Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Masai Mara |Maasai Mara National Reserve

Masai Mara |Maasai Mara National Reserve

About Masai Mara:

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is a large game reserve in south-western Kenya, which is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named after the Maasai people (the traditional inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar: "Mara", which is Maa (Maasai language) for "spotted," an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area.

It is famous for its exceptional population of Big Cats, game, and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle, and wildebeest from the Serengeti every year from July to October, a migration so immense that it is called the Great Migration.

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is only a fraction of the Greater Mara Ecosystem, which includes the following Group Ranches: Koiyaki, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Olkinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, Ol Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien, and Kimintet.

Geography of Masai Mara:

The Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) covers some 1,510 km2 (583 sq mi) in south-western Kenya. It is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which covers some 25,000 km2 (9,700 sq mi) in Tanzania and Kenya. It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Maasai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Rainfall in the ecosystem increases markedly along a southeast–northwest gradient, varies in space and time, and is markedly bimodal. The Sand, Talek River and Mara River are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hillslopes and hilltops.

The terrain of the reserve is primarily open grassland with seasonal riverlets. In the south-east region are clumps of the distinctive acacia tree. The western border is the Esoit (Siria) Escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, which is a fault line some 5,600 km (3,500 mi) long, from Ethiopia's Red Sea through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique. Wildlife tends to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good, while tourist disruption is minimal. The easternmost border is 224 kilometres (139.2 mi) from Nairobi, and hence it is the eastern regions which are most visited by tourists.

Masai Mara Weather:


Masai Mara Wildlife:

Wildebeest, topi, zebra, and Thomson's gazelle migrate into and occupy the Mara reserve, from the Serengeti plains to the south and Loita plains in the pastoral ranches to the north-east, from July to October or later. Herds of all three species are also resident in the reserve.

All members of the "Big Five" (lion, leopard, African elephant, African buffalo, and Black Rhinoceros) are found in the Maasai Mara. The population of Black rhinos was fairly numerous until 1960, but it was severely depleted by poaching in the 1970s and early 1980s, dropping to a low of 15 individuals. Numbers have been slowly increasing, but the population was still only up to an estimated 23 in 1999.

Hippopotami and Nile crocodiles are found in large groups in the Mara and Talek rivers. Leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, and bat-eared foxes can also be found in the reserve.The plains between the Mara River and the Esoit Siria Escarpment are probably the best area for game viewing, in particular regarding lion and cheetah.

As in the Serengeti, the wildebeest are the dominant inhabitants of the Maasai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Around July of each year, these ungainly animals migrate north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south around October. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson's gazelles, 97,000 Topi, 18,000 elands, and 200,000 zebras. These migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena.

Numerous other antelopes can be found, including Thomson's and Grant's gazelles, impalas, elands, duikers and Coke's hartebeests. Large herds of zebra are found through the reserve. The plains are also home to the distinctive Masai giraffe as well as the common giraffe. The large Roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya, can be seen within the reserve borders.

More than 470 species of birds have been identified in the park, many of which are migrants, with almost 60 species being raptors. Birds that call this area home for at least part of the year include: vultures, marabou storks, secretary birds, hornbills, crowned cranes, ostriches, long-crested eagles, African pygmy-falcons and the lilac-breasted roller, which is the national bird of Kenya.


The Maasai Mara Reserve area is administered by Narok County Council and the Mara Conservancy (under contract to manage the Mara Triangle section of the Maasai Mara by the Trans-Mara county council), a local nonprofit organization formed by the local Maasai that contains several anti-poaching units.The Maasai Mara Conservation area is administered by the Group Ranch Trusts of the Maasai community who also have their own rangers for patrolling the park area. The wildlife roam freely across both the Reserve and Conservation areas which are a continuous wildlife ecosystem.


The Maasai Mara is a major research centre for the spotted hyena. With two field offices in the Mara, the Michigan State University based Kay E. Holekamp Lab studies the behavior and physiology of this predator, as well as doing comparison studies between large predators in the Mara Triangle and their counterparts in the eastern part of the Mara.

