Safari in Kenya - Maasai Mara National Reserve
- Photo Gallery
Safari in Kenya - Maasai Mara National Reserve. 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 has a mild and damp climate and is located a height of 1500 meters. The Kenya Wildlife Service manages it, and this is conserved as a national reserve and not as a national park. The District Council is in charge, and all proceeds from the Reserve go towards the welfare of the Maasai community. The two councils that handle the reserve are the Trans Mara and the Narok Council. The western part of the Maasai Reserve is called the Maasai triangle and is managed by the Trans Mara. The eastern side of the Mara River is managed by the Narok Council.
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.
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.
On the east of the Mara North Conservancy, you can find the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. The Mara North Conservancy has become a community wildlife conservancy that acts along with the Maasai Mara ecosystem. You can find wildlife that are rarely found anywhere else. Both herbivores and predators can be found including the famous big cats along with many elephants and sightings of both rhino and wild dogs.
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
For people who are adventurists and would like to have Hot Air Balloon Safari, you will have multiple locations in the Mara from where you can start your expeditions. It will be a thrilling experience gliding over the thick grassy meadows and watching the sunrise along with the amazing wildlife. You will certainly have everlasting cherishing memories that are going to stay with you forever. The Hot Air Balloon Safari starts early morning and shall last for an hour. Safe landing positions are marked on the green savannah where you will be greeted with volunteers/Safari attendees with hot breakfast and champagnes. The exotic experience of the close encounter with wild animals while having the breakfast will be one of the attractive, breathless engagements in your life.
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
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.
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.
The night safari can certainly give you a very different experience when comparing to the day Safari. It is a common fact that majority of the predators such as the big cats, jackals, lions, and hyenas do their hunting during the night or early morning. So you will have the best chance to see these kinds of nocturnal animals during your night safari expeditions once you are decided to take the course through the thick savannah of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
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.
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 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.
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
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.