History of Maasai Mara in Kenya
The Maasai Mara lies in the Great Rift Valley, which is a fault line some 5,600km long, extending from Ethiopia’s Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique.
There are four main types of topography in the Maasai Mara
- Ngama Hills to the east with sandy soil and leafy bushes and loved by black rhinos;
- Oloololo escarpment forms the western boundary and rises to a magnificent plateau.
- Mara Triangle borders the Mara River with lush grassland and acacia woodlands supporting masses of the game especially migrating wildebeest.
- Central plains form the largest part of the reserve, with scattered bushes and boulders on rolling grasslands favored by the plains game.
There is an abundance of wildebeest, zebra, impala, topi, giraffe, and Thomson’s gazelle on the plains. Visitors often spot leopards, lions, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, bat-eared foxes, and even black rhinos. The Mara river is filled with hippos and enormous Nile crocodiles.
Every July (sometimes August), the wildebeest travel from the Serengeti plains to the Masai Mara. In October or November, once they have feasted and the grass has all but gone, they return to the Southern Serengeti. The Mara birds appear in every size and color including the beautiful lilac-breasted roller and plenty of large species such as eagles, vultures, and storks.
The main Masai Mara Reserve is surrounded by the Mara conservation area, owned by different Maasai communities who formed conservation partnership agreements with private camp owners.
Masai Mara Division
The Mara Triangle, which is the north-western part of the Masai Mara National Reserve is managed by the Mara Conservancy, a non-profit organization. It is divided from the rest of the Masai Mara National Reserve by the Mara River. The Mara Triangle is less visited and less crowded, resulting in abundant game sightings on the plains and between the volcanic hills that
distinguish this corner of the Mara.
Mara North conservancy
This is a beautiful private wilderness area of more than 300 sq. km, effectively increasing the size of the National Reserve by 20%. It is a vital part of the Masai Mara ecosystem as it forms the north-western zone, bordering the Masai Mara National Reserve in the south.
The Mara North Conservancy (MNC) is a partnership between eleven member camps and more
than 800 Maasai landowners. The aim is to create a best-practice, world-class conservancy with long-term commitments to the environment, wildlife, and local communities. This area is a key dispersal zone for the annual “Great Migration” and supports an extensive variety of additional species.
The most recognizable include lion, cheetah, leopard, buffalo, hyena, elephant, crocodile, wild dog, giraffe, hippopotamus, and over 450 bird species.
Olare Motorogi conservancy
It became a haven for big cats and forms part of the annual wildebeest migration route. The conservancy covers 350 sq. km, offering some of East Africa’s finest, year-round wildlife viewing. The area boasts one of the highest densities of lions per square kilometer in Africa and over 50 different species of raptors have been identified.
Tourism in the conservancy is limited to a maximum of 94 beds in five mobile camps. This
equates to a ratio of one game-viewing vehicle for every 2,100 acres, a move that is aimed at maximizing the client’s wilderness experience and minimizing the environmental impact of tourism.
Mara Naboisho conservancy
Naboisho means “partnership” in Maa, the Maasai language. The 500 sq. km conservancy consists of land contributions from 500 Maasai landowners. One of the key motivations for creating the Mara Naboisho conservancy was to aid the protection and conservation of wildlife and landscape.
The conservancy is home to big cats (in impressive numbers) and herds of elephants, giraffes, and wildebeests. Unlike its neighbor, the National reserve, this private conservancy strictly monitors the number of tourists who enter the area, reducing the number of vehicles and the human impact on the environment and wildlife. The charm of the conservancy is its exclusivity.
A non-profit company established to create best practices in tourism and conservation, regain the conservation values of the area, enhance the benefits of local communities, and promote low-impact ‘private’ tourism.
The Conservancy is a critical wildlife dispersal area for migratory wildlife in the Mara ecosystem. Common animals include Burchell’s zebra, Thompson’s gazelle, impala, elephants, giraffes, spotted hyenas, jackals, African civet, genet, banded mongoose, warthog, tree hyrax, and porcupine. Big cats, including lions, are also present. The conservancy is also a bird haven.
This 290 sq. km conservancy borders the Masai Mara National Reserve. The conservancy is home to all animal species found in the Mara ecosystem, except the black rhinoceros. The area within the conservancy offers diverse landscapes and vegetation.
Ol Kinyei conservancy
This pioneer award-winning conservancy was the first in the Mara ecosystem to set aside an area exclusively aimed at wildlife conservation (no human settlements or cattle allowed). This 175 sq. km conservancy belongs to a Maasai community and provides them with tangible returns to help them improve their lives and not be solely dependent on cattle.
Best Time to Visit Masai Mara
The Masai Mara has an abundance of games all year-round but the best time to visit Masai Mara is during the dry season. The wildebeest migration usually reaches the Masai Mara in August and remains until October when they move back to the Serengeti in Tanzania.
High season – July to November and January
Low season – March to May – rainy season
Things to do in Maasai Mara
You can explore the natural dramas of the Maasai Mara in our state-of-the-art 4×4 safari vehicles during the morning, afternoon, or full-day game drives. During the game drive, our knowledgeable guides will introduce you to life in the savanna and share their infinite knowledge about African wildlife.
Maasai Mara is one of the few places in Africa which are bird heaven; more than 500 species of birds have been identified in Maasai Mara. You should be spoiled with views of sunrise and sunset in this game reserve. For bird lovers stay ready for teaching and fascinating stories from our professional guides while on the search for birds
Guided Walking Safaris
Accompanied by an armed ranger, walking safaris can be enormously exciting, and as much as anywhere else, there are areas of the Maasai Mara where creeping rather than walking pays high dividends. The areas surrounding are home to large numbers of buffalo, elephants, and hippos and a competent guide will often be able to put you in a safe position to watch these animals (as well as many others) at surprisingly close range.
With more than 440 species, Maasai Mara is a perfect spot for ornithologists. The most commonly seen bird species are African spoonbills, white-fronted bee-eaters, white-headed vultures, African fish eagles, spur-winged lapwings, and francolins.
Experience a unique experience of sleeping out in the wild with only the sounds of the African bush around you, the stars being your only light. This is one of the most amazing experiences you can have on a safari!
The fly camping tents are made of a see-through mosquito net to offer a 360-degree view of one of the most unique settings you will ever sleep in. Camp staff set up the fly camps in advance and you can either walk there as part of your safari activity or drive there after your last game drive.
Fly camping is about adventure, not luxury. Your tent is simple, the bed is very comfortable and the crew prepares fantastic meals in the middle of the wilderness. There is a bucket shower within the outside bathroom facility.
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