Masai Mara National Reserve Description
Masai Mara National Reserve is regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s wildlife viewing areas covering more than 1,500sq km it 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.
Great Wildebeest Migration
Category: 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.
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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 National Reserve – Masai Mara Game Reserve
Category: Wildebeest Migration
Masai Mara 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, rhino, 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.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve not the largest conservation area in Kenya but it is the most famous one. The Masai Mara and the Serengeti are part of the same eco-system. The official perimeter of the Masai Mara National Reserve is bounded by the Serengeti Park of Tanzania to the south, the Siria escarpment (also called Oloololo escarpment) to the west and Masai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Total surface is 1530km². There is no fence. The estern border is the Oloololo Escarpment (Siria escarpmen) and wildlife tend to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good and tourist disruption is minimal.
The Masai Mara is accessible by flight from Nairobi Wilson Airport and from Samburu, Lewa Downs, Nanyuki or Mombasa or Diani . The aircraft will land on one of the small Mara airstrips, and from here you need to transfer by car to your particular lodge or camp. The flight from Nairobi takes about half an hour. Flying to the Masai Mara is the qieckest option and best option (especially if you stay in the Mara Triangle which is the eastern part of the Masai Mara) It is more expensive than hiring a vechicle with a professional guide is a good option esceptially if there are more than 2 persons travelling.
If you choose to go by car from Nairobi the drive will take you five to six hours during the dry season, and up to seven hours in the rainy season. By car you can enter the game reserve through these gates: Sand River, Musiara, Talek, Sekenani or Oloololo Gate which is the farest from Nairobi (there with less vehciles and tourist disruption)
Please remember that the roads in the reserve can become flooded or turned into mud puddles in the rainy seasons in April, May and November.
A lot of travel agencies organise safari trips to Maasai Mara. You can book a package tour, which allows you to put all transportation to and in the park in their hands. You can also organise your trip directly and contact the camps and lodges directly. Many will also assist you to book your local flights for instance or organise your trip.
Why Visit Masai Mara Game Reserve
Category: Wildebeest Migration
- 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.
Entry Fees/Permits at Masai Mara National Reserve
Park Fee is USD 80 per adult per night, valid for 24h
USD 45 per child above 3 year below 18
below 3 : free of charge
This Park Fee – Entry Fee- will allow you to go on game drive in one the the 3 part of the official perimeter of the Masai Mara National Reserve (there are 3 areas or districts: North Conservancy, Keekoroke and Mara Tiangle). The areas are independent and if you pay the park fee for one of them you can not visit another part unless you pay a second park fee.
Kindly note that there is a different fee if the lodge or camp you stay in is inside the official perimeter of the Masai Mara National Reserve. For instance for the Mara Triangle the only lodge inside the Mara Triangle, Park Fees are 70 per adult and 40 per child. If you stay for instance at Kilima Camp or Mpata for instance will be pay $80 / adlut valid for 24h.
Conservancy fee may also apply and be charged
The conservancies have been created around the Maasai Mara Official perimeter to help protect the Maasai Mara, and to help the Maasai people who live in the area.
You can book your tour of the National Reserve with a reliable tour operator that will usually bundle the park fee, the accommodation, and the safari car and driver fees to make sure that you can enjoy your adventure and not have to worry about the details.
If you book directly your accommodation in the Masai Mara, the camp and lodge usually collect the Park Fees and and Conservancy Fee (if any). It will avoid you to carry extra cash.
Accommodation at Masai Mara National Reserve
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.
Enchoro Wildlife Camp,
P.O Box 4473-00200 (Nairobi Youth Hostel),
checkin: 10:00am; checkout: 12:00pm.
Oltome Mara Magic Resort- Masai Mara (Near Sekenani gate)
A luxury tented camp just located about 5 minutes drive to the Sekenani Gate.Tents are raised on concrete flora and have ensuite bathrooms with showers.There are 7 luxury tents,2 semi luxury,2 out of africa and 2 bedroom cottages ideal for families. Located in the flora and fauna of the Siana conservancy and over looking the Nau Narre hills.
Masai Mara Lodges
- David Livingstone Safari Resort. David Livingstone Safari Resort is situated to the northeast of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Lemek Conservancy on a broad bend with hippo pools on the Mara River. The lodge is set in 40 acres of tropical gardens with indigenous plants and botanical gardens it commands one of most spectacular views in the Serengeti- Mara ecosystem; the lodge lies on the Mara River at the edge of Maasai Mara National Reserve and overlooks deep pools where crocodiles and hippos bask all day. Accommodation 80 ensuite rooms and two deluxe suites. For reservations and more information contact email@example.com | +254737118781 | +254208034439.
- Kilima Camp, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Kilima Camp is an intimate eco-friendly camp and it consists in 14 tents (9 standard tents and 3 Deluxe tents). Kilima means “mountain” in Swahili and the camp is located on top of the Siria escapement, 15 minutes from Oloololo Gate and the Mara Triangle. It benefits from an amazing view over the Mara river and the plains. Kilima Camp also offer private fly camping for its clients.
