THE MASAAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE

Overview

The Masaai Mara National reserve lies in southwestern Kenya in the Kenyan rift valley province in Narok County bordering Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Also called the Mara Park by the locals was named in honor of the Masaai people who are the ancestral inhabitants of the area. Mara comes from Maa of the Masaai language which means a description of the spotted circles of trees, shrubs, savanna and cloud shadows that markup the Park area.

The reserve is under the management of the Narok County government unlike other conservation areas in Kenya which are managed by the Kenya wildlife service. This National reserve was first established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary covering only 520km2 and was later extended to cover 1821km2 to be converted into a game reserve in the same year 1961. In 1974, part of the reserve`s area was promoted to a National reserve and the local communities were given 159km2 out of the total area. In the year 1976, additional 162km2 were also removed from the reserve and the reserve was reduced to its current size 1510km2. The reserve is made up of three group ranches that`s the Mara Triangle, Musiara and Sekenani.

Masaai Mara National Park is the northern largest section of the Serengeti ecosystem which covers 2500km2 in Kenya and Tanzania. It is bordered by Serengeti national park of Tanzania to the south, the Siria cliffs to the west, the Masaai villages to the north and east. The reserve`s most neighboring town is Narok town.

Then Masaai Mara National reserve is the most famous conservation area. The official perimeter of the Masaai Mara is bounded by the Oloololo escarpment to the west, Masai Pastoral ranches to the North, east and west. The total Surface area is 1530km2. The reserve is not fenced.

There are various ways of getting to Masaai Mara National Reserve depending on one`s location, budget and time the you have for a safari and how you wish to manage the time. A number of entrance Gates are available for you to reach Masaai Mara National Reserve and they include;

  • Musiara Gate, Ololaimutiek Gate
  • Oloololo Gate (The furthest point from Nairobi but with less tourist disruption)
  • Sand River Gate, Sekenani Gate, Talek Gate
Drive to Masaai Mara National Reserve

One way you can get to Masaai Mara is by driving to the national reserve.  From Nairobi to Narok, a drive can take you up to 2.5 hours. The road is surely in good condition. While in Narok, there is a fuel station a cross the river and this transfer point can as well be convenient for you to buy some food and snacks, and access toilets. From Narok to Sekanani gate may take you up to 3.5 hours. Roughly 5-6 hours and 7 hours in the rainy season can be consumed for the whole journey depending of the conditions and strength of the vehicle you’re travelling with. The road condition for this tar road from Narok to Sekanani Gate is really not good; driver will need to give it special attention.

At the end of the tar road is a dirt road which goes until Sekanani Gate. While in the reserve, the roads are moderately good. Please remember that the roads in the reserve can become flooded or turned into mud puddles in the rainy seasons in April, May and November. Therefore, 4×4 wheel vehicle is highly recommended and Prime Safaris would not recommend self-drive by foreign tourists because it will need strict observation of your GPS system or road Map or else you may get lost before the safari begins. And you will also need to note the traffic laws of Kenya require you to have a valid driving license for you to drive around the country.

Flying to Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Masaai Mara Reserve can be accessed by flight from Nairobi Wilson Airport, Samburu, Lewa Downs, Nanyuki, Mombasa or Diani airports. The airport will land on one of the small Mara Airstrips, where you will need to transfer by car to your respective lodge.

Quite a good number of airstrips are available in Masaai Mara Nationa Reserve and they include;

  • Keekorok Airstrip, Cottars airstrip, Mara North airstrip
  • Musiara airstrip, Ngerende airstrip, Olare Orok airstrip
  • Ol Kiombo airstrip, Ol Seki airstrip, Serena airstrip, Siana airstrip

Wildlife in Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Mara is known as one of the finest wildlife destinations in the world, while here, there is big chance of seeing the big five (herds of Elephants about 3000, 22 families of lions, leopards, buffaloes and Rhinos) and cheetah.

