Bird photography at Maasai Mara National Reserve
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Bird photography at Maasai Mara National Reserve. Maasai Mara National Reserve Located in Kenya is one of the largest reserves with 1,800 km2 of land present in the Serengeti wastelands. To be precise, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is part of the Greater Mara Ecosystem located in the southern part of Kenya in the Narok County. It also part of the conservancies including Mara Naboisho, Enonkishu, Ol Kinyei, Mara North, and Olare Motorogi. The biggest animal show happens here every year from July until the end of October. As 1.4 million wildebeests, 500,000 gazelles, and 200,000 zebras migrate here every year, it is called as The Great Migration along the crocodile-crowded river.
Maasai Mara's location and altitude, above 1,500 meters, yield a climate which is milder and damper than in other regions. Maasai Mara National Reserve is protected as a reserve and not as a national park, therefore not managed by Kenya Wildlife Service but by the local authorities, namely District Councils. The income from the parks goes to the development of the local Maasai community. The management of the Maasai Mara National Reserve has been divided between two councils Trans Mara and Narok council. The Trans Mara council has management over the western part of the Maasai Mara National Reserve also called the Mara Triangle, and Narok council has management over the rest of the reserve on the eastern side of the Mara River.
The ecosystem in Mara-Serengeti is over 25,000 km2 comprising of open grassland that goes into the northern part of Tanzania and the southern part of Kenya. You can experience a varied landscape that offer you floods, disperse woods, waving grasslands, and bush areas. On the west side, soil indicates signs of prehistoric volcanic activity. The western part borders the Siria Escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, which stretches more than 150 meters.
The Mara Serena Safari Lodge is the one and only accommodation facility you can find at Mara Triangle that is located close to the Mara River. The lodge is situated at the center of Mara Triangle. The lodge is built on top of a hill that allows having a kaleidoscopic view of the valley and deep down you can see the beautiful Mara River, ripples with the play full hippos and crocodiles. The Mara Triangle is well protected by the security staff from illegal poachers and, as a result, the reserve is rich with wonderful wildlife. On both side of the councils, that on the Narok controlled area and the Trans Mara controlled area you can find a lot of accommodation centers and camps and tourist activities. In fact in the Trans Mara area, i.e. on the eastern side you can find more tourist activities.
To the north of the Mara Triangle is bordered by the Mara North Conservancy which is a stunning private wilderness area of more than 30,000 hectares. It is a vital part of Maasai Mara ecosystem as it forms the north western part of the protective zone. The Mara North Conservancy is a partnership of camps in the area and the local Maasai people. It is run as a non-profit company with the aim of creating a long term commitment to the environment. It is one of the most populated wildlife areas within the Greater Mara ecosystem. The Mara North Conservancy is home to Leopard George, a vital birthing and maternity area for the big cats. It also home to the scenic Lemek hills, which is an important refuge to African wild dogs that are a highly threatened. The Mara North Conservancy has a professional management that focuses on minimizing the impact on the vulnerable environment by having low density tourism and vehicle numbers.
To the very north of The Mara North Conservancy is the Enonkishu Conservancy, the focus is on livestock improvements through innovative cattle management programs. The Enonkishu Conservancy habitat comprises of wooded acacia tree savannah, it has rocky and undulating hills which provide a varied habitat. The Mara River runs alongside the conservancy and has many crocodiles and hippos in the section of the river that borders the conservancy. A Pride of lions are usually found at the edge of Enonkishu and Ol Choro Oiroua and the conservancy is frequently visited by groups of elephants. Enonkishu Conservancy offers an incredible game viewing experience with rare species such as caracal, aardwolf, aardvark and serval cat.
The Olare Motorogi Conservancy lies to the east of the Mara North Conservancy. It is, in fact, a symbol of wildlife conservancy and has set an example for the manner in which the Maasai Mara Ecosystem has sustained itself. The Maasai Mara ecosystem is famous for its savannah land and the Olare Motorogi Conservancy is a living example of this natural wonder. The big cats, and the other predators, as well as herbivores, are usual here. One also would sight rhinos, wild dogs and elephants here.
On the east of the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, you can find the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, which comprises of the big cats and giraffe, elephants and wildebeest. It is a bird watcher's paradise with animals that can be found elsewhere including the white-headed Buffalo-Weavers, Pigmy Falcon, Bush Pipits and White-Crowned Shrike. As the conservancy needs to be protected, there are a low density of tourists and vehicles.
