Maasai Mara national park is located in south-western Kenya in the Great Rift Valley approximately 180km from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Maasai Mara is regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s safaris.
The park was named in honor of the indigenous tribe known as the Maasai and the word “Mara” means spotted due to the many trees that dot the landscape. In addition, the park is famous for its large numbers of leopards, lions, cheetahs, and wildebeests.
The national park was established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary the Mara covered only 520 km2 (200 sq mi) of the current area, including the Mara Triangle. The area was extended to the east in 1961 to cover 1,821 km2 (703 sq mi) and converted to a game reserve.
Part of the reserve was given National Reserve status in 1974, while the remaining land was returned to local communities. In 1994, control was divided between the new council and the existing Narok County Council. In May 2001, the not-for-profit Mara Conservancy took over management of the Mara Triangle.
The Masaai occupy most of the land in the area because they are pastoralists, therefore, the Masaai believes that they own all of the lands in the area. However, the Masaai were displaced and forced to move out of the area as the Masaai Mara expanded.
Masaai Mara national park is endowed with a variety of animals in abundance such as; the lions, Cheetahs, Elephants, Thompson gazelles, Wildebeests, Baboons, Crocodiles, hippos, black rhinos, Giraffes, Hyenas, Zebras, and many other animals.
The park is also well endowed in the bird’s sector. There are over 500 species with over 57 species of raptors and 6 species of vultures. Therefore, Masaai Mara is the ideal Birders destination. The birds in this park include; Cattle egret, Rufous-billed Heron, Grey Heron, Ostrich, African Fish Eagle, and many different species.
While at Maasai Mara national park, you will enjoy either the early morning or evening game drive through different tracks led by the tour guide in search of the amazing beasts.
During the morning game drive, you will be able to catch the sun risers as they graze as well as ambush the cats as they return from their night hunt. During the night game drive, the tourists will be able to catch a glimpse of the reptiles as well as the cats as they move in search of food.
Both the game drives are satisfying, however, the early morning game drive is extremely fascinating because the chances of seeing the animals are high and you will be able to witness the seraphic sunrise.
The best way to experience the Maasai Mara national park is from a bird’s eye view. The scenery there is beautiful and it allows you to see all the animals in the park as well as birds. This adventure is exciting and worthwhile and takes about 1 to 2 hours depending on the state of the weather. On reaching the ground, you will make a toast on having braved through the entire trip.
The walk is by far one of the most exciting experiences while at the Masaai Mara. The guide equipped with a gun will take you through routes that are scarcely walked by predators where the tourists will be able to view several animals such as; Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras and other herbivorous animals.
The trip is also cultural because the tourist is also led by the Maasai fully dressed in their cultural attire. During the wildebeests’ migration season, the tourists can walk to the river Mara where they will experience the wildebeest migration.
It is without a doubt that the Masaai Mara national park has over 500 bird species, therefore the ideal Birders paradise. The park hosts the largest bird on the planet known as the ostrich as well as 45 species of birds of prey. Masaai Mara has the most number of birds in Africa and was awarded the only park where over 342 species of birds can be spotted within a period of 24 hours. These birds include; Cattle Egrets, African Fish Eagle, Secretary bird, Kori Bustard, and several other birds.
A trip through the Maasai Mara on the back of a horse is truly an exciting experience. The tourists will be led on safe tracks by an armed tour guide to get close to animals to the point of touching their backs. This activity is definitely an experience not worth missing.
During the migration season, this is also an attraction that one cannot miss seeing. The experience of watching the wildebeests cross river Mara will leave you in awe of the wonders in Africa.
The Maasai culture is one of the most exciting tribes in Africa. This tribe has lived in Masaai Mara for over a hundred years with tourists coming in and out but their traditions and norms have not changed. The lifestyle, music, and dance of the Masaai are extremely entertaining and must be seen while at the park
The visit to Maasai Mara national park will be catered for at these lodges; Governor’s camp, Sentrim Mara Camp, Amani Mara lodge, Porini Lion camp, Siana springs camp, Olare Mara Kempinski, Sekenani Camp, Mara Siria camp, Talek bush camp, Mara Chui resort, Maji moto eco-camp and many other comfortable lodges to stay in.
Tourists can take a 6 hours road trip from Nairobi to Masaai Mara national park. Alternatively, one can take a 45 minutes flight from Nairobi to Masaai Mara national park.
In conclusion, one cannot come to Africa on an African safari without experiencing the diversity contained within the Maasai Mara national park.
Here are some of the recommended itineraries that tourists can choose when going on the East Africa safari.