The Maasai Mara (also known as ‘Masai Mara’) Game Reserve comprises 1,500 sq. km of seemingly endless plains of short sweet grasses, ample feeding for the region’s plentiful herbivores. Two rivers, the Mara and the Talek, race through Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya providing sustenance for a wide range of wildlife. And the Mara, of course, is host to the most spectacular sights of the world-famous Great Migration!
Yes, this is Great Migration country. The migration may not take a specific route as it progresses from the Serengeti through the Loliondo, Moru Kopjes, Seronera, Grumeti and Ikorongo regions, for it is steered by factors such as the location of the best grasses and the prevalence of predators. Nevertheless, the arrival of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, eland and impala in the Maasai Mara is guaranteed – as is the crossing of these animals over the swift-flowing Mara River!
THE HISTORY OF THE MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE
The Maasai became well established in the region during the late seventeenth century. The next hundred years or so brought the ravages of civil war and livestock diseases, followed by further devastation as the first European hunting safaris swept through in the decades before the First World War. However, in 1948 the area known now as the Mara Triangle was designated a game reserve and the land and its people began to recover. Further prohibitions concerning hunting were laid down in 1961. Today the Maasai Mara is rightly described as the heartland of Maasai culture in Kenya and is among the best African safari destinations.
WHAT ANIMALS WILL I SEE IN THE MAASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE?
All year round, all Big Five animals may be viewed, with rhino numbers increasing slowly since poaching in the 1970s and early 1980s. Carnivores include cheetah, hyena, jackal, serval, wild dog and bat-eared fox, resulting in plenty of hunts to see on safari. There are numerous antelopes too, and the massive Maasai giraffe, the tallest mammal on land!
The Maasai Mara is also a haven for birdlife, containing over 470 resident and migrant species! Approximately 60 of these consist of raptors, such as eagles, kites, harriers, hawks, falcons, and kestrels. There is majestic ostrich too, in addition to herons, egrets, bitterns, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, ibises, spoonbills, rails, crakes, secretary birds and the glamorous crowned crane.
The best time to visit the Maasai Mara Game Reserve is from July to October. Depending on the arrival of the rains, the crossings occur between these months, when herds numbering hundreds of thousands thunder over the plains to the riverbanks and hurtle through waters teeming with immense Nile crocodile. It is not unusual for scores of wildebeest and others to lose their lives here, many washing up on the shores. Their corpses are ripped apart by crocs, hyenas, vultures, and storks. This really is nature at her most ferocious! It is due to these dramatic scenes that the Maasai Mara is an extremely popular safari destination.
THINGS TO DO IN MAASAI MARA, KENYA
- Go on seriously good game drives to spot Big Five wildlife and other plains game
- Bird watching - there are over 500 bird species in the area
- Witness the dramatic Great Migration and the river crossings (particularly between July and October)
- Cultural and community visits
- Hot air balloon safaris
- Horseriding safaris
- Bush walks
- Night game drives
With so much to see, it is not surprising that the Maasai Mara is absolutely awash with visitors. This can be quite overwhelming! There are a number of camps and lodges to choose from and we recommend getting in touch with us for specialist advice, to ensure you are able to avoid the crowds during your stay here! Camp activities include exceptionally good game drives and safari walks, plus scenic flights and hot air balloon rides.