MAASAI MARA : The Pride of Africa
Hailed as one of the best wildlife reserves in the world, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is a sanctuary for an abundance of incredible animals.
Known as the Masai Mara, or simply ‘The Mara’, the reserve was named after the Maasai people who inhabit the area. ‘Mara’ means ‘spotted’ in the Maa language, which describes the Mara’s landscape, flecked with acacia trees and craters.
Home to scores of animals, including the iconic Big 5, you’ll be sure to spot some of your favourite animals, on foot, on four wheels, or even from the air.
If you visit between July and November, you’ll bear witness to millions of migrating wildebeest, in one of the most remarkable wildlife encounters on Earth.
Perfect for both first-timers and experienced safari-goers, the Masai Mara is the ultimate safari destination.
We’ve put together a complete guide to visiting the Masai Mara in Kenya, including the best time to visit, the best places to stay, and what to wear on safari.
Where is the Masai Mara?
Located in the southwest of Kenya, the Masai Mara National Reserve spans an area of 1,500 square kilometers, almost the same size as London.
It forms the northernmost part of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, joining with the Serengeti across the border in Tanzania. The Masai Mara also borders a number of unfenced private conservancies, operated by the Masaai.
Famed for its iconic golden plains and open grassland, the Masai Mara is dotted with acacia trees, riverine forest, craters, and kopjes (small hills).
Along with many small seasonal rivers, there are three major rivers known as the Sand, Talek, and Mara Rivers, which wildebeest herds must cross during the mid-year migration.
How to get to the Masai Mara?
The easiest way to get to the Masai Mara is through Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, located 224 kilometers from the eastern border of the Masai Mara.
You’ll land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, then transfer to the nearby Wilson Airport for your domestic flight to the Masai Mara’s airstrips.
The flights take around 45 minutes, and on arrival you’ll be met your driver and transferred to your lodge or camp, keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife along the way.
Game Viewing & Wildlife in the Masai Mara
Game Viewing & Wildlife in the Masai Mara
As one of the best wildlife havens in Africa, the Masai Mara offers extraordinary game viewing. You’ll have the chance to spot some of the world’s most incredible species and all your favorites.
The Great Migration
Each year, beginning around July, the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem stages one of the greatest shows on Earth – the Great Migration.
Over 1.5 million wildebeests, antelope and zebra race across Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara, in search of greener pastures. They move in a trampling mass, arriving at the final obstacle, the Mara River in Kenya.
The animals form a thundering bottleneck as they attempt to dodge the crocodiles, vultures, big cats and the dangerous rapids of the river. Once the rainy season sets in around October or November, the wildebeest make the 1,000km trip back to the Serengeti.
It’s a treacherous, incredible journey, and you can bear witness to this great spectacle from the Masai Mara. As the event is so popular, we recommend booking your accommodation at least nine months, or more, in advance.
Keep in mind that it’s impossible to predict the timing of the Mara River crossings, as the herds don’t all move in the same place and time each year – only the animals decide when to go.
It’s also important to note that the Great Migration is not a sight for the faint-hearted. Hungry predators are ready to eat, and you’ll likely see kills during the experience.
The Big 5 of Africa
Along with the Great Migration, the Masai Mara is also famed for being home to all of the Big 5 of Africa. It’s common to find elephants, lions, buffalo and leopard, although the rhino is more difficult to spot.
There’s an abundance of other incredible wildlife, including zebra, giraffe, hyena, wildebeest, gazelles, eland and scores of birdlife. You’ll also have the chance to spot cheetah lurking through the wide-open plains, and hippos in the Mara and Talek rivers.
Things to do in the Masai Mara
The wildlife is the star attraction of the Masai Mara, and there are plenty of wonderful ways to see them. You can also enrich your Masai Mara safari holiday by getting to know the Maasai, the traditional owners of the land.
Game drives are the classic safari activity, and in the Masai Mara, you can experience both day and night game drives. During the day, you’ll head out early in the morning or late in the afternoon to spot Mara’s iconic wildlife. On a night game drive, you’ll be treated to thrilling scenes of nighttime prowling and hunting, as many predators, especially big cats, only really come alive after dark.
A bush walk allows you to leave the vehicle behind and explore the Mara wilderness on foot. You’ll delve into the finer details of the African bush, with your guide pointing out plants and birds that you might not see from a vehicle.
3.Hot air balloon experience
Take to the skies in a hot air balloon at sunrise, to get a birds-eye view of the Masai Mara. You’ll have the best seat in the house, with panoramic views over the glowing plains, and the chance to spot wildlife at one of their most active times of the day. To end the experience, you’ll be treated to a lavish champagne breakfast in the bush.
