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It is known as Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Reserve, situated in southwest Kenya. It is famous for the abundance of lion, the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Maasai people, well known for their distinctive custom and dress, it is without a doubt one of Africa’s most famous safari destinations.

The Reserve stretches 1,510 sq km (580 sq miles) and raises 1,500-2,170 meters above sea level. Maasai Mara National Reserve is primarily grassland and riverine forest with clumps of the distinctive acacia trees. It’s about 270 km from Nairobi and takes about 5-6 hours by road or 40-45 minutes by flight.

Its Ecosystem holds one of the highest lion densities in world and this is where over two million Wildebeest, Zebra and Thomsons Gazelle migrate annually. Its hosts Seasoned safari travellers, documentary makers, travel writers and researchers often admit that the Masai Mara is one of their favourite places. So why is that? Perhaps it is because of the open savannahs, the 'big skies', the romance of films like 'Out of Africa' and certainly because of the annual wildebeest migration, the density of game, the variety of birdlife and the chance of a hot air balloon ride.
Also it is because of the tall red-robed Masai people whose lifestyle is completely at odds with western practices, and from whom one learns to question certain western values.

It lies in the Great Rift Valley, which is a fault line some 3,500 miles (5,600km) long, from Ethiopia's Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique. Here the valley is wide and a towering escarpment can also be seen in the hazy distance. Most of the game viewing activities takes place on the valley floor, but some lodges conduct walking tours outside the park boundaries in the hills of the Oloololo Escarpment.There can be as much wildlife roaming outside the park as inside the park. Many Masai villages are located in the 'dispersal areas' and over centuries, they have developed a synergetic relationship with the wildlife.

There are four main types of topography in the Mara: Ngama Hills to the east with sandy soil and leafy bushes liked by black rhino; Mara Triangle bordering the Mara River with lush grassland and acacia woodlands supporting masses of game especially migrating wildebeest; Central Plains which is forming the largest part of the reserve, with scattered bushes and boulders on rolling grasslands favoured by the plains game;Oloololo Escarpment forming the western boundary and rising to a magnificent plateau;

ANIMALS & BIRDS

In a short stay during the wildebeest migration you might see thousands of animals, at other times there are still hundreds. The plains are full of wildebeest, topi, zebra, impala, giraffe, Thomson's gazelle. Also regularly seen are lions, leopards, cheetah, hyenas, jackal and bat-eared foxes. The Black rhinos are a little shy and hard to spot but are often seen at a distance.

Hippos are abundant in the Mara River as are very large Nile crocodiles, who lay in and wait for a meal as the wildebeest cross on their annual quest to find new pastures.

Every July (or sometimes August), the wildebeest travel over 600 miles (960km) from Tanzania's Serengeti plains, northwards to the Masai Mara and Mara River is the final obstacle. In October or November, once they have feasted and the grass has all but gone, the wildebeests turn around and go back the other way.

The Mara birds come in every size and colour including common but beautiful ones like the lilac breasted roller and plenty of large species like vultures ,eagles and storks. There are also 53 different birds of prey.

SEASONS

Altitude is 4,875-7,052 feet (1,500-2,170 metres) above sea level, which yields a climate somewhat milder and damper than other regions. The daytime rarely exceeds 85°F (30°C) during the day and hardly ever drops below 60°F (15°C) in the night.

Rainy Season: It rains in April and May and again in November and this can cause some areas of the Mara to be inaccessible due to the sticky 'black cotton' mud.

Dry Season: In the month of July to October is dry and the grass is long and lush after the rains. This is a good time to come and see the huge herds of migratory herbivores.

Hottest time: Warmest time of year is December and January.
Coldest Time: The coldest months are June and July

MASAI MARA SPECIALITIES

  • Wildebeest Migration
  • Hot Air Ballooning
  • Huge savannahs of golden grasslands
  • Big skies
  • Rift Valley escarpment
  • Lion sightings

FACTS

  • This is a malarial area
  • Maasai mara national reserve covers an area of (1,510 km²)
  • No night driving and the vehicles must be back at the lodge by 6pm.
  • Several lodges are located outside the park's boundaries, but as there are few fences you may not be aware of this.
  • This is a Reserve rather than a National Park and it belongs to the Masai people.