How to plan a Masai Mara Safari holiday – Budget friendly safari vacation to Masai Mara Kenya
How to plan a Masai Mara Safari holiday – Planning your trip to Masai Mara or for that matter a Kenya Safari can sometimes be a challenge due to the many options relating to everything from reaching the reserve to booking accommodation and activities. But in this article, Great Adventure Safaris try and simplify this process with relevant information on planning both your Masai Mara safari as well as your holiday in East Africa. In terms of when to go, know that there is plenty of game in the reserve all year round, though due to the migration season with the larger herds present, rates are higher in July to October. Your tour plan will also include choosing a mode of transport to Masai Mara and selecting a suitable accommodation for your stay.
How many days should I spend there?
The Masai Mara has a great deal to see and experience. For an ordinary game viewing safari, Great Adventure safaris suggest around three or four days. Those contemplating a photography safari would, however, want to stay longer to obtain the best shots. Due to the variety of wildlife encounters possible and a number of activities that you can take while in the reserve, 3 to 4 days is the perfect amount of time to check those “must-sees” off your bucket list.
Masai Mara Park entry fees
Entry fees to Masai Mara are based on the location of the Camp or Lodge at which one is staying at in the reserve. If staying at accommodation located inside the main National Reserve, the entrance fee is USD 70 per adult per 24 hours and USD 40 per child under 12 years of age.
If staying at accommodation outside the main reserve the entry fee increases to USD 80 per adult per 24 hours and USD 45 per child per 24 hours. This applies to both the Narok side of the main reserve as well as Mara Conservancy in the western corridor of the Maasai Mara though for Mara Conservancy note that persons under 18 years of age are also extended the child rate.
In case you are wondering how much it costs to go to Masai Mara for a tour, most Masai Mara Safari packages already include the entry fee for tourists so do confirm with your tour operator. Fly in Safaris are the exception as the fee is usually payable upon landing. Note all information and fees listed here is subject to change without notice and should be confirmed for accuracy with the respective reserve authorities.
How to Pay / Mode of Payment : Payment in Cash US Dollars or Kenya Shillings is accepted at the entry gates. Cashless modes are also typically accepted and you can pay via Visa & Mastercard as well as Mpesa Phone Payment. Citizens and Residents of Kenya are required to carry identification and proof of residence to avail the cheaper Resident rates.
Booking a safari car for your Masai Mara safari
Many travelers nowadays prefer the flexibility of planning their own Safari itinerary, booking accommodation online and then hiring a vehicle for the tour, Nevertheless, car rental in Kenya for your safari is best well thought through for obvious reasons. First, you want to ensure you rent a reliable and suitable vehicle at a good price, easier said than done, as safari vehicles are inherently subjected to higher wear and tear. Second, the vehicle supplier from whom you rent the car ought to be established, licensed and above board. Lastly, keep in mind that self-drive car rental in Kenya is not for everyone. The process and paperwork is involving and deposits are required to cover for damage, accident or theft. Standards of driving in Kenya are vastly different to other parts of the world and roads are usually in poor state away from the main highways. Getting stuck, breaking down or risking an accident is not uncommon. The best option for many tourists is to hire a safari vehicle with a Driver-Guide included at a minor additional fee, as this avoids you being responsible for damage, accidents or theft of the vehicle while offering the advantage of an expert Driver-Guide, making the trip stress free so you can sit back and enjoy the experience. Note also that self-drive cars typically do not have a game viewing roof while proper Safari vehicles have these built in, making all the difference in viewing wildlife in the parks. Great Adventure safaris can help you get a well customized safari car with a pop up roof for easy game viewing and it comes with a driver/guide.
Domestic Flights to Masai Mara
Flying to Masai Mara is a quicker alternative to heading out by road, saving anything from 3 to 4 hours on the road trip, even taking into account the transfer and waiting time at the airport. Booking a flight to Masai Mara is an easy process though one ought to note that the flights take off and land from the domestic Wilson airport, located on Langata road, though certain limited connections may be booked from the international JKIA airport in Nairobi including charter flights on request. There have been 2 main airlines offering domestic flights connecting Masai Mara and other tourist locations to Nairobi, namely Air Kenya and Safarilink. There are now additional airlines and a reliable one among the newer services is Governors Aviation which also operates from Wilson airport.
How to get to Masai Mara
Here we look at the best way of getting to Masai Mara from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. The road distance from Nairobi to Masai Mara Game Reserve is about 225 kilometers (140 miles) to the nearest entry point, though this differs depending on which entry gate you plan to access. The drive from Nairobi to Masai Mara takes about 5.5 – 6.5 hours, reaching the nearer entry gates on the Narok side of the reserve such as Sekenani, Talek or Oloolaimutia gates. The entry points on the western side of the reserve such as Musiara or Oloololo gates take 30 – 45 mins longer using a different route which turns west onto the B3 highway towards Bomet, just after passing Narok town. Road conditions are poor in places with the last 75 kms to the reserve being on a bumpy gravel road.
Flying to Masai Mara is a more convenient option, being only about a 1 hour flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to a variety of different airstrips in the Mara.
Best time to visit Masai Mara
So which is the best time or month to visit Masai Mara? This is a question we often get asked by travelers planning that special once in a lifetime trip. Happily, Masai Mara National Reserve can be regarded as year round safari destination as it offers more or less ideal climate with an abundance of wildlife for excellent game viewing throughout the calendar year. The average daytime temperatures remain comfortable while nights are marginally cooler, needing just a cardigan or light jacket at the most. Generally speaking these conditions make for excellent game viewing any time of the year. Like any other location in Kenya, the reserve experiences mildly distinct weather patterns, with two rainy seasons through the year. The presence and the absence of rain affect vegetation and water sources thus affecting movement and concentration of animals.
However, with many travelers come for the wildebeest migration and the best time to visit Masai Mara for this spectacular event is between late July and early August to mid-October. Although due to varying rainfall patterns, the timing does vary year to year. Read more about month by month experience in Masai Mara.
What to pack for a Masai Mara Safari
How to plan a Masai Mara safari Holiday? – Packing for a trip to Africa can be a daunting experience even for an experienced traveler, let alone a first time Safari tourist. Packing for a Kenya Safari or for that matter packing for a Masai Mara trip is rightly so more than a simple affair, with careful consideration required for the weather, comfort, local culture and a lot more.
Please ensure you pack minimally and use layers, as local airlines flying to various parks within the country have a typical luggage restriction of 15 kilos allowance per person (including carry-on bags). Soft sided bags or folding duffel bags are recommended.
Your packing list ought to include the following essentials: Clothing suitable for Safaris, Shoes, Hat, Sun Protection, Insect repellant, vital Medication and Cameras or Photography equipment among other items. Not to forget Travel Documents, prior to start of your safari check for your Passport, Health cards (vaccination certificates as required), Airline tickets, Credit cards and Insurance papers. Ensure all the documents are in order and up-to-date. Your passport must have at least 2 blank pages and six months of validity from the proposed date of exit from Kenya.
Therefore, while making your plans to visit Masai Mara you may want to factor in the climate, the wildebeest migration and seasonal change in price in order to meet your expectations. Great Adventure Safaris is your premier tour operator to help you arrange a life time holiday to Masai Mara in Kenya.