The Masai Mara is legendary as the setting for the spectacular annual Great Migration: in July and August, over a million wildebeest and zebra brave the crocodiles of the Mara River to reach the fresh grasses of the savannah – where they are hunted by predators like lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena. Throughout the year, the Mara offers the most diverse wildlife in Kenya. Here you will encounter animals in the huge numbers similar to those found in the 19th century. Permanent rivers sustain wildlife through the dry seasons. The riverine forest around the Mara River supports elephant and giraffe. The abundant plains game attracts prides of lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, jackal and the smaller nocturnal cats. Over 500 bird species – including 53 birds of prey - have been recorded in the Mara’s varied landscapes.
The Masai Mara area is in the southwest of Kenya and forms the northern part of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. ‘Mara’ means ‘spotted’ in the Maasai language and accurately describes the land lying north of the Mara River, which is stippled with acacias. For several centuries, the wildlife shared these lands with the pastoral Maasai people and their cattle.
The Mara encompasses the Masai Mara National Reserve and the equally extensive Maasai group ranches which, up to now, have served as wildlife dispersal areas. There are various concession arrangements between the group ranches and private safari operators, with large tracts of land dedicated to conservation. Game-viewing within the reserve is more strictly regulated. Beyond the boundaries of the national reserve, in the concessions, game is equally prolific, there are fewer visitors and game walks and night drives are permitted.
Getting to the Masai Mara
The Masai Mara is a 4-5 hour drive from Nairobi. The route takes you down the escarpment and along the bottom of the Great Rift Valley before climbing the foothills to Narok and passing the Loita Hills.
The Mara also has seven airstrips served by scheduled flights from both Nairobi (about 45 minutes) and the coast. Most of our clients choose to fly between game reserves.
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