Maasai Mara National Reserve (also known as Maasai Mara, Maasai Mara and by the local people as The Mara) is a large game reserve in Narok County, Kenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Mara Region, Tanzania. It is named in honor of the Maasai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara,” which is Maa (Maasai language) for “spotted,” an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area. It is globally famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards and cheetahs, and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle, and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October, known as the Great Migration. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is only a fraction of the Greater Mara Ecosystem, which includes the following Group Ranches: Koiyaki, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Olkinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, Ol Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien, and Kimintet.
Best Time to Visit
Wildlife viewing in the Masai Mara is good throughout the year. The best months for the wildebeest migration are September and October. June to October is relatively dry, and offers the best general wildlife watching.
When planning a safari in the Masai Mara you have to define how long you will stay, what your main interest and priorities are and you have also to define your budget. These criteria will affect the choice of accommodation and also the mean of transport to reach Masai Mara. The number of guests traveling on safari and also the places you will visit before and after your safari holidays in the Masai Mara will affect the mode of transport you will choose.
The Masai Mara National Reserve, known as the Masai Mara is about 280 Km from Nairobi. The majority of our guests will fly to/from Nairobi (Jomo Kenyatta JKIA is the international airport). Kilima Camp is on the Western border of the Masai Mara bordering the Mara Triangle. This is the most preserved and unspoiled part of the Masai Mara. There are very few camps and lodges, resulting in the lowest density of visitors and cars in the greater Masai Mara. It is also the “less accessible from Nairobi” / further away from Nairobi.
There are two options to reach the Masai Mara and Kilima Camp when you come from Nairobi. You can choose to come by road or to fly to the Mara. Driving to the Masai Mara will take you about 6 hours whereas if you fly to the Masai Mara, it will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Both driving and flying to the Masai Mara has both advantages and disadvantages. Whichever method you want to use will be determined by your comfort, your budget and your time. Here are a few things that you need to know before you decide which mode of transport you want.
Coming by road:
Coming by road will be more appropriate if you have a lot of time for your safari holidays and if you plan to stay 3 nights at least in the Masai Mara. minivan road safariComing by road will be also a good choice if you are curious to see Kenya’s countryside. The drive from Nairobi to Narok will take you about 2-2.5 hours, the road offers a few breathtaking view and scenery. As you drive to reach your safari destination in the Masai Mara, you will see the suburbs of Nairobi, the Great Rift Valley escarpment and the escarpment’s viewpoint at Mai Mahiu where you will be able to look down the escarpment. You may stop on your way for food, toilets and stretch your legs. The road from Narok to Kilima Camp is quite rough and bumpy. The last 80km can take 3 hours and there is no much to see. It is advisable to use a 4×4 vehicle, this will make your ride smoother. You can also reach Kilima with a Minivan. The road option will be a cheaper option compared to the flight, especially for more than 2 travelers – please contact us for some details. The drawback is that the journey will be long and tiring (6 hours). and I wish to arrive for late lunch at Kilima Camp, we advise leaving around 7 am. You will spend long hours in the vehicle and last 3 hours quite rough and bumpy which will not be comfortable
Please bear in mind that you will spend a lot of time on a game drive while you go on safari while you are in the Masai Mara. Another point to mention is that you will be going on a game drive with the same private guide and private vehicle. You will have the full flexibility regarding the schedule; Your guide will be very professional but not local. You will stay at Kilima Camp on Full Board basis.
Flying to the Masai Mara:
Mara from SkyOn the other hand, if you are short of time, only plan to stay 2 or 3 nights, and want a comfortable journey and your main interest is to see the wild animals and make the most of your time while you are in the Masai Mara then a flight will be a good choice. There are a few companies that fly direct from Wilson airport to the Masai Mara such as Safari Link, Air Kenya, and FLySax. Flights take off from Wilson airport which is the National airport in Nairobi. Please note that depending on the traffic it can take about 1 hour from JKIA to Wilson. In the Masai Mara, you will land to an airstrip nearest your camp in the Mara. Kichwa Tembo airstrip is only 15 minutes away from Kilima Camp. Flying in a light aircraft is an experience in itself. You will have an awesome time seeing an aerial view of the country. Beautiful scenic flight! Remember the Movie Out of Africa. The aircraft fly fairly low and you will be able to see several remote villages. As soon as you land, you will see a lot of game and your safari adventure can start at Kilima Camp. Your guide from Kilima Camp will welcome you and take to to the camp with a 1st safari/game drive en -route. 20140721_130058There are also direct flights to/from the Masai Mara and Kichwa Tembo airstrip to/from Mombasa (MOI or Ukunda Diani) as well as to/from the Nanyuki, Samburu or Lewa Downs, Shaba in Kenya and the Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
There are very good connections with Malindi, Lamu or Zanzibar for instance. If you go to Tanzania and the Serengeti after Kilima Camp, we can also arrange a private road transport with our vehicle and guide or with a vehicle from Nairobi. If you fly, you will stay on Package at Kilima Camp and we will organize all the game drives from you onboard our 4×4 open-sided vehicle with our local guides to explore the wilderness of the Masai Mara. We will guarantee that you will have a fantastic game drive on safari and lifetime memories.
