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Masai Mara

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Travel Guide Africa Kenya Masai Mara

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Introduction

cheeta in Masai Mara

cheeta in Masai Mara

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Masai Mara National Reserve (also known as Maasai Mara National Reserve) is one of the most famous of African game parks. It is administered by the Masai people and is well-known for being an end-point of the wildebeest migration that starts in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The reserve contains the Big Five (lion, leopard, African elephant, African buffalo, and black rhinoceros) as well as many other species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Unlike in most other game parks in East Africa, it is possible to drive off-road, leading to more up-close experiences with the wildlife though perhaps at the cost of environmental degradation.

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Geography and Climate

The Maasai Mara is characterized by four different kinds of topography: sandy soil and small bushes to the east, the Siria Escarpment forming a spectacular plateau as the western boundary of the reserve, lush grasslands and woodlands around the Mara River and open plains with scattered bushes making up the largest part of the reserve. The landscape is very varied and has a romantic feeling to it, as can be witnessed in the film Out of Africa, which was filmed here in 1985.

Maasai Mara is located 1,500-2,200 metres above sea level, which makes the climate slightly damper and milder than in other similar regions. Highest temperatures in daytime is 30 °C (warmest in December and January, coldest in June and July), at night the temperature rarely drops below 15 °C.

The rainy season is April-May and November. In these periods some parts of the Mara will get very muddy and practically inaccessible. The dry season occurs from July to October. This is the best time to visit the Maasai Mara as a lot of herbivores indulge in the plants grown long and lush after the rains - and, in these months you will stay clear of heavy showers.

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Sights and Activities

The main attraction of this game reserve is, not surprisingly, game viewing. Go on morning, afternoon and night drives over several days in order to see as many as possible of the resident animals, such as lion, leopard, elephant, zebra, giraffe, Thomson's gazelle, hyena, rhino, hippo and the thousands of migrating wildebeest that makes this park so famous.

Many camp sites and lodges offer game drives with experienced drivers and skilled, well-informed guides. These are well worth your money, as they will provide you with priceless knowledge and help you spot animals you wouldn't see on your own. And please catch as many sunuppers and -downers as you can.

Maasai Mara's most famous sight is the Great Migration, a great animal migration event that takes place in July and August every year.

There is a Maasai village near Oloolaimutiek gate of this game park. It is a good experience and will help you to deepen your understanding of the Maasai's culture and simple way of life.

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Opening Hours

The park is open year-round but the dry months are better for game viewing in general and more pleasant to travel around. The Great Migration is a perfect time for a visit, but it might sometimes be difficult to forecast the best days.

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Cost

Fee is USD 80 per person per night. You can book your tour of the National Reserve with a reliable tour operator that will usually bundle the park fee, the accommodation, and the safari car and driver fees to make sure that you can enjoy your adventure and not have to worry about the details.

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Getting There and Around

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is accessible by regularly scheduled flight from Nairobi Wilson Airport year-round. Flights can often run from from Samburu, Lewa Downs, Nanyuki or Mombasa if sufficient demand. If you have a small group, a charter is also an option. The aircraft will land on one of the small Mara airstrips, and from here you need to transfer by car to your particular lodge. Many lodges/camps offer pickups. The flight from Nairobi takes around half an hour, but may land at several Mara strips. Frequency for all airlines depends on the season. Some flights only operate subject to minimum passenger numbers.

If you go by car from Nairobi the drive will take you five hours during the dry season, and up to seven hours in the rainy season. By car you can enter the game reserve through these gates: Oloolaimutia, Sekenani, Talek, Musiara, Oloololo and Sand River.

Please remember that the roads in the reserve can become flooded or turned into mud puddles in the rainy seasons in April, May and November.

A lot of travel agencies organise safari trips to Maasai Mara. You can book a package tour, which allows you to put all transportation to and in the park in their hands.

Moving around in Maasai Mara National Reserve must only take place by car - preferably by 4-wheel safari vehicles. Because of the wild animals it is absolutely forbidden to move about on foot outside the camp sites and lodges.

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Eat/Drink

Food and drinks are normally provided by your lodge, which includes stuff to bring on game drives.

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Sleep

Accommodatoin options range from camping to extremely luxurious lodges.

View our map of accommodation in Maasai Mara Reserve

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Accommodation in Masai Mara

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Masai Mara searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Masai Mara and areas nearby.

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This is version 12. Last edited at 11:02 on Sep 1, 17 by Utrecht. 6 articles link to this page.

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