Maasai Mara National Reserve - Kenya Safaris
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Maasai Mara National Reserve - Kenya Safaris. The natural continuation of the Serengeti wastelands is of Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. It is the largest national reserve Conservancy in Africa and is spanned over 1,800 km2. The Maasai Mara Reserve is located in Narok County, which is the southern county of Kenya. Overall the Greater Mara Ecosystem is inclusive of Maasai Mara. The other known conservancies such as Mara Naboisho, Enonkishu, Mara North, Olare Motorogi and Ol Kinyei are all part of Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Conservancy is popular for its large animal migration, which recurs every year as a routine ritual. Herds of animals, about 1.4 million wildebeests, about 200,000 zebras and more than 500,000 gazelles migrate to Maasai Mara Conservancy in search of grass by negotiating through the dangerous crocodile rich river. This show of migration recurs every year during July to the last week of 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 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.
Unfortunately only one lodge is present, the Mara Serena Safari Lodge, which can be found near the Mara Triangle close to the Mara River. It is present on a bush-cloaked hill providing you with a panoramic view of the savannah. You can also see hippos and crocodiles present in the river. However, rangers patrol the area regularly which helps in reducing the poaching, and excellent wildlife habitat is there throughout the year. However, you can find several camps and lodges in the Narok controlled area that is of the eastern part of the Mara reserve compared to the Mara Triangle.
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.
Further to the north of The Mara North Conservancy, you can see the Enonkishu Conservancy. Here modern cattle management techniques are given maximum importance to improve the livestock activities. This conservancy is full of acacia trees that gives an impressive savannah look and is surrounded by rocky hills and uneven terrains. Bordering the Conservancy, the Mara River flows magnificently where a lot of hippos and crocodiles steal the show undisturbed. Herds of animals, lions and elephants are frequently seen roaming in and around Enonkishu and Ol Choro Oiroua area. For people who want to have wonderful game viewing enjoyments, Enonkishu Conservancy is the best place, and you can find serval cats, aardwolves, caracals, and aardvarks.
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.
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.
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
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.
The Hot Air Balloon is indeed one experience that the tourists would cherish forever. This is perhaps the best way one could enjoy tours here. However, it is a good idea to have a hat to protect oneself from the heat of the gas burners.
Attraction: Walking safari
You will be disappointed to know that there are no facilities to have a walking safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve; alternatively tourists shall have arrangements for walking safari at the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. No matter even if you are unable to perform a walking safari at Maasai Mara National Reserve, but when you walking along with the wild animals at the Mara Naboisho Conservancy that will take to the most exciting level of experience. To enhance your safety and proper guiding, you will be escorted by Maasai Warriors, whom will give you the required comfort and safety while roaming around.
You can also focus on animal tracking including the construction of termite mounds and the bird life in the area. Unlike the other walking safaris, you are traveling from a safari vehicle, but here you can encounter animals through the bush. The guides who accompany you will share their knowledge on the wildlife as you encounter them.
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.
You can also get to see predators like hyenas, lions, and jackals that prefer to hunt during the night. That provides you with a good chance of having a different experience in a night safari. Nocturnal animals that you cannot see during the day can be seen at night. When the night comes, the life in the Maasai Mara National Reserve is something to witness.
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.
Maasai Mara National Reserve has an exceptional population of predators like hyena, lions, leopards, and cheetahs which are rich represented all over the park. It is not without reason, where there is easy prey there is also food for many predators. Even the rare black rhino is regularly seen in areas with scrub, elephants are to be seen in large or less herds all over the Mara reserve, where they spend most of their time eating, a grown elephant needs daily approx 250 kg of vegetable food. At the Mara River there are popular Hippo pools where you can experience large population of hippos, crocodiles, and an exciting rich bird life.
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.
What makes Maasai Mara National Reserve from the rest of reserves in Kenya is the presence of Big Five animals that include predators such as lion, leopard and herbivores such as buffalo, rhinoceros, and elephant. Though the authorities have implemented strict policies to check illegal poaching, the numbers of black rhinos are still considered as an endangered species. The policies of the authorities have helped to improve their numbers since the implementation of anti-poaching laws that was a menace in 1980. However, there is no assurance that you might be able to see a black rhinoceros during your Mara Safari.
From Nairobi, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is about 260 kilometers away, and you can cover the distance in five to six hours time. Even if you are driving from Lake Nakuru, it will take 5 to 6 hours to reach to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
Lodges and camps
Accommodation is absolutely not a problem at the Maasai Mara National Reserve area. You will have 5-star accommodation to low cost lodges and inexpensive reserve camps to luxury camping facilities. Tourists are free to find their accommodation anywhere in Maasai Mara National Reserve. Since there is no particular tracking for animal movements, you can watch the movements of animals anywhere in the reserve area you are preferred to stay. You shall be offered by night safaris by the lodge management or tour operators but remember night safaris are not permitted within 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.