MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE

A River of Wildlife

Welcome to the Masai Mara

Its name is exotic; its vast, rolling savannahs pulsing with great stomping herds is even more striking. Welcome to Masai Mara National Reserve, the richest eco-system in this region of Africa. This is the home of the Great Migration, the planet’s most abundant display of flowing wildlife – over two million animals on their yearly trek of survival. No other safari will bring you close to this explosion of primal nature in such stunning numbers.

But this onslaught of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle is but one aspect of the bounty to be found in the Mara. This is also a land of predators – numerous prides of lion make this their home, along with cheetah, leopard, jackal, hyena, and other carnivores searching this ancient land for likely prey.

Wildlife of the Masai Mara National Reserve
Cheetahs of the Masai Mara National Park

Why Masai Mara National Park is Kenya’s Most Popular Park

The abundance of wildlife at the Masai Mara National Park draws safari lovers worldwide. They come to spot Africa’s “Big Five” – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino. But there are more than 95 mammal species found in these rolling hills and rivers. You’ll discover topi, eland, giraffe, fox, and birdlife like kingfisher, guinea fowl, and all sorts of raptors. There are few if any parks where you’ll spot more wildlife.

The Great Migration

It pours across the Mara River from the nearby Serengeti like a mass exodus of the animal kingdom – expect to see waves of zebras arriving first, followed by great hordes of wildebeests flowing into these tawny grasslands. From July to October, the sight of these millions mesmerizes the park’s expectant visitors.

Also, lying in wait for this yearly flow of wildlife are Nile crocodiles, lions, cheetahs, and the many other predators drawn to this influx of nomadic grazers. It is quite simply the largest movement of animals on the planet.

The Great Migration of wildebeests through the Masai Mara National Reserve

The Maasai

Sharing this land flocked with distinctive acacia trees are the Maasai people, nomadic herders from whom the park takes its name. They construct traditional villages surrounding the reserve and live as they have for eons, herding their cattle and pushing back at an ever-encroaching modern world.

Known for their brightly colored shukas and deft beadwork, the Maasai are a living link to a past that stretches back beyond colonial Africa, to an era when the entire continent was wild and untouched.

Masai tribe living in the Masai Mara National Reserve

Grasslands

Open bush

Dense bush

Riverine Forest

Swamps

Masai Mara National Reserve Highlights

Zebras roaming Masai Mara National Reserve

The Great Migration – In their search for the sustenance of taller grasses, thousands and then millions of wildebeest, zebra, topi, eland, and gazelle make their yearly trek into the Mara lands. From July to October in a great circle route from Tanzania, into Kenya, and then back to Tanzania, this endless train of wildlife forms an unbroken spectacle – a magnificent natural display. 

The Big Cats and More – It’s been said that the Mara holds the greatest concentration of lions in Africa. The many prides here are not difficult to spot and patient observers will often spot leopards as well. One can’t spend a day traversing this rich park without encountering an abundance of wildlife in their natural setting.

The Maasai People – While in the Mara, one should visit the Maasai in their nearby villages. Their homes, bomas, and structures are hand-built and authentic. Learn about their traditional lifestyle and enjoy their ceremonies, rituals, and their crafts.

Early Morning Balloon Ride – The perfect way to appreciate this stirring park, especially during the months of the Great Migration – take a dawn hot air balloon safari. It’s an unforgettable journey sailing over the wildlife and the land lit by the early morning sun.

Sunset in the Masai Mara National Reserve

Animals of the Masai Mara Game Reserve

The Masai Mara National Reserve is a wildlife lover’s paradise, home to an incredible diversity of animals. One of the most iconic animals in the Masai Mara is the lion. The reserve boasts a high population of lions, and visitors can often spot them lounging on rocks or hunting their prey. Other big cats that can be found in the Masai Mara include leopards and cheetahs, which are often seen sprinting across the savannah in pursuit of their prey.

Elephants are another popular attraction in the Masai Mara, with herds of these majestic animals often seen roaming the grasslands. Visitors can observe these gentle giants as they graze, play, and take mud baths in the rivers. The reserve is also home to a variety of other herbivores, including giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest, which can be seen in large numbers during the annual migration.

In addition to the well-known animals, the Masai Mara also boasts a plethora of lesser-known species, such as the spotted hyena, serval cat, and bat-eared fox. Visitors to the reserve can embark on guided tours or self-drive safaris to explore the park’s vast wilderness and observe its diverse wildlife. With such a wide array of animals to discover, the Masai Mara is an unforgettable destination for any wildlife enthusiast.

Tourists standing and looking out of the open top of a 4x4 safari jeep

Community Projects

These reserve-based projects help the livelihoods of the nearby rural communities.

  • Education for local students, including computer skills training
  • Healthcare – providing medical supplies to the local health centers and mobile clinic
  • Energy – providing hundreds of local families with energy-efficient stoves – reducing the need for firewood.

Masai Mara National Reserve Statistics

A large swath of rolling grassland, the Masai Mara absorbs 1,500 sq. km. (589 sq. mi.) on the Kenya/Tanzania border. The national park is surrounded by a series of conservancies where the Maasai live and are open to a limited number of visitors.

