WHY TRAVEL HERE?
The Masai Mara is one of the best known and most popular reserves in the whole of Africa, situated in southwest Kenya. Famous for the abundance of lion, the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Maasai people, well known for their distinctive custom and dress, it is without a doubt Africa’s most famous safari destination.
The Masai Mara lies in the Great Rift Valley, which is a fault line some 3,500 miles (5,600km) long, from Ethiopia's Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique. The National Reserve stretches 1,510 sq km (580 sq miles) and raises 1,500-2,170 meters above sea level. The terrain of the reserve is primarily grassland and riverine forest with clumps of the distinctive acacia trees. It’s about 270 km from the capital city Nairobi and takes about 5-6 hours by road or 40-45 minutes by flight.
The Maasai Mara Ecosystem holds one of the highest lion densities in world and this is where over 2 million Wildebeest, Zebra and Thomsons Gazelle migrate annually known as the "Great Migration". Its hosts over 95 species of mammals and 570 recorded species of birds.
All of the Big Five can be seen here: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. The major concentration of wildlife is between July and October when over 1 000 000 wildebeest and 250 000 zebra arrive from Tanzania. This is considered Kenya's largest population of lion. Other animals found here include: Bat-eared fox, Black-backed jackal, cheetah, gazelle, giraffe, hartebeest, hippo, mongoose, Roan antelope, serval, Spotted hyena, topi, warthog, wild dog, wildebeest and zebra.
Over 500 species of bird species (including resident and migratory) have been recorded in the Masai Mara National Park. Large birds found here include Ground hornbill, Kori bustard, Secretary bird, and the ostrich. Often after rainstorms vast numbers of migrating Abdims and White storks alight in the grasslands to feast on the emerging termites and frogs. 57 species of birds of prey are represented in the Park.
To see the vast numbers of wildebeest and zebra is without question the best time to visit the Masai Mara - that being between mid-July and October. The park has so much to offer in the way of wildlife and superb scenery that it is worth visiting at other times of the year as well though. The climate is very mild and has rainfall that is well spread throughout the year. The rain occurs mainly in the late afternoon and nights and the northern part of the park receives substantially more rainfall than the southern areas.
One can view the wildlife on a game drive, guided walks, or on a hot air balloon safari. Certain lodges outside the reserve offer night game viewing drives. Daily flights are available to Rusinga Island on Lake Victoria where one can go big game fishing. The Hippo Pools on the Mara River are well worth a visit.
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There are daily scheduled flights from Nairobi to several destinations in the Mara taking approximately 45 minutes. Charter flights are also available.
It takes five hours to drive to the Masai Mara National Park from Nairobi (275 kilometres) via Narok on the B3 road, which leaves the Nairobi-Naivasha road at Maai-mahui. The reserve lies south west of Narok town. To reach the east side of the reserve take a left turn at the Ewaso Nyiro junction and take the C12 road. After 75 kilometres one reaches the Sekenani Gate. To reach the west side of the reserve drive straight after the Ewaso Nyiro junction, 15 kilometres from Narok, towards Nkorkorri. At the Nkorkorri junction, turn left and go through the Lemek Valley.