The best known game reserve in Kenya, the Masai Mara is famous the world over for its vast plains, big cats, Masai people and most of all the Great Wildebeest Migration. Sitting on the edge of Africa’s Rift Valley, the Mara forms part of a larger ‘eco reserve’ with the Serengeti National Park in neighbouring Tanzania.This is a ‘must do’ classic African Safari.
As you sit round the camp fire, drink in hand and reflect on the excitement of the day, the African night surrounds you …. a lion roars and a hyaena whoops … the stage is set for another African drama on these famous plains.
Classical Out of Africa moments can be relived in the Masai Mara and there are still some colonial style luxury tented camps such as Cottar’s where you can enjoy the type of safari that the adventurers and explorers pioneered at the beginning of the 1900′s. Of course a lot has progressed in the last hundred years and there are now safari camps and lodges all around the Masai Mara catering for all tastes and budgets.
I would personally always recommend the luxury tented camps and the smaller camps, preferably outside the main reserve in the conservancy areas. These ‘conservancies’ are a great example of how tourism in Kenya is successfully working with local Masai people as the safari companies lease the land from the local villages and also provide employment and support to their families. Some of the best guides in the Mara are from neighbouring villages and you will love to get to know them as they show you their homelands. Another advantage of staying in a conservancy is that they are private so only those camps in each conservancy have traversing rights – you can still go into the main reserve but the hords of minibuses from the large hotels in the game reserve cannot drive past your lovely quiet tented camp!! It is also possible to take guided bush walks and night drives in some of the conservancy areas. The Porini Camps are highly recommended and have an excellent eco-policy and Kicheche Camps are well established and particularly popular with wildlife photographers. Other camps I regularly use and recommend in the Masai Mara include Naibor, Olonana, Serian, Elephant Pepper and Rekero.
If you are inspired by travel and wildlife programmes on your TV or the big screen you may want to go to the base for Big Cat Diary and Planet Earth Live which is around Governor’s Camp and Rekero areas in the heart of the reserve. Governor’s is a classical tented camp on the bend of the river surrounded by the plains where your favourite screen cats can be found! Also here are Little Governor’s Camp and the luxury rustic Il Moran Camp.
Disney’s new film African Cats is set in the Masai Mara too, the endearing Cheetah cubs can be seen all over the Masai Mara. This region being such a fertile ground for many plains animals and in particular the wildebeest and zebra that migrate here, is a great place for all kinds of big cats. Even out of migration season Lions, Leopard and Cheetah are all regularly seen. The main herds arrive from Tanzania from around June and mass together in the Mara between July and October when they head south again. The main areas of the famous ‘river crossings’ are at the Talek, Mara and Grumeti Rivers. A popular way to see the plains and the vast numbers of animals they support is from above take an iconic hot air balloon safari over the Masai Mara! Outside the migration season you can still see plenty of elephants, giraffes, zebra and resident big cats as well as fabulous birdlife and dramatic landscapes.
As an Africa safari specialist and having visited the Masai Mara in every month of the year, I can put together a bespoke wildlife holiday to Kenya and the Mara for you. Whether it’s for a honeymoon, family holiday or just a fix of amazing wildlife, I can create a tailor made itinerary to suit your needs. If you are travelling alone or want to join a group, let me find the right escorted tour or adventure safari for you.