On the east of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy is the Ol Kinyei Conservancy, which has received numerous awards and is the first Conservancy present in the Greater Mara Ecosystem. As they want to promote wildlife conservation, a livestock exclusion zone has been started. Here you can find several lions, leopards, and more than 300 types of birds in Ol Kinyei Conservancy.
Attraction: Hot Air Balloon Safari and breakfast
Planning to go on a hot air balloon trip, and then you will be glad to know that Mara has several places from where you can experience it. As you are flying over the vast land experiencing the sunrise and the awakening of the wildlife, you get that once in a lifetime moment. The safari lasts for an hour and to ensure safe landing instructors will be present. Once you have landed, you can experience a large breakfast and champagne. It is a truly another moment having breakfast in the wild as you can get to see close encounters with the wildlife.
You might want to get your hat as it can protect your head from the heat that is produced from the gas burners.
Attraction: Walking safari
You will want to know that, there is no walking safari in inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is possible to do it in the neighboring Conservancy at the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. As you walk around the reserve area, you will experience a different perspective of wildlife. When you walk around, you are accompanied by Maasai warriors to guide you and protect you from wildlife getting too close.
A walking safari around the conservancy will give you a chance to interact directly with the distinct features of wildlife and ecosystem. It will be a quite intriguing experience to watch the wildlife tracking and also watching termite mounds, etc. The walking safari opens the door to have a close encounter with different types of birds which you had never seen in your life. Also, you would never know what kind of surprises may spring up on your way that makes a walking safari a wonderful experience.
Attraction: Night safari
Comparing to the day safari, night safari shall bring unique experiences full of surprises. Further the beauty of night safari is that you can watch those rare wildlife species that you cannot see during the daytime. Some animals barge to the meadows for their foods, especially animals like Hippopotamus, which has a sensitive skin that cannot bear direct sunlight.
Wild animals like lions, jackals and hyenas usually prowl at night, and this is an added visual treat for the wildlife visitor during night safari. Anyone who comes to the Maasai Mara National Reserve obviously comes for something different. This is provided in these nocturnal tours that are so much a part of the visits here.
People and Culture
The tribal Maasai community members are living around the conservancy and hence the Conservancy is named after the community name. The village surrounding the reserve is always busy with their daily chores of life where you can see children busy with managing cattle herds, goats, and the sheep. The panoramic view of the reserve will be a memorable experience, and your tour will not be complete if you don't visit any of the villages and interact with them.
Maasai Mara National Reserve is popular for its lions, hyenas, cheetahs and leopards that are found all over the park. The place is thus a hub of easy prey and also is a favorite of the predators. The rare black rhino, for example, is often visible here along with the scrub, elephants, and the hippos. The elephants come in large herds here and spend time eating the greens here. It is believed that a grown elephant needs around 250 kg of vegetable food a day. The Hippo pools here also add to the overall wildlife experience. So the population of crocodiles, hippos, and the absolutely exciting varied bird life is a pleasurable experience for all who come here.
The great migration wildebeest sees zebra and gazelle including Thomson and Topi migrating into the reserve from the Serengeti plains. The herds arrive in July, and the larger herds start coming in the month of August till mid-September. Usually, the big herds leave and migrate back to Serengeti, which still leaves herds till October. As long as there is fresh grass to eat the animals will keep coming. In the northern part of Serengeti, you can find more than half staying behind.
The big five which include the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros are usually found in the reserve and are known to draw the crowds. The black rhino population has been growing since the depletion of poaching. You will want to know that the black rhino cannot be sighted when you are on a safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
The reserve is about 260 kilometers far from Nairobi or Lake Nakuru and a five to six-hour driving can take you the wonderful Maasai Mara Reserve
Lodges and camps
Maasai Mara National Reserve is a much preferred spot for all who come to this part of the world. There are all kinds of accommodation facilities here. Whether it is a luxurious five-star lodge or tented camps, whether it is the simple camping facilities or the basic living style, the reserve provides it all. The animals here do not actually know where the border lines are and the lodges are usually all out of the reserve premises. So one is safe even during the night safaris, however, this is not allowed in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
One can spend two to six days in the Maasai Mara Reserve Conservancy. There are special four-night packages too however it is best to stay for this duration in two different locations. One would then get a chance to see a better choice of animals. It is always prudent to have a reference point from where the safari would begin.