This is probably the best known natural area in the world.
Every single TV nature documentary has described this region, at least once . We have all dreamed of adventure, incredible sunsets, wild landscapes while watching the migration of wildebeests, the running of the gazelles, lions chasing their prey. We have all imagined those dark, thin warriors in their colourful clothes … the proud Maasai people… walking long distances, fast and barefoot. The magic of this place becomes reality as soon as you can go safari over there. Do not miss the chance of this experience.
Maasai Mara, a memory of the world
Maasai Mara is not a national park, though many people think it is. It was created in 1961 as a natural sanctuary and soon became a National Natural Reserve. But never turned into a real national park because of the many troubles this would have given to local Maasai people. They needed their sacred land, and Kenya allowed them to keep on living and working in the region. Maasai Mara is a real memory of the world as it might have looked like before humans appeared on Earth.
On an area of 1510 sq km, huge grasslands crossed by seasonal rivers are spotted with Acacia trees woods. The territory borders with rifts, other natural reserves (Mara Serengeti, especially) and the pastoral lands of Maasai people. The climate that generates this landscape is hot and dry, except for two rain seasons: April and May (the “long rains”) and November and December (“short rains”). The highest elevation of the reserve is 2180 metres. It is 224 km away from Nairobi.
Maasai Mara wildlife
The most famous animals in Maasai Mara are of course the wildebeests. They run across the whole territory during their migration which also becomes a chance for predators to chase them and eat. Other wonderful animals to admire here are zebras, topis, Thomson’s Gazelles, the rare white rhinos. The “big African five” are also protagonists of Maasai Mara: lions, leopards, cheetahs, buffalos, elephants.
In some parts of the reserve you will admire antelopes, and of course giraffes (Maasai Giraffes). Over 470 species of birds, most of which are birds of prey, fly over the grasslands. In the two big rivers – Mara and Talek – swim hippopotami and crocodiles. Tour operators organize safari mostly between July and September: this is the period of the Great Migrations. During those months gazelles, antelopes, zebras, elephants but especially wildebeests move from Serengeti to Maasai Mara and backwards producing an incredible natural show. A stunning experience.
Tourism in Maasai Mara Reserve also involves the Maasai people. Foreigners can enter the tribe’s lands, visit the Maasai farms, their pastures, their villages. You will be welcome in these people’s life, and you will have the chance to meet them, talk to them. You can buy their handmade objects, their handmade clothes and see their rituals. Local rangers are very strict about the number of people who can enter and approach the community, because you must not invade the people’s everyday life anyway.
Useful information about the reserve
Maasai Mara is the reserve with the largest number of tourist lodges, camps, hotels and villages.
It would take less than 4 hours drive to get there from Nairobi, but the very bad condition of local streets makes this impossible. So, airplane is the best idea. Direct flights leave from any Kenyan airport to Maasai Mara’s airstrips, which are numerous (Mara Serena Airfiled, Musiara, Keekorok, Ngerende…).
You must pay 80 Dollars for your entry ticket – reduced to 40 for children. Booking your stay, entrance and safari is highly recommended.
At Maasai Mara you will certainly: go watching animals, admire the migrations, fly over the reserve on big balloons.
You can also go on walking safari, photographic safaris, birdwatching, experience cultural meetings with local people.