MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
A River of Wildlife
Lions? Leopards? And Chimps
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.
Kenya’s Most Popular Park
The abundance of wildlife at the Masai Mara 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.
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.
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.
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.
Ol Pejeta Eco-Facts
- Sanctuaries to protect endangered chimpanzees, oryx, hartebeest, Grevy’s zebra, and bat-eared fox
- Home to the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos
- The largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa – the rhino population has increased by over 100 in the last 25 years.
Survey: Masai Mara
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.
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.
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