Wildlife in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
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Wildlife in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. 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.
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 Mara-Serengeti ecosystem spans through the southern end of Kenya to the northern territory of Tanzania. Approximately 25,000 square meters lush open green savannah is the attractive features of the landscape. The diversity of the landscape, scattered woods, thick grass fields and frequent floods makes the land an impressive one to visit. Moving to the west, you will be mesmerized by seeing the prehistoric inactive volcanic terrains with the presence of soil buttons. The Siria Escarpment region that is part of the Great Rift Valley joined with the Maasai Mara National at the west and extended 150 meters high from the valley. No doubt, you can have wonderful safari tour at Maasai Mara.
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.
To the north of the Mara Triangle is bordered by the Mara North Conservancy which is a stunning private wilderness area of more than 30,000 hectares. It is a vital part of Maasai Mara ecosystem as it forms the north western part of the protective zone. The Mara North Conservancy is a partnership of camps in the area and the local Maasai people. It is run as a non-profit company with the aim of creating a long term commitment to the environment. It is one of the most populated wildlife areas within the Greater Mara ecosystem. The Mara North Conservancy is home to Leopard George, a vital birthing and maternity area for the big cats. It also home to the scenic Lemek hills, which is an important refuge to African wild dogs that are a highly threatened. The Mara North Conservancy has a professional management that focuses on minimizing the impact on the vulnerable environment by having low density tourism and vehicle numbers.
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.
On the east side of Mara North Conservancy is located the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. This is a perfect Hallmark location for wildlife conservancy and is considered as an excellent example of sustainability of the Maasai Mara ecosystem. Tourists can have mind blowing watching experience of wildlife that are very rare and could not be found anywhere in the grass plains of Maasai Mara ecosystem. Mixed wildlife including big cats, wild predators, and herbivores are the main attraction in this area. Sighting herds of elephants, wild dogs, and black rhinos are also common.
The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is found in the east of the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, and it is the best habitat for the big cats, many elephants, and the famous wildebeest and, of course, the famed giraffe. This is, in fact, a delight for the avid bird watcher as the rarest of the rare species are sighted here. So get the best views of the White Headed Buffalo-Weaver, the Bush Pipits, the Pigmy Falcon, and the White crowned Shrike. It is indeed a pleasant paradise and always focuses on the impact on the environment. Thus, one would not really have a crowd here, and there is an obvious low density of vehicles as well as the tourist here. This is why it is a very special wildlife spot.
The Ol Kinyei Conservancy is located on the eastern side of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. This is one of the picturesque locations and has won many awards for wildlife conservancy and is the pioneer wildlife conservancy located in the Greater Mara Ecosystem. This is declared as a livestock exclusion zone to conserve the wildlife. Not less than 300 different types of bird species, a large number of leopards and a meager number of 30 lions crown the wildlife.
Attraction: Hot Air Balloon Safari and breakfast
Planning to go on a hot air balloon trip, and then you will be glad to know that Mara has several places from where you can experience it. As you are flying over the vast land experiencing the sunrise and the awakening of the wildlife, you get that once in a lifetime moment. The safari lasts for an hour and to ensure safe landing instructors will be present. Once you have landed, you can experience a large breakfast and champagne. It is a truly another moment having breakfast in the wild as you can get to see close encounters with the wildlife.
The Hot Air Balloon is a lifetime experience that you need to experience right away. Carrying a hat would be helpful to protect you from the heat of balloon gas burner.
Attraction: Walking safari
You will want to know that, there is no walking safari in inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is possible to do it in the neighboring Conservancy at the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. As you walk around the reserve area, you will experience a different perspective of wildlife. When you walk around, you are accompanied by Maasai warriors to guide you and protect you from wildlife getting too close.
Walking along the Savannah gives you the rare opportunity to scan through the ecosystem, various forms of termite mounds, trail movements, and giving a chance to observe closely about the Conservancy birdlife. You never know what kind of surprises may spring up while taking a walking safari around the conservancy and that makes a lot of difference than the vehicle safari. Your Maasai Warriors are knowledgeable people about various forms of wildlife and sharing those experiences will certainly make your trip a wonderful experience.
Attraction: Night safari
The night safari is yet another experience that should not be missed when you tour in Maasai Mara National Reserve. Here one gets to see what one would never be able to see at night. There are hippos and such animals that usually bask in the glory of the night, and they just are the visual feast for the visitor. The sensitive skin of the hippos usually gets burnt by sunlight, so they turn up at night much to the delight of the night safari visitor.
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 people in the Maasai Mara Reserve are called Maasai and their community name is christened for the reserve. They are found here all over the place. Their children usually tend to the huge herds of goats, sheep and cattle and the others are busy in their everyday village life. This provides a very popular element in the safari tours here. The entire village experience is really worth for the trip giving a new dimension for the tour.
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 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.
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 not an issue at Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. You can have 5-star accommodations to dormitory accommodations and luxury tent camps to simple tent camps. There are no restrictions for you to stay inside the reserve area and no matter where you stay if you have the essential travel arrangements with your touring operator. If you want to experience the beauty of the reserve and the wildlife, you need to move around as the animals won't come to visit you. Some hotels offer night safaris in the Maasai Mara National Reserve area. However, you should know that night safari is not permitted here.
You don't have to spend weeks together at Maasai Mara National Reserve to experience with wildlife and natural beauty. It is highly recommended to plan for 2 to 6 days, and the stay must be divided between at least two different locations. In planning the accommodation like this, you will have better chance to see a variety of these unpredictable animals.