Since 2008, Amanda Subalusky and Chris Dutton have been working in the Mara River Basin to help develop a trans-boundary river basin management plan between Kenya and Tanzania. In 2010, they had completed a flow assessment for the river to identify the river flows needed to provide for basic human needs of the 1 million people who depend on the water, and for ecosystem sustainment.


Game parks are a major source of hard currency for Kenya. Entry fees are currently US$70 for adult non-East African Residents and $30 for children. As of July 2011 Entry fees will go up to $ 70 for adults non East African residents per day staying inside the park and $ 80 for adults non East African residents staying outside the park. There are a number of lodges and tented camps for tourists inside the Reserve and the Conservation area borders. The tourists/visitors cater for their own expenses, unless previously arranged by their agencies.

Although one third of the whole Maasai Mara, The Mara Triangle has only one lodge within its boundaries (compared to the numerous camps and lodges on the Narok side) and has well maintained, all weather roads. The rangers patrol regularly which means that there is almost no poaching and therefore excellent game viewing. There is also strict control over vehicle numbers around animal sightings which means a better, more authentic, experience when out on a game drive.

Lodges and camps are available inside the Reserve including Keekorok. Balloon safaris are also available. Early morning departures let visitors see the vast landscape, the rising sun, and the gatherings of animals.

Mara Serena Airport, Musiara Airport and Keekorok Airport are located in the Reserve area of the Maasai Mara. Mara Shikar Airport, Kichwa Tembo Airport and Ngerende Airport are located in the Conservation area of the Maasai Mara.

Big Cat Diary:

The BBC Television show titled "Big Cat Diary" is filmed in both the Reserve and Conservation areas of the Maasai Mara. The show follows the lives of the big cats living in the reserve. The show highlights scenes from the Reserve's Musiara marsh area and the Leopard Gorge, the Fig Tree Ridge areas and the Mara River, separating the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara.

The Mara in jeopardy:

A study funded by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and conducted by ILRI between 1989 and 2003 monitored hoofed species in the Mara on a monthly basis, and found that that losses were as high as 95 percent for giraffes, 80 percent for warthogs, 76 percent for hartebeest, and 67 percent for impala. The study blames the loss of animals on increased human settlement in and around the reserve. The article claims, "The study provides the most detailed evidence to date on the declines in the ungulate (hoofed animals) populations in the Mara and how this phenomenon is linked to the rapid expansion of human populations near the boundaries of the reserve.

In the Serengeti National Park, a proposed 50-kilometre (31 mi) road from Musoma to Arusha, with tarmac touching the Serengeti, is raising criticism from scientists who say that the road will disrupt the annual migration of the wildebeest, and that this disruption would affect predators such as lions, cheetahs and African wild dogs, as well as the grasslands themselves.

In late June 2011 the Tanzanian government has decided to cancel the Serngeti road plan due to global outcry.

Rules & Regulations:

Rules & Regulations:

You are not allowed to drive off road. IF you are caught there is a FINE.
Keep to main roads and tracks.
Visitors are allowed on the roads from 06:00 to 19:00. You are not allowed out of your vehicle.
Do not discard litter in our wilderness. This is our home please respect that you are our guest.
Keep your trash until you get to your place of accommodation.
Do not harass wildlife, and avoid over crowding them.
You are not permitted to remove or collect anything from the protected areas.


Off road driving Ksh. 10000
Person without a valid ticket Ksh. 3000
Vehicle without a valid ticket Ksh. 2000
Repeat default Ksh. 4000
Animal harrassment Ksh. 10000
Illegal grazing Ksh. 10000

How to Reach Maasai Mara:

The Maasai Mara is approximately 280 kms west from Nairobi City.
There are two ways to get to the Maasai Mara.

Drive – Driving will take you about 5-6 hours. Nairobi to Narok will take you about 2-2.5 hours, the road is absolutely beautiful and smooth.

