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The main reason many tourists visit Kenya, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is an area brimming with life. Seasoned travellers, safari goers and wildlife film-makers often consider the Mara to be one of their favorite destinations. This is not surprising considering the high concentration of large animals and the presence of Africa’s most famous wildlife, including all the favourites of lions, leopards, zebra, wildebeest, hyena, cheetah, giraffes, hippos, and elephants. This is also the location of Africa’s most famous wildlife spectacle, the great wildebeest migration, which has been made famous by action packed nature documentaries. During the migration, visitors can see thousands of animals and have the best luck of witnessing incredible hunting scenes.

Location & Geography of the Maasai Mara

Located in south west Kenya, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is a small protected area of only 1,510 square kilometers (583 square miles) but has an exceptionally high concentration of wildlife owing to its connection and continuation of the Serengeti National Park and position on the great African plains. Habitat of the area includes grasslands, sandy scrubland and acacia woodlands – each with their favorite residents among the African animals.

Lions at the Little Governors Camp

Climate of the Maasai Mara

Temperature on the Mara of a day time doesn’t get higher than about 85°F (30°C) and of a night time doesn’t fall below 60°F (15°C). The rains mainly fall in April, May and November, which can cause area of the reserve to become very muddy. The dry season is from July to October where the grasslands are rejuvenated following the rains.

Wildebeest Migration

As an extra treat, the Wildebeest Migration made famous by nature documentaries can be seen from July to October. Wildebeest and other animals make the journey from the drier grasslands in Tanzania to the lush pastures of the Masai Mara. Although wildebeest are the main animal involved, they are accompanied by vast numbers of zebra and gazelle, which attracts predators like lions, hyenas, cheetah and Nile crocodiles making for excellent wildlife spectacles and photography opportunities.

The Mara River

Famous as the river wildebeest must cross on their treacherous journey north, the Mara River runs from Tanzania to Kenya snaking its way through the Serengeti and Masai Mara game reserves. This river is vital for the plants and animals of the Masai Mara and also for the communities and Maasai people. You can see Nile crocodiles waiting patiently for the herds of animals, which risk life and limb by crossing this vital water source to reach their long awaited lush grasslands.

IL Moran Camp

Activities you can enjoy in the Maasai Mara

Safaris are a must do experience on the Maasai Mara to see the incredible wildlife. The activities are offered by Safari Camps on the Maasai Mara and include:

  • Game Drives where you are guided around the reserve in a 4×4 vehicle specially designed for the activity scouting for animals and wildlife spectacles. These tours are designed to get you close to the action and to observe animals in their natural habitat going about their day to day lives. Enjoy seeing animals engaged in social interactions, hunting, playing, migrating, feeding and resting. Your highly trained guide will talk about the different animals and explain what is happening around you to make sure you don’t miss anything.
  • Cultural Tours where you can visit Maasai communities such as the Mara Rianda who live just outside the reserve. Enjoying knowing a people whos culture has remained unchanged for centuries. Visitors are always struck by the grace and beauty of the Masai people, and the colourful lifestyle they lead. There is also a bustling curio market where guests can buy traditional Masai beadwork.
  • Hot Air Ballooning gives you one of the best views of the Masai Mara as you scout for wildlife from a privileged and rarely seen perspective. Launching from the Little Governor’s Camp and available from the other listed Governors Camps, the most frequent surprise for guests on their first ballooning adventure is the absolute stillness and the silence as you float above the plains, the forest and the rivers of the Masai Mara.

    Even if you’ve flown elsewhere, this is a unique experience. The flight lasts an hour or so, drifting wherever the air currents take you, and with ample opportunities for photography and video filming. Then your Kenyan Hot Air Balloon Safari finishes with a flourish. In the time honoured tradition of balloon flights the world over, you toast your return to earth with a champagne breakfast, cooked wherever you land. The Balloon Safari ends with a transfer back to camp.

Getting to the Maasai Mara

You can reach the Masai Mara after arriving in Nairobi and a great place to relax before your trip is the Loldia House which has its own airstrip straight to the Masai Mara National Reserve. While at Loldia House, enjoy your first glimpse of African wildlife and take tour for a look at a different area of Kenya.

For more information on Kenya, you can visit the Governors Camp website.

Ash - Author & Travel Advisor About the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Tropics and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical locations. Ash is a contributor to both TourTheTropics.com and ThinkJungle.com writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the tropics. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.
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