The Maasai people own the land of the Masai Mara and practice the traditional herding of Maasai cattle. You can get a special insight into the rich culture of the Maasai tribes, through visits to local villages, and traditional song and dance performances by Maasai warriors. You can also go on bush walks with the welcoming Maasai people, listening to their stories and wisdom about this beautiful land.
Best luxury lodges & camps in the Masai Mara
We recommend staying in the private conservancies within the Masai Mara National Reserve. The conservancies are set on tribal lands and are administered by the Maasai, so you’ll have the opportunity to visit Maasai villages or see large herds of their beloved cattle.
With a harmonious approach to wildlife, domestic livestock, and local communities and cultures, the conservancies are a great example of conservation in the region.
They also provide an exclusive and private experience, as visitors to the reserve cannot enter the conservancies unless they are staying there (although guests of the conservancies can enter the reserve).
Here are our top picks for luxury lodges & camps in the Masai Mara:
Rhino River tourist camp,Lenchada,Mara Topi,Mara Chui,Sentrim Mara,AA Mara Lodge,Mara Leisure,Mara Sopa,Basecamp,Keekorok,Ashnil Mara,Emaiyan,Mara Interpids,Sarova Mara,Mara Serena,Mara Eden and Neptune Mara
Health & Safety in the Masai Mara
In general, Kenya is a safe country to visit as a traveler, with relative political stability.
However, like with many tourist destinations, there are instances of petty theft and pick-pocketing, particularly in the cities. Keep valuables out of sight, avoid walking alone at night and use taxis booked through your guide or hotel.
In the Masai Mara, you can ensure your safety by listening to your driver and guide’s instructions at all times. They are the experts and it’s their job to keep you safe on safari.
It’s also important to remember to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and a hat, never keep food in your room or tent (to avoid unwanted visits from the wildlife), and never go swimming in rivers or walking around the reserve by yourself.
What to pack for a safari holiday in the Masai Mara
It’s tempting to overpack for a safari holiday in Kenya, however, you only need a few essentials to come prepared for the adventure of a lifetime.
Note that domestic flights usually have luggage limited to 20 kilograms per person and it’s best to use a soft case or holdall to maximize space.
Here’s our advice on what you should pack for a safari holiday in the Masai Mara:
- Clothing in neutral colors and light fabrics that are easy to layer up, as morning and evening game drives can get cold. Avoid blue or black clothing as these colors attract tsetse flies, which have a nasty bite and spread disease. Military-style camouflage clothing is not permitted.
- Long-sleeved shirts and long trousers to protect from the sun and insect bites. Kenyans tend to dress conservatively, so knee-length pants and skirts, and shirts that cover the shoulders and midriff are best, even outside the national parks.
- Comfortable walking shoes that have been worn-in (to avoid nasty blisters).
- Swimwear and clothes for water activities.
- Hat and sunglasses.
- Toiletries such as sun cream, insect repellent, after-sun, bite relief cream, and lip balm.
- Binoculars and camera equipment (bring more memory than you think you need).
- Reusable water bottles to limit waste, though notes that tap water in Kenya is not drinkable unless your water bottle has a filtration system.
- Multi-way travel adaptor. Kenya uses plug type G (three rectangular pins). The standard voltage is 240 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
- Supplies for local community projects.
Who can take you there?
Anywhere Adventures Will take you there.
Anywhere Adventures Ltd is one of the leading travel and tour operators in Kenya and E. Africa. We are known to handle outbound & inbound incentive tours, events, and conferences in accordance with customer specifications and requirements.
Our team of experienced travel professionals is fully equipped to cater to all your travel requirements. Moreover, you will appreciate that having escorted most of the groups and conducted entire tours under our personnel supervision has not only won us the essential destination knowledge and operational expertise but has also greatly enhanced our credibility and reputation for providing services and detailed attention which have significantly contributed to the overall smooth handling of the tours.
As the preferred partner and brand ambassador for many safari lodges and hotels, you can trust Anywhere Adventures Ltd to provide you with a fulfilling and memorable holiday experience where all the details are taken care of and all you have to do is relax.
We have a reputation for providing high-quality customer care and personalized service at competitive prices. We offer versatile itineraries, insight into little-known tour and safari destinations, and exclusive added value, bringing all its skill, experience, and expertise in creating, costing, and executing travel for guests to Africa that is more than just a journey experience.
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