Masai Mara National Reserve – Self Drive Kenya

Masai Mara National Reserve  also sometimes spelled Masai Mara and locally known simply as The Mara, is a large national game reserve in Narok, Kenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named in honour of the Maasai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the area, who migrated to the area from the Nile Basin. Their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara” means “spotted” in the local Maasai language, because of the short bushy trees which dot the landscape.

Why visit Maasai Mara national park?

Maasai Mara is one of the wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa, with its populations of lion, leopard, cheetah and African bush elephant. It also hosts the Great Migration, which secured it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the ten Wonders of the World.

The Greater Mara ecosystem encompasses areas known as the Masai Mara National Reserve, the Mara Triangle, several Maasai group ranches, and several conservancies.

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Things to Do in Maasai Mara National park

The Maasai Mara National Reserve has been listed several times as one of the world’s Natural Wonders. It is one of the best places to spot wildlife in Africa and each year, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit to see some of Africa’s famous mammals. The main places to visit while on a 3 days safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve are the Mara River, the Musiara Swamp, the Maasai Villages, the Narok Museum, the Mara Triangle and neighboring private Maasai conservancies. The main activities in the Maasai Mar

Morning and Afternoon game drives

Game drives occur throughout the year and are arranged in areas with the highest concentration of wildlife. A typical game drive is carried out in standard tour vehicles with a retractable roof and can start in the morning or afternoon. The morning game drives start at 6am. It is the time when most animals are active and in very large numbers as they head out to eat. The afternoon game drive starts at 2:00pm and goes on up to 6:30pm. The best place to view wildlife during the afternoon game drive is at the watering holes as they come to quench their thirst.

Night Game drives

The night game drive starts at 6:00pm and ends in the dark hours of the night. Night game drives provide an amazing opportunity to observe leopards, lions and hyenas tracking their prey. You can also get to see nocturnal mammals and birds. Herbivores mammals remain alert and on tension in the night because they have to be alert for potential predators. Night game drives can only be done in the private Conservancies and with the help of Guides who know where to find the animals.


With over 500 species of birds, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is a birders paradise. You can look out for giant ostriches or check out the birds of prey like vultures. Smaller birds can also be seen nesting on the thickets or edges of escarpments. On a typical birding excursion, you will be looking out for ducks, egrets, geese, herons, ostriches, hornbills, pelicans, spoonbills and storks. Apart from ostriches, the most interesting for ordinary tourists are the martial eagles and vultures.  Birding is led by very experienced and knowledgeable ornithologists/naturalists. These birding guides know all the different species of birds, plants and wildlife that you will encounter.

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The Great Wildebeest Migration

Between June and November, the Masai Mara is host to one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in the world. Over 1.5 million wildebeest, Thompson’s Gazelles and Zebras cross the Mara River from the Serengeti in search of greener grass. They encounter many challenges along the way. Apart from stalking predators, the migrating animals have to cross the crocodile infested Mara River where thousands drown or get eaten by crocodiles. Those who cross the river have to contend with the Africa’s big predators. The scale of the migration is so large that it can be observed from space. Tourists visit to witness the great concentration of animals, the calving season, the battle between predator and prey.

Walking safaris

Apart from the standard game drives with tour vans, tourists can also register for guided nature walks or a walking safari. These walking safaris offer tourists opportunities to spot birds, wildlife and the savanna on foot. It is the best way to appreciate the sheer beauty and panoramic views of the reserve. Nature walks also allow tourists to get close to the surroundings and pristine wilderness in a way that is not possible with game drives. By getting close to nature, you get to appreciate it even more. Nature walks are more suitable in the private conservancies bordering the main reserve and are led by very experienced Maasai Guides or armed Rangers. The walks are conducted in areas that are less frequented by predators and the bigger mammals.

Horseback safaris

This particular activity is arranged in the conservancies and not within the main reserve itself. Participants are taken deep into the Mara on the back of a horse to view antelopes, leopards, wildebeest, hartebeests, giraffes, elephants, leopards and lions. It is the most ecological way to tour the reserve without emitting sounds and fumes. This particular activity is led by park Rangers, owners of the conservancies or local Maasai Guides.

Hot Air Balloon Safari

The hot air balloon route follows the Mara River allowing you to get an aerial view of the forests, birds and aquatic mammals before going deep into the savannah for more stunning views of the landscape. The activity lasts for one hour and ends with a picnic lunch/breakfasts with champagne on the savanna plains. All participants are given certificates. Hot Air balloon safaris are excellent for families and couples on a honeymoon. It also allows participants to take great photos of the reserve.