- Keekorok lodge. Bungalows in single-storey blocks, restaurant, swimming pool, regular lectures on masai lifestyle.
- Neo Classic camps Maasai Mara (Neo Management), 55950 (Nairobi), 254203501450 (email@example.com), . checkin:1000hrs; checkout: 1200hrs. www.neodestination.com introduced this property located on the Banks of Talek river. Tents with WC, Large double beds. Package includes game drives, BLD. 200.
- Mara Serena lodge, P.O. Box 48690, Nairobi, KENYA, Tel: (254 050) 22253/(254 050) 22137, Fax: (254 050) 22382. 73 individual rooms with private balcony and spectacular views, swimming pool, restaurant.
- Karen Blixen Camp, P.O. Box 9913-00100, Nairobi, KENYA, Tel: +254 20 211496, Fax: +254 20 211981, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Luxury camp with private masseuse and wellness treatments, 22 luxurious tents on raised platforms, located at the bank of Mara River with a resident hippo pod providing endless entertainment, restaurant, bar, swimming pool.
- Royal Mara Safari Lodge, P.O. Box 260-00621, Nairobi, KENYA, Tel: (+254 20) 7123356/(+254 20) 2018169, Fax: (+254 20) 7123357, E-mail: email@example.com, . Six luxury guest suites built on elevated cedar and mahogany wood decks with private verandas and intricately hand-carved furniture, located directly on the Mara River, features over 200 resident hippos.
- Kensington Tented Camp, Each of the camp’s eight Suswa tents are carefully spread along the riverbank in this pristine 80 acre reserve. Isolated and private, yet situated in the midst of a teeming corner of the legendary Mara park, guests will savor this close connection with nature.
- Ngerende Island Lodge,, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, A luxury safari lodge strategically located at the edge of the Mara river. The lodge comprises of only seven elegant suites, stylishly designed to guarantee guests great comfort and exclusivity while on their safari in the Masai Mara.
Camping at Masai Mara National Reserve
- In the Mara Triangle part of the Maasai Mara there are both public and private campsites available to use.
- There is a public campsite next to Oloololo gate with both shower and toilet facilities, and is very clean but very basic, with great views over the Mara and the protection of the rangers camp nearby.
- There is also another public campsite next to Serena Hotel which has longdrop toilets.
- The private campsites are located along the river and have a special booking fee. For full details of payment amounts and availability of campsites go to the Mara Triangle website.
- None of the camp site are fenced. Therefore it is highly recommended to hire rangers for security especially during the night time security or to organise your fly camp with a professional. Strict rules applies as well.
- Some lodges and camps offer fly camping to their clients. The fly camp team will make sure you have a comfortable, safe and unforgettable memories. For instance Kilima Camp combine 1 or 2 nights in Fly camp with 2 or 3 nights at Kilima Camp (on top of the escapement)
Some guidelines when staying at the Masai Mara Game Reserve are useful:
- 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
Animals & Birds in Masai Mara Game Reserve
In a short stay during the wildebeest migration you could see thousands of animals, at other times there are still hundreds. The plains are full of wildebeest, zebra, impala, topi, giraffe, Thomson’s gazelle. Also regularly seen are leopards, lions, hyenas, cheetah, jackal and bat-eared foxes. Black rhino are a little shy and hard to spot but are often seen at a distance.
Hippos are abundant in the Mara River as are very large Nile crocodiles, who lay in wait for a meal as the wildebeest cross on their annual quest to find new pastures.
Every July (or sometimes August), the wildebeest travel over 600 miles (960km) from Tanzania’s Serengeti plains, northwards to the Masai Mara and the Mara River is the final obstacle. In October or November, once they have feasted and the grass has all but gone, they turn around and go back the other way.
The Mara birds come in every size and colour including common but beautiful ones like the lilac breasted roller and plenty of large species like eagles, vultures and storks. There are 53 different birds of prey.
Altitude is 4,875-7,052 feet (1,500-2,170 metres) above sea level, which yields a climate somewhat milder and damper than other regions. The daytime rarely exceeds 85°F (30°C) during the day and hardly ever drops below 60°F (15°C) at night.
Rainy Season: It rains in April and May and again November and this can cause some areas of the Mara to be inaccessible due to the sticky ‘black cotton’ mud.
Dry Season: July to October is dry and the grass is long and lush after the rains. This is a good time to come and see the huge herds of migratory herbivores.
Hottest time: The warmest time of year is December and January.
Coldest Time: June and July are the coldest months.
Best Time To Visit Masai Mara Reserve
With the wildebeest migration in JULY – OCTOBER, this is the best time to see this incredible movement of animals. Although it is not guaranteed that the wildebeest get to Maasai Mara, it has yet to let us down. Also, December to February are great times as it is dryer and good for the Big Cats.
Masai Mara National Reserve Contacts
Attraction Type: Wildlife
Category: National Reserve, Wildlife Conservancy, Birding Site
Region: South Rift
City / Town: Narok
Telephone: 254 50 22551 254 50 22220
Entrance Fee: Yes