Maasai Mara national Reserve is Kenya’s leading safari wildlife destination located in the southwestern part in the Rift Valley Region. It was established in 1961 covering a land area of 1,510 square kilometers and was named after local Maasai people.
The Maasai Mara national reserve is made up of the Mara Triangle all the surrounding conservancies. They include Lemek, Siana, Ol Derkesi, Koiyaki, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Mara North, Olkinyei, Maji Moto, Kerinkani, Kimintet, Niakara & Oloirien. Most of these are managed privately, others by the local community and others by government.
The Mara ecosystem is a home to various wildlife species and its not doubt the most visited reserve in Kenya. It also has beautiful landscapes of the rift valley floor, escarpment, Rivers, Lakes plus flat plains covered with pasture. Lets explore the Maasai Mara national reserve and unveil all the hidden tourism treasures.
Attractions in Maasai Mara National Reserve
There are a number of wildlife species in Maasai Mara National reserve making wildlife the leading tourist attraction. 95 mammal species have been recorded in the reserve plus amphibians and reptiles. Often seen big mammals in Maasai Mara include Elephants, Rhinos, giraffes, buffaloes, plus a number of antelopes.
Masai Mara some of the highest Lion populations in East Africa with prides of Lions having up to 20 individuals. These have thrived a lot because they feed of the grazers especially antelopes and wildebeest.
Maasai Mara National reserve’s other big cats include leopards, cheetahs, hyenas often seen while on game drives in the reserve. Game drives in Maasai Mara can be enjoyed in the morning and in the evening.
You can also enjoy the wildebeest migration while on a visit to Maasai Mara. This involves millions of antelopes, zebras and wildebeest moving from Serengeti looking for pasture. Wildebeest migration is termed a wildlife wonder of East Africa and can be enjoyed from July to November in Kenya.
The most interesting wildebeest migration events are the river crossings along Mara river where crocodiles fight to secure prey.
Maasai Mara national reserve over 450 recorded bird species including migratory and endemic birds. While on a birding safari in Maasai mara, you will birds like Pelicans, Ostriches, hammerkops, herons, egrets and storks.
Birding here starts with listening to the sounds of birds early morning till late. During the day, many of these birds are often seen in trees or flying over the skies of Maasai Mara. There are well experienced safari and birding guides who share all the information you need to know about birds.
Birding in Maasai Mara can be done on safari game drives or one can have an organized safari for birding. This is an activity that can be done throughout the year though for migratory birds, you have to time seasons.
Maasai Mara reserve is neighbored by local Maasai people who were resettled outside the reserve because of need for conservation. These initially depended on the reserve for survival hunting meat and gathering fruits for food though they were stopped.
Because of limited hunting and poaching, there has been restoration of wildlife species in Maasai Mara whose populations had declined. As a way of enabling them to directly earn from tourism, the Maasai people are employed as safari guides. Safaris guided by local Maasai people are very enjoyable because they know all the information about the game reserve.
The Maasai people also make local performances of dance and drama an interesting presentation that show their ways of life. While on a visit to Maasai mara ensure to have a cultural visit as its usually very enjoyable.
Tourist Activities in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai Mara national reserve has a number of tourist activities one can engage in while on a visit to the reserve. Most common are game drives that can be done throughout the day. The best time for game drives however is early morning especially if you want to catch up with the early risers. The savanna’s big cats are also very active in the morning so if you want to see them its better to be early. Evening game drives are also very impressive as the sun sets where you get to see the African sun set.
Game drives in Masai mara can be done throughout the year as the reserve has a lot to offer. The most desired is the wildebeest migration and the big cats.
The reserve’s open savanna plains are impressive when seen from above. Hot air balloon safaris in Masai mara are very exciting as you get to see major wildlife at an elevated level. Balloon safaris are also best enjoyed early morning and in the evening where you enjoy the sunset.
These bring you closer to Maasai Mara’s wildlife with close one on one encounters. There trails you can take where you see a variety of wildlife on foot appreciating mother nature. Village walks to the local maasai community are also very great as you get to know more about the local maasai people.
When to Visit Maasai Mara National Reserve
This amazing game reserve can be visited anytime of the year for those interested in safari game drives. In-case you want the wildebeest migration, you can visit from July to November when the animals have crossed from Tanzania.
For big cats viewing especially lions, you can visit Masai Mara from January to March. This is a period of births for wildebeest, antelopes and zebras attracting predators that take advantage of the young calves.
Maasai Mara national reserve has a number of accommodation facilities ranging from budget to luxury accommodation. When visiting the reserve its better to book facilities near or within to avoid delays of your safari activities.
In-case you visiting one of Masai mara’s conservancies ensure to book accommodation in that particular area. Mara Serena Safari lodge, Saruni Mara, Sala’s camp, Kichwa Tembo Tented camp, Angama Mara among others.