Double river crossings of the Great Wildebeest Migration, Serengeti
The Great Wildebeest Migration is often erroneously linked with the river crossings of the Mara River. The river crossings are riveting to witness, and the star of the great migration show. For some lucky observers, it is possible to watch a double crossing during one river crossing event.
What is a double river crossing of the Great Migration?
Some of the wildebeest calves are separated from their mothers whilst crossing the Mara River with the rest of the herd. These calves often return to where the came from, looking for their mothers. Sometimes the mothers go back and swim through the waters again to find their young ones. The double river crossing or return river crossing refers to some wildebeest individuals crossing the river twice in one event.
Who is involved in double river crossings during the Great Migration?
Watch this amazing video of the 6-month-old calves in a “return crossing”. We witnessed the main crossing of the entire herd, then in a state of confusion, these calves returned to the Mara River and crossed it again. The adrenaline and chaos of the crossing and being in the water dulls the calves’ sense of smell. Smell is their primary way of identification. In the water, or just after getting out of the water, they cannot smell or find their mothers. In a sense of desperation at being lost their natural instinct is to go back to where they came from, resulting in a double crossing. Lost calves are brave in their determination to find their moms!
Experience the Great Migration in 2022 – River Crossings and more
Join us for the world’s largest overland mammal migration as 1.5 million wildebeest, 400,000 zebra, 18,000 eland and 200,000 Thompson’s gazelle move through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. We don’t wait for the herds to come to us, we take you to them – leaving no trace. Follow them with us online or in person. Migration Updates every month. Email email@example.com to book your seat to the great migration. We still have some availability in late August, into September, so join us before the 2022 river crossing season is over.
“Nothing ever becomes real ‘til it is experienced.” John Keats
Finding the Great Migration: Migration Update June 2022
Great Migration update 18 June 2022. This is a difficult time of year to find the great migration. In years of normal rainfall, the statistics and literature indicate that the large herds should be on the western side of the Serengeti National Park. The western side of the Serengeti gets more rain due to its physical location close to Lake Victoria, so the logic is that in dry years the wildebeest herds should migrate through the North Western Serengeti. Finding the herds can be tricky as vast tracks of the area is privately owned hunting blocks of the park buffer zone.
Finding the great migration in the west – June 2022
It’s mid-June 2022, and the majority of the herds are in the western corridor of the Serengeti. This is the longer route to the Mara River and northern Serengeti. The herds are moving slowly and a full Grumeti River has also slowed the progress of the herds moving northwards.
There was a lot of early rain in the NW corner of the ecosystem. The rains stopped early this year, so the southern plains dried out quickly causing the wildebeest herds to migrate. The wetter north-west corner is the preferred dry season grazing. Wildebeest love the red oat grass that grows in the moist, deeper soils. June 2022 is becoming a classic text book year for the great migration. By the end of June, all the Western herds should have crossed the Grumeti River, and we can expect the migration to reach Kogatende and the Mara River from the west for river crossings in 4-6 weeks’ time.
June is a privileged time to find the great migration. You may have to work a bit harder out in the west – which is further away and fascinatingly wilder. If you are lucky to find the great migration in June- it is spectacular. Witness this great natural phenomenon of hundreds of thousands of animals marching in columns up to 40 kilometers long and be blown away. Check out the video below from the Western Serengeti and the marching herds. It’s insane! Follow up your watch journey to the western Serengeti with Episode 24- West End . There’s more great migration, as well as river animals of the Serengeti on show.
Finding the great migration in the east – June 2022
Finding the great migration in the east, is sometimes forgotten when the western herds dominate the wildlife news. This June many of the Eastern Herds, moved west through Seronera to join the western herds and contribute to the big numbers on that side of the Serengeti National Park.
20% of the Eastern Herds remained on that side of the Serengeti, and those wildebeest can currently be found near Togoro Plains. The eastern great migration herds are moving northwards fairly quickly so we anticipate them reaching the Sand River in the first week of July. This means there could be some Sand River Crossings into the Mara Reserve as early as July 2022 for the first river crossings of the 2022 season.
If the conditions in the Mara reserve aren’t suited to the wildebeest needs yet, the early herds may back track to the Serengeti and cross the Mara River from north to south. These would be the first Mara River Crossings.
