The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the best known and most popular reserves in the whole of Africa. Kenya’s finest reserve, the Masai Mara pulses with raw energy as an array of animals go about their daily lives. At times and in certain places it can get a little overrun with tourist minibuses, but there is something so special about it that it tempts you back time and again.
The Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve was established in 1961 and was originally known as the Mara Game Reserve. The inside area is developed along the guidelines of a national park, where no human settlement is allowed. The outer area is undisturbed except for the grazing cattle of the local Masai. The park is reputed as the only region left in Kenya where visitors may see animals in the same great numbers as existed a century ago.
Masai Mara is the best destination in Kenya for viewing wildlife – and lots of it! The Masai Mara is home to a great wildlife spectacle, as sometime between August and November more than two million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti in search of water and grazing.
From forest and rivers to hills and escarpments to plains, bush and scrub this diverse landscape is home to an enormous number of different species. Giant herds of Elephants wander slowly but purposefully across the vast grasslands, Gazelle’s, Elands and Topi skip playfully through beautiful scenery and if you are lucky you will see one of their major predators, Lions, Cheetahs and Leopards cunningly lying in wait for their prey and giving chase.
For many people, timing their Masai Mara Safari to coincide with the migration seems vital – but with a very abundant and healthy resident population of animals, a holiday to the Masai Mara is great at any time of the year.
Seasoned safari travellers, travel writers, documentary makers and researchers often admit that the Masai Mara is one of their favourite places. So why is that? Perhaps it is because of the ‘big skies’, the open savannahs, the romance of films like ‘Out of Africa’ and certainly because of the annual wildebeest migration, the density of game, the variety of birdlife and the chance of a hot air balloon ride. Also because of the tall red-robed Masai people whose lifestyle is completely at odds with western practices, and from whom one learns to question certain western values.
The largest mass movement of land mammals on the planet and one of the most breathtaking events in the animal kingdom, The Great Migration involves millions of ungulates, most notably wildebeest, as they follow an annual circular route around the Serengeti Ecosystem in an endless quest for fresh pastures and water. The rumbling hooves of wildebeest and the clouds of red dust they leave behind have become a symbol of the Serengeti, as well as a strong migratory instinct that defies crocodile-infested rivers, wild currents, and flocks of predators lying in wait.
The Mara is a permanent water source for the area’s wild inhabitants and so even when the very last wildebeest has tardily set off for the southern Serengeti, massive resident herds remain, offering visitors everything they could want to see on an African safari. A Masai Mara safari provides a year-round safari experience.
When is the best time to visit?
During the dry seasons; it’s cooler from the end of May to early October, and warmer from late November to early March. The dry season from July to March is the best time to see wildlife, and the March of the Wildebeests occurs from June – August.
How to get to the Masai Mara?
The Masai Mara lies about 270 km from Nairobi and takes about 5 hours by road. There are scheduled flights, twice daily from Wilson Airport Nairobi, which take about 40 – 45 minutes
It is strongly recommended that you travel with a guide. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about the area whilst being safer.