Visiting Maasai Mara National Reserve
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Visiting 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 Mara-Serengeti ecosystem covers approx. 25,000 km2 of primarily open grassland crossing the southern part of Kenya and into the northern part of Tanzania. In Mara you experience a varied landscape. Floods, waving grasslands, disperse woods- and bush areas, and to the west, a soil button that show signs of prehistoric volcanic activity. The western part of the Maasai Mara National Reserve is bordered by the Siria Escarpment of the Great Rift Valley that stretches more than 150 meters high. A visit to Maasai Mara is a guarantee for a first class safari experience.
The Mara Triangle has only one lodge within its boundaries, the Mara Serena Safari Lodge is located in the center of the Mara Triangle right next to the Mara River. The Mara Serena Safari Lodge is set high on bush-cloaked hill with a panoramic view over the savannah and down to the winding coils of the Mara River filled with hippos and crocodiles. The rangers patrol regularly the Mara Triangle which results in very little poaching and therefore excellent wildlife habitat all year around. On the Narok controlled area of the Maasai Mara National Reserve numerous camps and lodges are to be found, there is also more tourism in 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.
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.
On the eastern side of Mara Naboisho Conservancy is located the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. This is one of the biggest habitats for elephants, wildebeest, quite a large number of giraffes and big wild cats. For bird watching enthusiasts, the Mara Naboisho Conservancy must be an included itinerary where you can see some of the rarest birds that are seldom to see elsewhere. Some of the rare species are Pigmy Falcon, White-headed Buffalo-Weavers, White-Crowned Shrike and Bush Pipits. The management policies of the conservancy are to give paramount importance to the protection of environment and maintain the sustainability of the ecosystem. To achieve the objective, influx of tourists and vehicular movements are restricted.
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
There are several places in the Mara from where you can experience a Hot Air Balloon trip. It is really a breathtaking moment to float silently over the savannah and experience the sunrise as the wildlife wakes up. It is one of those experiences where you relax and absorb the moment as the savannah is waking up, it will fill you with enough memories to last a lifetime. The Hot Air Balloon Safari flight usually takes an hour, after a safe landing on the savannah a team is standing by to greet you with a luxurious champagne breakfast on the savannah. Having your breakfast in the wild completes the experience while you can relax while experiencing close encounters with the wildlife as they pass by.
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
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.
On a walking safari you will also get a chance to focus on animal tracking and the smaller parts of the ecosystem, such as the construction of termite mounds and the variety of birdlife in the area you are visiting. A walking safari in the Mara ecosystem is a very different experience than the view from a safari vehicle, and you never know what you will encounter as you walk through the bush. Maasai Warrior guides will share their knowledge about the wildlife as you encounter it, it is one of those experiences that stays with you forever.
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.
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.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is highly inhabited by wild animals such as cheetahs, leopards, lions, jackals, etc., and could be seen many parts of the reserve. Maybe their crowded presence is due to the easy availability of foods. Other wild animals such as elephants and black rhinos are regularly seen in the reserve area. Large herds are also a common scene in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, and they are always busy in gulping their foods. It is estimated that a fully grown up elephant consumes about 250 Kg of green food that is a clear indication of the availability of green vegetable foods in the reserve. Moving to the Mara River where the Hippo pools are located, watching hippos and movements of crocodiles are indeed a wonderful experience. To add your excitement, there are a plethora of wild birds you can watch in the reserve.
The Great Migration is a major sight here and during this time the zebra, the wildebeest and the gazelle migrate into the Maasai Mara from the plains of the Serengeti region. This is a wonderful visual delight and is an annual event. It provides the interest quotient for the visits here and is also the main highlight of tourism to Maasai Mara. July is the month when the big herds start arriving. The bigger herds come towards the beginning of the month of August and they remain thus till the middle of the month of September. These herds are found in plenty till October, of course, the bigger ones leave for the plains much before this. The main driving element for the herds is the presence of grass here and so long as the grass is fresh, the herds stay. The moment it gets older, the herds head towards greener pastures. The northern part of Serengeti is believed to have still half the population of wildlife and it is only the other half that visits this part of the Maasai Reserve.
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.
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
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.