As such, they form an extended area for game viewing – and the wildlife is just as prolific as it is in the reserve, as there are no fences and the animals are free to roam. A holiday here is an excellent option for travellers who are keen to see a lot of wildlife while enjoying a quieter atmosphere on safari in Kenya! And many camps offer the opportunity to venture into the Maasai Mara National Reserve itself, so you get the best of both worlds.
THE MARA CONSERVANCIES
There are six conservancies in total, all used previously for cattle grazing by landowning Maasai. Wildlife areas have been created via land-use and lease agreements between the local people and safari camp operators, benefiting local communities and wildlife alike! The names of the conservancies are Mara Naboisho, Mara North, Olare Motorogi, Ol Kinyei, Ol Derikesi and Siana Group Ranch:
Mara Naboisho Conservancy
- is situated to the north of the Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR for short). It is the newest conservancy here and boasts over 200 sq. km of savanna and bush, home to impressive numbers of elephant and giraffe. Its lion population is also worth a mention, comprising between 70 and 100 individuals and including the Enesikiria or KGS pride, the area’s largest. Mara Naboisho has plenty of wild dog too. Additionally, it witnesses the Loita Migration of wildebeest and zebra, when huge herds move between the Loita Hills and the MMNR and Mara North Conservancy. Game viewing is excellent all year round.
Mara North Conservancy
- is another great spot for wildlife watching. It too consists of savanna and bush, an area totalling 320 sq. km distinguished by ridges formed by luggas, courses of seasonal streams. Again, there are plenty of plains animals here, as well as loads of lion including the Acacia and Gorge prides. And it is not unusual to spot Maasai herders out with their cattle in Mara North, as the local people retain grazing rights.
More opportunities to view game are presented in the northern Olare Motorogi Conservancy, 133 sq. km in total. This area was once two conservancies, Olare Orok and Motorogi. The former was one of the earliest conservancies and did much to establish the model, proposing a maximum of 12 tents per camp and a minimum of 3 sq. km per tent. It merged with Motorogi in 2012 and continues with its conservation work today.
Ol Kinyei Conservancy
- was established in 2005. It contains just one camp, Porini Mara, but benefits to the Maasai people from this property are phenomenal! The first conservancy to be owned by the local community, from its creation Ol Kinyei has shown how landowners can earn their keep through safari tourism, providing inspiration throughout the region. There is great game viewing here too, with healthy populations of lion, other big cats and ample herbivores roaming 65 sq. km of plains.
Ol Derikesi Conservancy
- is another example of an area boasting just one amazing property – Cottar’s 1920s Camp. The wildlife count in this conservancy has always been impressive, but it has increased even further since local people agreed to make a cattle-free zone around the camp, at cost to visitors to the area.
Siana Group Ranch
- finally, there is the massive Siana Group Ranch, a vast landscape of plains and wooded hills sprawling from Sekenani Gate to Ololaimutiek Gate to the road to Narok! This too is great for game viewing, choc-a-bloc with all Big Five and oodles of other predators and herbivores.
ACTIVITIES IN GREATER MARA CONSERVANCIES
All camps in these conservancies offer game viewing by day and by night, while game walks and bush dinners are perfect for travellers who like to get out of the vehicle now and then! Other things to do include hot air balloon safaris and local community tours.