Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Maasai Mara National Reserve, also known as Maasai Mara, is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves. It is situated in south-west Kenya and borders the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named after its traditional inhabitants - the Maasai, and their description of the area when looked at from afar, Mara, which is ‘Maa’ for spotted, that is the circles of trees, scrub, savanna and cloud shadows that mark the area. This reserve is famous worldwide for its exceptional game diversity, its spectacular ecosystem and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, The Wildebeest Migration. It hosts over 95 species of mammals and 570 recorded species of birds.

Maasai Mara National Reserve covers 1,510 sq km (580 sq miles) and is 1,500-2,170 meters above sea level. The park lies within the Great Rift Valley and most of the game viewing happens on the wide valley floor with the towering escarpments lining the horizon. The terrain of the reserve is mostly open grassland with seasonal riverlets and clusters of the distinct acacia tree in the south east region. The western border is the Esoit Escarpment of the East African Rift and wildlife tends to be concentrated here as the swampy ground means access to water is good and disruption by tourists is minimal. The East African Rift is a fault line 5600km (3500 miles) long from the Red Sea in Ethiopia through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique.

The reserve is accessible by road or by air.

Attractions

Wildebeest Migration - The main attraction at the Mara happens when over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during the months of July through to October. The animals consist mostly of wildebeest, zebra, impala, topi, Thomson's gazelle among other herbivores. One of the highlights is when the migration has to cross the Mara River and come out alive as crocodiles prey on them. Those surviving the cross will be hunted, stalked, and preyed on by the larger carnivores in the Mara.

Game viewing - Game drives afford the opportunity to explore the reserve. The Big 5: African lion, African elephant, African buffalo, African leopard, and black rhinoceros are found here. The Mara has one of the largest densities of lion in the world and is home to the BBC wildlife channel’s ‘Big Cat Diary’. Cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, Thompson’s gazelles, Grant’s gazelles, impala, Topi and Cokes hartebeest, zebras, Maasai giraffe, baboons as well as the common giraffe are among many species to be found here. The large roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya can be seen within the reserve borders. Hippopotami and the large Nile crocodiles will be found in large groups in the Mara and Talek rivers.

Hot Air Balloon Rides - Experience adventure by having an aerial view of wildlife in a hot air balloon ride over the Mara. Balloon safaris take place at dawn for one and a half hours.

Cultural Safaris - Visit a Maasai village and experience the Maasai people in their natural setting, their culture and traditions. Indulge in a traditional dance with young Maasai warriors (morans) as they perform. Buy souvenirs to remind you of your visit.

Bird Watching - Bird lovers will have an opportunity to view some of the numerous species of birdlife that have been identified in the park including the vulture, marabou, orange buffs, secretary bird, hornbill, crowned crane, ostrich, pygmy falcon and the long-crested eagle.

Photography - Photographers will find a paradise for wildlife photography and capturing every dramatic moment will be everyone’s thrill.