It’s said that you won’t find a greater abundance of the game anywhere in Africa, as you will in the Maasai Mara. Apart from the Big 5, you’re likely to see a bigger variety of wildlife in larger numbers; like the annual wildebeest migration, involving over 1.5 million animals.
Without a doubt, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s, if not Africa’s, most famous safari destination. It’s a huge, flattish park with wide-open savannah grasslands located in the Great Rift Valley. It’s also home to an unbelievable quantity and variety of wildlife, which is most concentrated on its western escarpment.
Nowhere else in Africa will you find a greater abundance of game and you’re virtually guaranteed to see the Big 5 here; buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, and rhino. Other games you’re likely to sight include cheetah, serval, hyena, bat-eared fox, black-backed and side-striped jackal, hippo, crocodile, baboon, warthog, topi, eland, Thompson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, waterbuck, oribi, reedbuck, wildebeest, and zebra.
The world-famous annual wildebeest migration, known as the Great Migration, takes place here every year between July and November and is said to involve more than 1.5 million animals. It’s a truly incredible sight if you’re lucky enough to witness it.
The reserve boasts some 95 species of mammals, amphibians, and reptiles with more than 400 bird species recorded.
Best time to visit
Peak migration time in the Mara is from late July to early October. During this time you have the best chance to see one of the famous river crossings, where thousands of wildebeest brave the dangerous croc-infested waters of the Mara river to get across to the grassy plains on the other side.
The Maasai Mara is 1,600 m (5,300 ft) above sea level. Its rainy season is from November until May. Mornings are usually clear and dry, with clouds building into dramatic thunderstorms by late afternoon, early evening. The dry season extends from June until November and offers you the best game viewing, but it is also the most congested time in the Mara. If you are able to book a few weeks before or after the peak season, you’ll have far less crowding, and probably much better rates, too. Early November and February also offer excellent game viewing. Temperatures generally range from 20 – 30°C (68 – 86°F).
The Mara is easy to get to by road or by air. There are several all-weather airstrips and road access is fair, especially from Nairobi. We’ll gladly help you work out the best options for your itinerary and preferences.
In addition to superb game viewing by day, night drives with spotlights can be arranged. Hot air ballooning is popular and is an unforgettable way for you to experience the sheer expanse of the Maasai Mara. Of course, a visit to one of the Maasai cultural villages is sure to be a highlight on your itinerary.
Wildlife & Safaris
Sweeping grasslands, lone acacia thorn trees, stately Maasai warriors clad in red, the wildebeest leaping frantically into the Mara River. These are some of the iconic images of this world-renown safari destination.
Made even more famous by TV’s “Big Cat Diary” and Disney’s “African Cats”, the Maasai Mara National Park heads the popularity charts as Kenya’s top safari destination. It’s also home to the Great Migration where over a million wildebeest, zebra and other antelope run the gauntlet across the crocodile-infested waters of the Mara and Talek Rivers.
But fame has its drawbacks. At peak season, the landscape is wall-to-wall with safari vehicles and tourists jostling for prime viewing space and the best photo opportunities. This is something to bear in mind when planning your Kenyan safari. Would you be comfortable with these crowds? Or would it be more sensible to opt for a safari lodge or tented camp in one of the exclusive concession camps where you’ll still have every chance of seeing teeming wildlife, especially huge numbers of wildebeest during the season, and seldom see more than one or two vehicles when you’re out on game drives?
Another option is to plan your safari in the off-season when there are fewer people around. You can go just before or immediately after peak migration season (ie mid-July to mid-October) when you’ll find far fewer tourists, more attractive prices and still stand a good chance of seeing some of the migration.
On safari in the Maasai Mara, you can expect to see abundant lion, cheetah and leopard, spotted hyenas, jackal and predatory birds. There are thousands of elephant, abundant and varied species of antelope from the diminutive dik-dik to the enormous eland, huge herds of buffalo, giraffe and, of course, Burchell’s zebra and wildebeest by the hundreds of thousands.
Speak to us about your preferences and concerns and we’ll gladly share some of our insider secrets and help you to plan an unforgettable safari with the best viewing and least overcrowding.
Undeniably the most popular safari destination in Kenya, the Maasai Mara is also the most crowded, with more safari camps, mobile tented camps, and lodges than any other safari destination.
From basic safari lodges to luxury tented camps in private concessions away from the madding crowd, Maasai Mara offers a range of safari accommodation options so there’s guaranteed to be something to suit your pocket and your preferences. Feel free to discuss your accommodation wish-list with us and we’d be happy to put together an unforgettable Maasai Mara itinerary for you.