Maasai Mara National Reserve is a top Kenya tourist attraction that attracts thousands of tourists from different races of the world because of its vast diversity of wildlife and bird species as well as a great location to watch the annual wildebeest migration event in the world, located in southwestern Kenya and is a vast scenic expanse of gently rolling African savannah plains that raises 1510 square kilometers in area and bordering the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the south. More so, Masai Mara has a unique wildlife conservation paradise, famous for its spectacular natural diversity of wildlife and also a top Kenya safari location in East Africa thus offering numerous reasons to visit this paradise. Most of the animals to see include a large number of lions, elephants, rhinos, Cheetahs, African Buffalo, giraffes, Zebra, and wildebeest among others which can be seen free roaming the vast wilderness stretching for miles on end.
Surprisingly, Maasai Mara Reserve has been voted one of the new seven wonders of the world. Regarding word ‘’Maasai’’ comes from the Maasai tribe, nomadic inhabitants of the area, and the word ‘’Mara’’ derives from their word for spotted thus referring to the stunned flat-topped acacia trees, shrubs, and bushes that dotted the landscape across most of the area.
Originally, Maasai Mara National Reserve was established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary the Mara area covered only 520 square kilometers of the current area including the Mara Triangle. More so, the area was extended to the east side in 1961 covering 1,821 square kilometers by that time, and converted to a Game Reserve. The Narok County Council ‘’NCC’’ took over management of the reserve at this time. More then, the park’s surrounding area is occupied by Maasai people making up a community that spans northern, central, and southern Kenya and northern parts of Tanzania. The Maasai people are known as pastoralists however the community holds the belief that they own all of the cattle in the world. These are the people who rely on their lands to sustain their cattle and themselves together with their families.
The park is home to big five mammals such as lions, African leopard, African bush elephants, African buffalo, and black and white rhinos other animals to see includes; Thomson’s gazelle, topi plains zebra, blue wildebeest, spotted hyenas and hippos and Nile crocodiles are found in large groups in the Mara and Talek rivers. Get ready to spot smaller carnivores such as African striped weasels, caracals, servals, honey badgers, aardwolves, side-striped jackals, bat-eared foxes, striped polecats, African civets, genets, African clawless otters, African wolves black-backed jackals, African striped weasels among others. The reserve is also home to diversity of antelope species including Impala, duikers, Coke’s hartebeests, Grant’s gazelles, Masai giraffe among others. It is also a paradise of more than 470 bird species identified in the park and almost 60 species are raptors some bird life that call this area home includes; secretary birds, hornbills, crowned cranes, Ostriches, long-crested eagles, African pygmy –falcon, Marabou storks, Vultures, Lilac–breasted roller among others.
Additionally, Maasai Mara ranks as one of the most famous and important wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa. It’s world-renowned for its exceptional population of lions, leopards, cheetahs, and African bush elephants among other species.
Activities to do in the Maasai Mara National Reserve
Experience the Maasai Mara on twice daily game drives;
The Maasai Mara is blessed year to year around the rather boggling highest concentration of animals, the Mara certainly doesn’t disappoint travelers on their safari to Maasai Mara. Then after a drive on a twice-daily interpretive game drives an expert ranger will lead you to uncover the wonders of the Mara.
Explore the open savanna on foot
The reserve is largest enough that reconnects with your spirit of adventure and follows in the footsteps of ancient explorers and local herdsmen on a one-time lifestyle on a guided walking safari. You will enjoy the walking safari inside the reserve without the hum of the safari vehicle, listen to the crickets, breathe fresh air as you view the limitless horizon, and appreciate the African soil on the soles of your shoes.
Enjoy the skies in a hot air balloon;
Wake up early in the morning and embark on for remarkable hot balloon safari which is done in the skies of the famous Mara plains. You expect to enjoy the magnificent bird’s eye view of all animals in the park and if you are lucky to visit in the season of ‘’Great migration event’’ the aerial viewing is rewarding. This is heart to heart life experience.
Experience life with the Maasai on a community visit;
A visit to the reserve is made complete with a visit to an authentic cultural experience that brings you up close and personal with the amazing Maasai people. They will invite you into their humble mud and stick manyatta stands as ‘’homesteads’’ and reveal their pastoral world and ancient traditional lifetime.
Take to the saddle on a horseback safari;
You can explore the Maasai Mara in a unique life experience as you ride the horse in an open savanna grassland and enjoy wildlife viewing on horseback riding without the hum of the safari vehicle is worth an encounter.
Witness the thundering hooves of the great migration;
This is undoubtedly a wildlife experience where travelers have the chance of enjoying the most dramatic spectacles of the natural world. However, the great migration is the annual trek of two million herbivores across the Serengeti –Mara ecosystem. The world event usually happens between July to October.
Recreate your favorite scene from out of Africa;
This epic film made the whole world fall in love with Kenya because of the beautiful scene out of Africa and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Avid film fanatics at the heart can retrace the steps of Meryl Streep and Robert Redford as well as visit the exact locations of some of the movies that make famous scenes.
You can visit the Maasai warriors and have a chance to view the sunset with them. Visitors here will enjoy escarpment for the most unforgettable sundowners overlooking the vast Mara plains and Serengeti plains in the distance. And as the sun dips over the horizon, you can attempt to stand around a blazing fire or complete with tasty snacks and a bartender as you watch the Maasai warriors perform their traditional song and dance.
A visit to Maasai Mara a home to a diversity of lions in the world, where you can also be surprised about the world’s famous nature documentary as you engage in photography of lions in their jungle –Big cat diary territory which is filmed in the Mara. However ,you can choose to combine Kenya safaris and Uganda safaris take a visit to Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park home to half remaining unique mountain gorillas in the world which can be accessed both by road and air transport – from Entebbe International Airport to Kihihi or Kisoro airstrip.