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Ultimate Guide: The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

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The Maasai Mara national reserve is situated in the south-western region of Kenya, 180 kilometers from Nairobi, the country’s capital.

One of the most well-known national reserves in Africa, not only in Kenya, is the Masai Mara. This reserve may be located in Kenya’s Narok County, right next to the vast Serengeti Ecosystem’s limitless grasslands of the Serengeti National Park.

A total of 30,000 square kilometers of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem are contained inside the 1,510 square kilometers of the Masai Mara national reserve.

The Serengeti National Park is to the south, the Siria Escarpment is to the west, and the Masai pastoral ranches are to the north, west, and east of the reserve.

The Sand River, Talek River, and Mara River are the three principal rivers that drain the reserve.

Masai Mara is reachable by both air and road, with regular flights departing from Wilson Airstrip and Jomo Kenyatta National Airport in Nairobi.

Also Read: Serengeti National Park in Tanzania Ultimate Guide

Ultimate Guide: The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

Maasai Mara National Reserve History

One of Kenya’s most well-known tourist destinations is the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which is situated in along the Great Rift Valley in Norok County and is bordered by Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park on all sides.

The Reserve has the name Mara, which refers to the area’s spotted circles of trees, savanna, brush, and cloud shadows, as described by the area’s original inhabitants, the Maasai.

Masai Mara National Reserve, a wildlife refuge, was created in 1961 and now only covers 520 square kilometers of the original Mara Triangle.

Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve was expanded to the east in the same year, gaining a total area of around 1,821 square kilometers.

At this time, it was placed under the new supervision of the nearby Narok County Council and changed from a national reserve to a game reserve.

Maasai Mara National Reserve was given national reserve status in 1974, and some of the 159 km2 of land was returned to the villagers.

However, in 1976, additional deductions were made from the park, bringing the total size down to 1510 km2 by 1984.

Management

The management of the park is split between Narok County Council and the new council when Trans Mara County Council was established in 1994.

Another not-for-profit Mara Conservancy was established in 2001, which was a smart decision and added to the complications by taking over the operation of the reserve.

The Serengeti in the south, the Siria escarpment in the west, and Maasai pastoral ranches in the north, east, and west all abut the Masai Mara National Reserve.

The Maasai Mara River and the Talek River serve as the park’s main drainage rivers. The park’s vegetation is primarily open savannah grassland, scattered with acacia trees and periodic rivulets.

In addition to the large Nile crocodiles, predators like lions, leopards, and others, the reserve is most well-known for the yearly great migration, during which millions of wildebeest cross the Mara River under the principle of survival of the fittest.

All five of the big five—elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo, and rhinos—as well as the greatest concentration of black rhinos in Africa can be found in Masai Mara.

Maasai Mara National Reserve Tours and Attraction

Ultimate Guide: The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

Both natural and animal attractions may be found in the Masai Mara National Reserve, which is located in the center of the park.

Throughout the park, these attractions are grouped into conservancies that are administered by various Masaai communities. The major attractions in the Masai Mara National Reserve are listed below:

  1. The Masaai People and Culture
  2. Wildebeest migration, the largest animal movement in the world.
  3. The Big 5
  4. Walking safaris
  5. Bird observation
  6. Hot air balloon safari

Also Read: Tanzania Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area 

Tanzania Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area – The Biggest Crater in the World

The Masaai People and Culture

Narok, the biggest Maasai town, is home to the Narok Museum. The Museum is filled with the customs and culture of the Masaai, making it one of the special attractions in this little, remote village.

One of the main draws in Masai Mara is the Ol Kinyei Conservancy, which is situated in the heart of the reserve beside the larger Serengeti-Mara environment.

It is the largest conservancy in Mara and is home to a variety of attractions, including the mighty great migration along the Mara River and undulating Kopjes.

Another renowned conservation area in the Masai Mara is the Mara Triangle. The Trans-Mara county Council is in charge of running it.

The 510 square kilometer Mara triangle is located near to the Oloololo Escarpment. The Mara River, where the annual wildebeest migrations take place, Mara North Conservancy, Olare Ork Conservancy, Ol Choro Oiroua Conservancy, and Lemek Conservancy are some of the other attractions in Masai Mara National Reserve.

Hot air ballooning Safari

Ultimate Guide: The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

Flying in a hot air balloon above the reserve is one of the few must-do activities there. Enjoy a fantastic aerial view of the wildlife and the full geography of the reserve as you glide above the Masai Mara.

