Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve is regarded as the jewel of Kenya. Masai Mara Game Reserve covering more than 1,500sq km is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kenya. It is located in the Great Rift valley in open grassland. Wildlife is most concentrated on the reserves western escarpment.
The Maasai are a strongly independent people who still value tradition and ritual as an integral part of their everyday lives. They regard themselves not just as residents of this area but that they are as much a part of the life of the land as the land is part of their lives.
Traditionally, the Maasai rarely hunt and living alongside wildlife in harmony is an important part of their beliefs. Lions and Wildebeest play as important a role in their cultural beliefs as their own herds of cattle. This unique co-existence of man and wildlife makes this Maasai land one of the world’s most unique wilderness regions.
Masai Mara Game Reserve
At the heart of these lands is the Masai Mara Game Reserve, widely considered to be Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve. The Mara comprises 200 sq miles of open plains, woodlands and riverine forest. Contiguous with the plains of the Serengeti, the Mara is home to a breathtaking array of life. The vast grassland plains are scattered with herds of Zebra, Giraffe, Gazelle, and Topi. The Acacia forests abound with Birdlife and Monkeys. Elephants and Buffalo wallow in the wide Musiara Swamp. The Mara and Talek rivers are brimming with Hippos and Crocodiles.
Masai Mara Migration
Each year Masai Mara National Reserve plays host to the world’s greatest natural spectacle, the Great Wildebeest Migration from the Serengeti. From July to October, the promise of rain and fresh life giving grass in the north brings more than 1.3 million Wildebeest together into a single massive herd. They pour across the border into the Mara, making a spectacular entrance in a surging column of life that stretches from horizon to horizon. Most tourists book a Masai Mara Safari to experience this spectacle.
At the Mara River they mass together on the banks before finally plunging forward through the raging waters, creating a frenzy as they fight against swift currents and waiting crocodiles.
The wildebeest bring new life to Masai Mara Game Reserve, not just through their cycle of regeneration of the grasslands, but for the predators who follow the herds.
The Masai Mara National Reserve has been called the Kingdom of Lions and these regal and powerful hunters dominate these grasslands. Cheetah are also a common sight in the Mara, as are Hyena and smaller predators such as Jackals.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is an awesome natural wonder, a place where Maasai warriors share the plains with hunting lions, a place of mighty herds and timeless cycles of life, death and regeneration.
Masai Mara Game Reserve is probably the best serviced of all Kenyan Parks and Reserves with a wide range of Accommodation for any budget. The Reserve is a popular attraction with Safari operators. The reserve is ideal for game drives, and some lodges and camps offer walks and balloon safaris.
Wildlife moves freely in and out of the reserve, and through neighbouring Maasai lands. Outside the boundaries of the reserve there are many other small camps and lodges, some of which offer walking, horse riding and other safari options.
The Loita Hills and the Nguruman Escarpment, both considered sacred to the Maasai, offer high forest trekking opportunities for the adventurous traveller.
Masai Mara Game Reserve – Wildebeest Migration
The annual wildebeest migration is the key attraction involving more than 1.5 million animals which arrive in July and leave in November. The swampy land provides more access to water and less access to tourists. The eastern end is closest to Nairobi and hence easier to access. The reserve has close to 100 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and more than 400 species of birds.
Masai Mara Game Reserve is an area of gently rolling hills, woodlands and acacia trees, watered by the Mara and Talek rivers and opens onto the Serengeti plains of Tanzania. much of the wildlife can be divided into birds mammals and reptiles. Mammals in the game reserve are cheetah, leopard, hyena genet, jackal, mongoose, serval wild dog, baboon.bush baby, monkey, hino, zebra, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, warthog, antelope (bushbuck dik-dik duiker eland, gazelle, hartebeest, impala, klipspringer, kudu, oribi, reed buck,roan antelope,topi, waterbuck and wildebeest).
The general location of animals depends on the habitat . Vegetation varies according to the type of soil and drainage, but is also influenced by fire raining and grazing animals. ‘Grassland’ is most common, especially in areas of poor drainage frequent fires or heavy grazing. ‘Bushland is vulnerable to fire and foraging elephants and its also a favorite for rhinos. ‘woodland is populated with acacia trees with rich edible leaves-monkeys and giraffes can be found. river are homes for crocodile and hippos.
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Accommodations are available at the various lodges in the Mara- keekorok, Mara Serena, Mara Sopa- and camps such as fig tree, Governor’s Intrepids club, kichwa Tembo Mara Buffalo, Mara Cottar’s, Mara river and Mara Sarova.
Why Visit Masai Mara Game Reserve
- Great Migration – One of nature’s biggest wildlife spectacles is the wildebeest migration – watch in awe as the animals cross the Mara River for the Masai Mara (Jul – Oct).
