What a critical question to ask while making the decision to visit Africa. But before we dive into the topic. Let’s examine some background information for these two parks
Where is Serengeti National park & Maasai Mara Game reserve? Both parks are in East Africa. Serengeti is in the northern safari circuit of Tanzania. And Maasai Mara is in southwest Kenya.
Both these parks form an area of 30,000 square kilometers of African safari destinations.
Both of these parks share the same ecological zones but are different entities. Serengeti is under the Tanzania government and Maasai Mara is under the Kenya government.
Despite being the leading wildlife safari destination in Africa. The critical question of where to visit remains a big challenge for visitors to East Africa.
There are similarities and differences between Serengeti and Maasai Mara.
Let’s start with the similarities between these parks
Both Serengeti and Maasai Mara are considered as one complex ecosystem. The stretching land from northern Tanzania to South-West Kenya.
Wildlife is free to move from any side of these parks either from Maasai Mara to Serengeti or vice versa. That is why these parks are taken as a single ecosystem.
The wildlife in both Serengeti and Maasai is incomparable to any other park in Africa. The nature of the park and plenty of food is the main reason for the incredible growth in the number of wild animals.
The iconic event for wildebeest migration involves millions of gnu and zebras. Is one of the well-known natural events recorded by humankind.
This ongoing activity is a continuous process from July to January. Though Mara river crossing is unpredictable. Most of the time occurs from July to September.
The Serengeti and Maasai Mara when it comes to predators population are magical. More than 3000 lions, 8,000, and more than 1,000 leopards live across this plain.
The big five families include. Cape buffalo, Elephants, Leopards, and Black rhinos are the common residents.
The deadly Nile Crocodiles and Hippos are the other residents of this ecosystem. Along the Mara River or small ponds available within the parks are the best areas to spot as well.
Serengeti depicts evidence of larger herds of Girrafes and other hooved animals. Topi, Impalas, Gazzelles, Elands and Kongoni. South-East plains Serengeti remain as Cheetah’s home. The Seronera River is the best spot for Leopards near trees.
Maasai Mara boosts as the bird’s heaven with more than 470 bird species. But also sighting small predators like Black-backed Jackals, Bat-Eared foxes.
Both these parks provide the best wildlife experience, Maasai Mara is wide open. The vegetation cover is very scattered while Serengeti is larger. The encounters between predator-predators and prey-predators are very common in Serengeti.
There are no major changes in altitude between these two parks to create changes in weather. Maasai Mara and Serengeti temperature range from Mean temperature approx.15 to 25 °C (59 to 77 °F) at Serengeti. While in Maasai Mara Mean Temperatures range from approx. 12 to 30 °C (54–86 °F).
The landscapes between Serengeti and Maasai Mara are to some extent the same. As far as the lie of the land is concerned. By observing the landscapes between these parks one is able to tell the similarities.
The dominating grasslands and rocky outcrop hills (kopjes) and seasonal rivers. The altitude at Serengeti ranges from 920 to 1850 meters and Maasai Mara is 1500 to 2200 meters.
Now let’s look at the difference between Serengeti National Park and Maasai Mara
5. Parkfees and Accomodation
Serengeti Park fees are more cost full than Maasai Mara. While in Serengeti apart from entry fees. Visitors staying inside that park should have to pay concession fees.
Staying inside Serengeti can cost around $130 per day compared to Maasai Mara which is $70
The accommodation prices vary between Maasai Mara and Serengeti. In Maasai Mara, there are many camps and lodges within the game reserve compared to Serengeti.
There are some driving factors for this, Serengeti is under the national park category. National parks are the highest level of conservation. While Maasai Mara is the game reserve.
The protection status for Serengeti is quite different from Maasai Mara.
4. Wildlife Density and Size
Serengeti is a giant park in terms of size and wildlife density compare to Maasai Mara. The size of Serengeti as of this writing is 30,000 square kilometers while Maasai Mara is 1,510 km².
Serengeti is known for its larger population of lions. Is the only place to observe pride in their natural setting. Apart from that Serengeti hosts millions of wildlife. The high number of wildebeest, birds, Elephants, and bird species. There is no doubt for Serengeti has a higher density than Maasai Mara
3. Conservation Status
Maasai Mara in Kenya is the game reserve compared to Serengeti which is the National park. There is a slight difference when it comes to these two categories of conservation. Some human activities can be allowed in game reserves like hunting in specific areas.
But the national park is the highest level of conservation. This adheres to strict protection “Take Nothing, Live Nothing”. No human interference is allowed in national parks. Let nature be as its. And this establishes the line of difference between these two parks.
2. International Recognition & Oustanding Values.
Both these parks are listed in the top 10 African Wonders for Nature. Both share the migration event. Though Serengeti is one of the seventh wonders of Africa and also one of the 10th wonders of the world.
Both Maasai Mara and Serengeti are incredible places worth visiting. Though the decision as to which park to visit depends so much on your preference either density or the view.
1. Best time to visit
No doubt about these two parks as the wildlife galaxy of Africa. But the time you visit either Serengeti or Maasai Mara will determine the experience. If you’re looking for wildebeest migration you must align with the time frame.
Serengeti is wonderful during the dry season from June to September. The Mara River crossing happens during September and larger herds migrate to Kenya. So during October Maasai Mara’s wildlife density doubled in size.
In December, January, February & March
The Serengeti and Ngorongoro are the most impressive wildlife sanctuary in the world.
From December to March, the plains of Serengeti Ngorongoro become home to wildebeest.
The great herds graze on rain-ripened grass. This is the best time to visit the Serengeti.
From late January to mid-March over 80% of wildebeests give birth. The concentration remains on Ndutu and Salei plain (south of Serengeti)
This is the best time to observe the predators and like lions and cheetahs. For a better stay, you should focus to stay mobile camp in Ndutu or Naabi area or Ndutu Safari Lodge. Learn more about Serengeti Migration.
Best Combine Tours
If you’re looking for the best-combined trip for either the peak of Africa “Mount Kilimanjaro”. The best combination could be Serengeti National Park.
But also visiting Serengeti will offer you the best chance to visit the Olduvai Gorge – the cradle of mankind. But what if you want to visit Ngorongoro Crater or Zanzibar Island? Then Serengeti could be the best option to go for.
Explore our combined trips to Serengeti & Maasai Mara
Despite all that, these parks are the best destinations to visit in Africa. The plenty of wildlife and the incredible view is a lifetime experience you won’t dare to miss.
You might wish to visit these parks but you don’t have any idea where to start and how many days could be best for your trip. Feel free to contact us. We create and customize a unique tour for you either in Tanzania or Kenya.
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