4. The Maasai Mara and Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
The Maasai Mara is a beautiful reserve of sprawling plains, one of the oldest and best-known safari destinations. The Mara River, which races through the Reserve, is host to the most spectacular sights of the Great Migration from July to October, as hundreds of thousands of herbivores thunder over the plains to the riverbanks and are forced to cross and run the gauntlet through waters teeming with huge and hungry Nile crocodiles. But that’s not all the reserve has to offer! All year round, all Big Five animals may be viewed. Rhino numbers are increasing slowly, amid plentiful carnivores and numerous antelopes. And there is also the massive Maasai giraffe, the tallest mammal on land!
For something completely different and a fascinating cultural safari, combine a vacation in the Maasai Mara with a visit to the Samburu National Reserve, in the very centre of Kenya. The Samburu is situated on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, which, running from the glaciers of majestic Mount Kenya, supplies water for wildlife throughout the year! It is this reliable water source that first attracted the herders, now known as the Samburu people, to the region. The Samburu remain here today and it is a privilege for travellers to observe their ways of life, similar to yet distinct from the culture of the Maasai. Of all the animals in Samburu and Buffalo Springs, the reserves are most famous for their own Big Five – Grevy’s zebra, with their smart pin-stripe pattern; gerenuk, of the impressively stretchy neck; Beisa oryx, with pointed horns and distinctive markings; reticulated giraffe, clad in attractive coats; and Somali ostrich, a feathery delight!