Masai Mara Game Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve (also known as Masai Mara or The Mara) is situated within the Great Rift Valley in the southernpart of Kenya. Measuring approximately 1510sq. ilometres (approx. 938sq. miles) in size, this unfenced savannah grassland is roughly 150 miles southeast of Nairobi.Maasai Mara derives its name from the indigenous people of Kenya – the Maasai tribe – and the Mara River that cuts through the park.
The Masai Mara provides the best view of the famous wildebeest migration as the animals cross the Mara River between July and August.The Mara is also home to the richest concentration of wildlife, including the “Big Five” (elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalo), zebras, antelope, gnus, Oribis, hyenas, giraffes, warthogs, gazelles, hartebeests, hippos, crocodiles and others. The park has the largest concentration of African lions, including the black-maned lion.Birdlife is as plentiful as wildlife at the Masai Mara, which boasts over 400 different birds species.
The park experiences a hot and dry climate with a regular rainfall season twice a year. The reserve’s topography is mainly open savannah (grassland) with clusters of acacia trees along the southeastern area of the park. The Mara and Talek rivers grace the rolling plains of the reserve. Myriad seasonal rivers appear during the rainy season but dry out once the rains are gone.
Maasai Mara National Reserve does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS); instead, it is managed by the local county council of Narok district.
How to get there
By Air: A flight to Maasai Mara takes about 45 minutes from Nairobi. Several airlines serve this route. The most popular airlines with domestic flights to Maasai Mara are Safarilink and Air Kenya. There are scheduled flights to Maasai Mara from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, from Samburu, Lamu, Malindi, Nanyuki, Mombasa and Ukunda. From the coastal towns, a flight to the national reserve takes about 2 hours.
There are 8 airstrips in Masai Mara: Ngerende, Shikar, Musiara, Kichwa Tembo, Olkiombo, Serena, Siana & Keekorok. You may find yourself having a few stops on the way due to other passengers landing at one of the 6 airstrips in the Mara, but there are options for direct charters into the Masai Mara.
By Road: It’s about 270 km from the capital Nairobi City and takes about 4-5 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 at all and very bumpy.
What to do and see
The Masai Mara Game Reserve is one of the best places in Africa for wildlife viewing. Game drives are a great way to experience the park and they take place all year round. If the big cats are what you’re looking for on your Kenyan safari, you are guaranteed to spot them at the Mara.All of the “Big Five” animals (elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalo) can be spotted here.
However, the population of black rhinos is severely threatened with only 37 black rhinos left as of 2000. Herds of plains zebras are found throughout the park, as well as Masai giraffes, common giraffes, jackals, white-bearded gnus, Oribis, warthogs, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, hartebeests, hyenas, bat-eared foxes, rare Topi antelope and beautiful rone antelope, as well as hippos and crocodiles in the Mara River.
The vast Masai Mara reserve is located at an altitude of between 4,875 and 7,052 feet above sea level, giving it a damp climate and more moderate temperature than most of Kenya. Daytime temperatures run at 85°F (30°C) ) maximum and night temperatures can drop to around 60°F (15°C). Most rain falls between March and May and during the short rainy season in November and December.
The park may be difficult to navigate at these times. Between July and October the weather is dry, the vegetation is lush and the daytime temperatures are pleasant, making it the best time to see the park’s wildlife. The Masai Mara experiences the highest tourist numbers during this period. Hot temperatures peak between December and January while June and July are the coolest months at the park.