The Masai Mara National Reserve in the south western part of Kenya forms part of the greater eco-system that encompasses the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The Masai Mara is named for the Maasai people and the Mara River, which divides it. The wildlife is not confined within the reserve's boundaries.
There are many conservancies to the north and east of the Masai Mara where, over centuries, an almost symbiotic relationship has developed between the Maasai people and the wildlife. The reserve is famous for its exceptional population of game and the migration of the wildebeest, which occurs here every year in July and August.
The entire area of the park is nestled within the enormous Great Rift Valley. The Masai Mara consists of open savannah, rolling grasslands and undulating hills. The western border is the Esoit Olooloo Escarpment of the Rift Valley, and wildlife tends to be most concentrated here as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good and tourist disruption is minimal. The easternmost border is 224km from Nairobi and hence it is the eastern regions which are most visited.
The Masai Mara is always an amazing safari destination, but at its best during the wildebeest migration, which occurs here between July and October each year.
The park is surrounded by concession areas and tribal lands of the Maasai tribespeople. These are unfenced from the Mara and there can be as much wildlife roaming outside the park as inside so staying in these private concessions can often be just as rewarding.
This area is known for its predator population, particularly lions, hyenas and cheetahs. Cheetahs are severly endangered, and it is quite magnificent to see them take down kills at 110km/h on the Masai plains.
The Mara is probably the best serviced of all Kenyan national parks and reserves with a wide range of accommodation for any budget. The reserve is ideal for game drives, and some lodges and camps offer walking and balloon safaris.
With an attractive setting on the banks of the Maasai Mara’s River Talek, Tipilikwani Mara Safari Camp offers a high standard of accommodation for a Kenya safari. The camp overlooks the plains of the Mara region and has an exclusive feel with just 20 luxurious riverfront safari tents.
Just a few kilometers downstream from its renowned sister camp, Mara Plains, is Mara Toto; perfectly positioned in a small bend in the Ntiakitiak River where thick forest meets savannah. A balanced blend of comfort, adventure and intimacy set this brand new camp apart from the many others in the Mar...
Olarro Lodge is founded on the principles of conservation, sustainability and community empowerment. The lodge not only provides accommodation, but also aims to create a self-sustaining tourist operation with a goal of improving the standard of living for the local Maasai community. Olarro Lodge st...
Leleshwa Camp is an intimate camp situated in the Siana Conservancy, just opposite the world famous Masai Mara which is regarded as a wildlife jewel of Kenya. The camp leaves guests breathless as the camp sits along a stream valley which overlooks the beautiful hills and plains of the conservancy.
Situated on the banks of a river from which it has taken its name, Sand River Masai Mara is located within the Masai Mara National Reserve, closely bordering the Serengeti. Replicating the elegant safari camping of the 1920s,it has beautiful interior designs and exceptional service.
The plains between the Mara River and the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment are probably the best areas for game viewing, particularly for lion and cheetah. Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, impala, zebra, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, warthog and giraffe are easily spotted on game drives. The Masai Mara is said to have the largest population of lion in Kenya, while large herds of elephants are often found browsing among the rich tree-studded grasslands.
The Mara river traverses north to south heading for its westbound way unto Lake Victoria. It is on the banks of the Mara River that the migratory herds of wildebeest and zebra make their mass crossing. Watch the dramatic spectacle of nature unfold as the animals are driven by their primal instinct to cross the rushing waters of the crocodile-infested river to graze the rich grasslands of the northern Masai Mara
Over 450 species of birdlife have been identified in the park, including 53 species of birds of prey. The Masai Mara is a National Reserve, not a National Park, which means it is held in trust for the people and managed by the local councils as apposed to the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Kenya lies on the equator and has a warm, tropical climate, but factors such as altitude and regional location can affect climate. Kenya’s daytime temperatures average between 20 and 28 degrees Celsius, but it is warmer on the coast.
Due to its positioning on the equator, Kenya does not have a specific summer and winter, but seasons can be distinctly divided into dry and wet seasons.
During the dry season (June to October) the sky is clear and the sun is shining, although these include the coldest months of the year. Early mornings can drop to around 12 degrees, so it is advised to pack warm clothing as morning game drives in open vehicles will be cold.
During the wet season (November to May) daytime temperatures vary between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius, depending on altitude. A period of ‘short rains’ occur between November and December, while the main rainy season, called the ‘long rains’ arrive after a short dry spell, in March April and May.
The Masai Mara is hugely popular (particularly the eastern region, due to its close proximity to Nairobi), as guests flock to see the Great Wildebeest Migration in action. We recommend the following camps in order for guests to enjoy their safari at any time of year:
Kicheche Mara Camp is a traditional safari camp situated in a remote corner of the northern Mara plains. The camp accommodates up to 22 guests at a time, thereby ensuring a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.
Within the reserve, most of the game viewing activities occur on the valley floor but some lodges conduct walking tours outside the park boundaries. We recommend the Mara Intrepids Camp or Naibor Camp, both in central locations within the reserve, close to the Talek River.
For an exclusive and more private safari experience Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp is a luxury camp in the hills on the western border. Wildlife tends to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good and tourist disruption is minimal.
Guests travelling to Kenya will opt for either a ‘fly-in-fly’ or a ‘fly-in-drive’ safari, which will determine whether they make use of air or road transfers to get to their destination.
All guests will enter Kenya at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, the capital city. This airport is the travel portal for Kenya and can get very busy, so guests will often continue with their domestic flights from Wilson airport, which is 18km away.
Depending on the safari destination, guests will either connect with a charter flight from Wilson or Jomo Kenyatta airports to the reserve, or they will embark on a road journey from Nairobi to the reserve.
The Masai Mara is a 4-5 hour drive from Nairobi, or a short 45 minute flight via light air transfer. Guest flying to the Masai Mara will be collected by hosts and driven the last leg to their booked accommodation.