Situated near Narok in Kenya, Masai Mara is one of the popular reserves. It forms the most spectacular ecosystem of Africa alongwith the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named in the honour of Masai people who are original inhabitants of the area. The word ‘mara’ means spotted denoting trees, savanna and cloud shadows that characterize the area.
The park is situated on a rift valley. It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Maasai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. The reserve is characterized by open grassland dotted by seasonally rivulets. The Sand, Talek and Mara River meander through the reserve.
The park shelters unique fauna including cheetah, serval, hyena, bat-eared foxes, black-backed and side-striped jackals, hippo, crocodile, baboons, warthog, topi, eland, Thompson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, waterbuck, oribi, reed-buck, and zebra. Hippopotamus and crocodiles are found in Mara and Talek Rivers. About 470 species of birds have been identified at the park such as vultures, marabou storks, secretary birds, hornbills, crowned cranes, ostriches, long-crested eagles, African pygmy-falcons and the lilac-breasted roller.
When to go
During July to October it is the peak migration season, when over two million wildebeests and zebras cross from Tanzania side to Kenya side. Due to this spectacle the tourist activity is also maximum this time. At other times the park is relatively quite. However big cat and birding activity is present throughout the year.
Though it is our own opinion and there is no right or wrong way to it. We suggest that a first time or once in a lifetime visitor must visit during migration time to witness this amazing natural spectacle along with Big Cats and birding. For the regular visitor and photographer, who has had his fill of migration activity and wants to experience the big cats, other mammals and the plethora of bird life in Mara, we suggest the non-migration months.
The Wildebeest Migration, is one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World. The Maasai Mara and the Serengeti National Park together form what no other reserve or park in Africa can! It is incredible, it is magical, it is indescribable and it is a must!
No where in the world is there a movement of animals as immense as the annual wildebeest migration, over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October.