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Location – Narok County, Kenya
Area – 1510 sq Km
Nearest Airport – Multiple airstrips inside the reserve
How to reach – Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi
Famous for – It is perhaps the most famous wildlife park in the world with the best of African wildlife on display including Lions, Cheetah, and Leopard.
Months Open –Open round the year
Best Time – All through the year depending on your interest
There is no doubt about the fact that for wildlife enthusiasts, Africa is a dream come true. Kenya is a land of thriving wildlife and home to some of the world’s most popular national parks. The Masai Mara National Park picks the first spot on a list of illustrious wildlife reserves that span across the country. The reserve is located in Narok County with the Siria escarpment to the west, Masai ranches to the north, east and west. It is a contiguous reserve with Serengeti National Park located in Tanzania. Named after the ethnic tribe - the Masai, who have over the years developed a symbiotic relationship with the wilderness and wildlife, this national reserve is a part of the larger Mara Ecosystem which witnesses the Great Migration of animals all through the year. The Mara Triangle is more or less the central area of the reserve.
The Great Wildebeest Migration
The Big 5, that is, leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant, and rhino
The zebra, gazelle, wildebeest, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, Masai Giraffe, baboons, topi, crocodile, roan antelope, bat-eared fox and more.
The reserve is estimated to shelter around 95 mammal species and 570 bird species.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the few parks in the world where the chances of spotting all the Big 5 are high. The Big 5, that is, leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant, and rhino are the main flag bearer attractions of the reserve. Besides, these the other wildlife that one encounters here are, the zebra, gazelle, wildebeest, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, Masai Giraffe, baboons, topi, crocodile, roan antelope, bat-eared fox and more. Bird species include marabou storks, vultures, hornbills, secretary birds, ostriches, African pygmy falcons, long-crested eagles, and lilac-breasted roller. The reserve is estimated to shelter around 95 mammal species and 570 bird species.
Originally established in 1961, the area of the park changed later and today the reserve is stretched across 1510 sq km.
One of the striking features that make this reserve stand out is the spectacular migration of wildebeests along with the other animals that takes place between July to October. The animals migrate from the Serengeti to the Masai reserve, across the Mara River in search of water and food. The hordes of animals that dot the landscape are estimated to be more than 1.5 million. The sheer number of wildlife that moves across the terrain is an experience to witness in a lifetime.
Interestingly, the interplay of the ecosystems also opens up fascinating natural encounters. Witnessing the thousands of animals crossing the Mara River where crocodiles are waiting to prey on them is not only thrilling but also spine-chilling. It is a spectacle of Nature’s Law - Survival of the Fittest. The best time to visit Masai Mara to witness the Mara River Crossings is between July to September. The plenty of game animals also means food for predators and hence we can also see Lions, Cheetahs, and Leopards in big numbers here.
How to reach
The Masai Mara National Reserve is 270km away from the capital of Kenya, Nairobi. There are number of airstrips located inside the reserve area that connects by air to Nairobi and other tourist destinations in Kenya.
Things to do
The Masai Mara National Park is best explored through the safari rides. Depending on the time of the year, and herd locations, your guides will take you to the location where you will have the best chance of seeing the wildebeest herds in action.
Guided walks/ Night drives
There are also a few other exciting ways to traverse the reserve. Guided walks, camping and night drives are great ways to further discover and gauge the wildlife within the reserve. Night drives are especially popular to view the lions’ and other predators’ life.
Hot air balloon ride
The hot air balloon flight is highly recommended for the unique experience and thrill that it arouses. It is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the savannah below.
Meet the Masai people
The Masai Mara reserve is also home to the Masai tribe, though their numbers are dwindling as the government is trying to settle them outside the reserve area. But you can still visit one of the many Masai villages scattered around the reserve to learn more about their culture and life himself.
Things to do nearby
The Masai Mara, Kenya visit can be planned together with Lake Nakuru National Park, Lake Naivasha, Tsavo East National Park, Tsavo West National Park and Amboseli National Park. To take a break from wildlife, one can visit Watamu Beach, Diani Beach and of course, the tourist destinations of Nairobi.
Day 1 – Arrive at Masai Mara National Reserve and check-in to the lodge. Enjoy a quiet meal and discuss the plans for the next couple of days with the guide. We start with the afternoon safari, our very first encounter with this savannah reserve. Rest well after a hot dinner for we will start early the next day.
Day 2 – As planned, we begin the safari early in the morning today to catch the reserve in its waking rituals. Post lunch the safari continues till evening. Enjoy the night with camping and sharing photos.
Day 3 – Again an early morning safari unfolds the inhabitants of the reserve and post lunch we head off for the hot air balloon safari. Enjoy your time inside the balloon and click away the wildlife and landscapes below. Retire for the day after a sumptuous dinner.
Day 4 – Early morning safaris continue and post-lunch we visit the adjoining Masai cultural villages to better understand their social and cultural life>spot the animals in the dark.
Day 5 – After the ritual morning safari, which will be the last one for this trip, you may choose to visit the surrounding attractions or proceed with your onward journey.
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