Masaai Mara National Reserve Kenya
The Maasai Mara National reserve is a world`s famous wildlife safari destination in Kenya. It is located in the Great rift valley of Kenya-South west on the country in Narok County neighboring Serengeti National park in Tanzania. Dabbed as the Mara Park by the locals is named in honor of the Maasai people-the ancestral people in the area who at present co-exist with the wildlife in the game reserve. Mara is a Maasai word which means shrubs, savanna, and grassland that combine to make the game reserve. Maasai Mara Game reserve is managed by the Authority of Narok County of behalf of the Government as opposed to other national parks which are under Kenya Wildlife Service.
Maasai Mara National Reserve started as a sanctuary for wildlife in 1961 with an area of about 520sq km. It was later turned into a game reserve in 1961 stretched to cover 1821sq km. Park of Maasai Mara Game reserve was divided to the local communities worth 159q km and the rest of the land was upgraded into a National Reserve in 1974. In 1976, the national reserve was again reduced by 162sq km and it was left with 1510sq km area. Maasai Mara national reserve has three ranches namely; Mara triangle, Sekenani and Musiara.
Maasai Mara National Reserve features open plains, rolling hills and two prime rivers in the northern direction (Mara river and Talek river). Vast acacia trees occupy the south eastern region and to the west is the East African Rift Valley Esiot escarpment (with the most concentration of wildlife in its grassland and shore water areas) which stretches 5600km long from the red sea in Ethiopia via Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and finally to Mozambique. Maasai Mara National Reserve is about 224km from the east of Nairobi.
Brief facts About Maasai Mara National Reserve Kenya
What to see and do in the Maasai Mara National Reserve
Wildlife; Maasai Mara is world known among the best wildlife safari destinations offering higher opportunities to explore the African big five namely; lions, leopards, Elephants, Buffaloes and Rhinos and so many other animals of over 60 species, even cheetahs, Wildebeests of over 1300000, 500000 Thomson`s gazelles, 97000 Topis, 18000 elands. Thousands of Zebras and antelopes all exists in Maasai Mara. The roan antelope and nocturnal bat-eared fox are only found in Maasai Mara in Kenya. The feature of Maasai Mara like Mara river is home to hippos and crocodiles while one can also spot cheetahs along the shores of Talek river and the Siria escarpment is good for sporting carnivores
Game driving safari in Maasai Mara National reserve; Exploring the wildlife beauty of Maasai Mara National Reserve requires an experienced and professional guide to take you through the most spotted wildlife tracking areas especially for specific wildlife of interest. Maasai Mara is a home to the big five (Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalos and Rhinos). Also, a variety of animals are available to offer an incredible experience. You marvel wildlife from the start of the game drive t the end. Starting from the accommodation facility within the Maasai Mara.
Game driving in Maasai Mara can be done all year round but the best months of the year are probably July and September to Marvel the great Migration of millions of wildebeests, Zebras and Gazelles that come in massive lines taking the same direction from Serengeti National park in Kenya to Maasai Mara national Reserve with no fear to cross Mara river which inhabits lots of huge crocodiles. During the period of the great Migration, fresh eater animals also extend closer to hunt from the vast migrating herbivorous groups. This makes wildlife experience extra ordinary in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Bird Watching; Maasai Mara national Reserve has a record of over 470 bird species and 60 migrant species and many raptors. Examples of resident birds in Maasai Mara include; Red-throated Tit, Hildebrandt’s Starling, Foxy Lark, Swahili and Kenya Rufous Sparrows, Rufous-naped Larks, Long-billed Pipit, Pale Wren-Warbler, Red-tailed and Sooty Chats, Green-capped Eremomela, Harlequin Quail, Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-bellied Bustards, White-bellied and Senegal, Red-capped Lark, Fischer’s Sparrow Lark, Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting, Pied and Isabelline Wheatears, African Quailfinch, Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Black-chested snake eagle, Banded Martin, Rufous-chested, Sparrow hawk, Bateleur, Caspian Plovers, ostriches, Yellow-bellied Hyliota, White-headed Barbet, Little Bee-eater, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, Yellow-mantled and Red-collared Widow birds, Lesser Spotted, Grey Kestrel, Tawny and Steppe Eagles, crowned canes, African pygmy falcons, long-crested eagles, Secretary birds, hornbills, and the lilac breasted roller among others. Endemic species like roller birds and commonly found along Mara river mostly when its rainy like in the months from November to June. Weaver birds two allocate mostly to water body areas like Mara River and Talek river. Crowned plover, secretary birds, turkey-sized ground hornbills and Kori bustards prefer to inhabit on the grasslands of Maasai Mara. It’s interesting to sight the dances of saddle billed stocks in the swamps of Maasai Mara as they perch to catch fish. Migrant birds like Madagascar squacoo are also available in Mara especially from October to May. Look for the kingfishers (giant and pygmy) on the showers of the rivers. Ross`s Turaco and Schalow`s usually inhabit along the lines of Mara river. Really a birder`s paradise!
