The Maasai Mara National Reserve is each year visited by thousands of tourists, who come here to watch the many different wildlife and birdlife species in the reserve. The reserve is especially famous for the high amount of predators, such as lions and cheetah, and the 1.5 million wildebeest which migrate through the Mara and cross the crocodile infested Mara river.
The best kept secret of the Mara is the Mara Triangle, the North-Western part of the Maasai Mara which is managed by the Mara Conservancy on behalf of Trans-Mara County Council – the rest of the reserve falls under Narok County Council. Although one third of the Mara, The Mara Triangle has only one lodge within its boundaries (compared to the numerous camps and lodges on the Narok side) and has well maintained, all weather roads.
The rangers patrol regularly which means that there is almost no poaching and therefore excellent game viewing. There is also strict control over vehicle numbers around animal sightings which means a better, more authentic, experience when out on a game drive.
Maasai Mara (Masai Mara) is situated in south-west Kenya and is one of Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Reserves. Together with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania it forms Africa’s most diverse, incredible and most spectacular eco-systems and possibly the world’s top safari big game viewing eco-system.
Made famous by the abundance of the big cats, Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Maasai people, well known for their distinctive custom and dress.
There is a wide selection of places to stay in and around the Maasai Mara and the conservancies surrounding it . The conservancies surrounding the Maasai Mara have restricted number of vehicles allowing a more private game viewing of wildlife.
Safaris including the Maasai Mara are without a doubt some of the best you ever get. To get the best out of your safari time, try a book at seven day safari at least and cover two or more other destinations.
The Maasai Mara Ecosystem (see our map) holds one of the highest lion densities in world and this is where over TWO MILLION Wildebeest, Zebra and Thomsons Gazelle migrate annually.
Maasai Mara National Reserve stretches 1,510 sq km (580 sq miles) and raises 1,500-2,170 meters above sea level. It hosts over 95 species of mammals and 570 recorded species of birds.
It’s about 270 km from the capital Nairobi City and takes about 5-6 hours by road or 40-45 minutes by flight. The road is great for the most part. there is a section from Narok town to Sekenani Gate that is dirt road but fairly good. The other road through Lemek and Aitong town is not good day all, very bumpy.
Best Time To Visit
With the wildebeest migration in JULY – OCTOBER, this is the best time to see this incredible movement of animals. Although it is not guaranteed that the wildebeest get to Maasai Mara, it has yet to let us down. Also, December to February are great times as it is dryer and good for the Big Cats.
NOTE: The Maasai Mara is an all year round destination with the big cats, and all the big game still in the Maasai Mara Ecosystem.
Recommended Number of Days
Due the amount to be seen in the reserve we feel a THREE to FOUR day safari is suitable. If you are interested in photography the longer you stay the more chance of getting the ultimate photo.
When it was originally established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary the Mara covered only 520 square kilometres (200 sq mi) of the current area, including the Mara Triangle. The area was extended to the east in 1961 to cover 1,821 km2 (703 sq mi) and converted to a game reserve. The Narok County Council (NCC) took over management of the reserve at this time. Part of the reserve was given National Reserve status in 1974, and the remaining area of 159 km2 (61 sq mi) was returned to local communities. An additional 162 km2 (63 sq mi) were removed from the reserve in 1976, and the park was reduced to 1,510 km2 (580 sq mi) in 1984.
In 1995, the TransMara County Council (TMCC) was formed in the western part of the reserve, and control was divided between the new council and the existing Narok County Council. In May 2001, the not-for-profit Mara Conservancy took over management of the Mara Triangle.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) covers some 1,510 km2 (583 sq mi) in south-western Kenya. It is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which covers some 25,000 km2 (9,700 sq mi) in Tanzania and Kenya. It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Maasai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Rainfall in the ecosystem increases markedly along a southeast–northwest gradient, varies in space and time, and is markedly bimodal. The Sand, Talek River and Mara River are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hillslopes and hilltops.
The terrain of the reserve is primarily open grassland with seasonal riverlets. In the south-east region are clumps of the distinctive acacia tree. The western border is the Esoit (Siria) Escarpment of the East African Rift, which is a system of rifts some 5,600 km (3,500 mi) long, from Ethiopia’s Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique. Wildlife tends to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good, while tourist disruption is minimal. The easternmost border is 224 kilometres (139.2 mi) from Nairobi, and hence it is the eastern regions which are most visited by tourists.
Wildebeest, topi, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle migrate into and occupy the Mara reserve, from the Serengeti plains to the south and Loita plains in the pastoral ranches to the north-east, from July to October or later. Herds of all three species are also resident in the reserve.
All members of the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, African elephant, African buffalo, and Black Rhinoceros) are found in the Maasai Mara. The population of Black rhinos was fairly numerous until 1960, but it was severely depleted by poaching in the 1970s and early 1980s, dropping to a low of 15 individuals. Numbers have been slowly increasing, but the population was still only up to an estimated 23 in 1999.
Hippopotami and Nile crocodiles are found in large groups in the Mara and Talek rivers. Leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, and bat-eared foxes can also be found in the reserve. The plains between the Mara River and the Esoit Siria Escarpment are probably the best area for game viewing, in particular regarding lion and cheetah.
As in the Serengeti, the wildebeest are the dominant inhabitants of the Maasai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Around July of each year, these ungainly animals migrate north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south around October. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson’s gazelles, 97,000 Topi, 18,000 elands, and 200,000 zebras. These migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena.
[antelope]]s can be found, including Grant’s gazelles, impalas, duikers and Coke’s hartebeests. The plains are also home to the distinctive Masai giraffe. The large Roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya, can be seen within the reserve borders.
More than 470 species of birds have been identified in the park, many of which are migrants, with almost 60 species being raptors. Birds that call this area home for at least part of the year include: vultures, marabou storks, secretary birds, hornbills, crowned cranes, ostriches, long-crested Eagles, African pygmy-falcons and the lilac-breasted roller, which is the national bird of Kenya.