The Complete Guide to Masai Mara National Reserve : Masai Mara national reserve is one of the best wildlife destinations in Africa and the most popular in Kenya, the reserve is also considered to be Africa’s premier safari destination. Masai Mara national reserve was established in 1961 purposely to protect a multitude of wildlife including the big Five.
If you are planning to visit Masai Mara national reserve, here is the complete guide to Masai Mara national reserve a great Kenya wildlife destination.
Location & Geography
Masai Mara national reserve located in the Southwest Kenya is a relatively small reserve stretching over an area of approximately 580 square miles, the reserve’s southern boundary marks the Kenya-Tanzania border and the beginning of the Serengeti national park and the remaining boundaries are adjoined by private conservancies. The private conservancies of Masai Mara national reserve are owned by tribal communities and are managed by eco-tourism operators and they share unfenced borders with the national reserve.
Mara Triangle, the remote western section of the reserve is also managed as a non-profit conservancy run by the local Masai.
Masai Mara national reserve is intersected by 3 major rivers that is the Sand, the Talek and the Mara. The Mara River is a famous point in the reserve famous for the Mara River crossing of the Great Wildebeest migration, in this dramatic spectacle thousands of wildebeests and zebras attempt to cross the river as part of their annual migration. The river banks are densely lined with tree and shrubs.
Wildlife in Masai Mara national reserve
Masai Mara national reserve is famous for being a habitat to an astonishing concentration of animals and birdlife, the reserve offers high chances of sightings of the Big Five that is lion, cape buffaloes, elephants, leopards and rhinos. Other animals in Masai Mara national reserve include antelopes, topis, elands, oribi, waterbuck, gazelles, hippos, crocodiles among others.
Masai Mara national reserve is a home to over 450 bird species including Abdim’s Stork
African finfoot, African wood owl, Ayres’s hawk eagle, Cinnamon-breasted bunting, Denham’s bustard, Giant kingfisher, Grey-crested helmet-shrike, Grey penduline tit, Hildebrandt’s starling, Jackson’s widowbird, Lazy cisticola, Ostrich, Purple grenadier, Red-throated tit, Ross’s turaco, Rosy-throated longclaw, Rufous-bellied heron, Rufous-throated wryneck, Saddle-billed stork, Schalow’s turaco, Secretary bird, Silverbird, Southern ground hornbill, Swahili sparrow, Tabora cisticola and Temminck’s course among others
Masai Mara national reserve is also famous for the annual wildebeest migration where over 1.5 millions wildebeests accompanied by zebras and antelopes take part in annual migration between the plains of Serengeti national park and Masai Mara national reserve. In Masai Mara national reserve the migration is experienced between July and November with the Mara river crossing.
Safari activities to do in Masai Mara national reserve
Masai Mara national reserve is one of the best places in the world to do game viewing experiences, two excursions of game viewing are offered in Masai Mara that is morning and afternoon game drive. game drives offer you an opportunity to spot a variety of animals including lion, cape buffaloes, elephants, leopards and rhinos, antelopes, topis, elands, oribi, waterbuck, gazelles, hippos, crocodiles among others
Masai Mara national reserve is listed among the important birding sites in Kenya hosting over 450 bird species which can easily be spotted, these birds include Abdim’s StorkAfrican finfoot, African wood owl, Ayres’s hawk eagle, Cinnamon-breasted bunting, Denham’s bustard, Giant kingfisher, Grey-crested helmet-shrike, Grey penduline tit, Hildebrandt’s starling, Jackson’s widowbird, Lazy cisticola, Ostrich, Purple grenadier, Red-throated tit, Ross’s turaco among others.
Hot Air Balloon safaris
Hot air balloon safaris are one of the most exciting safari activities offered in Masai Mara national reserve, this amazing safari activity offers aerial views over the plains of Masai Mara and various animals hosted in the endless savannah plains. Hot air balloon safaris end with a champagne breakfast.
Other safari activities to do in Masai Mara national reserve include photography safaris, horseback riding safaris and cultural visits to the Masai people.
Where to Stay in Masai Mara national reserve
In Masai Mara national reserve, there are plenty of accommodation options found inside and around the reserve, these accommodations range from permanent lodges to tented and mobile camps. These accommodations are also categorized into 3 that is luxury, midrange and budget accommodations.
Note: as a traveler before you choose which accommodation property to stay at, it is important to decide on which area of the reserve you want to be based in.
The central and eastern regions of Masai Mara are the most visited regions of the reserve due to their close proximity to Nairobi. Some of the accommodations in these regions include Mara Simba Lodge and Keekorok Lodge.
The Western Mara Triangle is the more remote and harder region of the reserve to access but typically offer more rewarding game viewing experience, there are only 2 accommodations in this area and they include Mara Serena Safari Lodge and Little Governor’s camp.
Other accommodations in Masai Mara national reserve include Angama Mara, andBeyond Bateleur camp and Elephant pepper camp among others.
Weather & When to Go To Masai Mara national reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve experiences two distinct rainy seasons that is the short season rainy from December to January and the long rainy season from March to May, Kenya is situated close to the equator and because of this proximity the temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year. Average high temperature is around 86 degrees F and average low temperatures are around 68 degrees F.
The best time to visit Masai Mara national reserve is during the long dry season that is from June to November, this period is considered to be the best time because it coincides with the Great Migration. Also animals are easy to spot as they congregate at water sources.
Getting To Masai Mara national reserve
Masai Mara national reserve is located approximately 170 miles west of Nairobi the capital of Kenya, from Nairobi the roads are in a good state thus a journey of 6 hours to get to the reserve through Narok Town. In the rainy season, the roads end to become impassable due to heavy pours, however they can be navigated through using a 4X4 wheel vehicle.
Another way to get to Masai Mara national reserve is by flying, the reserve is served by several airstrips including Keekorok airstrip, Serena Airstrip, Musiara Airstrip, Siana Conservancy, Ol Kiombo Airstrip, Ngerende airstrip among others. From Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, it is a flight of about 45 minutes to Masai Mara, these flights are offered by several domestic airlines such as Safarilink, AirKenya among others.