Maasai Mara

Visiting Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya (17,543)

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Description

Visiting Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Maasai Mara National Reserve is a natural extension of the Serengeti wastelands in Kenya. It spans over an area of around 1,800 square kilometers and is the largest wildlife reserve in the southern part of Kenya. Lying in the Narok County it is also a part of the Mara Ecosystem which is inclusive of Mara North, Enonkishu, Olare Motorogi and Ol Kinyei which are the neighboring conservancy regions here. The Great Migration is an annually repeated process where 1.4 million wildebeests, 200,000 zebras, and 500,000 gazelles, move along the crowded crocodile rivers in search of grass and food. Maasai Mara is better known for this animal show that usually occurs from July to October.

The climate at Maasai Mara is much mild and wet than other regions of Kenya and is located at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level. The reserve, the Maasai Mara National Reserve, is not under the control of Kenya Wildlife Service, but it is being managed by the local civil authorities, the District Councils. Because, this is not protected as a national park but as a reserve area for wild animals. The revenue generated from the park is being used for the local community development of Maasai. For administrative convenience, the park is managed by two District Councils, the Trans Mara, and Narok councils. The western part known as the Mara Triangle is taken care of by Trans Mara Council and the remaining portion along the eastern side of Mara River is being managed by Narok council.

The ecosystem in Mara-Serengeti is over 25,000 km2 comprising of open grassland that goes into the northern part of Tanzania and the southern part of Kenya. You can experience a varied landscape that offer you floods, disperse woods, waving grasslands, and bush areas. On the west side, soil indicates signs of prehistoric volcanic activity. The western part borders the Siria Escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, which stretches more than 150 meters.

The Mara Triangle has only one lodge within its boundaries, the Mara Serena Safari Lodge is located in the center of the Mara Triangle right next to the Mara River. The Mara Serena Safari Lodge is set high on bush-cloaked hill with a panoramic view over the savannah and down to the winding coils of the Mara River filled with hippos and crocodiles. The rangers patrol regularly the Mara Triangle which results in very little poaching and therefore excellent wildlife habitat all year around. On the Narok controlled area of the Maasai Mara National Reserve numerous camps and lodges are to be found, there is also more tourism in the eastern part of the Mara reserve compared to the Mara Triangle.

The Mara Triangle is facing the borders of Mara North Conservancy at the north, and the rich Mara Triangle reserve is spanned over 30,000 hectares. The Mara Triangle is a prominent reserve of the Maasai Mara ecosystem and also belongs to the northwestern portion of the protective zone. The local Maasai people manage the Mara North Conservancy on partnership basis under a non-profit charter. The aim of the charter is to maintain the ecosystem and tranquility on a long-term basis, and various plans have been implemented to achieve the objectives. Being one of the most popular wildlife centers you can find a lot of wildlife wonders. The famous Leopard George home is located here, which is the maternity ward for the big cats. The romantic Lemek hills are located here and also here you can see the endangered species of African wild dogs. The management of the Conservancy has implemented lots of schemes to minimize the related tourist pollution by reducing the density of tourism and vehicular movements.

The Enonkishu Conservancy lies to the north of the Mara North Conservancy and is a hub of livestock improvements. There are innovative programs for cattle here, and the habitat is made up of rocky, undulating terrain along with wooded acacia tree savannah. This is the reason the place has a varied habitat. The River Mara is found running along this region and the crocodiles and hippos here never cease to amaze the tourist. The borders of Ol Choro Oiroua and Enonkishu are popular for the Pride of Lions, which are found here. Notwithstanding this, the groups of elephants are also a regular sight. This conservancy is famous for the outstanding experience of watching the game along with rare species like aardwolf, caracal, serval cat and the aardvark.

The Olare Motorogi Conservancy lies to the east of the Mara North Conservancy. It is, in fact, a symbol of wildlife conservancy and has set an example for the manner in which the Maasai Mara Ecosystem has sustained itself. The Maasai Mara ecosystem is famous for its savannah land and the Olare Motorogi Conservancy is a living example of this natural wonder. The big cats, and the other predators, as well as herbivores, are usual here. One also would sight rhinos, wild dogs and elephants here.

On the eastern side of Mara Naboisho Conservancy is located the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. This is one of the biggest habitats for elephants, wildebeest, quite a large number of giraffes and big wild cats. For bird watching enthusiasts, the Mara Naboisho Conservancy must be an included itinerary where you can see some of the rarest birds that are seldom to see elsewhere. Some of the rare species are Pigmy Falcon, White-headed Buffalo-Weavers, White-Crowned Shrike and Bush Pipits. The management policies of the conservancy are to give paramount importance to the protection of environment and maintain the sustainability of the ecosystem. To achieve the objective, influx of tourists and vehicular movements are restricted.