Location: The Reserve rests in the Great Rift Valley, bordering the Serengeti plains of Tanzania.

Climate: As the Mara is just south of the equator the daily temperature fluctuates little. Expect temperatures between 200C (680F) and 300C (860F). Rains can occur in the afternoon and evening.

Best time to visit: If you can, visit during the migration season – July through October. The rainy seasons are December – January, and April – May.

Getting there: Book a tour with Africa Kenya Safaris. We’ll take you there in style – a specially outfitted 4 x 4 Safari Jeep.

By air – we’ll arrange for you to fly into one of the park’s all-weather airstrips.

Zebras and wildebeests in the Masai Mara National Reserve

Masai Mara National Reserve Facts

Check out key facts about the Masai Mara National Reserve with our FAQs below…

The Masai Mara National Reserve is a protected area in Kenya that is home to a vast array of wildlife, including the famous Big Five (lions, elephants, leopards, buffalos, and rhinos). It is one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is world-renowned for its diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, and unique Maasai culture. The reserve is particularly famous for the annual wildebeest migration, where millions of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles make their way from Tanzania’s Serengeti plains to the Masai Mara in search of greener pastures. The Masai Mara is also home to the iconic “Big Five” game animals, namely lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinos, making it a top destination for safari enthusiasts. Beyond wildlife, visitors can also immerse themselves in the Maasai culture by visiting local villages, learning about traditional practices, and purchasing handmade crafts.

The Masai Mara National Reserve was established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary. Over the years, it has become one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa. It is named after the Maasai people who inhabit the area.

The Masai Mara National Reserve covers an area of approximately 1,510 square kilometers (583 square miles). This extraordinary area is host to amazing wildlife, the Great Wildebeest Migration and the nomadic Maasai people.

The best time to visit the Masai Mara National Reserve largely depends on what you hope to experience. If you’re interested in witnessing the annual wildebeest migration, the best time to visit is from July to October. For those interested in bird-watching, the months from November through to April are ideal as the park is home to a wide variety of migratory bird species during this time. Regardless of when you choose to visit, the Masai Mara offers a unique and unforgettable African safari experience.

The Masai Mara National Reserve and surrounding conservancies are home to an estimated 850 to 900 lions, making it one of the top destinations in the world to witness this majestic predator in its natural habitat. The Mara-ecosystem provides an ideal habitat for lions, offering them ample prey, including wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles, making it an ideal location for an African safari adventure.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is home to a healthy population of cheetahs, with an estimated 300 individuals living within the reserve and surrounding conservancies. The open savannah plains and abundant prey in the Mara-ecosystem make it an ideal habitat for cheetahs, which are renowned for their speed and agility. Visitors to the reserve can witness these magnificent creatures in action as they hunt and roam across the vast grasslands of the Masai Mara.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is located in the southwest region of Kenya, near the Tanzanian border. It is part of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which also includes other protected areas.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is located in southwestern Kenya, approximately 270 kilometers (168 miles) from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. The journey from Nairobi to the Masai Mara takes about 5-6 hours by road, depending on the road conditions and the chosen route. Alternatively, visitors can opt to take a short flight from Nairobi to one of the several airstrips located within or near the reserve, which takes about an hour. Regardless of the mode of transportation chosen, the journey to the Masai Mara promises to be a scenic and unforgettable experience.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is located in Narok County in southwestern Kenya. The county is home to several other wildlife conservancies and is known for its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. Visitors to the Masai Mara can expect to witness breathtaking views of the savannah plains, spot a wide variety of wild animals, and learn about the fascinating Maasai people and their way of life.

There are several excellent accommodation options available for visitors to the Masai Mara National Reserve, catering to different budgets and preferences. These include luxury lodges, tented camps, and campsites, all of which provide comfortable and convenient bases from which to explore the reserve and its surrounding conservancies.

Popular lodges

Some of the most popular lodges and camps include Mara Serena Safari Lodge, Zebra Plains Mara Camp, and Ilkeliani Tented Camp, which offer stunning views of the savannah plains, easy access to wildlife viewing areas, and a range of amenities and activities. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious getaway or a rustic camping experience, there is an accommodation option in the Masai Mara to suit your needs.

This is Masai Mara National Reserve

The land, the wildlife, the Maasai people, and the experience of soaking up this rich park, Kenya’s most popular, is the stuff of memories and stories to last a lifetime. Don’t miss Africa’s crown jewel.

Lions in the Masai Mara National Reserve

Join us at Masai Mara

Africa Kenya Safaris offers several safari adventures to this magnificent reserve. Just contact us to get your safari started.

Here are some of our Masai Mara tours:

A charged elephant seen on safari in Kenya
Baby Lion cub resting in the shade seen at the Masai Mara National Park

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All fields with an asterisk (*) are required

Tour Information

Help us create your perfect Safari! Tell us about your travel choices, any unique experiences you desire, and upcoming special occasions.