The Masai Mara National Reserve (also spelled Maasai Mara), is the northern counterpart to the world-famous Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Both situated in the same contained ecosystem (Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem), the Masai Mara is particularly famous for sharing the annual wildebeest and zebra migration with the southern plains of its Tanzanian cousin, and experiences the world's most diverse migration of grazing animals in the world; 1.3 million wildebeest and several hundred thousand other ungulates travel across East Africa in search of food and birthing grounds. See "How the migration works" and "Plan a migration safari". The migration is so immense, its called the "Great Migration" and we have safaris which specifically concentrate on viewing this amazing spectacle.
Primarily made of grassland plains and riverine woodlands (following the Mara and Talek rivers), the park also has hills covered in forest to the south-east, providing some broader landscape that allows for a splendid aviary variety. A delicious sounding escarpment, the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment, forms the western border and is part of the great Rift Valley which extends from the Mediterranean Sea to South Africa.
A well established infrastructure provides some of the most memorable African safaris around - indeed the Mara is one of the oldest sites for visitors to explore the continent, and activities have evolved from the old-fashioned hunting to more ecofriendly alternatives; horseback safaris, cultural visits, lodge and camping outfits, hot air ballooning (brilliant!) and special interest safaris...particularly ones of a photographic nature.
The Masai Mara's reliable and consistent lion population (over twenty separate prides), made it the site of choice for the famous BBC programme, "Big Cat Diary", and many a wildlife documentary has found its roots in the reserve. Indeed we offer our clients the opportunity to take part in "Elephant Memories Safari" which is run on set departure dates during the year. The rest of the Mara's wildlife is by no means less significant, and is often treated with a degree of grudging admiration by safari operators in other national parks! A good network of roads and access make game viewing particularly good.
Our most highly recommended safari on the Mara, takes place in a small, private bush camp away from the crowds. This is a real safari without the bling at excellent value for money. Click to "Laikipia and Masai Mara safari special" for more information.
The Maasai have only inhabited the Mara Reserve for about 200 years, and there is some evidence that Neolithic settlements were present in the Lemek Valley. In terms of the more recent Masai populations, fortunately the pastoralist lifestyle of the tribe has changed little over the years, and the Maasai are remarkable in the level that they have managed to co-exist with the natural environment and local wildlife whilst raising domestic livestock on the same grazing grounds.
The dominant inhabitants are the wildebeest but there are many other antelope present - Thompson's and Grant's gazelle, impala and topi. Zebra are present in good numbers and around 161 000 migrate annually along with the wildebeest and Thompson's gazelles. Masai giraffe and the common giraffe are all part of the scenery and good specimens of roan antelope are found on the borders of the Masai Mara. With such plentiful numbers of ungulates on the plains, many of the well-known predators are present in good numbers - lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena are the most well-known. A rare nocturnal species is the bat-eared fox but porcupine, jackal and aardvaark are also seen during the long, dark nights.
Of the 450 species of birds seen in the area, the most frequently photographed is the lilac breasted-roller. Vultures and marabou stork gather round kills and the secretary bird, hornbills, crowned cranes, ostrich and African pygmy falcon are fairly common sights.
Access is easy, a 4-5 hour drive from Nairobi or alternately, daily flights from the majority of Kenya's airports make it to the reserve. Accommodation is available for all budgets.
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Our Recommended Tours
Mara North Conservancy, Kenya - 5 nights/6 days
6 incredible days with Jackson, legendary Big Cat Diary guide.
These safaris are now fully booked. Please contact us for alternative dates if you're really taken by this idea!
A maximum of 6 lucky Zambezi guests will be able to enjoy this unique safari journey with Jackson Looseyia , legendary Masai guide and famed for his appearances in BBC's Big Cat Diaries. Stunning wildlife including zebra, lion, elephants, giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo, hyaena, gazelle and cheetah. Set out each day from a private bush home, far from the tourist trail and enjoy private safari adventures.
Find out what our past guests Janet and Chris McC had to say about Jackson.
Laikipia Plateau and Masai Mara Reserve - 7 nights/8 days in Kenya
High quality guiding, good service and uncompromising hospitality.
A fantastic, authentic safari with NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT covering two of the main game viewing areas in Kenya. The truly traditional, no bling camps are unfenced and set in secluded spots on the Masai Mara and the Laikipia Plateau. This is one of the most highly rated safaris on Trip Advisor.
The rate is valid in the low season 01-30 Jun & 01 Nov - 14 Dec. High season rate applies 01 Jan - 31 Mar & 1 July - 14 July.
Amboseli and Masai Mara, Kenya - 7 night/8 day safari
It's time to enjoy the plains of Africa.
This safari is perfect for first timers and honeymooners. Both the Amboseli and the Masai Mara have been the subject of many wildlife TV documentaries. Unrivalled views of Mt Kilimanjaro and fantastic local elephant sightings in the Amboseli are the perfect combination with an exclusive camp tucked away in the protected Mara North Conservancy with excellent game viewing.
The rate is per person and applies to safaris which take place in the mid season pricing period.
Lake Naivasha and Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya - 8 days/7 nights
A safari to shine like a beacon in your memory for years to come.
Visiting the privately owned Oserian Wildlife Sanctuary situated in the glorious Great Rift Valley, home to prolific wildlife species. Your one week safari ends in the Masai Mara where your lodge is situated directly on the Great Migration Route near the two world famous wildebeest migration Mara River Crossings.
The price is per person sharing for 7 nights on a full board basis.
Amboseli and Masai Mara National Park - 7 nights/8 days
1.5 million beasts moving as one across the plains.
In the best safari tradition this journey will take you to Mt Kilimanjaro, tallest free standing mountain in Africa and scenic backdrop to Amboseli Park's magnificent elephant herds for 2 nights. Continue on to the Masai Mara to stay 4 nights in the superbly situated tented camp at the heart of the animal migratory action. With 1.5 million wildebeest, gazelle and zebra on the move this is truly one of the world's most spectacular migrations.
Masai Mara, Kenya - 8 days/7 nights
Glorious riding across Kenya's famous game viewing plains.
Good riding on excellent horses for a week, this riding safari should not be missed. The Great Rift Valley with its volcano studded floor is just one of the many sights to be seen on the air transfers in and out of the Mara area. The days are spent on horseback (of course), although the riding is interspersed with game viewing by vehicle and by foot.
The price is per person fully inclusive for the duration of the trail, starting from Nairobi and ending in Nairobi. This is a set departure trip.
Meru, Samburu and Masai Mara National Parks - 9 nights/10 days
An addictive getaway - better than you can imagine.
A comprehensive luxury safari ideal for those who need to be thoroughly spoilt. With 3 nights in each lodge, the safari includes flight transfers between three major Kenyan parks. You'll enjoy a broad range of African wildlife, far reaching views and romantic meals under the stars.
Kenya Safari Spots
Kenya Overview | Masai Mara | Laikipia | Amboseli | Kenyan Coast | Lamu| Samburu | Lake Naivasha | Northern Frontier District | Lake Turkana |Lake Nakuru | Chyulu Hills | Shompole | Tsavo West | Tsavo East | Lake Victoria | Meru
Traditional Safaris | Walking Safaris | Canoe Safaris | Family Safaris | Mobile Safaris | Honeymoon Safaris | Special Interest Safaris | Primate Safaris | Bush and Beach Safaris | Off Beat Explorations | Active Safaris | Migration Safaris | Riding Safaris
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