Cultural Walk in Maasai Mara National Reserve; Maasai Mara is a remarkable National reserve where human life co-exists with the wild life. Visiting the Maasai Mara offers visitors chances to experience the way locals live in harmony with the wildlife and the unique Maasai culture with keeps in the visitor’s memory for lifetime. There`s also a primary school in Talek Town where visitors get to know about how these young pupils manage to move longer distances (Miles) from their homes in the bush full of wild animals up to school every day. Villages are also available, visitors may decide to interact with the residents who can offer you amazing cultural practices that you have never heard of before. The exiting Maasai dances and their security weapons and tactics used against wildlife attacks. Amazingly, these people can light fire with no any lighting equipment. Learn about how the young Maasai boys at puberty stage enjoy live circumcision with no fear for them to be regarded as worriers.
Walking Safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve; Walking safaris are commonly arranged in Maasai Mara National reserve. They leisurely adventurous and most rewarding guided walks enhance wildlife experience to most tourists who have visited Maasai Mara. Visitors are escorted by Armed ranger guides to guard against any attempt of animal attach as well s guide you to safety tracking spots where satisfaction is highly expected.
Usually, Naboisho conversancy (in natural area filled with massive wildlife and offering impressive views) is the most recommended for nature walking. Nature walking gives high chances of spotting the big five including the leopards which are usually shy and hide away from people. Walking safaris take a minimum of two hours and you can enjoy the amazing experience at its best.
Balloon Safaris; Balloon safari is an amazing adventurous safari providing great experience to wildlife visitors in Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is a memorable experience you can enjoy while in Kenya as you are suspended up in air observing the Africa`s Natural plains and rolling hills endowed with impressive masses of wildlife. Balloon safaris offers chances of views wildlife in areas that are restricted from wildlife. Unlike game drive where you much follow permanent tracks, with balloon safaris, one is free to access any area of the pack. This is really rewarding.
More interesting with balloon safaris is to experience the way air in inflated in the balloon-a task done by over 20 people and these people help visitors in the ballooning experience at the time of flying and landing the balloon.
There is however need to consider the wind direction as the balloon relies much on it. The only roll of the pilot is to control the upper and downer movements of the balloon. But usually, there’s always a chase team ready for rescue in case of bad weather. Balloon safaris offer high chances of enjoying the close aerial views of wildlife and this is such an extra ordinally experience.
Prior arrangement for balloon safaris is however important as the activity is very competitive and only a number of 16 visitor are allowed in air at a time. Accompanied children above 4 years can as well experience balloon safaris.
Accessibility to Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
How to Get to Masaai Mara National Reserve Kenya
There are several ways of accessing Masaai Mara National Reserve based on one`s location, & time planned for a safari visit.
Maasai Mara Gates include; Musiara Gate, Ololaimutiek Gate, Oloololo, Sand River Gate, Sekenani Gate, Talek Gate
Below are procedures to reach Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Drive to Maasai Mara National Reserve
From Nairobi to Narok, (approx. 2.5 hours drive). Enjoy a leisurely drive on a good road. In Narok, relax, buy some food and snacks and visit toilets. From Narok, drive to Sekanani gate (approx. 3.5 hours’ drive). The road is rough from Narok to Sekanani Gate; a 4×4 vehicle is recommended. The dirt road goes until Sekanani Gate. Inside the reserve, roads are fairly good. However, the roads can flood in rainy season.
