Masai Mara national reserve was established in 1961 as an animal sanctuary. It was given a national reserve status in 1974. Masai Mara national reserve is located in the Narok County on the Southern part of Kenya. The park is named after the Masai tribe who are the inhabitants of the surrounding areas and co exist with the wildlife. It is 224KM from the capital city of Nairobi.
It borders the Tanzania’s Serengeti National park and together they are one ecosystem. Masai Mara National reserve covers an area of about 1510 sq. kilometers. Three rivers run through the reserve namely Mara River, Sand River and Talek river. Masai Mara National Reserve together with another area called the Mara triangle and several Masai Conservancies, including Koiyaki, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Mara North, Olkinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, Ol Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien, Naibosho and Kimintet form the Greater Mara ecosystem.
The area is open savannah grassland dotted with acacia trees. The rains are biannual, with two rainy seasons with long rains which last approximately six to eight weeks in April and May and the ‘short rains’ in November and December which last approximately four weeks.
Getting to Masai Mara National Reserve
It takes about 5 to 6 hrs to drive to Masai Mara National reserve from Nairobi. There are several gates which can be used to gain entry in Masai Mara National reserve namely Sand River, Musiara, Talek, Sekenani or Oloololo Gate. Roads in the reserve are fairly good and can be traversed by 2 wheel drive vehicles but some remote areas can only accessed by sturdy 4 wheel drive vehicles. It also becomes a big challenge for two will drive vehicles when it rains as the roads become flooded and turn into mud paddles and 4 wheel drive vehicles are recommended.
It is also possible to fly to Masai Mara national Reserve from Nairobi landing in any of the following airstrips determined by the location of your accommodation: Mara Serena Airsrip, Musiara Airstrip and Keekorok airstrip, Kichwa Tembo airstrip, Ngerende Airstrip, Ol Kiombo and Angama Mara Airstrips. You can also fly in from other locations like Samburu, Lewa, Nanyuki, Mombasa or Diani.
What to see in Masai Mara National Reserve
Nowhere in Africa is wildlife more abundant like in the Masai Mara National Reserve. It is one of the best destinations in the world for wildlife viewing in their Natural environment. There are over 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and more than 400 birds species recorded on the reserve. The reserve is famous for the annual wildebeest migration that occurs annually where more than two million animals arrive in Masai Mara from Serengeti in July and go back in October. All members of the big five are found here.
Other animals to be seen here include cheetah, serval, hyena, bat-eared foxes, black-backed and side-striped jackals, hippo, crocodile, baboons, warthog, topi, eland, Thompson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, waterbuck, oribi, reed-buck and zebra etc. Birds are abundant which include more than 60 species of raptors. They include eagles, vultures, Ostriches, storks, Little Grebe. Pelicans, cormorants & darter. Herons, egrets and bitterns. Hammer kop, shoebill, Ibises and spoonbill, Ducks and geese etc.
Game drives are the most popular way of viewing wildlife in the Masai Mara. There are also other ways which include hot air ballooning and nature walks Other popular activities include photographic safaris and cultural experiences. Night game drives is not permitted in Masai Mara Game Reserve. There some of the conservancy do host the night game drives.
Accommodation is plenty inside and outside the park and range from budget, Midrange to Luxury. Accommodations inside the park tend to cost slightly higher compared to the ones outside the park. The cost of accommodation shoots up during the peak season.
Masai Mara National Reserve park entry fees
NON RESIDENTS USD
Adults Inside the park – US$ 70
Adults outside the park – US$ 80
Children inside the park – US$ 40
Children outside the park -US$ 45
EAST AFRICAN CITIZEN (Ksh)
Adults – Ksh. 1000
Children – Ksh. 200
EAST AFRICAN RESIDENTS (Ksh)
Adult – Ksh 1,200
Children – Ksh 300
Park rules/code of conduct
- Respect the privacy of the wildlife, this is their habitat.
- Beware of the animals, they are wild and can be unpredictable.
- Don’t crowd the animals or make sudden noises or movements.
- Don’t feed the animals, it upsets their diet and leads to human dependence.
- Keep quiet, noise disturbs the wildlife and may antagonize your fellow visitors.
- Stay in your vehicle at all times, except at designated picnic or walking areas.
- Keep below the maximum speed limit (40 kph/25 mph).
- Never drive off-road, this severely damages the habitat.
- When viewing wildlife keep to a minimum distance of 20 meters and pull to the side of the road so as to allow others to pass.
- Leave no litter and never leave fires unattended or discard burning objects.
- Respect the cultural heritage of Kenya, never take pictures of the local people or their habitat without asking their permission, respect the cultural traditions of Kenya and always dress with decorum.
- Stay over or leave before dusk, visitors must vacate the Park between 6.00 p.m. – 6.00 a.m. unless they are camping overnight. Night game driving is not allowed.