In Narok there is a fuel station just across the river which is a great stop for food, toilet and snacks. Leaving Narok to Sekenani Gate will take you about 2-3.5 hours depending on the vehicle you are travelling with.

The road has really broken up and is NOT good at all while on the tar road. It has a lot of pot holes and special attention is needed.

At the end of the tar road the road you drive on a dirt road. This has been graded and is in good condition (July 2011). This road goes until the Sekenani Gate. Once in the reserve the roads are ok, but not the best.

A 4×4 vechicle is recommended they are normally about $250 – $350 per day and come with a driver.

Fly – There are a few companies that fly to the Maasai Mara. It takes about 40 – 45 minutes from Nairobi. We recommend SafariLink. A flight from the Coast is about 2 hours departing from Mombasa, Diani Beach or Malindi. We recommend Mombasa Air Safari.

You may find yourself having a few stops on the way due to other passengers landing at one of the 6 airstrips in the Mara. This is by far the best way to travel, but you do miss out on seeing more of the country.

You can also get a chartered flight into the Mara Ecosystem. This is best organized by a safari operator.

Park Fees:

Park fees – Per Person Per Day (pppd)


Non Resident Adults (18+) – US$ 60
Non Resident Children (17 and below) – US$ 30
Non Resident Student – US$ 30s


Resident Adults – Ksh. 1000
Resident Children – Ksh. 500
Resident Student – Ksh. 200

Vehicle charges – Per Vehicle Per Day

Vehicle 5 seats or less – Ksh. 400
Vehicle 6 seats but less than 13 – Ksh. 1000
Vehicle 13 seats but less than 25 – Ksh. 2500
Vehicle 26 seats but less than 44 – Ksh. 4000
Vehicle 45 seats and above – Ksh. 8000

Truck Charges – Per Visit

Truck 1-3 ton – Ksh. 700
Truck 4-7 ton – Ksh. 2500
Truck 8 ton and above – Ksh. 3500

Aircraft – Single Landing Fees

Aircraft more than 2 passengers – Ksh. 400
Aircraft 3 seats but less than 7 seats – Ksh. 700
Aircraft 7 seats but less than 15 seats – Ksh. 1500
Aircraft 15 seats but less than 20 seats – Ksh. 2500
Aircraft 21 seats and above – Ksh. 3500

Balloon Service

Operating permit – Ksh. 75000
Landing fee per person per landing – US$ 40


Altitude is 4,875-7,052 feet (1,500-2,170 metres) above sea level, which yields a climate somewhat milder and damper than other regions. The daytime rarely exceeds 85°F (30°C) during the day and hardly ever drops below 60°F (15°C) at night.

Rainy Season:

It rains in April and May and again November and this can cause some areas of the Mara to be inaccessible due to the sticky 'black cotton' mud.

Dry Season:

July to October is dry and the grass is long and lush after the rains. This is a good time to come and see the huge herds of migratory herbivores.

Hottest time:

The warmest time of year is December and January.

Coldest Time:
June and July are the coldest months.

Masai Mara Safari Lodges, Camps & Hotels:

Basecamp Masai Mara
Bateleur Camp
Cottars Camp
Elephant Pepper Camp
Entim Camp
Fig Tree Camp
Governors Camp
Governors Bush Camp
Governors IL Moran Camp
Governors Private Camp
Ilkeliani Camp
Karen Blixen Camp
Keekorok Lodge
Kicheche Camp
Kicheche Bush Camp
Kichwa Tembo
Leleshwa Camp
Little Governors Camp
Mara Bushtops Camp
Mara Explorer Camp
Offbeat Mara Camp
David Livingstone Safari Resort

Masai Mara Pictures:

Masai Mara Map:

Masai Mara,Maasai Mara National Reserve,Masai Mara Safari,Geography of Masai Mara,Masai Mara Weather,Masai Mara Wildlife,Masai Mara Safari Lodges, Camps & Hotels,How to Reach Maasai Mara