Mara River Crossing

In many ways the world famous crossings of the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti has become the iconic safari event. For sheer drama and scale it’s hard to beat and the experience of watching tens of thousands of wildebeest doggedly braving the swollen river and the monster reptiles is one which will stay with you forever.

One million wildebeests will survive the crossing of the Mara River, but thousands will fall victim to the hungry jaws of the Nile crocodiles.

Zebras are often the first to arrive in the Mara, chomping down the tall grass with the wildebeest hot on their heels.

A crossing is a dramatic, dust-filled spectacle injected with the kind of thrill one gets watching a Jerry Bruckheimer film at the peak of its car chases and explosions. Would crocodiles, the length of a canoe, take down the first brave few? Would others drown in the attempt or be trampled? Bodies of unlucky wildebeests speckled the shoreline, underscoring the dangers. Sometimes the herd congregated at the edge of the river and then, for some inexplicable reason, decided not to cross and turn around.

The Mara River runs more or less along the border of Tanzania and Kenya, separating The Serengeti National Park from the Maasai Mara. This is where the main crossings happen in Tanzania and the majority of visitors to the Serengeti aim for the Kogatende area. This is partly because there are a number of well-used (wildebeest) crossing points here and partly because this is the only place where you can cross the Mara River by vehicle to the north bank (and the stunning Lamai Wedge). It’s also where the airstrip is.

On the other side of the river in Kenya’s Maasai Mara there are crossings not only of the Mara River but also the Talek and other tributaries of the main channel.