Maasai Mara National Reserve is the most famous Kenya Safari destination and one of the top visited tourists’ destinations in the world. More so, the Maasai Mara is renown as the largest national game reserve in Narok, Kenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the park is named in honor of the Maasai people who are the ancestral inhabitants of the area, migrated to the area all away from the Nile Basin. For the matter, the word ‘’Mara’’ is in local Maasai language which means ‘’spotted’’. This is due to the many short bushy trees which dot the landscape.
More fact, Maasai Mara is known as world’s exception populations of lion, leopard, cheetah and African bush elephant. The park the hosts the great migration which acts as one of the seven Natural wonders of Africa and as one of the ten wonders of the world. The Greater Mara ecosystem encompasses areas like the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Mara Triangle and several Maasai Conservancies including Koiyaki, Lemek, OlChorro Oirowua, Mara North, OIkiinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, OI Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien and Kimintet.
Location; Maasai Mara National Reserve is location in northwestern Kenya, Rift Valley Province near to the Narok town, covers an area of about 1,510 square kilometers and was established in 1961. More then, it is managed by Trans-Mara County and Narok County.
Originally, Maasai Mara National Reserve was established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary the Mara and covered only 520 square kilometers of the current area, including the Mara Triangle. Later on, the area was extended to the east in 1961 to cover around 1,821 square kilometers and divided into a Game Reserve. By that time, the Narok County Council ‘’NCC’’ was in charge of the reserve. Although, the biggest part of the reserve was given National Reserve status in 1974 and the remaining area of about 159 square kilometers was given out to the local communities. Then, an additional of 162 square kilometers were removed from the reserve in 1976 and the park had to reduce to 1,510 square kilometers in 1984.
In 1994, they had to form a new council named Trans Mara County Council ‘’TMCC’’ in the western part of the reserve and system was divided between the new council and the existing Narok County Council. In early 2001, the not-for-profit Mara Conservancy took over management of the Mara Triangle which covers the western side of the reserve.
Geographically, the total land under conservation in the Greater Maasai Mara ecosystem amounts about 1,510-kilometer square. The northern most section of the Mara -Serengeti ecosystem covers some of area 25,000 square kilometers in Tanzania and Kenya. The area is bordered by the Serengeti Park to the south and Maasai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. More so, the sand, Talek River and Mara River are the main rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hillslopes and hilltops.
The terrain of the reserve is one grassland withs seasonal river lets. To its south east region are clumps of the distinctive acacia tree which are habitat to the largest population of wildlife species
Climate; The park is a semi-arid climate with biannual rains and two distinct rainy seasons. The best time to visit the park is all year around though the best time without destruction if rain starts from November to December and January to March.
Wildlife; Blue wildebeest, Topi, plains Zebra and Thomson’s gazelle are the animals that migrate into and occupy the Mara reserve, from the Serengeti plains to the south and Loita Plains in the pastoral ranches to the northeast from July to October thus acting as ‘’ magical Wildebeest Migration Event’’. It is also home to the ‘’Big Five mammals’’ Lion, Africa leopard, African bush elephant, African buffalo, black and white rhinos as well as hippopotamus and Nile crocodile which can be seen in large groups in the Mara and Talek rivers. The plains between the Mara River and the Esoit Siria Escarpment are the most rewarding area for game viewing, regarding to seeing of lions and cheetah.
Carnivore in Maasai Mara is the spotted hyenas and other smaller carnivores to see include; African clawless otters, Stripped polecats, African civets, Genets, Several mongoose species, African wolves, Black-backed jackals, African striped weasels, Caracals, Servals, Honey badgers, aardwolves, African wildcats among others.
Antelopes in the park includes; impalas, duikers, Grant gazelles, and Coke’s hartebeests, also home to the distinctive Masai giraffe.
Birdlife; The park boosts with more than 500 species of birds and 60 species being raptors. Birds includes; Secretary birds, hornbills, Crowned cranes, Ostriches, Long -crested eagles, African pygmy -falcons and lilac -breasted roller among others.
Activities in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Game drives; This is the main key activity which can done the whole day, half day or at night, allowing you to adventure a bucket of animal species like all the big5 and other animal species.
Nature walks; This is the most memorable experience led by the game rangers or the Maasai warrior who guide you through the footsteps of the wildlife at the wilderness as the explores did, tour the beauty of nature on foot.
Hot Air Balloon; This is once in life time experience which allows you to tour the park’s most pleasant treasures and best in the season of wildebeest migration. It gives you rewardable aerial view of wide range of wildlife species, birds among others.
Cultural tours; This one involves in visiting the locals and be able to meet up with unique traditions in Africa with the Maasai culture.
Horseback safaris; This provides a close view of animals while seated on the back of other animals and the experience is rewarding.
Wildebeest Migration Event; This is the most ultimate activity that attracts thousands of tourists flocking Maasai Mara from July to October as they come to catch a live migration of the wildebeest. This migration event happens annually in the park.
Birdwatching; The park is home to over 500 bird species both migratory and permanent residents.
Accommodation in Masai Mara; Maasai Mara National Reserve a great destination to go for holiday safari boosts with excellent accommodations which ranges from Budget, Mid-range and Luxury.
Lastly, you can decide to combine your Kenya safari itinerary with Gorilla trekking expedition in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Accessibility; From Kenya you can use a cheap flight ‘’Jomo Kenyatta Airport to fly you to Entebbe International Airport .Then getting to Bwindi – you can be helped with your tour operator to book you a domestic flight ‘Aero link Uganda’ to fly you to Kihihi or Kisoro Airstrip nearest airstrip to Bwindi Forest National Park.