Weekend tour to Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
- Photo Gallery
Weekend tour to 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 Maasai Mara National Reserve is located above 1,500 meters where the climate is damper than other regions. It is not a national park and protected as a reserve and not managed by Kenya Wildlife Service. But, the local authorities like District Councils maintain the reserve. The money got from the reserve is used in the development of the local Maasai community. Two councils namely the Trans Mara and Narok council are part of the community. The Narok council manages the rest of the reserve on the eastern side of the Mara River, and the Trans Mara council manages the western part of the Maasai Mara National Reserve called as Mara Triangle.
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 Serena Safari Lodge is the one and only accommodation facility you can find at Mara Triangle that is located close to the Mara River. The lodge is situated at the center of Mara Triangle. The lodge is built on top of a hill that allows having a kaleidoscopic view of the valley and deep down you can see the beautiful Mara River, ripples with the play full hippos and crocodiles. The Mara Triangle is well protected by the security staff from illegal poachers and, as a result, the reserve is rich with wonderful wildlife. On both side of the councils, that on the Narok controlled area and the Trans Mara controlled area you can find a lot of accommodation centers and camps and tourist activities. In fact in the Trans Mara area, i.e. on the eastern side you can find more tourist activities.
Going further to the north of Mara Triangle will take you to the border of Mara North Conservancy. This conservancy is spread over 30,000 hectares of lush green jungle area. This is an important area of Maasai Mara ecosystem and belongs to the protective zone of the north-western sector. The locals of Maasai run the Mara North Conservancy as a non-profit company on partnership terms. The sole aim of the company is to protect and maintain the Conservancy as a sustainable environment. The Mara North Conservancy is known as the most notable wildlife center inside the Greater Mara Ecosystem. The Leopard George a well known place for mating, maternity and breeding place for the wild cats is also located here. It is also a habitat for the endangered species, the African wild dogs. The mesmerizing scenery of Lemek hills are another treat for visitors. The management of Mara North Conservancy taking all the possible means to minimize the environment damages, inflicted by heavy tourism by minimizing the vehicle traffic, and low tourist turnout.
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.
On the east side of Mara North Conservancy is located the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. This is a perfect Hallmark location for wildlife conservancy and is considered as an excellent example of sustainability of the Maasai Mara ecosystem. Tourists can have mind blowing watching experience of wildlife that are very rare and could not be found anywhere in the grass plains of Maasai Mara ecosystem. Mixed wildlife including big cats, wild predators, and herbivores are the main attraction in this area. Sighting herds of elephants, wild dogs, and black rhinos are also common.
On the east of the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, you can find the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, which comprises of the big cats and giraffe, elephants and wildebeest. It is a bird watcher's paradise with animals that can be found elsewhere including the white-headed Buffalo-Weavers, Pigmy Falcon, Bush Pipits and White-Crowned Shrike. As the conservancy needs to be protected, there are a low density of tourists and vehicles.
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.
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
One cannot have a walking safari within the Maasai Mara National Reserve. But it is indeed feasible in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy which is the neighboring region. This is, in fact, a lifetime experience to walk among the wildlife in the beautiful savannah terrain. The entire experience is different, and one gets a different perspective of the overall deal. The bushes, the grass, the ambiance, the mesmerizing feel, all go a long way to making the tour enlightening. Add to this, the fact that there are the Maasai Warriors and one is certainly in their safe hands. They guide one through the region and also protect if any wildlife is found coming 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
Night Safari is quite different from day safari due to various reasons. The main difference what you could experience is that you will have the rare options to see those wild animals that seldom appear during daylight. Especially animals like Hippos never come out during daylight for having food due to their sensitive skins. Their skin is vulnerable if exposed to 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 people in the Maasai Mara Reserve are called Maasai and their community name is christened for the reserve. They are found here all over the place. Their children usually tend to the huge herds of goats, sheep and cattle and the others are busy in their everyday village life. This provides a very popular element in the safari tours here. The entire village experience is really worth for the trip giving a new dimension for the tour.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is highly inhabited by wild animals such as cheetahs, leopards, lions, jackals, etc., and could be seen many parts of the reserve. Maybe their crowded presence is due to the easy availability of foods. Other wild animals such as elephants and black rhinos are regularly seen in the reserve area. Large herds are also a common scene in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, and they are always busy in gulping their foods. It is estimated that a fully grown up elephant consumes about 250 Kg of green food that is a clear indication of the availability of green vegetable foods in the reserve. Moving to the Mara River where the Hippo pools are located, watching hippos and movements of crocodiles are indeed a wonderful experience. To add your excitement, there are a plethora of wild birds you can watch in the reserve.
The great migration wildebeest sees zebra and gazelle including Thomson and Topi migrating into the reserve from the Serengeti plains. The herds arrive in July, and the larger herds start coming in the month of August till mid-September. Usually, the big herds leave and migrate back to Serengeti, which still leaves herds till October. As long as there is fresh grass to eat the animals will keep coming. In the northern part of Serengeti, you can find more than half staying behind.
What makes Maasai Mara National Reserve from the rest of reserves in Kenya is the presence of Big Five animals that include predators such as lion, leopard and herbivores such as buffalo, rhinoceros, and elephant. Though the authorities have implemented strict policies to check illegal poaching, the numbers of black rhinos are still considered as an endangered species. The policies of the authorities have helped to improve their numbers since the implementation of anti-poaching laws that was a menace in 1980. However, there is no assurance that you might be able to see a black rhinoceros during your Mara Safari.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve is 260 km from Nairobi, and you can reach there in five or six hours by road from Nairobi or Lake Nakuru. Depending on your travel plans, make sure that you book your transport and reach the reserve before dark. It is always best to plan months ahead so that you can avail the services.
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.
You can spend two to six days in the reserve area depending on the season. It is better if you stay for at least four days or a week to experience the wildlife in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Perhaps, you can reside in two different locations in the reserve. This helps you to see a larger variety of animals in the reserve.