Maasai Mara National Reserve - A heaven for wildlife photographers
- Photo Gallery
Maasai Mara National Reserve - A heaven for wildlife photographers. 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.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is located above 1,500 meters where the climate is damper than other regions. It is not a national park and protected as a reserve and not managed by Kenya Wildlife Service. But, the local authorities like District Councils maintain the reserve. The money got from the reserve is used in the development of the local Maasai community. Two councils namely the Trans Mara and Narok council are part of the community. The Narok council manages the rest of the reserve on the eastern side of the Mara River, and the Trans Mara council manages the western part of the Maasai Mara National Reserve called as Mara Triangle.
The ecosystem comprising the Mara Serengeti region spans an area of around 25,000 square kilometers and is rich with open grassland. It covers South Kenya and the northern part of Tanzania. Mara has a diverse landscape so one would see waving grasslands on one side and floods on the other. There are dispersed woods in one region while another area would be completely bushy. There is in fact indication of pre historic volcanic activity in the western region through the soil buttons found here. The Great Rift Valley here has the Siria escarpment that is found on the western side of the reserve. This region goes up to a height of 150 meters. Indeed, the tours around the Maasai Mara reserve are fascinating experiences in tours across the world.
There is only one lodge you can find in Mara Triangle, which is the Mara Serena Safari Lodge. This lodge is situated exactly at the center of the Mara Triangle and very close to the Mara River. You will have a magnificent view of the surroundings from the lodge as the lodge is located on the cloaked hill of Mara Serena. The downward views from the lodge are very much scintillating with the visuals of spiraling Mara River with lots of Hippopotamus and crocodiles will be an enchanting experience. The wildlife here is meticulously protected from the unscrupulous poachers by the vigilant rangers. As a result, you are lucky to watch the wildlife all through the season. You can also have excellent tourism activities on the Narok controlled area similar or more that of Mara Triangle area. In this part of Maasai Mara National Reserve, you can find lots of lodges and camps with basic facilities.
The Mara North Conservancy borders the northern part of the Mara Triangle, which has a fascinating wilderness surrounding. The area spans around 30,000 hectares and is a very important part of the ecosystem here. It not only forms the northwestern border of this protective zone but also is a link between the visitors and the tourists. There is a partnership here between the local area and the Maasai people. This is a nonprofit venture, and the main aim is to create a bonding with the environment. The area is, in fact, one of the most populated areas in the wildlife zones and lies in the Greater Mara ecosystem. The Leopard George is a maternity and birthing area for the big cats and is found in this very Mara North Conservancy. The background of the visually beautiful Lemek Hills is again a wonderful sight. The place also shelters the African wild dogs that are a threatened species today. The Mara North Conservancy also maintains a discipline of maintaining the environment by lowering the vehicles as well the tourist influx here.
The Enonkishu Conservancy lies to the north of The Mara North Conservancy consists of livestock improvements using cattle management programs. The habitat at the Enonkishu Conservancy consists of wooded acacia tree savannah, rocky and undulating hills. The Mara river has many crocodiles and hippos that border the Conservancy. A pride of lions can be found at the edge of Enonkishu and Ol Choro Oiroua. The Conservancy is frequently visited by groups of elephants. Enonkishu Conservancy provides their guests with the excellent viewing experience of rare species including caracal, aardwolf, aardvark and serval cat.
To the east of the Mara North Conservancy lies the Olare Motorogi Conservancy which has become a template for community wildlife conservancy as a blueprint for the sustainability of the Maasai Mara ecosystem. The Olare Motorogi Conservancy offers unique viewing of wildlife rarely found anywhere else on the savannah of the Maasai Mara ecosystem. The conservancy has a good population of both herbivores and predators including the famous big cats. The area has many elephants and sightings of both rhino and wild dogs on occasion.
The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is located in the western part of Olare Motorogi Conservancy, which is a well-known habitat for giraffes, wildebeest, big cats and elephants. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is also one of the spectacular locations for bird watching, and you will be lucky enough to watch some of the rarest birds in the sanctuary. Most commonly founds birds are Bush Pipits, Pigmy Falcon, White-headed Buffalo-Weavers, White-Crowned Shrinke, etc. Since lots of importance is given to environment protection, tourism and vehicle movement to this area is restricted and, as a result, you will have luxurious 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
The specialty of Mara is the Hot Air Balloon Safari facility that you can have anywhere from the Conservancy. Flowing silently over the savannah accompanied by the gas blowing humming sound, the balloon safari is going to be a wonderful experience you can never forget in your life. You can experience the wildlife movement as most of the wild predators look up for their hunting prey in the early morning before sunrise. The Hot Air Balloon Safari won't last more than one hour as a standard practice. To add up your excitement, an ardent and cheering Safari support staffs will be ready on the ground greeting you with holding a bottle of champagne and breakfast in their hand. Your experience will never stop without having a close encounter with those wild guests roaming around while you are having your breakfast.
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
One cannot have a walking safari within the Maasai Mara National Reserve. But it is indeed feasible in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy which is the neighboring region. This is, in fact, a lifetime experience to walk among the wildlife in the beautiful savannah terrain. The entire experience is different, and one gets a different perspective of the overall deal. The bushes, the grass, the ambiance, the mesmerizing feel, all go a long way to making the tour enlightening. Add to this, the fact that there are the Maasai Warriors and one is certainly in their safe hands. They guide one through the region and also protect if any wildlife is found coming too close.
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.
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 park is named after Maasai park because of the population inhabited around the park is from Maasai community. To add the beauty of the village and surrounding sceneries of the park, you can see children taking care of large herds of cattle, goats and sheep. Your safari will be an incomplete experience if you don't visit any one of the village and mingle with them.
Predators like lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyenas are common here, and you can see large groups of this animal in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Since the easy availability of food may be the reason of such a concentrated presence of predators here. Among the scrub, you can see the endangered black rhino and large groups of elephants all over the reserve. Elephants are mostly busy in having their food, and it is estimated that an elephant consume about 250 kilograms of food in a day. Moving towards the Hippo pools in the Mara River, you will be surprised seeing the large number crocodiles, hippos and, of course, the rich bird folks flying around the pool.
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 is to be found in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros. The population of black rhinos is the Mara has grown since the depletion of poaching in the early 1980s, they are however still in very low numbers and it is not a guarantee that you will experience a sighting while on a safari in the Mara.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is 260 km from Nairobi, and you can reach there in five or six hours by road from Nairobi or Lake Nakuru. Depending on your travel plans, make sure that you book your transport and reach the reserve before dark. It is always best to plan months ahead so that you can avail the services.
Lodges and camps
The Maasai Mara National Reserve provides different kinds of services and amenities to suit the needs of their customers. You can make use of the 5-star luxurious lodges, tented camps, and camping facilities that provide you with an actual camp lifestyle. The need to stay inside the reserve premises is not there as you are provided with night safaris.
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.