Maasai Mara National Reserve
Kenya’s most famous nature reserve, the Masai Mara is a 583 square mile area of preserved wilderness in southwestern Kenya along the Tanzanian border made up of grassy plains and rolling hills, traversed by the Mara and Talek rivers. Its name derives from the Maasai people, ancestral inhabitants who migrated from the Nile Basin.
Home of the African Big Cats
Masai Mara National Reserve located in south west Kenya is a vast scenic expanse of gently rolling African savannah plains measuring 1510 square kilometers in area and bordering the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the south. Masai Mara is a unique wildlife conservation haven, famous for its spectacular natural diversity of wildlife and happens to be a premier Kenya Safari location in East Africa, offering visitors many reasons to visit this animal paradise. Large numbers of Lions, Cheetah, Elephant, Rhino, African Buffalo, Wildebeest, Giraffe, Zebra and many more animals are found in the park in their natural habitat, unconfined and free to roam the vast wilderness stretching for miles on end.
It is no surprise then that tourists from the world over travel here not least because the reserve has been voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Regarding the origin of the name, the word ‘Masai’ comes from the Maasai tribe, nomadic inhabitants of the area and the word ‘Mara’ is their word for ‘spotted’, referring to the ubiquitous flat topped acacia trees, shrubs and bushes that dot the landscape across most of the reserve.
Things To Do in Maasai Mara National Reserve
So what really are ”game drives” in Masai Mara or during an African Safari, as anyone thinking of booking a Safari in Kenya for example will have seen gamedrives indicated throughout the itinerary. Well, the meaning of a safari game drive is an adventure excursion by vehicle into a wildlife area such as a National Park or Reserve, for example Maasai Mara, with the purpose of exploring the park and seeing a variety of wild animals in their natural habitat.
As for how long is a Safari game drive is, typically in Kenya, the drives last 2 to 3 hours per drive in the morning and afternoon hours, with morning timings usually scheduled from 6.30am to 9am and afternoon timings being 3.30pm to 6.30pm, though travelers may sometimes opt for a full day gamedrive generally from 10am to 4pm, in which case the excursion will include a packed picnic lunch to be had inside the Masai Mara reserve at a designated picnic spot, during lunch hours anytime from 12.30pm to 2.30pm.
Hot Air Balloon Safaris
A truly ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, flying in a Hot Air Balloon over the Masai Mara plains is an evocative experience that you have the chance to enjoy during any safari you take to Maasai Mara. The balloon take offs at the break of dawn, around 6am, gliding silently during the ride over the savannah grasslands below where you may spot a variety of wildlife.
The flight lasts an hour and concludes with a ”Champagne Bush Breakfast” at the balloon landing site in the wilderness. The balloon is flown by a fully qualified and experienced Pilot and the balloons themselves are most often made by Cameron, a specialist hot air balloon manufacturer in Great Britain. The basket sizes vary and it is best to book the ride in advance as space is typically limited to a maximum of 16 passengers per balloon, often less if flying with a smaller basket. Images courtesy of Governors Balloons.
Maasai Village Visit
Arguably the most iconic tribal group in all of Africa, the Maasai, who populate vast areas of Southern areas of Kenya are the dominant ethnic group surrounding the Maasai Mara. This nomadic, warrior tribe which once held vast swathes of pre colonial Kenya, still retain many of their traditions as they live largely untouched by modern day civilization, in areas surrounding Maasai Mara. So why visit a Maasai village and what do you get to see? This one hour visit to a Maasai village is a chance to interact with the Maasai and get a glimpse into their culture, unique way of life and see first hand some of their customs and practices.
Walking Safaris & Nature Hikes
There are two types of nature walks offered while at Masai Mara. Nature walks within the camp and one outside the main reserve. The duration for this walks within the camp is approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour and the rate ranges from USD 50 to USD 75 per person. The duration for walks outside the main reserve is approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours covering a distance of 9 – 15 km and includes a packed breakfast/lunch depending on the timings and game drives en route to and from the walking safari location and the rate ranges from USD 90 to USD 150 per person. These nature walks are preferrably done early mornings or late in the afternoon when the sun is not too hot.
Horseback Safaris In Maasai Mara
One of the most exhilarating expereinces on Safari is to explore the raw wilderness of Africa on horseback, not least because locations such as the extended regions of Masai Mara Game reserve are rich in wildlife and the thrill of being close to magnificent animals while on horseback is a special attraction.
Horseback Safaris in Masai Mara are not permitted right inside the main Reserve and are therefore only offered in surrounding areas of the larger Maasai Mara gion which includes private conservancies and game ranches.
Horseback Safaris In Masai Mara
One There is a somewhat almost primal joy about eating a meal in the raw wilderness of the African savannah, more so if the setting happens to be Masai Mara where it is quite possible that your views are framed by stunning landscapes and magnificent wildlife. Special meals are for this reason a popular activity during a safari in Masai Mara and specific options are listed below.
Bush meals in Masai Mara can also be organised for a variety of group sizes including those planning on going for their Honeymoon in Masai Mara, and may also cater for certain special dietary requirements such as gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and even restricted vegetarian such as for Indian Jain diets which exclude use of Onions or Garlic as ingredients. Though choices are limited for bush meals, in-house dining at the lodges or camps promises more dietary options. Contact us in case you require specific information on cuisine and dining in Masai Mara.
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