Masai Mara Game Reserve
Maasai Mara national reserve in Kenya
Named in honor of the local Masai people, the inhabitants of the area who migrated from the Nile Basin, Masai Mara is a large game reserve in southwestern Republic of Kenya along the Great Rift Valley area in Narok county, contiguous with Serengeti national park of Tanzania.
The word Mara means spotted in the local Maasai language and it is a description of the area when looked at far. The park has several short bushy trees which dot the landscape. Masai Mara is among the important wildlife destinations in Africa known for its population of lions, cheetah, African leopard, and African bush elephants. Also, the reserve hosts the Great migration which is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and also among the ten Wonders of the world.
With an area of approximately 1,510 square kilometers, Masai Mara game reserve is bounded by other features in different directions like Serengeti national park of Tanzania to the South, the Siria escarpment to the west, and the Masai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west.
Safari activities in Masai Mara game reserve
During your safari at Masai Mara game reserve, you will take part in several park activities including the following;
Game viewing and drives
In a 4×4 safari vehicle, enjoy the game viewing experience along the park tracks as you spot numerous attractions like different vegetation types, water sources, bird and wildlife species. Masai Mara game reserve is known for hosting the annual great migration which involves the flocking of numerous animals including the wildebeests, zebras, topi and Thomson’s gazelle. The park is also a home to all members of the Big five – lion, leopard, elephant, black and white rhinos and also the cape buffalos. Other wildlife animals in the park include the hippos, spotted hyenas, cheetahs, crocodiles and many others.
The great wildebeest migration
Between the months of June and November, Masai Mara game reserve hosts the highest population of wildlife which is over 1.5 million in number. This migration involves the flocking of different animals including the wildebeests, zebras and Thompson’s Gazelles that cross the river of Mara from Serengeti national park of Tanzania in search of water and pastures. During the crossing process, these animals face a number of problems including predators like lions and the Nile crocodiles which eat them while crossing the Mara River.
Explore the game reserve by having a walking safari through the trails of the reserve. Sight the beautiful views and savannah of the park as you breathe the fresh airs and also listening to the beautiful sounds of different bird species. These nature walks are led by experienced guides or armed rangers and are very suitable in the private conservancies bordering the main reserve.
With more than 500 species of birds, Masai Mara national reserve is surely among the best destinations for birding in Kenya. The park consists both the large and small birds including the egrets, geese, ostriches, hornbills, herons, storks, spoonbills, pelicans, martial eagles and the vultures.
Horseback rides in Masai Mara reserve are organized in the conservancies but not in the main reserve. They are done by the guidance of the park ranger, the local Masai guides or the owners of the conservancies. During this experience spot several wildlife animals including; the elephants, leopards, wildebeests, hartebeest, giraffes, lions, antelopes and many others.
Besides the above activities, there are other experiences which visitors in the reserve can do and these include Masai cultural encounters, camping and photography, sundowners, hot air balloon safaris and many others.
Best time to visit the reserve
Masai Mara national reserve can be visited at any time throughout the year but the best time is during the months of July to October and also December to February. In July to October, the great migration reaches the Mara and in December to February, it is the best time to spot the big cats.