The Maasai Mara National Reserve is in the southwest of Kenya. The Maasai Mara is not a National Park, but rather a National Reserve belonging to the Maasai people and administered by the local county councils. It is one of the best known and most popular reserves in Africa.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve (also Masai Mara) is each year visited by thousands of tourists, who come here to watch the many different wildlife and birdlife species in the reserve. The reserve is especially famous for the high amount of predators, such as lions, cheetahs, and leopards, and the 1½ million wildebeest which migrate through the Mara and cross the crocodile infested Mara river.
It is notable that Masai Mara is one of the few wildlife reserves in Africa where it is possible to see not only the ” Big Five” but also the ” Big Nine” Animals within a day’s game drive. The “Big Nine” animals list includes Lion, Elephant, Leopard, African (Cape) Buffalo, Rhino, Cheetah, Giraffe, Zebra and Hippopotamus.
The best kept secret of the Mara is the Mara Triangle, the north western part of the Maasai Mara which is managed by the Mara Conservancy on behalf of Trans-Mara County Council – the rest of the reserve falls under Narok County Council. Although one third of the Mara, the Mara Triangle has only two properties within its boundaries (compared to the numerous camps and lodges on the Narok side) and has well maintained, all weather gravel roads. There are several camps that lie outside the reserve but close to Oloololo Gate of the Mara Triangle, which means in turn that guests staying at these camps will normally be brought into the Mara Triangle area for their game drives. The conservancy rangers patrol regularly which means that there is almost no poaching and therefore excellent game viewing. There is also strict control over vehicle numbers around animal sightings which means a better, more authentic, experience when out on a game drive.
Though the Mara has good numbers of wildlife all year around, it is more lively during the annual Great wildebeest migration when it is estimated that close to a million plus animals migrate into the reserve from Serengeti National park in the south. The migration does not start exactly at the same time each year. It typically starts off some time between July to early August and begins to tail off by mid September when most of the splinter groups within the large wildebeest herds will have crossed over into Masai Mara. Although animals can be seen at any time of the year in May/June it’s difficult due to the rainy season with muddy paths.
It is advisable to avoid booking Safaris that have too many destinations or parks to visit within single itinerary. This is often the case with the one-week safaris offered by the major international tour operators. With too many parks and too little time, one has little time left to fully explore the location or really observe the amazing wildlife in each of the parks and reserves as much time is lost traveling from one place to the next.
Check “hot offers” particularly intensely because their program might be completely firm and the accommodations often outside the parks. A good location of the lodge is very important in the Mara. They often use mini buses instead of Jeeps packed with 6 persons, which is the maximum number of seats in a mini bus. You can imagine how packed you are if everyone has a small bag plus photo equipment.
Maasai Mara is 1,500-2,200 m (4,900-7,100 ft) above sea level, which makes the climate slightly damper and milder than in other similar regions. Highest temperatures in daytime is 30°C/85°F (warmest in December and January, coldest in June and July), at night the temperature rarely drops below 15°C/60°F.
The rainy season is April-May and November. In these periods some parts of the Mara will get very muddy and practically inaccessible. The dry season occurs from July to October. This is the best time to visit the Maasai Mara as a lot of herbivores indulge in the plants grown long and lush after the rains – and, in these months you will stay clear of heavy showers.
The Maasai Mara’s most famous sight is the Great Migration, a great animal migration event that takes place in July and August every year and the Wild Eye Mara camp is the perfect place from which to experience the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth.