Highlights of Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
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Highlights of Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Maasai Mara National Reserve is a natural extension of the Serengeti wastelands in Kenya. It spans over an area of around 1,800 square kilometers and is the largest wildlife reserve in the southern part of Kenya. Lying in the Narok County it is also a part of the Mara Ecosystem which is inclusive of Mara North, Enonkishu, Olare Motorogi and Ol Kinyei which are the neighboring conservancy regions here. The Great Migration is an annually repeated process where 1.4 million wildebeests, 200,000 zebras, and 500,000 gazelles, move along the crowded crocodile rivers in search of grass and food. Maasai Mara is better known for this animal show that usually occurs from July to October.
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.
When one comes to the Mara triangle, the only place to stay in would be the Mara Serena Safari Lodge, which is right in the middle of the region. The Mara River lies next to this, and the lodge itself is on a hill covered with bushes. As one watches the beautiful view of the savannah lands below, the River Mara looks wonderful as it winds its way through. The crocodiles and hippos notwithstanding, the simply mesmerizing ambiance takes one breath away. The area is famous for an excellent wildlife habitat thanks to the Mara Triangle Rangers who ensure that there is absolutely no poaching activity here. On the contrary on the eastern side, which is the area controlled by the Narok Council, there are more lodges as well as camps. The facilities here for tourism are even more convenient.
Going further to the north of Mara Triangle will take you to the border of Mara North Conservancy. This conservancy is spread over 30,000 hectares of lush green jungle area. This is an important area of Maasai Mara ecosystem and belongs to the protective zone of the north-western sector. The locals of Maasai run the Mara North Conservancy as a non-profit company on partnership terms. The sole aim of the company is to protect and maintain the Conservancy as a sustainable environment. The Mara North Conservancy is known as the most notable wildlife center inside the Greater Mara Ecosystem. The Leopard George a well known place for mating, maternity and breeding place for the wild cats is also located here. It is also a habitat for the endangered species, the African wild dogs. The mesmerizing scenery of Lemek hills are another treat for visitors. The management of Mara North Conservancy taking all the possible means to minimize the environment damages, inflicted by heavy tourism by minimizing the vehicle traffic, and low tourist turnout.
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.
From the Mara North Conservancy, moving to the east take you to Olare Motorogi Conservancy. The elementary techniques of wildlife protection and the continued development of Maasai Mara ecosystem is copied from the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. Tourists will have wonderful live experience of watching wild animals in Olare Motorogi Conservancy, and that can be watched from anywhere on the meadows of Maasai Mara ecosystem. Quite a lot of predators including leopards and herbivores can be seen here. Apart from all these, the Conservancy is rich with elephants, wild dogs, and rhinos.
To the east of the Olare Motorogi Conservancy lies the Mara Naboisho Conservancy which is home to the big cats and an impressive numbers of giraffe, elephants and wildebeest. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a bird watcher's paradise with specifies rarely found elsewhere, such as the White-headed Buffalo-Weavers, Pigmy Falcon, Bush Pipits and White-Crowned Shrike. The conservancy has focus on the impact on the environment, and therefore has a low density of tourist and vehicles which gives an exclusive wildlife experience.
To the east of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy lies the Ol Kinyei Conservancy which is a pioneering and award winning conservancy and the first conservancy in the Greater Mara ecosystem. To promote wildlife conservation the conservancy is a livestock exclusion zone. A pride of lions with over 30 is resident in Ol Kinyei Conservancy as well as leopards and more than 300 types of birds.
Attraction: Hot Air Balloon Safari and breakfast
When one comes to the fascinating Mara, one should not miss the beautiful experience of the Hot Air Balloon. This is, in fact, a lovely moment when one floats quietly over the amazing savannah and then experiences the best in the wee hours of the morning. The wildlife wakes up, and one gets closer to the mesmerizing sight. This is one experience where one can relax and get totally rejuvenated. These sights remain etched in the mind forever. The simple joys of taking the Hot Air Balloon ride and then landing on the savannah is coupled with the delight of having a team to welcome you and then of course is the famed luxurious champagne that is provided along with a sumptuous breakfast. So enjoy this unique wildlife experience where one is completely blown over by the sheer beauty of nature and when one is going to remember the up close and personal encounters with the wildlife.
As the Hot Air Balloon is an experience of a lifetime, it is a good idea to bring a hat to protect your head from the heat of the gas burners.
Attraction: Walking safari
By all means, Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a fascinating place for walking safari that one should not miss in their life. It will be a wonderful experience walking along the thick meadows watching the wildlife. No doubt the walking safari experience will change the traditional expectations of a wild safari as you will always be confronting with the unexpected wildlife surprises. The unpredictable situation will definitely increase the level of adrenalin, but you will be safe in the hands of the experienced Maasai Warriors who will be accompanying as your protection guards.
Everything is special about a walking safari. One gets a chance to get closer to animals and also can track them easily. These are the smaller parts of the ecosystem so provide one with the best ideas. For example, the termite mounds and the incessant groups of birdlife here provide one with an idea of the entire area while walking. This is different from the vehicle safari, and one only gets excited about feeling the natural bush and the greens under the feet. The Maasai Warrior Guides throw light on the wildlife habitat and make it a knowledgeable experience for the visitor. This is one experience that tourists would never forget in their lifetime.
Attraction: Night safari
A night safari is one of those experiences that are different from a day safari as you can experience wildlife that cannot be seen at day. Hippos like enjoy the grass on the banks and you can see them during the night as their skin is sensitive and get burned from direct sunlight.
Most predators like lions, hyenas and jackals prefer to hunt during the night and early mornings, so that is a good chance of getting a complete different experience from a night safari. Nocturnal animals that cannot be sight during the day adds a bonus to the safari experience as the night unfolds the life on the savannah in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
People and Culture
The people in the Maasai Mara Reserve are called Maasai and their community name is christened for the reserve. They are found here all over the place. Their children usually tend to the huge herds of goats, sheep and cattle and the others are busy in their everyday village life. This provides a very popular element in the safari tours here. The entire village experience is really worth for the trip giving a new dimension for the tour.
Maasai Mara National Reserve consists of predators including hyena, lions, leopards, and cheetahs that represent the park. There are plenty of prey in and around the reserve. You can also see the rare black rhino in areas with scrub. The elephants can also be seen in large or less herds all over the reserve. They need to eat food for existence. You will be surprised to know that a growing elephant needs 250 kg of vegetable food in a day. You can also get to see pools of hippos, crocodiles, and birds.
It will be wonderful visuals to watch the Great Migration, where a large number of animals like zebra, wildebeest, and gazelle migrate from Serengeti plains to Maasai Mara, repeating every year. This migration is the most attractive phenomenon happens every year in Maasai Mara. The migration season starts during July, and the migrated animals will stay there until October. In between some of the herds will return to Seregeti when the plain savannah is abuzz with fresh grass. The reason behind the migration is in search of fresh grass, their food. And the herds will stay there as long as they have enough grass to gulp. Albeit, this could be the fact it is estimated that only half of the total herds are seen moving to Maasai Mara in search of grass. It is indeed one of the splendid experiences one can have at Maasai Mara.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is famous for the Big Five. The big five means the leopard, rhinoceros, buffalo and the elephant. The black rhino is a common personality in the Mara and it was almost getting depleted in the early part of the eighties, however, it is still there and the number is low, though. When one comes to the Mara one may not get to see it, and those who do see it are lucky enough.
Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya lies around 260 km from Nairobi, and is accessible within five to six hours drive from Nairobi or Lake Nakuru.
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.
You can spend two to six days in the reserve area depending on the season. It is better if you stay for at least four days or a week to experience the wildlife in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Perhaps, you can reside in two different locations in the reserve. This helps you to see a larger variety of animals in the reserve.