Different Activities to do in the Masai Mara
There is no doubt that Masai Mara is one of the best destinations when you are on a safari in Kenya. Masai Mara can offer that much needed break from the town life as you enjoy the untouched nature and all it has to offer.The Masai Mara National Reserve itself stretches over an area of about 1500 square metres. This simply means that you have 1500sqm of untouched nature. Everything in the ecosystem exists in its natural form. There are very few places that you can get this and they are reducing by the day in countries that do not place enough policies to curb the invasion by humans. However, Kenya is different and Masai Mara justifies all that. There are really no limits to what you can do in the Masai Mara. If you are out for adventure, then you have just landed to the best place. Visitors tour the area all through the year but other times of the year are usually packed for one reason or another.
Activities in the Masai Mara
Below we look into the various activities that tourists can take part in when they visit the Masai Mara. There is a lot that you can learn out of these activities and this diversity makes Masai Mara a very special place for safaris in Kenya.
Game Drives in the Mara
In most cases, this will be your main purpose of visiting Masai Mara in the first place as a tourist. The Masai Mara National park has a lot to offer in terms of nature and animals. You will be able to see almost all the wild African animals that you have always dreamt of seeing. Maybe you have seen a lion in the zoo some day, but you might not have seen it in the wild before. You can easily see the difference between the animals that you are used to seeing in the zoo and how they really are in the wild. This is usually a thrilling experience and the Masai Mara can offer all that and even more.
Nature Walks in Masai Mara
With the help of guides, you can be able to walk to parts of the park that are not usually frequented by predators. You will be amazed how close you can come to beautiful animals like giraffes and zebras or the huge animals like elephants and rhinos. This also gives the tourists a closer look into nature and they can learn about trees in the Masai Mara and birds as well. You will get up close to the tiny members of the Masai Mara that you would not have seen were you on your 4×4 truck.
Balloon Safaris in Masai Mara
This is an absolute spectacle that will remain in your memory forever. You can plan to tour the Masai Mara National Reserve on a hot air balloon. You will see the animals from the bird’s eye view and when you add the ride itself, that’s double thrill for you.
Picnic in Masai Mara National Reserve
Have you lunch in the game reserve itself, maybe by the Mara River. Enjoy the silent whispers of the waters as they flow and the roar of a hungry lion in the distance. It is usually fun if you can do this with your family or lover. When it comes to romance, Masai Mara definitely has your back.
Visit a Masai Village
Masais are the indigenous community of the Masai Mara area, hence the name. They have been living in the area for years and even after the intrusion of the western culture in Kenya, they still remain faithful to their African roots and Masai heritage. You can visit the villages and learn a thing or two about their culture. How they build houses from mud, their clothes and accessories and they can even give you a few pointers on hunting. There are very many more activities that Masai Mara has to offer but this are the key ones whenever you are on your safaris in Kenya.
The Masai Mara is Kenya’s flagship park. Sightings of four of the Big Five are pretty much guaranteed. Black rhino is more elusive, but can sometimes be spotted in the Mara Triangle. The Masai Mara is one of the best parks for big cats, but sightings of smaller predators like bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal and spotted hyena also tend to be rewarding. Antelope include impala, reedbuck, Thomson’s gazelle, eland and topi, while buffalo, elephant and giraffe are relaxed and easily spotted.
The legendary wildebeest migration is one of the world’s most amazing wildlife encounters. Sometime in July and August, millions of animals leave the Serengeti and head into the Masai Mara around September. The crossing of the Mara River along the way is the most spectacular part of the migration. Around October, the migration slowly heads back into the Serengeti again. It should be noted that, although the pattern is well known, the exact timing of the migration is unpredictable as animals move with the rain looking for greener pastures.