Safaris in the Masai Mara
The Masai Mara is Kenya’s most popular safari destination and for good reason. It is a vast reserve of endless flat grassland crossed by rivers which play host to wildlife’s most spectacular moments. Within the park you get all the big game tickets, lion, hippo, crocs, rhino, you name it, Masai Mara has it. Perhaps its biggest drawcard is the Wildebeest Migration when vast hordes of Wildebeest roar through the park bringing in its trail a wake of mighty predators. If you’re lucky enough to be in Masai Mara during the migration pick a spot by the river and watch enraptured as crocs and lions compete to pick-off stragglers from the clattering herds of wildebeest.
Getting to the Masai Mara
Masai Mara is around 5-6 hours drive from Nairobi and 3-4 hours from the Rift Valley Lakes at Naivasha and Nakuru.
The last hour or two of road to the Maasai Mara reserve is awful, so expect a bone rattling drive. If you are interested in trekking, camping out in the wild and culture then there are some fantastic experiences to be had in the wider Masai land on the way to the Park. Options range from half day visits to the eco camp at Magi Moto to 4 -7 day trekking itineraries in the Loita plains. This area also play host to wildlife, giraffe, zebra, antelope and wildebeest are all common as are all the big predators – so you will usually be accompanied by a Masai warrior for security.
Most of our clients fly in to the Masai Mara on a smallaircraft (Safarilink) which tends to be far more convenient unless you specifically want to combine with the Rift Valleyin which case we will usually drive.
How long to stay
We recommend a minimum stay of 2 nights in the Mara, longer if you are visiting during the Migration and you have your heart set on seeing a river crossing.
When is the best time of year to visit Masai Mara
Undoubtedly the best time to visit the Masai Mara is during the wildebeest migration in June, July and August. However it is still more than worth a visit during the rest of the year. The only exception being towards the end of the long rains in April and May when the roads often become impassable.
The migration (late June, July, August and early September): Mid June usually heralds the arrival of the wildebeest migration and this is without doubt the time to visit the park. There are of course disadvantages of all the wildlife – they bring with them hordes of tourists and high prices. So if your idea of a safari is desolate wilderness this is not the time to visit the Maasai Mara.
The short rains (late September, October, November): This season is known as the short rains. A little rain falls during these months, usually early in the morning or late in the evening, but nothing to hamper your enjoyment of the Maasai Mara. The roads in the park are also fine.
The dry season (December, January, February, Early March): This is also a good time to visit. There is no rain and a good chance of seeing wildlife as it gathers round watering holes. As with the rest of the year, you still have a good chance of seeing all the big game; lion, elephant, crocodile, buffalo, wildebeest, hippo …
The long rains (late March, April, May, early June): This is the down season in the park. With regular rain falling pretty much every day. The weather tends to settle into a pattern of rain in the evenings, overnight and mornings. It tends to clear up around 10am and start raining again around 3pm. The big problem is the state of the roads in the reserve, many of which can become impassable even for 4wds. This tends to effect the smaller tracks rather than the main roads running through the park Still, despite the rains, many frugal travellers choose this time of year to snap up bargain rates at high end lodges. Often at rates less than half what you would pay in the high season.
Our current favourites in the Mara are as follows:
- Best Budget Option: Ilkeliani Camp or Mara Adventure Camps
- For those wanting the classic bush camp experience: Kicheche Mara or if budget is tight and you are visiting during peak season Speke's Camp
- For those wanting a more comfortable lodge: Mara Intrepids
- For families: Mara Bush Houses, Kichwe Tembo & Mara Intrepids
- For the Migration: Entim Mara