Masai Mara National Game Reserve
Masai Mara national game reserve Kenya was established in the year 1961 and at that time, it was just a sanctuary covering 520km2 but currently, Masai Mara reserve is one of the largest national game reserves in Kenya Covering a landscape of 1,510km2 within the rift valley region of Kenya. Some people call it Maasai Mara with a double “a” while others simply call it “the Mara” but whichever way you call it, it doesn’t matter. The national game reserve Kenya is also situated in the greater Mara ecosystem alongside other conservancies such as Mara triangle, Maji moto and many more. Masai Mara and the greater Mara at large thrills at an elevation of 5,300ft above the sea level and experiences the temperatures ranging between 20oC to 30oC.
Masai Mara game reserve is situated in the southwestern part of Kenya where it borders with Serengeti national park in Tanzania. Masai Mara game reserve is known famously for harboring a huge population of mammals in the wilderness of Africa with the possession of the wildebeests which seasonally migrate between Serengeti national park and Masai Mara crossing the Mara River as the crocodiles await to enjoy them. This seasonal wildebeest migration attracts several tourists from all over the world as everyone wants to witness the magical wildebeest migration. This migration normally happens from the month of July & August and at this time the wildebeests are seen shifting from Serengeti national park through Mara Rive to Masai Mara national reserve and the months of October and November, the wildebeest are seen returning from Mara to Serengeti. This is the most interesting and fascinating thing to view while on a safari in East Africa.
Apart from wildebeests, Masai Mara is also home to other mammals such as big 5 game (Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Giraffes, & Buffaloes), zebras, cheetahs, Leopards, Elands, Topis, Gazelles, and many more that makes Masai Mara game reserve one of the top destinations to visit for wildlife viewing safari in East Africa. Masai Mara is also known for harboring more than 500 species of birds which make it the best destination for birding.
Apart from witnessing the wildebeest migration, Masai Mara game reserve has other plenty of tourist attractions to engage in and these include;
Community tours in Masai Mara game reserve: Masai Mara game reserve offers the best community tours where travelers are in a position to visit the local Masai people who live in Masai land who are known as the cattle keepers. Spending a day on a cultural visit to the Masai land is such a rewarding experience as you witness the cultural performances of dance and drama, and learn different activities like Milking, milk preservation, among others.
Biding safaris in Masai Mara game reserve: As mentioned earlier, Masai Mara game reserve boasts with over 500 species of birds that are seen in the beautiful vegetation cover. Birders are always encourages to move with their binoculars in order to have a great birding experience while in the wilderness of Masai Mara game reserve. Some of birds spotted during birding safari in Masai Mara national game reserve include crowned crane, Hornbills, Ostriches, Falcons and many more.
Hot air balloon safaris in Masai Mara game reserve: Masai Mara game reserve offers the best Hot air balloon experience in the morning, known as sunrise hot air balloon which enables tourists on board to have a clear view of the sun as it rises from the skies. This morning hot air balloon usually comes with bush breakfast and a bottle of Champaign and offer the best sightings of wildlife species as they graze in the savanna of Masai Mara game reserve. Travelers are also in positon to have a clear view of the entire greater Mara from above with all its beautiful attractions of fauna and flora.
Game drive safaris in Masai Mara game reserve: Masai Mara national game reserve offers the best game drive safaris in the entire East African region due to its beautiful eco system. Several tourists prefer to spend at least 2 or more days in order to full explore Masai Mara on a game drive. Masai Mara national game reserve has both morning game drives, afternoon game drives, evening game drives and the night game drives. Engaging on all these game drives opens the door to encounter with the largest population of wildlife in the park.
Other activities carried out in Masai Mara game reserve include; Nature walks / Walking safaris, Luxury stay at Governors private camp, exploration of Mara river, Visiting Mfangano Island and many more that makes a safari to an exceptionally and fascinating.
Where to stay while on a Kenya safari to Masai Mara game reserve
Masai Mara game reserve like any other protected area in Kenya has lots of accommodations where travelers are in position to choose the best that suits their budget. Some of the accommodations are situated inside the Mara reserve while the rest are just a few kilometers from the Mara reserve. These accommodations range from Budget, Midrange and Upmarket (Luxury) accommodations. Some of these lodges include; Mara Serena safari lodge, Mara Big 5 lodge, Mara bush camp, Mara tented camp, Mahali Mzuri, and many more.
When to visit Masai Mara national game reserve
Masai Mara game reserve can be visited all year round. However, there are also some factors that determine the best time to visit Masai Mara game reserve and these include what tourist are interested in for instance travelers who are interested in watching a wildebeest migration, I recommend to visit between the months of July to November . for birders , I recommend the rainy months when Masai Mara game reserve has plenty of bird species with the new born due to availability of plenty food to fest on. For travelers interested in Wildlife viewing safaris and nature walks, dry months are the best when the park trails are abit dry and passable and the vegetation cover is relatively shorter for easy spotting of mammals.
Masai Mara game reserve can be accessed either by Road or by Air.
By road: the distance from Nairobi to Masai Mara game reserve is about 270km which is covered on a road drive for 4-5hours depending on the traffic and stopovers along the way.
By air: there are several charter flights from different destinations to Masai Mara national game reserve and the duration of flight depend on the place of origin and the stopovers as well.