Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Masai Mara National Park

The Masai Mara National Park is situated in the southwest of Kenya, covering an area of 1,510 square km (583 square miles). The Masai Mara National Park is a land of breathtaking vistas, abundant wildlife, and endless plains. It represents the northernmost portion of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.

The Sand River, Talek River, and Mara River are the primary rivers draining the waters of the reserve.  Masai Mara National Park is divided into two main areas the inner portion which features pristine wilderness and the outer portion which allows for cattle of the Masai people to graze.

Things to do in Masai Mara National Park

Game viewing in the Masai Mara

Masai Mara National Park is excellent all year round thanks to its varied landscapes, wide open spaces, temperate climate, and diverse population of resident game. Look out for lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, elands, and gazelles. The Mara is renowned for delivering exceptional big cat (lion, leopard, and cheetah) sightings.

Witness the Great Wildebeest Migration

The months of August to November are great for visiting the Masai Mara National Park to witness one of nature’s greatest spectacles- ‘The Great Migration’. The sheer number of wildebeest arriving in the area is staggering; the herds are so big they can be observed from space!

The Wildebeest Migration is a dramatic mass movement of almost two million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle in a seasonal annual cycle driven by rainfall. To reach Mara’s fresh grazing from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, the wildebeest must make dramatic river crossings, facing enormous crocodiles that lie in wait.

A night safari in Masai Mara National Park gives travelers the chance to see nocturnal animals in action. With special spotlights, you can have the thrill of watching predators such as lions, leopards, and caracals as they stalk their prey.

Experience the Hot Air Balloon Safari

Have an unsurpassable 1-hour hot-air balloon experience with a bird’s eye view of the Masai Mara National Park. The best flight paths follow the course of the Mara River, allowing you to peek down into the forests, float past vultures’ nests, and observe the early-morning routines of boisterous hippos.

After touching down onto the plains, you’ll be treated to a delicious bush breakfast with champagne.

Interact with the Masai

The Maasai are a semi-nomadic ethnic group that inhabits most of Kenya and northern Tanzania. Get an authentic experience during your visit to the communities learning about their way of life. Get the chance to visit local villages for a fascinating glimpse of traditional Maasai culture, lifestyle, and traditions.

Guided Nature Walks

Get to explore the open Savanna on foot and reconnect with nature by following in the footsteps of ancient explorers and local herdsmen on a once-in-a-lifetime guided walking safari. Take in the fresh air, view the limitless horizon, and appreciate the African soil on the soles of your shoes.

There are two types of nature walks offered at Masai Mara National Park. Nature walks within the camp and one outside the main reserve. The duration for these walks within the camp is approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour and for walks outside the main reserve is approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours covering a distance of 9 – 15 km and includes a packed breakfast/lunch depending on the timings and game drives en route to and from the walking safari location.

Embark on a horseback safari

Explore the Mara on a horse taking in the vast landscape and galloping past dazzles of zebras, giraffes, and, if the time is right, the mighty herds of the Great Migration.  Horseback Safaris in Masai Mara National Park are not permitted right inside the main Reserve and are therefore only offered in surrounding areas of the larger Maasai Mara region which includes private conservancies and game ranches.

Take in the sundowners in Mara

Head to Oloololo (which aptly means “zig-zag”) escarpment for the most unforgettable sundowners overlooking the vast Mara plains, as well as the Serengeti in the distance. As the sun gently dips over the horizon, stand around a blazing fire with delicious snacks and watch in awe as Maasai warriors perform their traditional song and dance.

Visit the Mara River

The Mara River begins in Kenya’s highlands and drains into Lake Victoria.  It offers spectacular views of the wildebeest crossing. The river begins in Kenya’s highlands and then drains into Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake. This is a very important water source for animals along the Mara River and grows to double its usual size after heavy rains.

The animals you can find here include bird life, hippos, and crocodiles, and the river is found in the heart of the Masai Mara National Park.

Birding in the Mara

Masai Mara National Park hosts over 550 species recorded including 12 species of Cisticola and 53 birds of prey. Look out for the Rosy-breasted Longclaw, Secretary bird, Kori Bustard, and Southern Ground Hornbill among others. There are 7 globally threatened species recorded here; they include the Madagascar Pond-Heron, Pallid Harrier, Jackson’s Widowbird, Red-throated Tit, Grey-crested Helmet-shrike, Corncrake, and Lesser Kestrel.