The parks boosts for over 60 species of wild animals from large herds of herbivores which include; over 1,300,000 numbers of wildebeests, 500000 Thomson`s gazelles, 97,000 Topis, 18,000 elands, 200,000 zebras and thousands of antelopes like Grant`s gazelles, impalas, duikers and coke`s hartebeests.

Game drive in Maasai Mara National Park

Led by an experienced local guide, very conversant with the area and able to give you lots of information about the animals and their habitant are available for you. The guides know where certain species of animals can currently be and the best way to approach them.

Walking Safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve

Masaai Mara gives you an adventurous exploration of wildlife species along the bush. A walking safari is slow paced guided walk and gives a more detailed animal experience about wildlife compared to the game drive. You will be led by an experienced and professional armed guide to experience and authentic insight of the bush that’s beyond observation.

Bird Watching in Maasai Mara National Reserve

Masaai Mara features a number of habitats conducive for great bird watching.  Over 470 species of birds have been recorded to exist in this reserve, many of these birds are migrants and about 60species of birds are raptors.

Balloon Safaris in Masaai Mara National Reserve;

Exciting balloon safari is once in a lifetime experience you can have while you’re in Kenya. Being suspended in a wicker basket above the natural planes of Africa with the sun tweeting on the skies and the walking wilderness below, is one of the must-grandchildren tales you will never forget!

Cultural Walk in Maasai Mara National Reserve

A short tour can be undertaken to different cultural sites within the local community to give tourists and opportunity for cross-cultural interaction with the local people. Visit the neighboring Talek town with the expert Masaai guides and learn about the rich Masaai cultural heritage.

Masaai Mara Serena Safari lodge;

It`s a 5 star lodge located in the famous Mara triangle 20km from Nairobi. The lodge is set high in the bush- cloaked hill with spectacular views of the savannah area and Mara River. The lodge stands in the center of the Mara wildlife dramatic arena and the echo style of this lodge blends the foreign world with the African beauty.

Elephant Pepper Camp;

This is an incredible upmarket safaris camp located in the Mara North conservancy area, this Camp was originally owned by Liz and Stefano Cheli before the camp merged with Alewana Collection, a collection of 15 boutique lodges and camps in the most iconic locations within Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar. The Elephant Pepper Camp is romantically and authentically furnished in Indian Raj campaign style and combines the rawness of African with the glamour of Indian décor.

Mara Bush Camp

Mara Bush Camp is a mobile camp located in a riverine forest on the banks of the seasonal River Olare Orok. It is situated in the Maasai Mara heartland, less than 1 km from Ol Kiombo airstrip. Mara Bush Camp is small & offers modified services that will make you feel at home.

Kikwa Tembo Tented Camp

This camp is situated on a private franchise from the Masaai tribesmen on the western border of the Masaai Mara near the location where Out of Africa`s famous final scene was filmed. The camp is composed of spacious luxurious tents that offer spectacular views out across the wild Masaai plains within the Escarpment.

More Information About The Maasai Mara National Reserve

Located in the great lift valley in the primarily open grassland made of grassy plains and rolling hills, the Masaai Mara national reserve is drained by two major rivers namely; the Talek and Mara Rivers in the north. The south eastern region if covered by masses of acacia tree, the western border is the Esoit escarpment of the east African rift valley which is about 5600km long from the Ethiopia`s Red sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique. The Esiot escarpment is the most wildlife concentrated area because of its swampy grassland and availability of water. The eastern most border of Maasai Mara National reserve is approximately 224km from the capital city Nairobi and this makes the Eastern regions of the reserve the most visited by Tourists.

The north-western part of the reserve is the Mara Triangle which is about 510km2, 275km from Nairobi and is managed by the Mara conservancy on behalf of the Trans-Mara county council. This Triangle is isolated from the rest of the National reserve by river Mara and it is bordered by Serengeti in the southwest, Mara River in the east and Siria escarpments in the North West. The Mara Triangle is less visited and less crowded but with many more animals grazing on the plains and between the volcanic hills that separate this corner of Mara.