The third, yet least likely scenario for the first river crossings of 2022, is that the eastern herds don’t cross the sand river in early July. They would move north and west, slowly gathering near crossing point No 10 or Makutano for a potential Mara River crossing at the junction.
Finding the great migration in July. Predictions for river crossing season ’22
We predict some small river crossings to start in the first half of July. Crossings would likely be the Sand River or Eastern Mara River.
The first herds of the great migration coming from the West, should arrive at the Mara River in mid-July 2022. Big herds are already gathering as the wildebeest migrate northwards.
At Great Migration Camps we are eagerly waiting for a bumper season. We are expecting some big river crossings starting in July ’22.
Join us for the world’s largest overland mammal migration as 1.5 million wildebeest, 400,000 zebra, 18,000 eland and 200,000 Thompson’s gazelle move through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. We don’t wait for the herds to come to us, we take you to them – leaving no trace.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your seat to the great migration. We still have some space still available in early July & late August. Book soon to avoid disappointment.
Part 2: Where the wildebeest cross the Mara River?
Knowing where the wildebeest cross the river, can improve your great migration experience, as you should choose which side of the river to observe the wildebeest crossing the Mara River. If the herds cross to the north then it is probably better to be on the northern bank of the river and visa versa for the return journey.
Where the wildebeest cross the Mara River? Changing crossing points
In Part 1 we talked about favourite or geographically determined crossing points for the wildebeest during the Mara River Crossing Season. This also changes! The Mara River Floods of 2018 and 2020, changed its course, making new bends in the river and causing a shift in Crossing Points. Knowing recent climatic events can get you front row seats to observe this natural show.
Where the wildebeest cross the Mara River? The inside bend
Let’s take a river crossing example.
The river crossings from South to North take place in the inside bends of the Mara River:- these are crossing points Makutano, No 8, No 6, N0 4, No 3 and No 1 in front of Singita.
The return journey from North to South, takes place on the alternate (now inside bends) of the river at crossing points No 2, No 5, No 7 and No 9.
Where the wildebeest cross the Mara River? Early season crossings
The crossings early on in the season will come from the Eastern side. The eastern herds are mostly bachelor herds, with fewer obstacles in their way, so they move quickly. The first river crossings of the year will probably be Sand River crossings between Bologonja Spring and the Sand/Mara river confluence. Sand River crossings have taken place as early as June.
The first Mara River crossings are commonly at No 10, No 9, No 8 and Makutano in July each year.
When the western herds arrive from Ikorongo and the Grumeti Reserves they would start crossing at the western crossing points from late July onwards at crossing points No 1 – 4 and perhaps at No 5 and No 6 in front of Sayari.
Conservation Talking Points
Flash flooding and fast runoffs during the dry season (July – October). Fast flowing water is difficult for wildlife and animals to judge in general. The wildebeest sometimes miss the exit points of the Mara River due to the strength of the fast flowing water of the Mara River, resulting in drowning. These changing climatic conditions (Floods 2018, 2020) have an impact on the survival rate of the Mara River crossings. The solutions can often be found in the catchment area, the source of the Mara River, the area where trees should be holding the water.
Book now to see the Great Wildebeest Migration: email@example.com Contact us now for River Crossing availability 2022 season.
Follow our migration updates from the Serengeti National Park here: Great Migration Updates
Great Migration Camps wildebeest researcher, Carel Verhoef, has witnessed hundreds of river crossings, and explains what happens in the build up to a river crossing and how best to experience the “Greatest Show on Earth”.
Carel has an incredible strike rate getting his clients, not just to the wildebeest migration, but to witness river crossing(s)! Having studied and followed the great wildebeest migration for more than 15 years, he shares his Top 5 Tips for maximising your opportunities for a wildebeest river crossings. Read to the end for his Bonus Tip.
Top 5 Tips to Experience a River Crossing
River Crossing Tip 1: You need to get to the Mara River at the right time
When planning your “river crossing safari”, it’s important to deal with a knowledgeable company and consultant who have the knowledge to get you to the right place. Great Migration Camps provides Migration Updates on our Facebook page. GMC is in the privileged position of being able to move camp as the wildebeest move, ensuring we have the latest migration news and updates. Guides, pilots, managers, lodges, camps and colleagues all supply news and updates on the movement and location of the wildebeest. Ask GMC to help with your safari plans and timings.
