Masai Mara National Park, Kenya
The famous Masai Mara National Reserve is well-known as a safari destination. Established in 1961 in south western Kenya, it forms part of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem whch covers 25 000 sq km in Kenya and Tanzania.
The Masai Mara is home to the big five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo) as well as a wide variety of wildlife and birdlife. A selection of lodges and camps have been established in the Masai Mara National Reserve, but it has to be noted that this part of the conservation area is only a fraction of the Greater Mara Ecosystem (see Mara Conservancies below).
The Masai Mara hosts the annual Great Wildebeest Migration where millions of wildebeest cross between the Masai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania.
This park is best known for the great migration of Wildebeest and Zebra as they search for lush grazing following the rains, stalked by their predators – one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles. Covering an area of 1 500km2 in south western Kenya, the Masai Mara is bordered in the west by the Oloololo Escarpment of the Great Rift Valley and in the east by the Ngama Hills. Blessed with an astounding year round concentration of animals, and the climax of the phenomenal Great Migration, the Masai Mara National Park provides a wildlife experience unsurpassed in the world. The Masai Mara is predominantly a vast open savannah but there are actually seven distinct habitats including permanent marshes, riverine gallery forest, and dense shrubland. The wildebeest migration is most evident when they move northwards from the Serengeti through Lobo or the Western Corridort over May to July, then concentrating in the Mara from August to October.
There are twice-daily flights between Nairobi and Masai Mara, and plenty of accommodation options once you get there. The small provincial town of Narok – a few hours drive west of Nairobi – is the park’s main access point.