Masai Mara National Park

Inside Maasai Mara National Reserve, Safaris in Masai Mara

Maasai Mara, also sometimes spelled Masai Mara and locally best known as The Mara, is a large National Game Reserve in Narok, Kenya within the Rift Valley province that is contagious with Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.  The Reserve was named in honor of the Maasai People, the ancestral people who inhabited the area and are believed to have migrated to the area from the Nile Basin. The description of the area when looked at from afar by the local people Maasai; “Mara” means “spotted” in their local language. This is as a result of too many short bushy trees which dot the landscape.

The Maasai Mara National Reserve comprises 1,510 square kilometers with the vast endless plains that encounter short sweet grasses, which is a source of ample feeding for the plentiful herbivores within the region. The Mara was established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary and covered only 520 square kilometers of the current area, including the Mara Triangle. It was further extended to the east to cover 1,821 square kilometers when it was converted into A Game Reserve.

The Mara is part of the large Mara – Serengeti ecosystem that spans 25,000 square Kilometers, located in the north most part of the section. The National Reserve is bordered by the Serengeti National Park in the south, Siria/Oloololo escarpment to the west, Maasai Mara pastoral ranches in the north, east, and west.

The Mara ecosystem encompasses areas known as the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Mara Triangle, and several Masai Conservancies, including Koiyaki, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Mara North, Olkinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, Ol Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien, and Kimintet.

What is Maasai Mara famous for?

Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the most famous and important wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa, the reserve is world-renowned for its exceptional populations of lion, African leopard, cheetah, and African bush elephant.

The Reserve is also home to all the African Big Five animals that can be spotted all year round. The reserve is the only protected area in the country that habituates the indigenous black rhinoceros that are unaffected by translocations and has one of the large populations in Africa.

The Mara is home to a variety of birdlife and harbors over 470 bird species, many of which are migrants, with almost 60 species that are raptors. The most commonly spotted include vultures, marabou storks, secretary birds, hornbills, crowned cranes, ostriches, long-crested eagles, African pygmy-falcons, and the lilac-breasted roller, thus a good destination for birding in Kenya.

Maasai Mara wildebeest entering river
Maasai Mara wildebeest crossing road

What is special about Masai Mara National Reserve?

Maasai Mara National is home to exceptional wildlife and one of the famous African safari destinations in Kenya. The Reserve hosts the Great Wildebeest Migration, the second-largest unaltered terrestrial mammal migration on earth.

The Great Migration in Kenya’s Masai Mara is an all year round event, where over 1.5 million wildebeest upon thousands of zebra and other grazers mark their long legendary journey of over 1,800 miles in a large round trek from the drier lands in Tanzania, heading towards the north to Kenya’s Masai Mara in search for lush grass to graze.

When does the migration start? – The Great migration occurs all year round and since it is dictated by the spatial distribution of rainfall, at the different months of the year migration can be seen at different sites.

The exact dates when the Great Migration commences are not well known however, the first groups of grazer mammals start arriving to gather at the northern edge of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the large numbers gather here for days without crossing the Mara River.

The migration starts in July and ends in late September, however it is difficult to predict the real date when the movement starts. If your question is “which is the best month to Visit Masai Mara?”. In our opinion, the best time to visit Masai Mara and have great opportunity to see the migration with animals in large numbers gathering and crossing the bloodthirsty river with fast-flowing water and infested with crocodiles, and many predators like lions, hyenas, and leopard in a long wait to catch their prey is mid-July to late August.

Masai Mara viewing a cheetah
Masai Mara ballooning
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