River Crossing Tip 2: Buy yourself as much time as you can on the river itself
If you are really want to see a river crossing, then buy as many nights as close to the river as you can. The decision of a herd to cross the river is not taken lightly and they need to build up numbers and energy to do the crossing. It can take days for the right conditions, often leaving visitors frustrated at the anticipated event that doesn’t materialise. Wildlife takes time, you have to be in it to see it and experience it – river crossings are no different! The longer you have the better your chances. (See our packages)
The good news is that the area around the Mara River (on both the Serengeti and Masai Mara sides), has plenty of resident plains game and a huge quantity of big cats. This gives you the opportunity for a classic safari to view general game that could include lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, cheetah, hyena, jackal and much much more.
River Crossing Tip 3: Wait for the energy to build up
The higher the water level in the Mara River, the more difficult it is to cross. The jumps are intimidating and this means that the wildebeest and zebra need to build up enough energy before they leap into the crocodile infested waters. Give yourself a few days for the wildebeest numbers to build up on the river itself and do some great game viewing or bird watching while the herds gather. The potential for a crossing is greater if there are wildebeest on both sides of the river. You will immediately realise that there might be enough energy if you hear the wildebeest calls becoming louder and more frequent. The noise can be like a giant humming.
River Crossing Tip 4: Position yourself away from the river
Don’t sit too close to the river bank – this might block the herds without your knowledge. Any barrier or obstruction can prevent the wildebeest from crossing the river. Position yourself some distance away from the riverbank, preferably slightly obscured so that you can allow the wildebeest herds to move unobstructed to the water’s edge or choose their crossing point. This way you won’t interfere. Don’t worry if you don’t have a perfect view at this stage – keep your eyes peeled for the dust as the crossing starts and the noise intensity increases. Then and only then should you move closer. Once the crossing has started it will not stop because so much energy has been created. You will easily get within a few hundred meters from the crossing herds. Moving to the river too quickly can prevent a crossing and leave you with a few days more to wait.
River Crossing Tip 5: Stay Observant
It is surprisingly easy to get stuck waiting for one herd of wildebeest to cross – especially if there are good herd numbers arriving at the river. Make sure you look up and downstream from your waiting position for other possible crossings that could be imminent. Stay observant and alert to all the build-ups on the river bank. Notice weather patterns and the behaviour of other animals. Leopards have been known to walk behind waiting safari vehicles with not a single client seeing the magical creature taking a stroll right behind them – all eyes focused on the river.
During a river crossing, stop to soak up the atmosphere – it is an incredible experience. Don’t just stare through your view-finder taking pictures. Feel the energy before, during and after the crossing; let the sounds echo through you as the visual show unfolds. When you do take pictures, make sure you don’t over zoom, you need the wider angle to capture the magnitude of what is happening.
BONUS TIP: Both Sides of the Mara River
Don’t let an international border stop you from seeing a river crossing. If you are really serious about seeing a river crossing then give yourself the best possible chance by going to both the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya. If you are travelling during July and August visit the Serengeti first followed by the Masai Mara. During September and October, visit the Masai Mara first and finish your stay in Tanzania the Serengeti. This drastically increases your chances of seeing the wildebeest herds cross the river.
How to book
Ask us. We’d love to help you. The earlier you enquire, the less chance to be disappointed, especially during peak periods when other services can also be fully booked.
We can assist with tours before or after your safari, additional accommodation in town – as well as flights or transport in and out of the National Park.
We recommend 5- 10 days for your migration safari, especially during Crossing season.
Email your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Kindly provide your name, country, number of people travelling and preferred dates and duration. Children of all ages are welcome.
Follow us on your favourite Social Media platform for Migration Updates, Serengeti News and Amazing Sightings.
