Fairend Safaris

Masai Mara National Reserve

Experience the annual wildebeest migration

Masai Mara National Reserve lies along the Great Rift Valley and is found in Narok County in Kenya. It is an extension of the greater Serengeti which is an eco-system in Tanzania’s Northern circuit.  More so the reserve stretches for about 1,510 sq km consisting of open grasslands, acacia trees, and seasonal rivers. It is home to over 95 mammal species as well as over 570 bird species, the reserve is well known for the wildebeest migration. This involves the circular movement of millions of wildebeests accompanied by zebras between Masai Mara Reserve and Serengeti National Park of Tanzania.

How to get to Masai Mara National Reserve

Travelers can access Masai Mara by either road or air. By road, the journey starts from Nairobi and it takes about 3 to 4 hours depending on the pick-up location. Another road option is using buses or matatu going to Narok County from Nairobi. Travelers on a budget safari may use these to save some money.

 Alternatively travers use air which is the most convenient way to access the Masai Mara reserve. There are private airstrips owned by lodges which include Safari Link and Air Kenya which organize two daily flights to the reserve. Domestic flights to Masai Mara depart from either Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Wilson Airport – located south of Nairobi.

Activities to do in Masai Mara National reserve Reseve

The Great Wildebeest Migration

Experiencing the Great Wildebeest Migration is the top activity that attracts travelers to Masai Mara Reserve. It is one of the most memorable moments to witness over 1.5 million wildebeests, as well as gazelles, and zebras migrate from the Serengeti to the Mara River for fresh grazing areas.

This journey is challenging as they face many obstacles at the same time must cross the crocodile-infested Mara River. Thousands perish or are eaten by crocodiles and those that make a crossing must battle for life with predators. The great migration happens between June and November.

Game Drives

Masai Mara is at the same time a great destination for breathtaking game viewing and game drives. They are conducted in the morning,  afternoon/evening, and lastly at night enabling travelers to see wild species in their natural habitat. Game drives are usually carried out in 4WD open-roof safari vehicles in areas with the highest concentration of wildlife. The morning game drive starts early at 6:30 a.m. and lasts for about 3 to 4 hours.

This is the best time to catch animals when active as the grazers head out to feed while predators head back to their hideouts. The afternoon game drive starts at around 2 pm and usually ends at 6 pm, animals congregate around various waterholes to drink water. The night game drives allow travelers to see predators and nocturnal animals hunt and roam the landscape. These usually start between 6 to 7 pm and end at around 10 pm with help of trained rangers.

Bird-watching

Over 500 bird species can be found in Masai Mara reserve, including more than 50 raptors. In addition, the reserve has a high number of Ostriches known as Masai Ostriches, eagles, and vultures.  Most birds can be seen in the reserve’s several ecosystem zones like open savannah, river banks, and rock sides.  

The bird species to see include ducks, egrets, geese, herons, ostriches, hornbills, pelicans, spoonbills, and storks among others. Birding tours are usually done with the guidance of experienced ornithologists who are well-versed in the various species of birds, flora, and wildlife that are found in this area.

Cultural Encounter

Masai Mara is surrounded by the Masai tribe whose culture is one of Africa’s greatest. They are also known as Masai pastoralists, who have a distinct culture that is not found anywhere else in the globe. When on a safari to Masai Mara, travelers may discover the unique Masai traditions, and learn about their lifestyle and ways of living. Lastly, they get to watch how to collect fresh blood from animals, milk their indigenous cows, and  learn about their dancing style. They bounce up and down to their classic music.

Hot Air Balloon Experience

Hot air balloon safaris include taking an overhead excursion over the vast wilderness of the Mara reserve. It is a beautiful and fascinating way of exploring the reserve as the hot air balloon route follows the Mara River. This provides an aerial view of the woods, birds, and glassland before venturing deep into the savannah for more breathtaking views of the region. The one-hour exercise concludes with a picnic lunch or breakfast with champagne on the savanna plains and certificates of appreciation are presented to all participants. This activity is great for honeymooners, families, and adventurers.

Guided Nature Walks

One way of exploring the wilderness of Masai Mara is through guided nature walks led by experienced guides and rangers. Tourists have up close and personal encounters with wildlife, birds, and stunning landscapes while exploring the reserve on foot. Guided walks are done in the private conservancies that surround the reserve, allowing visitors to spot a variety of birds and animals. The animals to look out for include elephants, buffaloes, and giraffes among others, these walks are conducted in predator-free areas.

Horseback Riding

Masai Mara offers horseback riding safaris which allow tourists to explore the reserve at the back of the horse. This activity is organized in the conservancies which are predator-free rather than in the main reserve.  Travelers are taken deep into the Mara to see antelopes, elephants, wildebeest, giraffes, leopards, hartebeests, and lions, among many others. It is the most environmentally friendly way to tour the reserve. This adventure is led by park rangers, conservancy owners, or native Maasai guides.

Camping

Travelers who love camping can take time to enjoy camping sites in the Masai Mara Reserve where they get to sleep in the wilderness not far from animals. Some camping sites are private with bathrooms, running water, and a kitchen some with pools while others are public. This is one way of making memories as you tell stories as you sit around a bonfire.

The best time to visit

Masai Mara can be visited any time throughout the year however, the best time to visit is June and October. Grasslands are thinner and animals congregate around rivers and water holes, making it easier to spot during game drives. During wet months (March, April, November, and December) some of the roads to and through the reserve are difficult to travel.

Accomodation facilities to stay in Masai Mara Reserve

There are several facilities for accommodation ranging from lusury, mid-range and budget. Luxurious facilities include Mahala Mzuri, Bafeleur camp, Elephant Pepper Camp, Naibors camps, and Mara bush tops. In addition there is Kichenche Mara camp and Spirit of the Masai Mara among others.

Mid-range facilities include Eagle view, Zebra plains mara camp, Mara Serena Lodge, Matira Bush camp, Entumoto Safari Camp, and Amani Mara camp among others.

Budget lodging facilities include Amazing Mara Camp, Aruba mara camp, Mara Duma Bush Camp, and Fig Tree Camp. Crocodile camp and Mara Leisure camp among others.

Animals to see in Masai Mara national Reserve

The reserve has a wide range of wildlife species due to its richness of flora and fauna. It is very possible to spot not only the Big Five which includes Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, and Buffalo. But also see wildebeest, zebra, cheetah, waterbuck, impala, common eland, bushbuck, spotted hyena, and warthog among others.