Explore Masai Mara Game Reserve
Located in the Southern part of Kenya along the Great Rift Valley area (it’s 1500 km2 in size), and boy does it pack a lot in. For anyone who’s ever flicked through a safari guide, the Masai Mara needs little introduction. The original home of the Maasai people, Mara means ‘spotted l
Maasai Mara or Masai Mara often referred to simply as Mara, is the most famous national game reserve in Kenya. It is located southwest of Kenya and borders Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to the south.
Masai Mara is obviously named after the Maasai tribe, the ancestral inhabitants of the region, having migrated to the area from the Nile Basin. The second part of the game reserve’s name is a description of the plains as seen by the Masai from afar – they call it "Mara" to mean "spotted" due to the many short bushy trees that define the landscape.
The total area under conservation in the Greater Maasai Mara ecosystem amounts to almost 1,510 km2 (580 sq mi)
How to get there:
Distances: Masai Mara is located approximately 250kms from Nairobi, 300km from Nakuru and 230kms from the Isebania border of Kenya and Tanzania. These distances vary depending on which side of the game reserve you are accessing.
By road: It will take you an average of 5 hours of driving to access the park from either Nairobi, Lake Nakuru or from the border with Tanzania. There are several access gates to the Mara National Park depending on where you are arriving from or where you are heading thereafter.
By air: Masai Mara's local flights network is very reliable and well-networked. There are at least three flights daily to and from Nairobi and other flights between Masai Mara and the Serengeti, Lake Nakuru National Park, Naivasha, the northern Kenya Samburu Game Reserve, Meru and Ol Pejeta Conservancy and indeed you can also easily connect from Masai Mara to a gorilla trekking Safari in Uganda or a beach extension in Mombasa or Zanzibar! There are numerous airstrips for different locations in the Mara and Cascades Africa Safaris will guide you accordingly for seamless planning.
Masai Mara is a semi-arid region with two rainy seasons yearly. Traditionally, like every other part of the country, The Mara receives prolonged rains lasting a month and a half to two months between late March and May and again a shorter rainy season in November and December which lasts about a month. However, due to global warming, these rain patterns have become increasingly unpredictable.
Elevation: 1,500–2,180 m (4,920–7,150 ft); Rainfall: 83 mm (3.3 in)/month; Temperature range: 12–30 °C (54–86 °F) and’, Its wide open plains provide an oasis-like sanctuary and Kenya’s flagship conservation area.
So what really brings people to the famous Masai Mara?
Well, from start to end in Masai Mara everything is just thrilling.
Typically, the main activity here is a safari game drive, which is ideally a literally “wild” excursion by vehicle exploring the park and seeing a variety of wild animals in their natural habitat.
In Kenya, when we talk of a Safari game drive, we are talking about the real wild – not a zoo J and not simply a protected area, but rather our animals although sometimes surrounded by a good number of tourist vehicles, are still well kept in the most natural state and the thrill is real going out there in search of them. The drives last 2 to 3 hours per drive in the morning (0630hours-0900hours) and late afternoon (1500hours-1830hours). This is the best time to chance spotting the animals because it is cooler unlike the late morning and early afternoon hours when they tend lazy away in shades away from the open scorching sun.
We however make our game drive experiences very flexible and often, our guests opt for a full game drive (1000hours-1600hours) in which case we take packed lunch boxes from our hotel and take them as picnic lunch at designated picnic sites – and it is an amazing experience as well!
What to see:
There is never a dull moment in Masai Mara. This is an all year destination although during the annual wildebeest migration between July-October things get hyped a lot, you can visit Masai mara any time and there is always resident animals in plenty.
Animals: All the Big Five ( Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard and Buffalo ) can be found in this game reserve as well as lots of cheetahs, giraffes, hippos along the Mara River, Zebra, Antelope, Aardvark, Aardwolf, African Hare, Antelope, Banded Mongoose, Bat Eared Fox Bushbaby, Bushbuck, Coke's Hartebeest, Copper Tailed Monkey/ Red Tailed Monkey, Crested Porcupine, Dwarf Mongoose, Grant's Gazelle, Honey Badger, Impala, Kirk's the little Dik Diks, Klipspringer, Olive Baboons, Oribi, Pangolin, Side Striped Jackal, Slender Mongoose, Spotted Hyena, Spring Hare, Straw Coloured Fruit Bat, Thomson's Gazelle, Topi, Vervet Monkey, Warthogs, Waterbuck and of course the resident Wildebeests famous for the migration. This list is endless.
Birds: Masai Mara boasts between 450-500 species of birds. Here you will find various subspecies of storks, African Darter, Hornbills, African Fish Eagle, Hawks, African Spoonbill, vultures, Bateleurs, The Bateleur, Black Chested Snake Eagle, herons, kites, Coqui Francolin, Egyptian Goose, sparrows, hoopoes, kingfishers, Grey Kestrel, the Hamerkop, Hadada Ibis, Kori Bustard (the largest flying bird native to Africa), vultures, Lilac Breasted Roller, Marabou Stork, Martial Eagle, Ostrich, Rufous Naped Lark, Ruppell's Vulture, Secretary bird, Southern Ground Hornbill, Weaver birds, Moosebirds, Spotted Thick Knee, Striped Kingfisher, Superb Starling, Usambiro Barbet, Vulturine Guinea fowl and many more.
Natural Features: The endless plains of the Mara in themselves are a beauty to behold. Masai Mara enjoys all year water supply by it’s three major permanent rivers; the Mara River, the Talek River and the Sand River. This is where most of the wild activity happen including the world famous Wildebeest Migration crossing. Hippos bask on the banks of the rivers making it one of the sort out sightings during safari game drives. Oloololo Escarpment standing 400m on the western part of the Mara offers spectacular vies of the rest of the greater Mara.
We heartily recommend a hot air balloon safari in the Masai Mara if you're seeking for a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable experience in Kenya.
A safari in a hot air balloon over the Masai Mara is an adventure of a lifetime. Take a moment to picture yourself gently gliding over the savannah, high above the enormous herds of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles. You'll get a breathtaking panoramic view of the breathtaking scenery, with its rolling hills, twisting rivers, and infinite meadows, from the air.
When choosing accommodation in the Masai Mara Game Reserve, it is important to consider your budget, the level of comfort you require, and the activities you want to participate in.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing accommodation in Masai Mara Game Reserve:
- Budget: Accommodation in the Masai Mara Game Reserve can range from very affordable to very expensive. It is important to set a budget before you start looking at options.
- Comfort: Accommodation in the Masai Mara Game Reserve varies in terms of comfort. If you are looking for a luxurious stay, you will need to be prepared to pay more. If you are on a budget, there are still some comfortable options available.
- Activities: Some accommodation in the Masai Mara Game Reserve offers activities such as night game drives, bush walks, and also while hot air balloon safaris can be done from any overnight stay, the transfer distances to the launch site differ. If these activities are important to you, be sure to choose an accommodation that offers them or is most convienient.
- Location: The Masai Mara Game Reserve is a large area, and the location of your accommodation will affect your experience. If you want to be close to the action, you will need to choose an accommodation in the inside the main game reserve boundary. If you are looking for a more peaceful experience with flexible activities like walks and night game drives, you could choose an accommodation in the conservancies surrounding Mara.
No matter what your budget or preferences, there is an accommodation option available in the Masai Mara Game Reserve that is perfect for you and Cascades Africa Safaris travel experts will assist you to achieve exactly that.
Nairobi to Masai Mara