Wildlife photography at Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
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Wildlife photography at Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is the natural continuation of the Serengeti wastelands in Tanzania. With its 1,800 km2 large reserve, Maasai Mara is the most wildlife rich place in the world. Maasai Mara is located in the southern part of Kenya in the Narok County and is part of the Greater Mara Ecosystem which also includes the neighboring conservancy Enonkishu, Mara Naboisho, Mara North, Ol Kinyei and Olare Motorogi. The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is also known for the biggest animal show in the world that takes place every year from July until the end of October. It is better known as The Great Migration where 1.4 million wildebeests, 500,000 gazelles, and 200,000 zebras move in a quest for the best pastures, finding along the way the crocodile-crowded river.
Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the highly guarded reserve conservancies. This reserve is not managed by Kenya Wildlife Service as it is not a national animal park. Special arrangements are there to manage the reserve by the district councils. Since the reserve is located at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level, the eco conditions are quite favorable, and the atmosphere is wet and milder than the rest of the reserve terrain. The district councils use the income for the development of Maasai community. For administrative convenience, the Conservancy is divided between Narok and Trans Mara councils. The western part of the reserve, which is also known as the Mara Triangle, is being managed by the Trans Mara council and the rest of the reserve on the eastern side along the Mara River is being managed by Narok council.
The famous Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is well known for rich grassland spread over 25,000 square KM cut through the southern end of Kenya and enter into the north side of Tanzania. The landscape Mara is with contrasting features! You can see the reminiscence of inactive prehistoric volcanoes on the western side and thick bushes, isolated woods spread over the area, lush green meadows, and flooding river in the rest of the area. On the border of Maasai Mara the National Reserve is located in the Siria Escarpment, which is part of the Great Rift Valley and is located 150 meters above from the valley. It is one of the finest places for excellent safari activities.
There is only one lodge you can find in Mara Triangle, which is the Mara Serena Safari Lodge. This lodge is situated exactly at the center of the Mara Triangle and very close to the Mara River. You will have a magnificent view of the surroundings from the lodge as the lodge is located on the cloaked hill of Mara Serena. The downward views from the lodge are very much scintillating with the visuals of spiraling Mara River with lots of Hippopotamus and crocodiles will be an enchanting experience. The wildlife here is meticulously protected from the unscrupulous poachers by the vigilant rangers. As a result, you are lucky to watch the wildlife all through the season. You can also have excellent tourism activities on the Narok controlled area similar or more that of Mara Triangle area. In this part of Maasai Mara National Reserve, you can find lots of lodges and camps with basic facilities.
To the north of the Mara Triangle is bordered by the Mara North Conservancy which is a stunning private wilderness area of more than 30,000 hectares. It is a vital part of Maasai Mara ecosystem as it forms the north western part of the protective zone. The Mara North Conservancy is a partnership of camps in the area and the local Maasai people. It is run as a non-profit company with the aim of creating a long term commitment to the environment. It is one of the most populated wildlife areas within the Greater Mara ecosystem. The Mara North Conservancy is home to Leopard George, a vital birthing and maternity area for the big cats. It also home to the scenic Lemek hills, which is an important refuge to African wild dogs that are a highly threatened. The Mara North Conservancy has a professional management that focuses on minimizing the impact on the vulnerable environment by having low density tourism and vehicle numbers.
Further to the north of The Mara North Conservancy, you can see the Enonkishu Conservancy. Here modern cattle management techniques are given maximum importance to improve the livestock activities. This conservancy is full of acacia trees that gives an impressive savannah look and is surrounded by rocky hills and uneven terrains. Bordering the Conservancy, the Mara River flows magnificently where a lot of hippos and crocodiles steal the show undisturbed. Herds of animals, lions and elephants are frequently seen roaming in and around Enonkishu and Ol Choro Oiroua area. For people who want to have wonderful game viewing enjoyments, Enonkishu Conservancy is the best place, and you can find serval cats, aardwolves, caracals, and aardvarks.
From the Mara North Conservancy, moving to the east take you to Olare Motorogi Conservancy. The elementary techniques of wildlife protection and the continued development of Maasai Mara ecosystem is copied from the Olare Motorogi Conservancy. Tourists will have wonderful live experience of watching wild animals in Olare Motorogi Conservancy, and that can be watched from anywhere on the meadows of Maasai Mara ecosystem. Quite a lot of predators including leopards and herbivores can be seen here. Apart from all these, the Conservancy is rich with elephants, wild dogs, and rhinos.
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.
Enjoy the sights in the eastern part of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy where one can have a delightful sight of the Ol Kinyei Conservancy. This is, in fact, the conservancy that has won a lot of awards and also has the dubious achievement of being the first such conservancy in the Greater Mara ecosystem. There is, in fact, a livestock exclusion zone here so that wildlife conservation is well promoted. The pride of lions here is, in fact, a visual delight, and more than 30 of them are residents in the Ol Kinyei Conservancy. Besides this, of course, one finds at least 300 types of birds and leopards too.
Attraction: Hot Air Balloon Safari and breakfast
For people who are adventurists and would like to have Hot Air Balloon Safari, you will have multiple locations in the Mara from where you can start your expeditions. It will be a thrilling experience gliding over the thick grassy meadows and watching the sunrise along with the amazing wildlife. You will certainly have everlasting cherishing memories that are going to stay with you forever. The Hot Air Balloon Safari starts early morning and shall last for an hour. Safe landing positions are marked on the green savannah where you will be greeted with volunteers/Safari attendees with hot breakfast and champagnes. The exotic experience of the close encounter with wild animals while having the breakfast will be one of the attractive, breathless engagements in your life.
Remember to carry a hat along with you to protect you from the heat generated by the hot air balloon 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
Comparing to the day safari, night safari shall bring unique experiences full of surprises. Further the beauty of night safari is that you can watch those rare wildlife species that you cannot see during the daytime. Some animals barge to the meadows for their foods, especially animals like Hippopotamus, which has a sensitive skin that cannot bear direct sunlight.
The night safari can certainly give you a very different experience when comparing to the day Safari. It is a common fact that majority of the predators such as the big cats, jackals, lions, and hyenas do their hunting during the night or early morning. So you will have the best chance to see these kinds of nocturnal animals during your night safari expeditions once you are decided to take the course through the thick savannah of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
People and Culture
The park is named after the Maasai people who can be found all around the reserve. The village is charming. The children are given the task of taking care of the cattle, sheep, and goats. The scenery present in the reserve is something to cherish as it provides you with memorable sights. Tourists who come to the village should go for a safari to get the feel of the village.
Maasai Mara National Reserve has an exceptional population of predators like hyena, lions, leopards, and cheetahs which are rich represented all over the park. It is not without reason, where there is easy prey there is also food for many predators. Even the rare black rhino is regularly seen in areas with scrub, elephants are to be seen in large or less herds all over the Mara reserve, where they spend most of their time eating, a grown elephant needs daily approx 250 kg of vegetable food. At the Mara River there are popular Hippo pools where you can experience large population of hippos, crocodiles, and an exciting rich bird life.
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 big five which include the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros are usually found in the reserve and are known to draw the crowds. The black rhino population has been growing since the depletion of poaching. You will want to know that the black rhino cannot be sighted when you are on a safari in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
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 stay in Maasai Mara National Reserve area comfortably for two to six days subject to seasonal conditions. It is highly recommended to stay in two different locations if you are decided to spend four or more days in Maasai Mara National Reserve. In selecting two entirely different locations for accommodation, you will have better chance to see and experience the wildlife movements during your safari expeditions if started from the different locations.