Maasai Mara National Reserve
Conservation Status :
South-western Kenya, 5 hours by road from Nairobi
Height A.S.L. :
1,500 – 2,100 m
Seasonal Variation :
Dry season is from July – October, the most popular time for tourists.
Annual rainfall varies between 800 mm (East) and 1,200 mm (West). Most rain falls from March to May, with another short rainy season between November and December.
Damp climate, daytime temperatures 30°C (85°F); night temperatures 15°C (60°F)
Game drives for awe-inspiring wildlife-viewing, with the ‘Big Five’ all present and big cats very prevalent. The legendary ‘Great Migration’ and the Mara River crossing, with countless wildebeest to the fore, is a natural wonder. Hot-air balloon rides are highly recommended.
World-renowned as Kenya’s richest and densest wildlife reserve, the Maasai Mara is teeming with animals of all species. The sheer numbers are bewildering, beyond the imaginations of those who have yet to visit. The annual circular tour of migratory wildlife, between July and October, and taking in the Mara as well as the Serengeti in Tanzania, involves literally millions of animals. There can be 1.5 million wildebeest in the Mara at any one time, while at the other extreme, the endangered black rhino numbers only a few dozen. In between, there are antelope and zebra, gazelles, hippos, crocodiles, elephant, lions, leopard and buffalo, and many, many others. Predators, prey and scavengers all take their parts in a ritualistic play, making the reserve a true delight for wildlife viewing. Add in over 400 bird species, as well as a varied landscape, and you start to get the picture.
The culture of the welcoming and fascinating Maasai people, from whom the reserve takes its name, is another great reason to visit. Steeped in preciously guarded traditions, these vibrant people have evolved from fearsome warriors to peaceful pastoralists. The opportunities to learn about their family structures, initiation ceremonies, manyatta (living compounds) and many other thought-provoking aspects of their colorful culture, will further enrich the experience of any visitor to the region.
The Maasai Mara can be divided into distinct parts, each described briefly below.
Ngama Hills and the Eastern Plains : Being the nearest part of the reserve to Nairobi, it is no surprise that this area attracts the most visitors. The Ngama Hills provide a useful landmark in this part, with the lower ranges of Ol Opelalagonya and Ololoitikoshi to the southeast. The vegetation in these higher areas offers some sanctuary for the remaining and rare black rhino, though it is on the flatter plains where you’ll find animals in greater volumes: lion and cheetah, ostrich, eland and gazelle, plus the attraction of a healthy population of elephant.
Mara and Talek Rivers : Year-round water means a different type of wildlife and the Mara River and its tributary, the Talek, are the locations for hippo and crocodile populations. The Mara River is crossed several times each year by countless wildebeest, an event unsurpassed anywhere in Mother Nature’s calendar, as the migrant millions proceed on their annual circular procession. This is feast-time for the waiting crocodiles, indeed. The forests that flank the rivers provide good habitat for other species, too, with leopard, vervet monkeys, as well as a rich and unique birdlife which differs markedly from the rest of the park.
Maasai Mara Central Plains : Big cats are perhaps the main attraction in this area, with lions, cheetah and leopard to the fore. Mass gatherings of wildebeest and zebra dominate the plains between August and October, however and jackal, hyena and bat-eared fox are prevalent too.
The Mara Triangle : The Mara Triangle occupies the west of the Maasai Mara and could be called the “original” game reserve, as it was marked out as such in the 1940s. Wildlife here features the ‘Big Five’, big cats, itinerant wildebeest and zebra (in migration season), plus klipspringer antelope and, dominating the airspace, the imposing Verreaux eagle. The Oloololo Escarpment and the distinctive granite outcrops known as koppies provide dramatic topography in this area.
- Mara Serena
- Mara Leisure camp
- Mara Sopa Lodge
- Kichwa Tembo
- Mpata Safari Club
- Governor’s camp
- Fairmont Mara Club
- Sand Rover Mara
- Mara Explorer camp
A minimum number of two nights is recommended for Maasai Mara, the great migration is here from mid-August to October, it is one of the best destination for Kenya Safaris.