Maasai Mara National Reserve
Lying next to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is the magically gifted Maasai Mara National Reserve, locally known as The Mara and seated on a 1,510 km² area of preserved savannah wilderness in South-western Kenya. The reserve was established in 1961 and named in honor of the Maasai people who are the ancestral inhabitants of the area.
The quintessential Maasai Mara is one of the most famous and spectacular wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa, world-renowned for its exceptional populations of Lions, African leopards, Cheetah, buffaloes, African Bush Elephant, and the endangered black rhino that hide in the dense thickets. The reserve also hosts the Great Migration, which secured it as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the 10 Wonders of the World. This Great annual Migration takes place between the month of July to the end of August where over 2 million wildebeests and Grant’s Zebras cross Northwards from the adjacent Serengeti National Park at the border through the crocodile-infested Mara River into the park in an attempt to find new fresh pasture and water. Together with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, it forms Africa’s most diverse, incredible, and most spectacular eco-systems and possibly the world’s top safari big game viewing eco-system. Other wildlife species noticeable in the park include Grant’s zebras, buffaloes, oribis, crocodiles, giraffes, impalas, eland, hippos, and the rarely sighted black rhino.
Not only is this 8th Wonder of the World a hub for wild animals but also birds with over 450 species recorded.
The reserve also boasts of numerous tree species, blossoming and covering all the lands. All these lying within the Great eastern bank of the rift valley. The harmonious environment of the Maasai people living with the wild animals in the reserve creates a stunning site to view by the tourists as they experience a first-hand experience of how to survive peacefully in a wilderness.
Wildlife tends to be most concentrated on the reserve’s western escarpment which is regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s wildlife.
Other major attractions and activities in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Visitors can indulge in a myriad of activities including:
Maasai Mara National Park is magical with game drives with spectacular views of savannah plains during the day drive. The day game drives give chance to witness the African sunrise and an opportunity to encounter restless kobs and gazelles, herds of free-ranging elephants, the lions in action, or resting after enjoying their kill for the day among others. During the night game drive, you get exposed to other nocturnal animals like the Bushbabies, Cape Hares, Aardvarks, and the cats like the lions, leopards, civets, porcupines, and others.
Bird watching is one of the great activities not to miss out on when in Maasai Mara National Reserve. When it comes to birding in the Maasai Mara plains, we expect to twitch a lot of typical Savannah species. The park itself boasts a record of over 450 species. For special sightings of raptors, you could tick off about 50 different raptor species. Among other special birds in the park are the Usambiro Barbert, Secretary Bird, Kori Bustard, Pygmy Falcon, Harlequin Quail, and the rare Quail Plover.
A visit to the Maasai Mara National Reserve without an encounter with the legendary Maasai people, from which the park derives its name would seem incomplete. The Maasai people have over time preserved their rich, indigenous, and exclusive traditional ways of life despite the flock of visitors who come from all corners of the world with different cultural believes. They have kept their traditions, customs, and believes intact. A visit to the homesteads of the Maasai people will expose you to more active and lively traditional dancing stanzas of up and down, to learning how to milk their indigenous cows, getting fresh blood from the animal, making their traditional houses, and many more activities.
Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the reserves in Africa where nature walks are allowed despite the presence of the big 5. This is usually undertaken with the help of an armed ranger guide who will guide you through trails that are less used by the predators such as the lion, leopard, cheetah, and many others to help you view animals in a more natural way without using vehicles. These nature walks are usually within the camp or lodge and outside the main reserve. Within the park, the walk can take approximately 1 hour whereas out of the reserve, it can go between 2-3 hours. These walks are best done early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is not very hot.
Hot air balloon safaris
A hot air balloon safari over the Maasai Mara is another exciting activity to undertake here. This lifetime adventure takes visitors on a drift over the expansive plains, forests, and rivers with an aerial view of abundant game life roaming the reserve. This usually one-hour experience takes about 12-14 visitors in the balloon’s basket leading to a relaxed bush breakfast among other captivating activities. Guests are advised to wear warm clothing, carry along a camera to capture these moments and a notebook to list all sightings.
When to visit Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara National Reserve can be accessible all year round, the most wildlife rewarding time being the green season when millions of animals both migratory and permanent residents are present in the reserve. The wildebeest migration usually unfolds between July-October comprising wildebeests, Grant’s zebras, and antelopes crossing from the adjacent Serengeti National Park in Tanzania through the crocodile-infested Mara River to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The quieter low season (November-March) may not offer the wildebeest migration but there is plenty more wildlife to view and less crowding.
How to get to Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara National Reserve is about 280km (5-6 hours) west of Nairobi City. On your journey to the Mara, you will enjoy breathtaking views including that of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Suswa, and Mount Longonot. The road from Narok to the reserve is quite rough and it is advisable to use a 4×4 vehicle as this will make your drive smoother. Once at the Mara, there is a number of entry gates such as Talek, Oloololo, Sekenani, Musiara, and Sand River gates.
The quickest way to Maasai Mara National Reserve is by flying. Daily flights from Wilson airport are provided by companies such as Air Kenya and SafariLink which flights take about 45 minutes to arrive at airstrips near your accommodation facility. (Depending on where you choose to stay)
Where to stay in Maasai Mara National Park
Accommodation can be offered in the Central region which gets so busy during the migration season (about August-November) with many visitors coming to the reserve or at the private conservancies in the North which offer more secluded and tucked-away accommodation. Some of the available accommodation facilities here include the luxurious Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Mara Serena Safari Lodge, Angama Mara, AA Lodge Maasai Mara, Ol-moran Tented Camp, Miti Ming Eco Lodge, Maji Moto, Sekanani Camp, Semadep Mara Camp, Mara River Lodge among other diverse options.
Book your trip with Jewel Safaris and visit Maasai Mara for the wildebeest migration and the hunting action experience. There is a lot in this well-endowed destination that will immerse fun-filled experiences and the memories of a lifetime to any tourist or traveler visiting this place. Contact us today for more details about Maasai Mara and any other parks in East Africa.
Book a trip with Jewelsafaris.com and join us at Masai Mara for the movement and the hunting action experience. There is a lot in this well-endowed destination that will immerse fun-filled experiences and the memories of a lifetime to any tourist or traveler visiting this place. No adequate words can ascertain how beautiful and experiential this vast land of Masai Mara is. Contact us at Jewel safaris for any other details about this park.