The Mara as it’s often called by residents and travelers is more than just the most popular wildlife park in the country, it is the reason many visitors come to Kenya. A look at its classic African savanna and the density of wildlife is amazing. Located in the northern extension of the Serengeti plains, Masai Mara comprises of 1510sq km of open grassland. It was established in 1961 to protect wildlife from hunters. Today Masai Mara is one of the top adventure places in Africa. Several safaris can be taken in this park depending on the duration of your stay. Entry fee for the Masai Mara Reserve is $30 per adult and $10 per student and child per day.
How to get to the Masai Mara
The Masai Mara Reserve lies 168 miles from the capital city of Nairobi in the southwest of Kenya on the border of Tanzania. The trip takes at least 6 hours by car because the roads are quite poor and should not be attempted unless you have a 4WD vehicle. However driving there can be tricky after the rains so you can choose to fly in to the Park though it makes your safari a bit more expensive. The park can be accessed through its several gates including Oloolaimutiek gate, Sekenani gate, talek gate, musiara gate, oloololo gate.
What to see
Wherever you go in the park, you will see an amazing amount of wildlife including lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, zebras and hippos all exist in large numbers. Of the antelopes, Thompson’s and Grants gazelles are found in huge numbers, while impalas, topis, hartebeests and wildebeest are also profuse. Other animals include Maasai giraffes, baboons, warthogs, bat-eared foxes, grey jackals, spotted hyenas and of course hippos and crocodiles in the Mara River. About 37 black rhinos live in the park but are rarely seen. The ultimate attraction here is without doubt the annual wildebeest migration in July and august, when literally millions of these beasts move north from the Serengeti in search of lusher grass before turning south again around October.
Game Drives, Walking Safaris, Cultural Tours with the Masai, Hot Air Ballooning.
Where to stay
Lodges and Tented camps inside the reserve include:
Mara Serena Lodge. This luxury lodge is beautifully situated on a hilltop overlooking the Mara river. It’s the perfect location during the great wildebeest migration. It is built to resemble a modern masai village. It has 74 ethnically decorated rooms, a swimming pool, bar and restaurant.
Keekorok Lodge. It is one of the top options here, with bungalows, cabins, and cottages to choose from. The first lodge built in the Masai Mara Reserve and they chose one of the best spots. During the annual migration guests have been known to watch a lion kill from the bar. The hotel has 158 rooms in various styles, also a swimming pool and a hippo pool, a bar and restaurant. It is the closest lodge to the Tanzanian border.
Mara Simba Lodge. The Mara Simba lodge is set on the banks of the Talek river. It is an environmentally friendly luxury safari resort. There are 84 rooms each with their own verandah overlooking the river. There's a restaurant, swimming pool, shop and bar.
Governors Camps. All the 4 campsites owned and run by the Governors Camp group are luxury tented camps in beautiful settings with personal service, great riverside locations, and plenty of activities.
The largest is the original Governors Camp with 36 tents situated along the banks of the Mara River.
The Little Governors Camp is more intimate with just 17 luxury tents situated around a waterhole where you can enjoy a bonfire at night while sipping excellent wine.
The Governors' Ilmoran Camp offers the height of luxurious camping with just 10 tents each with their own verandas, flushing toilets, Victorian baths and comfortable beds. The food is of course excellent as well.
The Governors Private Camp is as luxurious as the Ilmoran Camp but even more exclusive since only single parties are able to rent it out at one time.
Sarova Mara Tented Camp, this tented campsite is quite large with 75 luxury tents set in beautiful gardens with streams on either side of the property. There's a main lodge with bar, restaurant and swimming pool.
Mara Intrepids Club. Is situated above a bend in the Talek river, it’s a pleasant site and it has a wide range of activities including leopard baiting. There's a bar, restaurant area, and swimming pool.
Outside the Masai Mara National Park
Kichwa Tembo Camp is a luxury tented camp with 40 tents, restaurant and swimming pool. It is just outside the northern boundary with traditional style huts and spectacular savanna views. The food here is excellent.
Siana Springs Camp is a luxury tented lodge with cottages dotted around a beautiful green clearing with an open air bar and dining room. There is a lot of wild life around the camp and a full range of activities is available. The camp is situated near natural springs.
Masai Mara Sopa Lodge is a large luxury lodge on the east side of the reserve with 90 rooms each with their own balcony overlooking a valley often filled with game. The lodge has a swimming pool, restaurant and bar. It resembles a Masai cluster of thatched huts tucked away on a hillside.
Fig Tree Camp is situated on the banks of the Talek river, its permanent tents overlook the river. It offers tented accommodation as well as cabins and a luxury chalet. There are 2 bars, 2 dining rooms, a tree house coffee deck and a swimming pool.
Kicheche Mara Camp is a luxury tented camp with excellent food and very quiet surroundings.
Budget and mid range
Camping is the only option for budget travellers here, you can camp outside any of the Park gates.
Oloolaimutiek camp site- near the oloolaimutiek gate. It is run by the Masai.
Riverside camp- near the talek gate, run by Masai. It is a good site but you will have to pay extra for every thing from firewood to night watch men. It has kitchen facilities, hot water and electric lighting.
Public camp sites- these are along the Talek river not far from riverside camp.
Sycamore site – it is not far from the Talek river, it has long drop toilets.
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