planning in taking a group in 2016