The Great MigrationMaasai Mara National Park
Masai Mara National Park is one of the most popular destinations in Kenya, its annual wildebeest’s migration which involves over 1.5 million animals arriving in July and departing in November have made it a jewel of Kenya. Located in the Rift Valley in open grassland, wildlife tends to be most concentrated on the reserve’s western escarpment.
Maasai Mara National Park is one of the best National parks in Africa renowned for its exceptional wildlife with more than 40% of Africa’s larger mammals found here. While on a game drive you will enjoy views of abundant wildlife including the big five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino) and other species across the vast plains of the Mara in their natural habitats.
Lying in the Great Rift Valley 5,600km stretching from Ethiopia’s Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and into Mozambique there is a wide valley and a towering escarpment can be seen in the hazy distance. More wildlife roams outside the park as compared to inside the park and the animals are at liberty to move outside the park into huge areas known as dispersal areas where the indigenous people where they have a developed a synergetic relationship with the wildlife.
The reserve’s topography is mainly open savannah with clusters of acacia trees along the southeastern area of the park. The Mara and Talek rivers grace the rolling plains of the reserve with myriad seasonal rivers which appear during the rainy season and dry out in the dry season
This park is managed by the local county council of Narok district and doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the Kenya Wildlife Service and this unfenced savannah grassland is 150 miles southeast of Nairobi.
Maasai Mara National Park has four main types of terrain including:
- The Ngama Hills: These are in the eastern part of the park with sandy soil and leafy bushes which are favoured by black rhino.
- Oloololo Escarpment: This forms the western boundary and rising to a magnificent plateau
- Mara Triangle: This triangle is known to be one of the finest wildlife destinations in the World with the best chances of viewing the Big Five. It borders the Mara River with lush grassland and acacia woodlands supporting masses of game, especially migrating wildebeest
- Central Plains: These form the largest part of the reserve with scattered bushes and boulders on rolling grasslands favored by the plains game.
Wildlife in Maasai Mara National Park
Maasai Mara National Park is known to be one of the finest wildlife destinations in the World with over 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and over 400 bird’s species recorded. Some of the wildlife in Maasai Mara include; buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, rhino, 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, zebra.
The park is home to spectacular numbers of bird species which you can enjoy on your expedition the colorful view of birds such as vultures, ostriches, long-crested eagles, pygmy falcons, secretary birds, marabous, red-winged Schawlow’s turacos, white-tipped crests, ross turacos, orange buffs, Pel’s fishing owls, wary guinea fowl, Jackson’s bustards, black-bellied hartlaubs bustards.
The dramatic contrast between life and death witnessed during the Great Migration makes the Season a particularly spectacular time to visit Kenya. The Mara is best known for the Great Migration, which takes place every year July to September.
During these months the yellow savannah is dotted black by more than 1.5 million wildebeests, 200,000 zebras and antelopes that migrate from the Serengeti to the Mara in search of food and water.
The wildebeest make this natural wonder of the World as they continue their life cycle spending their lives wandering and trekking between the Serengeti in the South to the Masai Mara in the North.
Every sequence in a wildebeest’s life happens in accordance with Mother Earth with their migratory routes determined by the rain patterns which also determines their calving instincts resulting in a three-week long birth fest on the Serengeti plains in February.
For the predators of the Masai Mara, the wildebeest migration marks the beginning of a time of feasting and prosperity as the Big Cats thrive during the migration season with the abundance of available prey.
The Great Migration takes place in Mara and Serengeti parks, which are interdependent wildlife havens. The movement is centered around the wildebeest migrating from Serengeti into Masai Mara during the dry period in Tanzania, crossing the mighty Mara River on their way.
The Masai Mara provides the best view of the famous wildebeest migration as the animals cross the Mara River between July and August.
Attractions in Lake Maasai Mara National Park
Maasai Mara National Park is most known for the Great Migration but they are plenty of activities that take place in the par including:
- Wildebeest Migration: Over 1.5 million wildebeest, zebras and several species of antelope Wildebeest crossing the Mara through the river. This is a big major attraction in Kenya as the animals make an annual circular tour between the Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya in search of greener pastures. The trek happens with a fair share of animal drama as the migrating herds attract the attention of hungry predators.
During the months of and August are the best times to view the most spectacular wildebeest migration and the dramatic sights that occur during the mass crossing of the Mara River.
- Game Drives: The Masai Mara Game Reserve is one of the best places in Africa for wildlife viewing. Game drives are a great way to experience the park and they take place all year round including the Big Five, herds of zebras, masai giraffes, common giraffes, jackals, white-bearded gnus, Oribis, warthogs, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, hartebeests, hyenas, bat-eared foxes, rare Topi antelope and beautiful rone antelope, as well as hippos and crocodiles in the Mara River.
- Hot Air Balloon rides: Enjoy the adventurous park from above with a sky-high view of wildlife from the air hot air balloon as the best way to travel over the massive Masai Mara park. This may last approximately an hour and a half and often take place at dawn.
- Bird Watching: The park is home to over 400 species which you can enjoy, with the variety and colorful view of birds such as vultures, ostriches, long-crested eagles, pygmy falcons, secretary birds, marabous, red-winged Schawlow’s turacos, white-tipped crests, ross turacos, orange buffs, Pel’s fishing owls, wary guinea fowl, Jackson’s bustards, black-bellied hartlaubs bustards and many others, little bee eater including birds of prey.
- Maasai Culture: Visit a Maasai village where you get a chance to interact with the Maasai people in their traditional setting and experience their culture. Often the young Maasai warriors will perform their traditional dance and you can purchase traditional Maasai souvenirs, art and collectibles to help enhance their livelihood.
- Horseback safaris
- Bush dinners that are booked through the lodges
- Guided walking tours
Accommodation in Maasai Mara National Park
The accommodation in the park can provide for every client’s need depending on their safari budget. There is a wide variety of accommodation to choose from, ranging from the budget to the midrange to the high-end clients.
They are beautiful places to stay with each property having a competitive advantage over the other and they including: Basecamp Masai Mara, Eagle View, Leopard Hill, Wilderness Camp, Dorobo Mobile Camp, Governor’s Camp, for budget travelers Mara Springs Camp, Riverside Camp, Simba Camp, Olpert Elongo Camp and Oloolaimutiek Campsite.
Climate and best time to visit Maasai Mara National Park
The months of December to March and July to October have very pleasant weather with lush vegetation and are by far the best months to visit the Masai Mara National Reserve with rains in April through June with the dry season from June-November. Daytime temperatures run at 85°F maximum and night temperatures can drop to around 60°F with the Peak season between July and October, during the migration and early November and February for excellent game viewing.
How to get to Lake Nakuru National Park
Maasai Mara National Park can be accessed by both road and air
From Nairobi, it takes about 5 hours to get to Masai Mara. The roads are all weather roads which are easily passable with 4WD game trucks.
There scheduled daily flights that depart from Wilson Airport and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi with a travel time is about 45 minutes landing at one of the three airstrips (Keekorok, Olkiombo and Musiara) that serve the park. Flights are also available from Mombasa to Masai Mara with the Mara Triangle is serviced by two all-weather airstrips at Mara Serena and Kichwa Tembo.
Located: Bwamba County, Bundibugyo District, in western Uganda
Best Time to Go:
Jan to February and June to September
June to September (Peak time for Uganda)
Size: 220 km² (85 sq mi)
Altitude: 670 to 760 m (2,200 to 2,490 ft)