Get your kids outside and experience the sights, sounds and smells of the Serengeti and bring nature back to life. Encounter elephant, lion, cheetah, leopard, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, gazelles, primates, reptiles and of course the migrating wildebeest in a magnificent journey of discovery for young and old. This BLACK FRIDAY 2018 DEAL – will give you 20% off your 7 Night Family Safari in 2019. Book now
Black Friday Family Package Safari Deal: 20% off
What: 7 Night Family Package Safari
Must book between: 23 – 30 November 2018 Valid for Travel Dates:
Includes: Return Domestic Flights: Arusha (ARK) – Serengeti; 7Nights GMC Mobile Game Package – tented accommodation, shared ablutions; Meals: Three meals daily, teas & coffees, drinking water; Unlimited Game Drives with English speaking professional driver/guide; All Park and Concession Fees, All Taxes/VAT; Emergency Evacuation Cover (Flying Doctor)
Excludes: International Flights, Visas & Travel insurance, Accommodation before or after your safari, Alcoholic beverages & sodas (cash bar), Gratuities, Any meals not stipulated, All items of a personal nature (toiletries, souvenirs etc), Additional Safari Activities, Tours or Accommodation. Government taxes and/or park fees are subject to change
Child Policy: CHILDREN ARE WELCOME
Under 16 of years of age, children to be accompanied by an adult. We recommend children should be able to sleep through the night. 0 – 5 years must sleep in adult tent. 6 -16 years may share with other children (up to 3 per tent)
How to book: Email your inquiry to email@example.com
Use the title: BLACK FRIDAY 7N FAMILY PACKAGE ENQUIRY
Please provide your name, country, number of people travelling and preferred dates.
Terms and Conditions:
Applicable for all new bookings made between 23 and 30 Nov 2018
Deals not available with any other specials or offers or available to agents
30% non-refundable deposit holds the reservation – deposit due 5 Dec 2018
Balance due 60 days prior to departure
Price is per person unless otherwise specified and based on minimum 2 people travelling.
Price is subject to availability
GMC reserves the right to cancel the reservation if payment not received in time, in which case cancellation fees apply.
Spend Easter Weekend with the kids on a safari in the Serengeti with Great Migration Camps mobile.
Dates 30 March – 6 April 2018.
We’re taking our kids on safari this Easter and have space in camp for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids).
Rates for Easter Kids Safari
$170 Adults Full Board per day
$50 Kids Full Board per day
Included: Tented Accommodation, three meals daily, teas and coffees, laundry, communal ablutions, National Park
Camping Fees, VAT
Excluded: Gratuities, Alcoholic beverages & sodas, National Park Fees, all transfers, all items of a personal nature, flights, all safari activities.
$220 Adults Game Package per day
$75 Kids Game Package per day
Included: Tented Accommodation, three meals daily, teas and coffees, laundry, communal ablutions, National Park
Camping Fees, unlimited game viewing drives, transfers from airstrip, VAT
Excluded: Gratuities, Alcoholic beverages & sodas, National Park Fees, all items of a personal nature, flights.
TANAPA Serengeti NP fees
$24 Children 5 – 15 years
$71 Adults 16+ years
$35.40 East Africa Residents – Adults
$11.80 East Africa Residents – Kids 16+ years
Kids on Safari – What you need to know
We welcome children on safari – it is an incredible experience for children to connect with nature and learn respect for their surroundings. They are enthralled and stimulated, they play and make lists, count different species and notice the big creatures and the small. Their inquisitive minds can’t ask enough questions, they eat well and they collapse at night to sleep well.
All children coming on safari need to have completed a signed indemnity form and be accompanied by at least one adult. Throughout their time in the bush children will be under the supervision of at least one adult. We recommend that children should be able to sleep through the night. Children under the age of 5 must sleep in a tent with an adult. Children between 6 and 16 may not sleep alone but may share with other children.
Children are safe provided they follow safari and camp protocol.
Don’t walk alone at night – always walk in two’s and wear shoes.
No running at night & use a light
No food allowed in the tents
Tent zips to be closed always
Respect for nature.
We prefer children not to bring any electronic devices, but pen, papers & crayons; cards & books are welcome. Meals are simple: cereals for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch; and dinners are fish & chips; spaghetti bolognaise; hotdogs/boerewors rolls; chicken. Fruit or vegetables will be provided at every meal.
Enquire for Easter Kids Safari
TEL +255 686 493 065