A flight from Nairobi Wilson Airport, Samburu, Lewa Downs, Nanyuki, Mombasa or Diani airports to one of Mara Airstrips and transfer by arranged car to the lodge. Airstrips in Maasai Mara National Reserve include;
Keekorok Airstrip, Cottars airstrip, Mara North airstrip, Musiara airstrip, Ngerende airstrip, Olare Orok airstrip, Ol Kiombo airstrip, Ol Seki airstrip, Serena airstrip, Siana airstrip
It is about 1hr to fly from Nairobi & it is best for those planning to stay in the Mara Triangle. a few stopovers maybe made en route for some passengers to disembark from some of the airstrips in the Mara. Charter flights can also be arranged.
Some of domestic airlines that operate from Nairobi to Maasai Mara National Reserve include;
- AirKenya Express, SafariLink Aviation Limited, East African Safar Air Express, Fly540. Bluebird aviation, Jambojet, Mambasa air safari, 748 Air services, Blue Sky aviation services, Astral Aviation, ALS aircraft leasing services, CMC Aviation.
Where to stay in Maasai Mara National Reserve Kenya
Masaai Mara Serena Safari lodge in Maasai Mara national Reserve;
This 5-star hotel is nestled in Mara triangle about 20km from Nairobi. The lodge pr4ovides spectacular views of the Mara river and the surrounding savanna and animals around. Standing in the heart of Maasai Mara national reserve, Maasai Mara Serena Safari Lodge features facilities like external and internal bars, swimming pool and sundeck, self-sustaining gym and spar, single and double ensuite self-contained air-conditioned spacious rooms, gift shops and business center, satellite tv, free Wi-Fi, fulltime on call medical services, baby-sitting, children’s dining/Menu, conference center and so much more.
Elephant Pepper Camp in Maasai Mara National Reserve;
This is rather an outstanding upmarket safari camp situated in Mara North conservancy area, Ellephant pepper camp is one of the Alewana collections (Alewana has 15 lodges and boutiques in most famous destinations of Kenya, Zanzibar and Tanzania).it is an amazing facility that has for several times undergone complete refurbishment.
Facilities & Amenities at Elephant Pepper Camp in Maasai Mara National Reserve;
- 8 brand new spacious and ensuite luxury tents
- Honeymoon / Family suite- offering impressive scenery of the savannah landscapes from the balcony.
- Safari Dining; Spacious enough to allow privacy as well as offers chances for Communal dinning- a common practice at Elephant Pepper camp. However, private idealistic dinners can be arranged upon request.
- Italian dish, Pepper camp`s cuisine includes Traditional Italian recipes for example, Parmigiana, Melanzane, Osso Bucco, and fresh organic salads. It also provides for Vegetarians, Vegans, gluten free, guests.
Mara Bush Camp in Maasai Mara National Reserve
This is a mobile camp nestled in a riverine forest on the shores of River Olare Orok. In the heartland of Maasai Mara, minimally 1 km from Ol Kiombo airstrip.it is a small camp a good for privacy. It overs splendid views of olare orok river with its herds of hippos.
Facilities & Amenities at Mara Bush Camp in Mara National Reserve;
- 12 luxury tents with front views of the river.
- Double/twin bedrooms with mosquito nets.
- En-suite flushing toilets and bathrooms with sink, running water, hot bucket shower, writing desk, and veranda furniture
- 1 liter daily mineral water bottle
- Towels and shampoo/ conditioner and liquid wash soap.
- A fully equipped dining tent.
- Luxurious and comfortable lounge tent with bar inside, for interaction with one another.
- In-house library
- A cozy campfire sundowner cocktail
- Lunch buffet and set a `la carte dinner
- Solar energy and generator for charging electronic equipment
- Security guaranteed by Maasai warriors.
- A high-quality gift shop for souvenir shopping
Kikwa Tembo Tented Camp in Maasai Mara National Reserve.
This camp is set on an isolated franchise from the Maasai tribesmen west of Maasai Mara boarder close to where “Out of Africa`s famous final scene was filmed”. The camp has spacious luxurious tents providing impressive views of wild Maasai plains within the Escarpment.
Facilities & Amenities at Kikwa Tembo Tented Camp in Maasai Mara National Reserve.
- Pan-African cuisine front of the fire.
- 20 luxurious tents
- 8 superior view tents
- 12 classic view tents
- En-suit bathroom in each tent &a raised daybed to watch game as they cross.
- Reception in the general guest area
- Gift shop
- Bar/sitting room and an indoor/outdoor dining area
- Swimming pool.
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