Sundowners and Bush breakfast/dinner

If you choose to spend your honeymoon in the Maasai Mara game reserve, this is one thing you shouldn’t miss out on. Your hotel can arrange for a mobile dinning in the middle of the savanna with meals, drinks and wines. There is nothing better than watching the beautiful sunset in the wilderness and in the arms of your partner.

Maasai Cultural Encounter

The Mara not only offers great wildlife experiences but also memorable cultural encounters in Tanzania. The Maasai tribesmen are one of Africa’s most intriguing ethnic groups. They are known for their colorful dresses and height. The Masai have a distinct dress code and keep domestic animals as a traditional. Most have embraced tourism and the opportunities that come with it. In fact, many of the Guides in the reserve are from the Maasai tribe. A visit to one of the Maasai Bomas is highly recommended especially if you are traveling with children. The children will be fascinated by the Masai lifestyle, culture and traditions.

The Mara River

The Mara River originates from the Kenyan highlands and drains into Lake Victoria. It provides water to animals in the reserve and is where the wildebeest cross as they migrate from the Serengeti National Park to the Masai Mara National Reserve.

The Mara River grows in size during the wet season and has some of the largest Nile crocodiles in Africa. Most game drives in the Masai Mara National Reserve end in the river because it attracts a lot of birds, crocodiles and hippos.

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  1. Toyota Landcruiser LX with Rooftop tent
  2. Toyota Landcruiser v8 With Rooftop tent

Where to stay- Accommodation.

Accommodation in Masai Mara is very spacious and comfortable for travelers who want to explore the wildlife in Kenya. Masai Mara National Reserve is located in the south western part of Kenya in Narok County. This reserve is also known for its amazing wildlife viewing. There are different accommodation facilities in this reserve which provide lodging for tourists as they explore the reserve.

The accommodation facilities in the northern part of the Masai Mara reserve include Ngare Serian, Royal Mara Safari Lodge, Speke’s Camp, Mara Plains Camp, Kicheche Bush Camp, Loyk Mara Camp, Ol Seki Mara Camp, Naboisho Camp, Ngerende Island Lodge, Fairmont Mara Safari, Porini Mara Camp, Enkerende Tented Camp, Mara River Lodge.

Accommodation facilities in the eastern part of the Masai Mara reserve include the Leleshwa camp, Entumoto safari camp, Tipilikwani Mara camp, Fig tree camp, Mara leisure camp, Siana springs camp, Ilkeliana Camp among others.

Tourists visiting the southern parts of the Masai Mara reserve can stay in the accommodation facilities such as Cottars bush villa, sand river Masai Mara camp, Sala’s camp, Enkewa Mara camp among other accommodations.

Accommodation facilities in the western part of the Masai Mara reserve include Bateleur camp, Kichwa tembo tented camp, Sanctuary Olonana camp, Mara Siria camp, Angama mara, Kilima camp, Mara Engai wilderness lodge among others.

The accommodation facilities in the central part of the Masai Mara reserve include the governor’s il Moran camp, , Mara Ngenche safari camp, Rekero camp, Sentinel Mara camp, Entim camp among others.

When is the Best Time to Visit Masai Mara?

Thanks to its abundant resident wildlife and temperate climate, the Masai Mara is widely regarded as a fantastic year-round safari destination. Its wide and open plains mean there is virtually always something to see – no matter what time of year you visit.

The best time to visit the Masai Mara is for the world-famous Great Wildebeest Migration, from about August to November. Due to varying rainfall patterns, the exact timing varies year to year. Some years the rains might be early and the herds will arrive and depart sooner, while other times the late rains mean the wildebeest arrive later and you’ll still find stragglers.

How to access Masai Mara Park?

Access to the Masai Mara Park can be through different means such as by road and air. By road, tourists can drive from Nairobi via Narok to any of the entrance gates in the reserve.

Entrance gates in Maasai Mara reserve include Oloololo gate, Oloolaimutia gate, Sekenani gate, Talek gate and Musiara gate.

Some of the lodges in Maasai Mara also have airstrips which offer flights to tourists who have safaris to the reserve. Airstrips in this reserve include Shikar airstrip, Ngerende airstrip, Musiara airstrip, Ol Kiombo airstrip, Keekorok airstrip, Sian springs airstrip, Maasai Mara Serena airstrip, Kichwa Tembo airstrip, Maasai Mara cottars, and Olare Orok airstrip among others.

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