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.
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.
Karen Blixen Camp is set on the bank of the Mara River in a private concession adjoining the reserve. It enjoys open access, but also privacy within the concession. Zebras, elephants and hippos drink from the river throughout the day offering superb game viewing.
Kicheche Mara Camp is located on the Aitong Plains in the northern Koiyaki Lemek region of the legendary Masai Mara in Kenya a prime wildlife area. The camp is a traditional tented camp tucked away underneath an orchard of wild olive trees offering magnificent views.
Porini Bush Camp is a small, eco-friendly yet intimate camp which is mobile and is located in the award winning Ol Kinyei Conservancy of Masai Mara, Kenya.
Sarova Mara is a very large safari hotel most suited to families. It is located in the southern section of the reserve. The extensive facilities and the fact that it has a fence around it makes it ideal for families.
Basecamp Masai Mara is situated on the banks of the Talek River in a private safari concession. he camp is situated in a private concession which is just a few minutes away from the Masai Mara's gate in Kenya. The tents offer private verandas overlooking the river.
Little Naibor Camp is located within the immediate vicinity of Naibor Camp, and is made up of two spacious suites which are uniquely designed.
Ngerende Island Lodge offers luxury accommodation within the popular Masai Mara. The lodge can sleep up to 14 guests, providing contemporary designed suites. The lodge is the perfect location for weddings and honeymoons.
Naibor Wilderness Camp is situated in the Masai Mara Reserve and is the sister camp to Main Naibor Camp and Little Naibor Camp. The camp is situated in an area renowned for the annual Great Migration.
The award-winning, eco-friendly Porini Lion Camp offers a unique opportunity to take guided walks with Maasai Warriors and experience day and night game drives within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy
Offbeat Mara Camp is a small and exclusive seasonal tented camp located in a private concession on the Olare Orok River. A great place to enjoy a private safari as well as having unrestricted access to the Masai Mara Reserve.
Meaning peaceful, calm or serene' in the Masai language, Serian Camp is set in the tranquil shade of large Oleadendra and Walburgia trees in the secluded valley flanking the Mara River close to the Siria Escarpment.
Mara Serena Safari Lodge is a large 74 roomed lodge situated in the Mara Triangle. It is well located for the migration, but mostly used by groups and package tours. Situated on a hill, the lodge overlooks 1 800 sq km of rolling plain, woodlands and rivers.
Mara Porini Camp has 6 guest tents pitched in the shade of the yellow barked acacia trees along the banks of the Laetoli, a permanent spring within a private conservancy. involved in running the conservancy through a partnership with the local community.
Il Moran Camp is situated along the banks of the Mara River in the heart of the Masai Mara, perfectly positioned for the migration. The camps' tents line the winding banks of the river, with the best game viewing right on your doorstep.
Campi Ya Tembo is a small luxury camp situated in a private conservancy. Exclusive use of the area, great scenery and a superb camp make Campi Ya Tembo one of the best camps in the Mara. Located 10km from the main Saruni Lodge and offers fantastic wildlife viewing.
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.
Mara Bush Houses is a group of three luxurious, safari houses situated in the Masai Mara of Kenya. The houses offer beautiful views over a waterhole and one of the houses are located close to the migration route.
Mahali Mzuri is situated in the Motorogi Conservancy of Kenya. The property consists of 12 luxury tented suites all appointed on stilts. Each tent is built with a large deck offering the perfect location to spot game.
The tents at Mara Intrepids camp are raised on stilts and overlook the Talek River, one of the main crossing points during the wildebeest migration. The best time to visit is between July and October.This is a larger camp with with 30 tents.
Governors' Camp is situated on the east bank of the Mara river in the preferred safari location of the original colonial governors of Kenya. It is ideally located for the wildebeest migration between July and October.
Mara Plains Camp is small tented camp located in a private conservancy sharing. It shares an unfenced boundary with the reserve. The private conservancy offers safari guest privacy as well as unrestricted access to the entire reserve.
Elephant Pepper Camp is a small luxurious safari camp located in a private concession in the northern Masai Mara. Between July and October, wildebeest and zebra cross the plains, migrating from the Serengeti.
Olonana Tented Camp is a luxurious camp situated in a private area of the Mara River at the foot of the Siria Escarpment. The tents offer beautiful views overlooking the Mara River playing host to an abundance of wildlife.
Ol Seki Mara Camp is a seasonal camp situated on a beautiful rocky peninsula in the northern Mara, with spectacular views over the savannah plains.
Richard's Camp is situated in a conservation area north west of the Masai Mara in Kenya. This area is known for the most exceptional big game viewing. It is a small and exclusive camp within a very personal environment.
Cottars 1920's Camp is an exclusive and private concession between the Masai Mara and Serengeti National Park. It is a good camp to see the migration as it enters and exits the Masai Mara - between July and October.
Mara Bushtops is located in a private conservancy, bordering the Masai Mara. It has spectacular views overlooking a valley with the Masai Mara in the background. The tents are luxurious and spacious and offer breathtaking views, delicious African cuisine.
Keekorok is a large comfortable motel-style safari lodge. It has good facilities to suite families or groups, but is not suitable for a small private safari. The lodge is situated in the very heart of Kenya's Masai Mara Game Reserve.
Naibor Camp is a luxury tented camp and offers a secluded spot in a prime position overlooking the Talek River in the heart of the Masai Mara. It is ideally located for the migration between July and October.
Saruni Camp is situated in a private conservation area outside the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, one of the most incredible wildlife parks in Africa. Saruni is small and offers a personal safari experience catering for only 12 guests at a time.
Mara Explorer is an exclusive safari camp and offers 10 luxurious tents with uninterrupted views of the Talek riverbank. Mara Explorer lies at the confluence of the Reserve's four main game viewing areas, offering prime views of the spectacular wildebeest migration.
Rekero Camp is a seasonal safari camp situated in a ravine forest close to the Mara and Talek Rivers. The camp is open from June to October and again from December to March and caters for between four to twelve guests ensuring a private and personal safari experience.
Naboisho is a tented camp in the heart of the Masai Mara. It is ideally situated to see the annual wildebeest migration between July and October.
Encounter Mara Camp is a small classic camp located in a private concession. It shares an unfenced border with the Masai Mara giving guests unrestricted access to the reserve and the exclusive concession area.
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...
Kichwa Tembo Bateleur Camp is located in the Masai Mara National Reserve, which lies directly in the path of the annual wildebeest migration. A premier lodge commanding sweeping views over the spectacular Mara plains.
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...
Ol Kinyei Adventure Camp is situated in a grove of Acacia trees within Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Masai Mara. The Masai Mara is known as a wildlife sanctuary with a wide variety of species including the big cats.
Selenkay Adventure Camp is situated within Selenkay Conservancy, Masai Mara. The Masai Mara is known as a wildlife sanctuary with a wide variety of species including the big cats.
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.
Kichwa Tembo Camp offers views of the endless grasslands and the Masai River in Kenya. The rooms at the camp are furnished with en-suite bathrooms and includes private verandas for views of the area.