Simply put, it is the jewel of Kenya Safari for viewing wildlife – and lots of it! The Masai Mara is home to a great wildlife spectacle, as sometime between August and November more than two million wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti in search of water and grazing.
It is in the Mara that perhaps the most spectacular event of the natural world takes place. This refers to the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra from the Serengeti, north to the Mara in search of water and pasture. More than 1.5 million are estimated to take part in this great movement. This action is known as “Natures passion play” It occurs between the month of July and august. In October, when the reserve experiences short rains, the animals return south.
One of the most popular game reserves in Africa, the Maasai Mara national reserve covers an area of 1510 sq kms. Mara means “spotted” in maa, the common language meaning clusters of bush which dot the plains. It is located in southwestern Kenya, about 300 km from Nairobi. The Loita Hills to the East, Itong Hills to the North, and Siria Escarpment to the west form its borders and it is a natural extension of the Serengeti. It is owned and managed by the Maasai people.
It takes about 5 hours to get there by road and 45 minutes by air. There are scheduled flights from both Jomo Kenyatta National Airport and Wilson Airport. You can also go by train to Naivasha then travel by road into the reserve. Several private tour operators provide safaris to the reserve and game drives within.
The grassy savannah landscape enhances the beauty of the reserve. Scattered acacia woods and bush stand out in the plains. There is also a riverine forest, due to the presence of the Mara River, where most of the bird species dwell. The Maasai culture is another major attraction. One of the best-known tribes, the Maasai have maintained their culture even as other tribes fall prey to modern practices. Their bright colored clothes and traditional dances are a must-see.
If you have sufficient funds, consider taking a balloon trip over the reserve. This popular and thoroughly memorable ride usually commences before dawn and includes a champagne breakfast. Viewing abundant game afloat a balloon is an unforgettable experience.
There is a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets. Most Maasai Mara lodges and camps are conveniently located within the game reserve due to its long distance from any major town.