- Glide over the Masai Mara in a Hot Air Balloon followed by an indulgent champagne breakfast celebration.
- Home to over 450 bird species.
- Wildlife haven, with the Big Five regularly spotted on game drives.
- Breath-taking views of the open plains
- The Masai Mara Ecosystem holds one of the highest lion densities in world.
- See Maasai herdsmen graze their cattle side by side with predators and prey.
What to do at the Masai Mara Game Reserve
The Masai Mara Game Reserve, one of Kenya’s main tourist attractions is famed for being the unruffled habitat of lions, cheetahs, zebras, and the famous wildebeest migration which is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the modern world. There are many activities that make the Mara a spectacular travel destination.
Masai Mara National Reserve – Balloon safaris
The balloon safari gives you a magical birds-eye view of the stretching savannah. These rides which often take place in the wee hours of the morning, are even more epic as you get to catch the sunrise whilst watching scores of animals below you. Most balloon safaris culminate with an exquisite champagne breakfast.
Masai Mara National Reserve – Walking safaris
A guided walking safari through the untamed beauty of the Mara is another worth while experience. The guides are often very knowledgeable so each step you take brings a new fact about world famous mara game reserve . The walk is an adventurous way to interact with the mara locals and come up close and personal with some of the animals.
Masai Mara National Reserve – Game drives.
The Mara is also a perfect location for exciting game drives through the reserves. During these drives you come across a plethora of animals and get wonderful views of the vast savannahs 8 plains of the Mara Game Reserve. The aim of game drives is to get you upclose 8 personal with the animals for your viewing pleasure. It is during these drives that you are likely to meet teams of animals undertaking their normal activities; catch the thrill in a predate on prey chase and kill or enjoy the extraordinary beauty that is in the world renowned mara topography.
Masai Mara National Reserve – Sundowners.
Catch the scintillating view of the sun as it goes down as you enjoy a soothing cold drink while watching it go down the horizon. This is certainly one of Mara’s most breathtaking experiences.
Masai Mara National Park – Climatic conditions
- Altitude 5,300 feet (1,600 metres).
- Rainy season from November through May, with peak rainfall in December-January and April-May.
- Dry season from June-November. Often sunny mornings with cloud build-up in the afternoons – during the rains this develops into thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.
- Max temperatures up to 30°C and min temperatures around 20°C.
Masai Mara National Park – Wildlife
The Mara is known as one of the finest wildlife destinations in the World. There is an excellent chance of seeing the Big 5, cheetah, serval, hyena, bat-eared foxes, black-backed and side-striped jackals, hippo, crocodile, baboons, warthog, topi, eland, Thompson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, waterbuck, oribi, reed-buck, zebra.
During the migration (July to November) huge numbers of wildebeest move in.
How to get to Masai Mara National Park
Masai Mara National Reserve is about 270 km from the capital Nairobi City and takes about 4-5 hours by road or 40-45 minutes by flight. The road is great for the most part. there is a section from Narok town to Sekenani Gate that is dirt road but fairly good. The other road through Lemek and Aitong town is not good at all and very bumpy.
Accessing the Mara area is difficult without private transport. Most visitors come to Maasai Mara as part of a Safari package from Nairobi or in a Hire Car. The park has well established internal roads and tracks. Accessing areas outside the reserve is only possible using basic public transport, and finding your way around can be difficult. Several Safari operators can arrange specialized tours, treks or hikes in this area.
The Mara Triangle is serviced by two all-weather airstrips– Mara Serena and Kichwa Tembo. The main road access into the Triangle is through Narok and Sekenani Gate.
Where to stay at Masai Mara National Park
Mara Serena (150 beds) and Little Governors’ Camp (36 beds) are the only two lodges situated in the Triangle. Kichwa Tembo, Mpata Club, Olonana, Mara Siria and Kilima Camp are situated on the periphery but use the Triangle.
Best time to visit Masai Mara National Park
Peak season is between July and October, during the migration. Early November and February can also offer excellent game viewing.
What to do at Masai Mara National Park
Game viewing, camping, night game drives, visits to Masai cultural villages, ballooning, bush dinner, lunch and breakfast
Masai Mara Game Reserve – Guidelines:
- Keep noise to a minimum to avoid disturbing the wildlife.
- Listen and enjoy the natural sounds of the Mara.
- Do not litter or remove any plants, wildlife or other items.
- Don’t feed animals or take pets with you.
- Leave your vehicle or camp at designated areas.
- Don’t light fires unless permitted.
- Don’t hang out of your vehicle or sit on the roof.
- Don’t try to stroke passing cubs.
- Use a local driver or guide-they are familiar with the area
- If you drive yourself, remember animals have right of way.
- Keep to the speed limit of between 30 and 50kph
- Make sure your vehicle is reliable and carry a map, spare tyre and toolkit
- Don’t travel before sunrise or after sunset