What to Expect on Safari in the Masai Mara? – Masai Mara Kenya Safaris – Big five safari in Kenya
What to expect on safari in the Masai Mara? – The Masai Mara National Reserve is undisputed Kenya’s most famous wildlife destination. Its rock-solid reputation as a must-see for every traveler has been built up over decades and rests on two chief elements: the ease of spotting game and the Great Wildebeest Migration.
The game is easy to find here not only because its numbers are rising thanks to successful conservation measures but also because the landscape is flat and open, allowing you to scan the horizon for a tell-tale ‘lump’ or shadow that turns out to be anything from a topi to a cheetah. This open flatness is also why two million ungulates, primarily made up of blue wildebeest with a smattering of plains zebra, pass through every year in search of fresh grazing, making up what is called ‘the greatest show on earth as you listen to the thunder of hooves from the sound effect of the wildebeest hooves’.
What is the Masai Mara like(topography & culture)?
The Mara has a fairly consistent landscape of open grasslands. This is classic ‘savannah’ country with golden grass, blue skies, and the occasional tree. There is riverine forest along the Mara River but it is unlikely you will bump into it unless you stay there.
There is a steep escarpment that rises up out of the plains – luxurious lodges like Angama Mara have been built here to make the most of the sweeping views (just remember that, the higher you go, the longer the drive down onto the plains to see game).
The Mara is a national reserve that belongs to the Maasai people (who speak the Maa language) rather than a national park. This means that the land has villages and you will see herders taking their impressive herds of Maasai cattle to drink. Yes, you will see ‘warriors’ (known as ‘moran’) dressed in their traditional red finery, happily chatting on mobile phones and updating their Facebook pages. This is an ancient land but not one where time has stood still.
The Mara North Conservancy is a dedicated private area that borders the reserve. It offers a more exclusive and private game-viewing experience than the reserve and is worth considering if you are keen photographer or avid safari goer.
In the conservancy you can undertake nature walks, night drives and go off-road to get closer to sightings – activities not permitted in the reserve.
What will I see or experience in the Masai Mara?
The mara is a very fruitful destination and: within 20 minutes of starting your game drives experience, you can come across the big five and at one point during your stay, you would be surrounded by a huge herd of buffalo grazing, add Maasai giraffe, sprinting striped mongooses and brilliant birdlife like grey turaco, lilac-breasted rollers, secretary birds and grey crowned cranes, and you have a movable feast.
The Mara and especially the conservancy are very rewarding on game drives. What you probably won’t see unless you are very lucky are rhino. They occasionally venture into the Mara but are so seldom seen than you wouldn’t peg this as a Big 5 destination. All of the other Big 5 – lion, buffalo, elephant and leopard – are here in good numbers though.