Please try again later.

Or sign up

Remember Me

Forgot your password? Recover it here

Share Via

Adventure Activities in Maasai Mara National Reserve

Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Maasai Mara National Reserve (also known locally as “Masai Mara”, or “The Mara”) is a spot as synonymous with wildlife as any on Earth, in a region that’s blessed with wildlife. Especially famous for its population of big cats, this is, unarguably, Kenya’s top tourist draw.
And like the Serengeti National Park (across the border in Tanzania), the Maasai Mara plays a lead role in the Great Migration, a marvel of nature unique to these parts, which sees over a million wildebeest, 250,000 zebra and gazelles in their many thousands traverse the east African savannahs – from the plains of the Serengeti in the south, and the plains of Loita in the north and east, to the Maasai Mara, every year, from July to October.
Besides being a significant money earner for Kenya, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the world’s few research centres for the spotted hyena, while the Mara Predator Project observes and documents the lion populations in this East African wilderness.
The Maasai Mara first caught the imagination of the public following the release of Karen Blixen’s novel, ‘Out of Africa’ (1937), which was set in the game reserve (the novel was, memorably, later translated to the screen, featuring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in starring roles).


The Maasai Mara National Reserve is named after the Maasai, local dwellers whose links to the area go back centuries. In Maa, the Maasai tongue, “Mara” means “spotted”, a term that appositely describes the area’s topography when observed from afar – pockmarked by clumps of acacia trees and thickets of bush and scrub, and, of course, herds of quadrupeds. Incidentally, members of the Maasai tribe still tend their cattle in the midst of the sanctuary’s wildlife.
The national reserve was created in 1961, to shield wildlife from human predators; back then, it had a total area one-third of the park’s current area. Not long after, it became a game reserve following its enlargement eastwards. The Maasai Mara was officially granted “national reserve” status in 1974.
Over the years, there has been a decrease in the numbers of ungulates, chiefly due to encroaching human settlement in and around the Maasai Mara. Like many other game reserves in the African continent, the Maasai Mara faces a number of challenges in managing wilderness resources, and in making sure that man and animal are able to live side by side in relative harmony.
Indeed, the Mara Predator Project is especially active in those areas where humans share space with wildlife; the project monitors shifts in populations, and the wider effect changes in land management, human settlement, movement of livestock and tourism have on the region. All this helps towards making sure that the ecosystem is well protected, and that both humans and animals are able to coexist happily.


The Maasai Mara National Reserve is part of the immense Mara-Serengeti ecosystem – its northernmost extreme, in fact. This ecosystem, straddling the east African nations of Kenya and Tanzania, covers an area of 30,000sq km (approx.). Situated in Kenya’s southwest, in Narok county, it is bordered by the Serengeti National Park, just across the border in Tanzania, to the south, the Esoit (or Siria) escarpment (a section of east Africa’s Great Rift Valley) to the west, and the Maasai group ranches to the north, east and west.
The major rivers flowing through the wildlife sanctuary are the Mara, Sand and Talek (the latter two being tributaries of the Mara), though creeks and streams abound, especially during the rainy season, when much of the dry savannah becomes swamp. The vegetation consists of acres and acres of classic savannah grassland, sections of it mildly undulating, and dominated by scrub-bush and acacia trees, the latter occurring mainly towards the reserve’s southeast. The stretches bordering the River Mara consist mainly of forest; here, you’ll find most of the Maasai Mara’s birdlife.


The Maasai Mara’s climate is generally wet and mild. The game reserve is located at altitudes of between 4900ft (approx. 1500m) and 7100ft (approx. 2160m). December and January are the hottest months, with daytime highs of 30C, and June and July the coldest (night-time lows of 15C). There are two rainy seasons here – in the autumn, during the months of April-May, and in spring (November); it’s best to avoid the wet for the roads inside the park get muddy to the point of being inaccessible. The best time of the year to visit the Maasai Mara is between July and October, the dry season, when the area transforms into a gloriously lush landscape post the rains.

Flora and Fauna

While the Maasai Mara National Reserve is known for its populations of lions, cheetahs and leopards – and also, of course, the annual migration of wildebeest (the dominant species in these parts, as it is in the Serengeti), zebra and gazelles – there’s much more to this icon of game reserves. Amongst other species (almost 100 in total), it is home to hyenas, jackals, baboons and the bat-eared fox (the latter, a creature of the night, is seldom seen elsewhere). Besides the stunning spectacle of the Great Migration, the Maasai Mara also offers close-up sightings of the cheetah and glimpses of black-maned lions, the latter beasts unique to the area.
The National Reserve is home to the “Big Five”, game animals the continent of Africa is celebrated for – the lion, African leopard, African elephant, black rhinoceros and the African buffalo. The black rhino was a victim of widespread poaching in the 1960s and 1970s, its presence in the Maasai Mara almost wiped out, but its numbers have increased in the last decade, albeit slowly.
One can also spot several species of antelope, including the topi, gazelles (Thomson’s and Grant’s), impalas, elands, duikers, the Coke’s hartebeest and the rare Roan antelope. Look out, too, for the Masai giraffe (also known as the Kilimanjaro giraffe), the tallest known of the species extant. Much of the wildlife can be seen in the marshy areas of the park, close to the waterline. Meanwhile, in the Mara and Talek rivers, there are sizeable populations of the giant Nile crocodile and hippopotami.
Among avian species, over 500 have been identified, most of them migratory. Maasai Mara is home to 60 species of raptors. The resident species include the ostrich, African pygmy falcon, hornbill, crowned crane, marabou stork, vulture, long-crested eagle and the lilac-breasted roller (the latter is Kenya’s national bird).

How to reach

Maasai Mara is about 270km west of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, which is well connected internationally. It’s a journey of five-six hours by car, and 40-45min by air. From Nairobi to Narok by road takes two to two-and-a-half hours; onwards from Narok to the game reserve is a drive on roads of variable quality, so it’s best to hire a four-wheel drive (the ride takes between two and three-and-a-half hours).
The wildlife sanctuary has six airstrips – the Mara Serena, Musiara and Keekorok airports, in the park’s Reserve area, and the Mara Shikar, Kichwa Tembo and Ngerende airports, in the Conservation Area. Flights also leave from the coast, from Mombasa, Diani Beach and Malindi (about two hours). In addition, chartered flights are available.

Getting Around

A good, sturdy four-wheel drive is the best way to get to know the land and the wild residents of the area. Safari packages usually include the cost of a jeep but one can also hire a vehicle.

Where to go

Stay Connected      
We use this address to send you notifications and booking related information.
Activities you want to get aligned to.