Where to stay in the Masai Mara National Park

Sanctuary Olonana

The camp offers guests a luxurious Kenya safari vacation experience. The camp overlooks the Mara River where hippos keep you entertained with their unique behaviors. The 14 luxurious suites with river view decks include 12 luxurious suites and 2 honeymoon/family suites.

Each luxurious suite is sited with privacy and seclusion in mind and has stunning views of the river from a private verandah. Spacious and airy, the rooms feature hardwood floorings, two queen-sized beds draped in mosquito netting, and an inviting lounge area.

Other facilities include a large main building housing the lounge, bar, and dining areas, a large terrace overlooking the Mara River, a well-stocked library, a mini spa room that offers river views, and a swimming pool.

Encounter Camp

The camp is situated on the edge of the savannah under the shade of acacia trees and comprises of 10-tents within the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, bordering the famed Masai Mara National Park in southwest Kenya.

The 10 spacious and comfortable tents have en-suite bathrooms and feature private verandas with a view over the surrounding savannah with a sitting area, lounger, and hammock. Other facilities include a bar and a dining area plus a campfire.  The camp is closed off in May

Sarova Mara Game Camp

The camp is ideally located in the heart of the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya and offers a unique African safari experience for game viewing. The luxury safari camps include 12 Club Tents, 8 Superior Deluxe Tents, 52 Deluxe Tents with upgrades on some tents currently in progress, and 3, 2-bedroom Family Tents.

All our tented accommodation is master ensuite while some Club Tents offer a spectacular view of the rolling Savannah plains. The organic garden provides the freshest ingredients for our exceptional cuisine with bush dining options available. Other facilities include a swimming pool, an Adia Giftshop, and the Olchani Club Lounge.

Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp

The camp allows for a maximum of 80 guests in 20 Superior, 8 Superior View, and 12 Classic Tents, with a total of 40 canvas rooms. All the tents have en-suite bathrooms and look out upon endless Mara plains or emerald riverine forests lining the Saparingo River.

The camp has African artwork stands upon pale wood furnishings, highlighting the incredible craftsmanship of local people. Private verandahs offer ample seating for wildlife observation. Other facilities include the rim-flow swimming pool, open-air restaurant, and lounge area.

Mara Siria Tented Bush Camp & Cottages

This is an eco-friendly safari tented camp in the North-West of the Masai Mara National Park. The camp is located on the Siria Escarpment on the Western border of this world-famous reserve.

The camp offers accommodation in 8 luxury tents, 3 deluxe tents, and 2 luxury cottages each with comfortable furniture, a private terrace, and an en-suite bathroom equipped with a safari shower, a hand wash basin, and a flush toilet.  Other facilities include a plunge swimming pool view of the Mara River and the plains, a restaurant and bar, lounge area. Bush meals can also be prepared.

The best time to visit Masai Mara National Park

The best time to visit Masai Mara National Park is from June- October when there’s virtually no rain and daytime temperatures are pleasant, clear blue skies and warm. January – February is dry and usually hot, during this time, animals congregate at the water sources and it’s easy to spot them.

The game trails are also not slippery for easing movement in the park.   If you are looking at the Great Migration, consider July – October for the dramatic Mara and Talek River crossings. January – March is good for the Lion Sightings when the plains are flourishing after the rainy season.

March-May is the beginning of the rainy season turning the Mara into new shades of green, gold, and other vibrant hues. These months are ideal for bird watching and bring in colorful swarms of migrant birds.

How to get to Masai Mara Park

The road distance from Nairobi to Masai Mara National Park is about 225 kilometers (140 miles) to the nearest entry point, though this differs depending on which entry gate you plan to access.

It takes about 5.5 hours to drive from Nairobi and the eastern or Narok side reserve entry gates, such as Sekenani, Talek, and Ololaimutia, and up to 6 to 6.5 hours for Musiara, Narok County side but on the Western side, and Oloololo gate closer to the Maasai Mara Conservancy and Mara Triangle.

Flying to Masai Mara National Park is a more convenient option, being only about a 1-hour flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to a variety of different airstrips in the Mara.


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