A one-hour or longer hot air balloon ride above the Masai Mara is a rare event that depends on the day’s weather.

While watching the sun rise over the balloon basket, you take pleasure in the pink tint of the sunlight as it flickers over the sky.

The Maasai Mara balloon safaris begin at approximately 5 a.m. with a briefing from the senior pilots before we enter and take our seats in the basket as the hot air balloon is launched.

The Maasai Mara hot air balloon transports you as near to nature as you can go, allowing you to record crystal-clear films and snap as many pictures as you like.

On the flight, you may watch live animal performances like the migration of the wildebeest, big cat hunting, and many more.

Before your driver picks you up to transport you back to the lodge, the hot air balloon ride is completed in the wilderness with a toast from a wine glass.

Also Read: African Safari in Kenya Nairobi; The 5 Best Safari Parks in Kenya to Explore

Wildbeeast Migration

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One of the seven natural wonders of the world is the wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara, which is where it occurs.

The biggest yearly migration of wildlife on Earth is known to take place around this time.

As the animals search for grass and fresh water, the wildebeest migrate in a circular pattern that corresponds to the seasonal weather patterns.

Through the Mara River, the wildebeest go from the boundless Serengeti plains to the Maasai Mara national park.

From July through August, millions of wildebeest and other grazers, including zebras, topis, and others, migrate to the southern section of the Masai Mara National Park in search of greener pastures.

The activity is so amazing, fantastic, and indescribable that it should be seen live rather than read about in documentaries.

As it follows the principle of “Survival of the fittest,” the voyage from Ngorongoro National Park to Serengeti National Park and across to Masai Mara draws a lot of predators, particularly the large cats on land and giant Nile Crocodiles on the water.

The wildebeest migration in Maasai Mara National Park is one of nature’s most breathtaking and exhilarating spectacles.

Before returning to Serengeti National Park, the animals would stay in Masai Mara for two to three months.

From July through October, thousands of people visit Masai Mara in order to witness the wildebeest migration in person.

One of the memorial ceremonies in Maasai Mara National Park takes place every year.

Birders also love the area since it is home to over 500 bird species, both migratory and permanent inhabitants, in addition to observing wildebeest. Visitors to the reserve can take part in an increasing number of activities both inside and outside of the park.

Also Read: The The Wildebeest Migration’ the Great Migration of Africa

Walking Safaris

The guided walking safaris known as “nature walks” are usually led by Masaai warriors or wildlife rangers. Walking into the forest, we experience the splendor of nature like the Explores did by tracing the paths of the creatures.

Horseback

Visitors may also take part in Horseback Safaris, a recent variation on animal game drives. Being on top of the other creatures and experiencing the best of the wilderness is an uncommon experience.

Maasai Mara National Reserve Accomodation & Entrance Fee

Maasai Mara Gates:

The park gates are located along all of the main routes that go to the Reserve, making it simple to reach the Maasai Mara National Reserve from any direction.

To make the Maasai Mara National Reserve more accessible, there are six different gates. From Nairobi, the capital, it takes around 5 to 6 hours to go to the furthest gate.

The Masai Mara’s six gates are: In the reserve’s northeastern corner is Oloololo Gate. The Musiara Gate, located adjacent to the Oloololo gate in the East and directly across from the great Mara river, provides entry to the Reserve on the Eastern side.

One of the oldest and most established gates in Maasai Mara is Talek Gate, which is one of the other gates. It is situated in the northwestern portion of the reserve.

The last gate is Sand River Gate, which is situated on the southern edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve and borders the Serengeti National Park. Visitors that go on safari in both Kenya and Tanzania utilize the gate.

The Masai Mara reserve may be reached in a variety of ways, including by road and by air. Visitors can go by car from Nairobi to any of the reserve’s access gates by way of Narok.

Oloololo, Oloolaimutia, Sekenani, Talek, and Musiara are some of the gates that lead into the Maasai Mara reserve.

In addition to having airstrips, some of the hotels in the Maasai Mara reserve also provide flights for visitors who are on safaris in the reserve. The Maasai Mara Serena Airstrip, Kichwa Tembo Airstrip, Maasai Mara Cottars, Olare Orok Airstrip, Shikar Airstrip, Ngerende Airstrip, Musiara Airstrip, Ol Kiombo Airstrip, Keekorok Airstrip, Sian Springs Airstrip, and others are among the airstrips in this reserve.

