Third on the list of my Top Ten African safari destinations, the Masai Mara is one of the most famous wildlife areas in Africa: famed for it’s variety of species, for its migrating herds crossing the crocodile-infested waters of the Mara River and immortablised by the BBC’s Big Cat Diary which was filned in the Mara.
Where: Located in southern Kenya, on the border of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, 4 -5 hours drive or a short flight from Nairobi.
Why: Year-round resident game in lovely open scenery making for easy game viewing. Good numbers of lion, cheetah and leopard, many of whom are very relaxed around safari vehiciles making for great game viewing. When the huge herds of wildebeest and zebra are in the Mara the viewing can be truly outstanding! Elephant, rhino, hippo and crocs complete an impressive list of megafauna!
When: Year round but at its best when the big herds are around normally from July through to the end of September.
Where: The Mara is a relatively small area compared to some of the larger parks, and can get very busy particularly during the holiday season of July to August. The smaller select camps along the rivers will give a feeling of exclusivity but some of the concession areas just outside the reserve allow more personal game veiwing experiences.
How long: You need at least two nights and preferably three in the Mara, and can combine two differenet camps in different areas for a more complete visit.
What to do: Game drives are the main option in the Mara, but walking and horse riding safaris are possibilities in the areas just outside the reserve. Masai cultural visits are also possible.
My view: The Mara is a terrific reserve with great game viewing and easily accessible from Nairobi with numerous flights. Some people, particularly experienced safari-goers, may find the number of vehicles a bit much and it can be hard to get exclusive game viewing in the main reserve. If this may worry you, the harder to get to northern Serengeti may be the better option, but for those with limited time, the Mara is a great choice.
Next on the Top Ten – Tarangire National Park!