The Masai Mara National Park is also referred to by the locals as Masai Mara or The Mara, being situated in Southern Kenya. It is acknowledged as one of the most important Wildlife Reserves in Africa. Pairing up with beautiful Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, they create some of the most memorable, unique African eco-systems while displaying amazing wildlife observation opportunities. Masai Mara National Park offers extraordinary wildlife diversity, and spectacular landscapes every nature enthusiast will find remarkable. What makes the visit to Masai Mara National Park more exciting is the rare opportunity of immersing in the local flavor of the region, by getting in contact with the Maasai people. All in all, Masai Mara National Park can surely fulfill every person’s expectations of an African safari, if not surpass them.
- +The Great Migration (July – November) – the world’s greatest wildlife migration
- +The presence of the highest lion population in the world
- +Spectacular wildlife species, including the Big Five
- +Experiencing the uniqueness of the region by taking part in cultural activities
- +Floating over beautiful Masai Mara in a Hot Air Balloon
- +Unique combination of flora and fauna
About Masai Mara National Park
A safari to Masai Mara National Park can be the most gratifying experience of your lifetime. Being acknowledged as a natural extension of equally beautiful Tanzania’s Serengeti, it offers an abundance of African wildlife species, which is unparalleled. It provides amazing wildlife viewing opportunities, given the open terrain that facilitates game viewing. From July to early November, the park boasts itself with hosting the legendary Serengeti Wildebeest Migration. It’s not too much to say that it’s the greatest wildlife show on Earth. More than 1.5 million of species are pursuing to reach watering grounds while traversing Masai Mara.
Not to mention the multiple populations of zebras and other species of herbivores that accompany the crowd. It’s no wonder that this phenomenon is acknowledged as a memorable natural spectacle provided by Mother Nature. It’s as if you are watching a National Geographic tv show, only that it is happening right in front of you.
Masai Mara National Park is the proud home to a significant population of lions. To be more precise, the number of lions here exceeds any other place in the country. The unique and remarkable leopard, the cheetah, spotted hyena, and jackal can also be seen in the wide open grasslands. Their appearance surely is gratifying and is guaranteed given the far-reaching views across the immense open plains.
A safari to Masai Mara National Park wouldn’t be complete without allowing yourself to taste the unique flavor of the cultural surroundings as well. There are multiple cultural excursions available for those who yearn to find out more about the magic of this African region. This will display the simplicity and modesty that are essential features of the Masai People living conditions. It will allow you to understand life from another point of view.
And to put a cherry on top of a spectacular African experience, a balloon safari is a reat choice for observing the endless beauty of the National Park from a different perspective. Plus, it will give you the unique chance to see the great variety of bird species, which can be visible in a high number.
Masai Mara National Park is located about 270 km away from the capital – Nairobi City. By car, it lasts up to six hours to arrive there. Most of the road is overall in good condition, providing incredible landscapes. Still, you can opt for flying there as well, and it will only take about an hour to get there.
When to Go & Weather
- July – October: given the fact that, from July to October the Great Wildebeest Migration takes place, this time offers the unique opportunity of spotting the great abundance of animals crossing Masai Mara. Plus, these months mark the dry season, making the roads easily accessible and wildlife viewing readily available.
- April – May and November: these months mark the peak of the rainy season. The high level of rainfall may make a great part of Masai Mara inaccessible as the roads will get quite muddy, making safaris quite inconvenient.
Masai Mara National Park is available to visit all year round. Still, the dry season is best for wildlife observation, especially given the Great Wildebeest Migration that is an equally unique and legendary experience. What makes the rainy season less convenient for traveling is the fact that the roads become quite muddy and inaccessible. All in all, even though the National Park is an all-year-round destination, it is best to go there during the dry season, it is your only shot of spotting the Great Wildebeest Migration. And it’s definitely worth it.
Masaai Mara National Park is situated 1,500 – 2,000 m above sea level. This particular fact determines the weather climate to be a bit milder and damper in comparison with other similar locations. The peak temperature is established at 30 Celsius degrees, during the warmest months of the year that are December and January. At night, the temperature may go below 15 Celsius degrees, in the colder months of June and July. More information regarding the weather is available here:
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Masai Mara National Park was first established in 1961, given the amazing wildlife diversity it provided. It encompassed 520 square kilometers of the current area, as well as the Maria Triangle. In 1961, the protected area was extended to 1,821 square kilometers and was officially established as a game reserve.
The Narok County Council (NCC) was responsible for the administration of the National Park at that time. Afterward, in the year of 1974, a part of the reserve was designated as a National Reserve, while 159 square kilometers were further relocated to the local communities. Two years later, in 1976, part of the reserve was removed from the protected area, and in 1984, the National Park encompassed about 1,510 square kilometers.
However, in 1995, given the establishment of the TransMara County Council (TMCC), the administration and responsibility were shared by the new council with Narok County Council. A couple of years later, in 2001, a non-profit organization was given official administration and control over the Mara Triangle.
One of the biggest reasons Masai Mara National Park has earned its immense popularity is its wildlife diversity. Wildebeest, zebra, topi, Thompson’s gazelle and others migrate from the neighboring Serengeti plains to Masai Mara National Park, providing a unique wildlife spectacle. The number of wildebeest species traversing the Park is estimated to reach millions.
The famous and legendary Big Five – lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, African elephant and African buffalo, can be spotted here as well. Further species include the Nile crocodile and hippopotami that dwell in large populations in the Talek and Mara rivers. Hyenas, leopards, bat-eared foxes, jackals and cheetahs can be easily observed on the premises of Masai Mara National Park. As a matter of fact, the unique Mara River is probably one of the most fantastic locations for game viewing, especially given the spectacular presence of the one and only lion and cheetah.
Concerning birdlife, Masai Mara National Park has plenty to see as well. With more than 400 species of birds, a lot of them are migratory. Still, among those who remain here round-the-year are vultures, long-crested eagles, crowned cranes, marabou storks, African pygmy falcons, secretary birds, and others.
The Massai Mara encompasses four distinctive landscapes characterized by lush grasslands, woodlands, open plains, and sandy soils. The landscape is truly diverse, providing spectacular scenery views.
Distinct from the majority of African National Parks, Kenya Wildlife Service is not responsible for the administration of Masai Mara National Park. Instead, it is controlled by Narok County government. To be more precise, the eastern part of the National Park is administered by Narok government, while the region referred to as “Mara Triangle” is administered by Mara Conservancy, a nonprofit organization.
The importance of the conservation of the region is crucial, given the astounding number of wildlife species that dwell on the premises of the park. For this reason, both tourists and locals need to respect and contribute to preserving the uniqueness of the ecosystem.
- Masai Mara National Park’s name refers to the people who dwelt in the region. The Massai people are acknowledged as the ancestral inhabitants of this amazing location, and they referred to the area that is today’s National Park as “Mara”, which in their language is the equivalent of Maa. In English translation, this means “spotted,” an accurate description of the abundance of trees, savanna and cloudy shadows that beautify the area.
- Masai Mara National Park holds evidence of early human establishments from the Neolithic era, which was more than 2000 years ago – multiple arrowheads and pottery objects were discovered.
- Until 1960, the number of the legendary black rhinos was truly significant. Sadly, it slightly diminished as time passed by, in the 1970s and 1980s dropping consistently till 15 individuals. However, fortunately, in the 1990s, the presence of 23 black rhinos was acknowledged.
- The BBC TV show – “Big Cat Diary” was filmed on the premises of Masai Mara National Park. The show concentrates on displaying the natural habitat of the big cats that dwell here.