Parks and reserves: Maasai Mara National Reserve
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Parks and reserves: 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 National Reserve is one of the highly guarded reserve conservancies. This reserve is not managed by Kenya Wildlife Service as it is not a national animal park. Special arrangements are there to manage the reserve by the district councils. Since the reserve is located at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level, the eco conditions are quite favorable, and the atmosphere is wet and milder than the rest of the reserve terrain. The district councils use the income for the development of Maasai community. For administrative convenience, the Conservancy is divided between Narok and Trans Mara councils. The western part of the reserve, which is also known as the Mara Triangle, is being managed by the Trans Mara council and the rest of the reserve on the eastern side along the Mara River is being managed by Narok council.
The famous Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is well known for rich grassland spread over 25,000 square KM cut through the southern end of Kenya and enter into the north side of Tanzania. The landscape Mara is with contrasting features! You can see the reminiscence of inactive prehistoric volcanoes on the western side and thick bushes, isolated woods spread over the area, lush green meadows, and flooding river in the rest of the area. On the border of Maasai Mara the National Reserve is located in the Siria Escarpment, which is part of the Great Rift Valley and is located 150 meters above from the valley. It is one of the finest places for excellent safari activities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most reputed and award winning Ol Kinyei Conservancy is located on the eastern side of Mara Naboisho Conservancy. Ol Kinyei Conservancy is the first Conservancy engaged in promoting wildlife conservation in Greater Mara ecosystem. To augment the wildlife conservation, it is declared as an exclusive livestock exclusion zone. You can find more than 300 different types bird species and wild animals' including lions and leopards. It is estimated that there are about 30 lions are located here presently.
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.
Remember to carry a hat along with you to protect you from the heat generated by the hot air balloon gas burners.
Attraction: Walking safari
Inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve it is not possible to conduct a walking safari, however, it is possible in neighbouring conservancy such at the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. It is a very remarkable experience as you walk among the wildlife on the savannah. It gives a different perspective of your safari experience, as you with your heightened senses moves through the bushes and high grass. Your are accompanied by Maasai Warriors as they are there to guide you as well to protect you against any 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
Night Safari is quite different from day safari due to various reasons. The main difference what you could experience is that you will have the rare options to see those wild animals that seldom appear during daylight. Especially animals like Hippos never come out during daylight for having food due to their sensitive skins. Their skin is vulnerable if exposed to sunlight.
Most of the predators like, hyenas, lions and jackals do their hunting either in the dawn or night time. So, naturally night time is something special for these animals. This situation can be capitalized if you can take up a night safari and enjoy watching them. The nightlife in the Maasai Mara National Reserve open up an array of inundated experiences and is the only opportunity to watch nocturnal animals.
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 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 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 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
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 stay in Maasai Mara National Reserve area comfortably for two to six days subject to seasonal conditions. It is highly recommended to stay in two different locations if you are decided to spend four or more days in Maasai Mara National Reserve. In selecting two entirely different locations for accommodation, you will have better chance to see and experience the wildlife movements during your safari expeditions if started from the different locations.