Attraction Type: Adventure.
Significance: Premier African safari, undertaken by thousands from all over the world every year.
Best time to Visit: All throughout the year. Each season has its unique charm, and wildlife is abundant in all seasons. However, July and August are the most popular times because of the Great Wildebeest migration. How to Reach: Daily Flights from Wilson International Airport in Nairobi to Mara region. It takes about 45 minutes. It takes more than six hours on road, and the trip can be painful. Buses reach only till Narok, still miles away from the reserve.
Nearest International Airport: Wilson International Airport, Nairobi. In the wild interiors of Serengeti, early in the month of July, a subtle change in the atmosphere prompt send some deep and subtle signal in the systems of the wildebeest herds. As if on the stroke of a stuff from some master conductor, they raise their heads, sniff the air, and gets ready to move on. This is a routine they have followed from time immemorial. They risk all hazards and make a rush for the great — the great Masai Mara Migration begins. Along with the wildebeests come zebras, impalas and hundreds of other grazers of the wild. A visit to the Masai Mara National Reserve at any time of the year is fascinating, but between July and August it is absolutely fascinating. Half a million wildebeests, joined by another hundred thousand from the Loita Hills, rampage through the grasslands at this time of the year – attracting interested predators from all parts of the Masai Mara. It is one of nature’s greatest spectacles, a feature that makes Masai Mara unique among all national reserves and wildlife parks in Africa. And the best way to experience this spectacle is from a balloon! The balloon safari is gradually developing into one of the most popular safari options in the Masai Mara.
Sometimes, one is made to wonder what it is about Masai Mara that makes it so special. After all, it is almost the same almost anywhere else in Africa: grasslands teeming with a population of zebras, gazelles, giraffes, and the occasional sighting of lions and cheetahs. However, tourists come back to Masai Mara again and again. The reason is simple: there is more chance to see animals in the wild than anywhere else. At on the worst of days, you can see thousands of exotic animals on the expansive savannah grasslands. Lions, cheetahs, rhinos, hyenas, leopards, jackals and bat eared foxes are regularly seen. Hippos are also great attractions, and you can see them wallowing in the Mara River, in close proximity to the huge Nile Crocodiles lying in quiet wait for the erring zebra cub or a wandering wildebeest.
Geographically, the Masai Mara National reserve is located in the Great Rift Valley and covers an area of 3,500 miles over Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. The entire topography is divided into four main zones. The Ngama Hills lie to the east, where the vegetation is full of leafy bushes and the soil is sandy. It is the favorite haunt of the black rhino. The Olooloo Escrpament lies to the west and rises to a magnificent plateau region. The entire reserve forest often spills over to the Olooloo Enscrapment, also known as the ‘dispersal areas’. Often the animals move out of the main region and reach the dispersal area, where a number of Masai settlements are located. The migrating wild beasts usually prefer the Mara Triable, which borders the Mara River with lush grasslands and acacia woodlands. It is also the largest game reserve in the forest. The Central Plains form the largest part of the reserve. Here you find the scattered bushes and the extended recognizable grasslands that you readily associate with Masai Mara National Reserve topography.
The symbiotic relationship that the Masai people have developed over the years with the animals is another fascinating aspect of a tour to the Masai Mara National Reserve. The Masai tribesmen in their long red robes, living in a social formation in accordance to customs and rituals that are markedly different from a European way of life, are one of the chief attractions of the area too.
Things to Do
There are many ways you can undertake a Masai Mara Safari. The balloon safari is gradually growing in popularity and is one of the best ways to undertake a safari. However, you can also engage in one of the more traditional safaris in a car or a special tourist bus. There are both Kenya safaris as well as Tanzania safaris that will help you explore the Masai Mara National Parks. You can also undertake a special bird tour. Do not forget, more than 500 species of wild birds inhabit Masai Mara, a number that grows with migration. You can take any of the three ways for a safari, you can arranged for a customized safari, be a part of a package tour from an African safari Tour Operator, or arrange for everything yourself. However, for first timers, the best option is to become a part of the African safari Tour Operator. Book in advance, if you want to tour in the migration season.
Masai Mara National Reserve is not conveniently located. It is located at the southwestern edge of the Kenya-Tanzania border and is 270 km. west of Nairobi. Road conditions are poor and the river Mara isolates it from the mainland. So, plan well before you leave. The most common mode of transportation used by tourists is to travel to Mara by plane. There are two scheduled flights daily from Wilson Airport in Nairobi. It takes 45 minutes. For accommodation, choose one of the camping and safari lodges in the Masai Mara forest reserve area itself. Remember the golden rule, book it well in advance as well.
There are plenty of options available for accommodation. Mara Leisure camp is one of the most popular ones. Besides this, you also have a lot of other lodging options to choose from. Private and public campsites are also available in the Mara Triangle part.
Mara Leisure Camp Simco Plaza Along Lusaka Road
2nd Floor, Room 204
P.O. Box 17545-00500
Karen Blixen Camp PO Box 9913-00100 GPO NBO
Langata Road No 533
Royal Mara Safari Lodge P.O. Box 260-00621
Kilima Camp Escapades Ltd.
PO Box 1206, Karen 00502
You can find some of the best footages of the Masai Mara National Reserve Safari by clicking on the following links:
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=wDHsFZrMOl4: You can find out the beautiful animals in Masai Mara, including the pride of lions in this video!
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=DRfGSr7NHAw: For a view of the great wildebeest migration that attracts thousands of visitors from all across the world every year, watch this video.
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=xU4fSuUcPtA: Catch a view of the indigenous life-style of the Masai people in this short clip.