Also Read: The Maasai Tribe Facts: Blood Drinking, Lion Hunting All about The Maasai Tribe in Kenya

Accommodations in the Maasai Mara national reserve:

All types of visitors may find lodging in the Masai Mara National Park, from low-cost travelers to those in the middle class to those who can afford the luxury.

After a long day of activity, the visitor retires to the lodge. Accommodations may be found both inside and outside the reserve. A variety of travel companies provide camping tents.

Lodging options in the Maasai Mara national reserve
Maasai Mara national reserve Northern Region

Ngare Serian, Royal Mara Safari Lodge, Speke’s Camp, Mara Plains Camp, Kicheche Bush Camp, Loyk Mara Camp, Ol Seki Mara Camp, Naboisho Camp, Ngerende Island Lodge, Fairmont Mara Safari, Porini Mara Camp, Enkerende Tented Camp, and Mara River Lodge are among the lodging options in the Masai Mara reserve’s northern region.

Maasai Mara national reserve Eastern Region

Leleshwa camp, Entumoto safari camp, Tipilikwani Mara camp, Fig tree camp, Mara leisure camp, Siana springs camp, and Ilkeliana Camp are just a few of the many lodging options in the Masai Mara reserve’s eastern region.

Maasai Mara national reserve Southern Region

Accommodations available to visitors to the southern portions of the Masai Mara reserve include Cottars Bush Villa, Sand River Masai Mara Camp, Sala’s Camp, and Enkewa Mara Camp, among others.

Maasai Mara national reserve Western Region

The Masai Mara reserve’s western region has a number of lodging options, including Bateleur Camp, Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Sanctuary Olonana Camp, Mara Siria Camp, Angama Mara Camp, Kilima Camp, and Mara Engai Wilderness Lodge.

The Masai Mara grasslands, Oloololo escarpment, Mara river, and Mara triangle make for stunning views for visitors staying in the western portion of the Masai Mara reserve.

Maasai Mara national reserve Center Region

The governor’s il Moran camp, the Mara Ngenche safari camp, the Rekero camp, the Sentinel Mara camp, and the Entim camp are just a few of the lodging options in the Masai Mara reserve’s center area.

Visitors who stay in the Masai Mara reserve’s center enjoy fantastic wildlife-watching opportunities and the annual wildebeest migration, which is visible as millions of wildebeest cross the Mara River.

Also Read: Safari Holiday in Africa: Top 10 Destinations in Africa For a Safari Holiday

Top 5 Luxury Lodges to Reside in Kenya During the Annual Wildebeest Migration

The annual wildebeest migration, one of the seven wonders of the world, is the largest wildlife migration ever seen on earth.

Thousands of zebras, and millions of wildebeests travel along an ancient route in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem in search of green pastures and water.

The annual wildebeest migration takes place in Kenya and Tanzania, notably in the Maasai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park.

It is one of the most sought-after wildlife spectacles, and may be seen while on a Kenya wildebeest migration safari. The best 5 hotels to stay at to see the migration are listed below.

ROYAL OF MARA SAFARI LODGE

One of the top 5 locations to stay in Kenya during a wildebeest migration safari is Royal Mara Safari Lodge, which is located in the Siria Escarpment and is on the wildebeest migration path.

Over 2 million wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras fearlessly cross the Mara River, which is home to dangerous Nile crocodiles, to reach the lush plains of Maasai Mara and the Mara North Conservancy from the Royal Mara Safari Lodge, which is situated in the Mara North Conservancy.

There are 8 luxurious and roomy guest suites at Royal Mara Safari Lodge, all of which are located on the riverfront and include amenities including flush toilets, bidets, double basins, luxury showers, hot water, and electricity.

Maasai carpets, colonial antiques, and African antiquities such as a closet, cabinet, writing desk, safe deposit box, and sitting space are all included in these river guest rooms.

Each river guest suite is 110 square meters in size overall, with a bedroom space of 36 square meters, a bathroom measuring 22 square meters, and a veranda measuring 52 square meters.

Meals are provided in a spacious canvas dining tent with a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape as part of the Royal Mara Safari Lodge’s facilities, which also include bars and restaurants.

Breakfast is offered near the hippo pools or in the surrounding forest. Dinner is served in the dining room, with barbecues and lunch provided in camp.

