Masai Mara safaris in Kenya offer some of the best slices of wildlife tourism in the world. With the improving tourism industry, the destination has much more to offer. Masai Mara Reserve – best known as the departure and arrival point for the annual migration (Great Migration) of millions of wildebeest and antelopes – is the most popular game park in Kenya.
Located in Narok County, Masai Mara is on the border of Tanzania and Serengeti National Park. It stretches over 200 sq miles of vast grassy plains lying to the southwest of this spectacular East African country. The national reserve is named for the people who inhabit the area, the semi-nomadic Masai Mara tribe.
What Are The Best Accommodations Near Masa Mara?
There are a number of lodges and tented camps for tourists inside the reserve’s borders. Lodges and camps inside the reserve include:
- Mara Serena Safari Lodge – Known for its fantastic view and proximity to the Mara Triangle, they are both CEO0 and family-friendly. A wide range of animals can be found on the grounds.
- Governor’s Camp – The first permanent tented camp in Masai Mara, enjoy the view which includes a view of the Mara River. Created in 1972, Governors’ Camp set new standards in luxury for a tented camp.
- Siana Springs Tented Camp – These quaint quarters are big on service and cleanliness. The Camp has a rich history dating back to 1920, when the first Game Warden selected its current site for his Camp.
- Mara Simba Lodge – A family-friendly establishment with a view of the Mara River. Mara Simba includes a restaurant, a bar and a garden as well as room service.
- Sarova Mara Game Camp – This family resort received the Travelers’ Choice 2019 Winner distinction from TripAdvisor Includes a free form swimming pool with a bar as well as a fleet of safari vehicles with guides.
Outside the reserve borders are:
- Mara Sopa Lodge – A charming family-friendly hotel that’s got a great location in the Oloolaimutia Hills. Set in traditional conical cottages.
- Elephant Pepper Camp – Located in the Mara North Conservancy, this is another family-friendly establishment known for its charm. Elephant Pepper Camp has been the driving force in creating the conservancy.
- Royal Mara Safari Lodge – A luxury safari and game viewing lodge with a view of the Mara River.
- Sekenani Camp – Quaint, clean and prides itself on its relaxing environment immersed in nature.
Which Is The Best Month to Visit Masai Mara?
Even though the migration is one of Africa’s most remarkable displays, Masai Mara is one of Africa’s best wildlife destinations year round. Even if your visit falls outside the peak migration times, it does not mean you have lost out on what Mara is renowned for: an incredibly large wildlife population and diversity that ranges from lions and leopards to grazing Masai cattle. The Masai Mara Reserve is about a third of the size of the Serengeti National Park, which also makes it a more manageable area for game viewing.
Masai Mara is perhaps most famous for its lions. All other members of the Big Five (leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo) are also found here. Hippos can be found in large groups along the Masai Mara and Talek rivers. Cheetahs are harder to find as their numbers continue to be threatened due to daytime hunting by tourists.
The Great Migration involves some 1.3 million wildebeest, 3.6 million Thomson’s gazelle, and 1.91 million zebra. Their annual and circular route is followed by hungry predators such as lions and hyenas.
Things To Do In Masai Mara
The best thing to experience in Masai Mara is balloon safari. For the best overview of the entire Mara reserve there is nothing like a hot air balloon safari from Little Governors Camp, lifting off at sunrise to float up and away across the Mara triangle, heading towards the Serengeti. The charges are about USD 350 – 500 per person (depending on the season) and the balloon can accommodate about 16 people at a time.
There are other types of safaris offered such as:
- Horseback safaris – Take in the views of the Masai Mara on horseback with this authentic and interactive experience.
- Walking safaris – A great way to get in your exercise, bask in the Masai Mara ecosystem on foot.
- Migration safaris – Experience the Great Migration from July to November.
- Bush and beach safaris – One of Kenya’s great pairings – taking in the wildlife in the wilderness, then relaxing on a coastal getaway.
- Honeymoon safaris – Serenity meets adventure on these excursions that are perfect for couples.
- Luxury safaris – Big on comfort, taken in some of the world’s best game viewing in style.
- Overland safaris – Truly embrace the safari spirit by becoming an active participant in setting up camp and meal preparation.
- Family safaris – Private and group options available for family members of all ages from children to seniors.
More About Masai Mara Safaris
What Does Masai Mara Mean?
The Masai Mara is named for its local inhabitants, who refer to the land as “Mara”, which means “spotted.” While the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments have tried to get the Masai Mara tribe to abandon their age-old customs, the tribe continues to live in the area. They welcome visits to their villages, where they share their culture.
Which Is Better – Serengeti or Masai Mara?
While the Masai Mara is much smaller than the Serengeti, the real difference between the two is the time of year where the best wildlife viewing can be seen. Both offer wildlife viewing opportunities and activities. However, seasonality is typically more of a deciding factor of which to visit (as well as the specific activities and accommodations that are going to be the best match for you.) The dry season (from July to October) is the best time to visit both areas because of the Great Migration; however, there are wildlife viewing opportunities year round.
Where to Fly for Masai Mara
Many people fly into Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), but there also are many airstips throughout the Masai Mara. Where you fly into will largely depend on where you are staying. Time is also a factor, as many fly from Nairobi to one of the airstrips in Masai Mara (rather than drive) if they are short on time. More comfortable than driving, it’s also a fantastic way to get an aerial view of the land. Travelers using this option may decide to depart to a Masai Mara airstrip from Nairobi’s other major airport, Wilson Airport (WIL). A third option, if you have time to spare, is to take an “air safari” and fly from Mombasa to the Kichwa Airstrip in Masai Mara. This will allow you to see Lake Amboseli, the Great Rift Valley and more.
Odyssey Safari Tours Of Masai Mara
When you travel with Odyssey Safaris, you have plenty of opportunities to visit Masai Mari, including the following popular tours:
- 3-Day Diani Beach from Masai Mara – A Diani Beach extension from the Masai Mara is a fantastic end to an outstanding safari experience.
- Private Four Day Masai Mara Safari – Get a taste of the classic safari experience on a private four day/three night safari adventure in Kenya’s finest wildlife reserve.
- Classic Kenya Safari – The allure of Kenya is legendary, and this 8-day safari captures its true essence.
- Kenya & Tanzania Safari – A deep dive into the best wildlife reserves in east Africa.
- Highlights of Kenya Safari – This award winning safari brings you to the heart of East Africa on an eight-day safari.
Ready to book your adventure? Contact us to get started.