The most reputed and award winning Ol Kinyei Conservancy is located on the eastern side of Mara Naboisho Conservancy. Ol Kinyei Conservancy is the first Conservancy engaged in promoting wildlife conservation in Greater Mara ecosystem. To augment the wildlife conservation, it is declared as an exclusive livestock exclusion zone. You can find more than 300 different types bird species and wild animals' including lions and leopards. It is estimated that there are about 30 lions are located here presently.


Attractions

Attraction: Hot Air Balloon Safari and breakfast

Planning to go on a hot air balloon trip, and then you will be glad to know that Mara has several places from where you can experience it. As you are flying over the vast land experiencing the sunrise and the awakening of the wildlife, you get that once in a lifetime moment. The safari lasts for an hour and to ensure safe landing instructors will be present. Once you have landed, you can experience a large breakfast and champagne. It is a truly another moment having breakfast in the wild as you can get to see close encounters with the wildlife.

The Hot Air Balloon is indeed one experience that the tourists would cherish forever. This is perhaps the best way one could enjoy tours here. However, it is a good idea to have a hat to protect oneself from the heat of the gas burners.

Attraction: Walking safari

You will want to know that, there is no walking safari in inside the Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is possible to do it in the neighboring Conservancy at the Mara Naboisho Conservancy. As you walk around the reserve area, you will experience a different perspective of wildlife. When you walk around, you are accompanied by Maasai warriors to guide you and protect you from wildlife getting too close.

A walking safari around the conservancy will give you a chance to interact directly with the distinct features of wildlife and ecosystem. It will be a quite intriguing experience to watch the wildlife tracking and also watching termite mounds, etc. The walking safari opens the door to have a close encounter with different types of birds which you had never seen in your life. Also, you would never know what kind of surprises may spring up on your way that makes a walking safari a wonderful experience.

Attraction: Night safari

A night safari is one of those experiences that are different from a day safari as you can experience wildlife that cannot be seen at day. Hippos like enjoy the grass on the banks and you can see them during the night as their skin is sensitive and get burned from direct sunlight.

Wild animals like lions, jackals and hyenas usually prowl at night, and this is an added visual treat for the wildlife visitor during night safari. Anyone who comes to the Maasai Mara National Reserve obviously comes for something different. This is provided in these nocturnal tours that are so much a part of the visits here.


People and Culture

The Maasai people whom the park is named after, are to be found all around the reserve. Their characteristic round village, where the children takes care of the large herds of cattle, sheep, and goats adds an exciting look to the scenery. A visit to one of the villages is a very popular element on a safari.


Wildlife

Maasai Mara National Reserve consists of predators including hyena, lions, leopards, and cheetahs that represent the park. There are plenty of prey in and around the reserve. You can also see the rare black rhino in areas with scrub. The elephants can also be seen in large or less herds all over the reserve. They need to eat food for existence. You will be surprised to know that a growing elephant needs 250 kg of vegetable food in a day. You can also get to see pools of hippos, crocodiles, and birds.

The Great Migration is a major sight here and during this time the zebra, the wildebeest and the gazelle migrate into the Maasai Mara from the plains of the Serengeti region. This is a wonderful visual delight and is an annual event. It provides the interest quotient for the visits here and is also the main highlight of tourism to Maasai Mara. July is the month when the big herds start arriving. The bigger herds come towards the beginning of the month of August and they remain thus till the middle of the month of September. These herds are found in plenty till October, of course, the bigger ones leave for the plains much before this. The main driving element for the herds is the presence of grass here and so long as the grass is fresh, the herds stay. The moment it gets older, the herds head towards greener pastures. The northern part of Serengeti is believed to have still half the population of wildlife and it is only the other half that visits this part of the Maasai Reserve.

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is famous for the Big Five. The big five means the leopard, rhinoceros, buffalo and the elephant. The black rhino is a common personality in the Mara and it was almost getting depleted in the early part of the eighties, however, it is still there and the number is low, though. When one comes to the Mara one may not get to see it, and those who do see it are lucky enough.


Travel

Maasai Mara National Reserve is in Kenya and it is around 260 km from Nairobi. It is a five to six hours drive from Nairobi or Lake Nakuru to Maasai Mara.


Lodges and camps

The Maasai Mara National Reserve provides different kinds of services and amenities to suit the needs of their customers. You can make use of the 5-star luxurious lodges, tented camps, and camping facilities that provide you with an actual camp lifestyle. The need to stay inside the reserve premises is not there as you are provided with night safaris.

One can spend two to six days in the Maasai Mara Reserve Conservancy. There are special four-night packages too however it is best to stay for this duration in two different locations. One would then get a chance to see a better choice of animals. It is always prudent to have a reference point from where the safari would begin.