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CAMP KICHWA TEMBO

In the center of Maasai Mara, stretching along the Saparingo River on the brink of the Oloololo escarpment, lies Kichwa Tembo Camp, a small safari camp that offers an out-of-Africa safari experience.

The Kichwa Tembo camp is located where the riverine woodland meets the expansive grasslands, in the seasonal path of the great wildebeest migration.

Kichwa Tembo Camp is one of the top 5 locations to stay during your yearly wildebeest migration safari in the Maasai Mara national reserve.

It is located on a private concession with an abundance of iconic species and panoramic Maasai Mara vistas.

Kichwa Tembo Camp offers a pleasant accommodation during a wildebeest migration safari with its 20 exceptional tents, 8 superior view tents, and 12 classic tents.

These timeless interiors (simple, elegant, and fashionable) are set up in beautiful grounds, and animal species like warthogs are frequently outside the tents feeding, adding to your camping experience.

When the “Out of Africa” movie was being filmed, celebrities stayed at the Kichwa Tembo Camp, which had a pool, a fine-dining restaurant, a bar, and a campfire.

Kichwa Tembo Camp provides fun activities including hot air balloon rides over the huge rolling plains of Maasai Mara, traditional village excursions, massages, and game drives in both the national reserve and the concession of the Maasai Mara.

GOVERNOR’S CAMP

One of the greatest locations to stay when on safari in Kenya to witness the yearly wildebeest migration is Little Governor’s camp, a cozy retreat situated on the border of the Maasai Mara national reserve, a renowned Kenya safari destination.

A brief boat journey over the gorgeous Mara River and a short guided walk through the riverine forest are required to reach Little Governor’s Camp, which is nestled away in a riverine forest.

A vast watering hole filled with birds and other animals can be viewed from your tent at Little Governor’s Camp, which has 17 luxurious tents with en-suite bathrooms.

The tents are stunning and have wooden decks and spacious verandahs that are perfect for watching game around your tent. The camp is located near the Mara River and offers stunning views of the Oloololo cliff.

Facilities at Little Governor’s Camp include a welcome area, dining tent, souvenir store, and mess tent with a bar overlooking the waterhole. Spa services are provided at the camp and are carried out in the privacy and comfort of your tent.

BUREAU MARA SERENA SAFARI

Mara Serena Safari Lodge, which was named one of the best 5 locations to stay during a wildebeest safari in Kenya by TripAdvisor users in 2021, is situated on a hilltop overlooking the African Savannah and Mara River in the Maasai Mara national reserve’s Mara Triangle.

The Mara Serena Safari Lodge is the ideal location to observe the Mara River crossing, which is the focal point of the annual wildebeest migration and the most spectacular part of the migration.

The lodge also offers stunning views of the savannah plains and the hippos-filled Mara River. The Mara river crossing is where migratory herds try to pass while battling crocodiles in the water and predators on the banks.

The 74 guest rooms at Mara Serena Safari Lodge, including suites, were designed in the style of a traditional Maasai Manyatta and provide breathtaking views of the sweeping Mara River and grassland.

The rooms at Mara Serena Safari Lodge include Maasai-inspired design themes, king or twin beds, mosquito netting, and en-suite marble bathrooms with walk-in showers.

They are decorated with swirling patterns that mimic the colors and shapes of the bush. These rooms provide complimentary internet access, satellite television, ceiling fans, air conditioning, and ironing facilities.

A shared TV room, bar, restaurant, reception services, BBQ facilities, and other amenities are available at Mara Serena Safari Lodge.

CAMP KICHECHE MARA

In Kenya’s Maasai Mara national reserve, Kicheche Mara Camp is one of the greatest places to stay for a wildebeest safari.

It is a tented camp located in the 74,000-acre Mara North Conservancy, which is a community-owned wilderness.

The Kicheche Mara Camp is a pleasant and small camp with cozy tents overlooking the Olare Orok stream in the acacia valley.

The camp is made up of naturally colored canvas tents that are connected by stone roads and is surrounded by uncut vegetation where animals may graze freely.

Kicheche Mara Camp provides cozy lodging in trip, quad, and family tents that are grouped together in private locations overlooking the plains and close-by hills.

Each tent has a comfortable interior and an attached bathroom with a toilet that flushes. Photographers from all over the world converge on Kicheche Mara Camp to capture breathtaking images of the surrounding landscape and wildlife, especially the annual migration of the wildebeest.

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