Crossing Points of the Mara Triangle: Maji Machafu or “The Peninsula”

Andrew Beck Andrew, great migration 7 Comments

If there is one thing I’ve learnt during the last 5 Great Migration seasons in the Masai Mara its that no two crossings are the same.

This is the first in a series of posts where I’ll feature some of the most prominent and regularly used crossing points in the Mara Triangle and I’ll start with what is probably the most photogenic of the lot. The Peninsula.

Located just 3.5 km from one of our most regularly used camp sites in the Mara this particularly crossing point has delivered some of the most spectacular and voluminous river crossings over the years. The image below clearly shows why its referred to as their Peninsula. What is not immediately obvious though is how this “finger” of land contributes to the sheer size and duration of the river crossings that take place here.

The Peninsula Masai Mara

As the herds move west onto the edge of the peninsula and numbers begin to build, so too does the pressure. Compared to some of the other crossing points where the herds often move up and down the river, this particular crossing point usually builds up massive pressure from the east in a relatively short period of time.

From a photographic perspective, the vehicle icon on the map shows the only position from which crossings at this point can be viewed. Luckily though this position affords guests a front row seat to capture both the entry and exit points, a pretty unique feature!

Wild Eye - Great Migration Safari - Andrew Beck

The exit point at the Peninsula see’s the herds clamber up over slippery rocks

A large herd moving west away from the river after crossing at the Peninsula

A large herd moving west away from the river after crossing at the Peninsula

One of the other unique features of the peninsula are the buttes and channels between which the migratory hers must pass to access the river. With late afternoon light from the north west these buttes make for interesting light as long shadows are cast across the scene and a subtle side lighting accentuates any dust which is kicked up into the air.

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Masai_Mara_River_Crossing_The_Peninsula-6

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Of course, one cannot talk about the Peninsula without mentioning that there is more often than not significant amounts of dust kicked up into the air!

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Masai_Mara_River_Crossing_The_Peninsula

The Peninsula and Maji Machafu (dirty water) drainage line which enters the river just upstream from it is the core territory for a beautiful female leopard who we see regularly throughout each and every season in the Mara Triangle.

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This beautiful female often makes use of the drainage lines and the exit point at the peninsula to stalk and pounce on her favoured prey species which means there is never a dull moment! We have on many occasions had river crossings interrupted by her sudden appearance along the river bank.

Here are a couple of images from the rest of the Wild Eye team with their thoughts on this crossing point…

That is the perfect crossing point early in the morning with golden light, dust and water. Your chances to get dramatic images at peninsula is almost 100%. The Wild-Eye camp is perfectly situated for that to get there first in the morning.

That is the perfect crossing point early in the morning with golden light, dust and water. Your chances to get dramatic images at peninsula are almost 100%. The Wild-Eye camp is perfectly situated for that to get there first in the morning.

 

I love the sweeping view you can get across the plains and the entire crossing at this point. It is also conducive to some cool slow shutter experiments. You are generally not in the way of the wildebeest exit points and can get a holistic view of the chaos that is a big crossing at Peninsula.

I love the sweeping view you can get across the plains and the entire crossing at this point. It is also conducive to some cool slow shutter experiments. You are generally not in the way of the wildebeest exit points and can get a holistic view of the chaos that is a big crossing at Peninsula.

 

This particular crossing point has provided me with some of the more dramatic photographic opportunities during the last 5 years . The site is the last commonly used point on this section of the Mara River and is situated a few kilometres North of Purungat Bridge . You will often get a number of herds that merge at this point and have witnessed a crossing where it was estimated over 30 000 animals crossed the river . The most appealing part of this crossing is the vantage point from which you can capture the drama . You can park directly next to the river and have unobstructed views of the scene . The animals hooves kick up large amounts of dust that adds to the drama .You will also have the opportunity of capturing images of the wildebeest from a variety of different angles - side on , swimming directly towards you or descending down steep banks . There is is also a healthy population of crocodiles that inhabit this stretch of river , so there is a good chance that you will witness them predating on the wildebeest as they cross the river

This particular crossing point has provided me with some of the more dramatic photographic opportunities during the last 5 years . The site is the last commonly used point on this section of the Mara River and is situated a few kilometres North of Purungat Bridge . You will often get a number of herds that merge at this point and have witnessed a crossing where it was estimated over 30 000 animals crossed the river .
The most appealing part of this crossing is the vantage point from which you can capture the drama . You can park directly next to the river and have unobstructed views of the scene . The animals hooves kick up large amounts of dust that adds to the drama .You will also have the opportunity of capturing images of the wildebeest from a variety of different angles – side on , swimming directly towards you or descending down steep banks .
There is is also a healthy population of crocodiles that inhabit this stretch of river , so there is a good chance that you will witness them predating on the wildebeest as they cross the river

Marlon - Peninsula

“Many first-time visitors to the Mara during migration season are of the notion that the wildebeest simply cross through the Mara River once, and that this can happen anywhere along the length of the River. This in fact is not true as many of you know by now. They may cross the River several times in a day in order to gain access to better feeding pastures, and can spend up to and more than 2 months of the year doing so, The Peninsula is not doubt one of the better crossing points to view this event from. The wildebeest love crossing here as it offers them a wide stretch of river bank before it starts to get crowded with animals, and there’s several “avenues” for them to gain access to the river. Photographically this crossing point is an absolute winner, as is obvious by the images our Wild Eye guests and guides have been able to capture over the last 4 years.

 

Wild Eye - Great Migration Safari - Gerry van der Walt

The peninsula is synonymous with dust providing the perfect opportunity to capture iconic and dramatic river crossing images.

So there you have it, the Peninsula!

Experience a river crossing for yourself!

Join us in the Masai mara for our Great migration safaris running throughout August and September 2016 and 2017!

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About the Author

Andrew Beck

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Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.

Comments 7

  1. Richard Wentzel

    Great article and photos. Looking forward to our trip there in September.

    What are the GPS co-ordinates for the Peninsula ?

    Thanks

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