Adventure Awaiting You at the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya
The Masai Mara National Reserve (also known as Masai Mara Game Reserve and by the locals as The Mara) is a large game reserve located in the Narok County, in Kenya. This tourist spot was named in honor of the Masai people who were the ancestral inhabitants. This Masai Mara is not just a game reserve but is also a beautiful paradise with rich savanna and circles of trees and shrubs. It is also renowned all throughout the world because of the exceptional population of Masai lions, African leopards, and Tanzanian cheetahs. Aside from that, Masai Mara is home to zebras, gazelle, and other wild beasts. It’s where around 1.5 million animals go to every year from July to October and even extends to November to migrate and search for food and water, a phenomenon referred to as the Great Migration.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is just a fraction of the whole Greater Mara Ecosystem which includes the following Group Ranches: Koiyaki, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Olkinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, Ol Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien, and Kimintet. Masai Mara is one of the best holiday destinations that are great for seeing wild animals in their natural habitat, up close and personal. Its a favorite destination among experienced safari travellers, travel writers, documentary makers, researchers, and just the adventure-seekers.
Top Tips To Enjoy and Be Safe When Traveling to the Masai Mara
1. When arriving to Nairobi before you get to the Masai Mara, know that the processing in visa can be somewhat of a pain. While you were in the airplane, you should have been given an immigration form. Make sure you have it
filled out so you can just hand it out once you arrive in the airport. Also note that your passport should have at least 6 months left before the expiration date and two blank pages must be left for the visa when you are in the Masai Mara.
2. There are parking fees and entrance fees in the Masai Mara game reserve. The fees will allow you access to the game drive in Masai Mara in one the the three parts of the official perimeter of the Masai Mara National Reserve. These three are North Conservancy, Keekoroke, and Mara Tiangle). Know that the areas are independent from each other and if you pay the park fee for one of them you can’t visit another part without paying the corresponding fee for it.
Other than these fees, you may also be asked to pay a conservancy fee in the Masai Mara. The conservancies have been created around the Masai Mara official perimeter to protect the Masai Mara and to provide help to the people who live in the area. If you go to the Masai Mara, you can book your tour with a trusted tour provider who can also take care of the fees for you. Aside from that, they offer packages including accommodation and the safari car and driver fees. This way, you can enjoy your time at the Masai Mara without having to worry about the nitty gritty details. Your other option is to book directly in the Masai Mara game reserve. This option is usually much cheaper but you can choose whichever you’ll be comfortable with.
3. When getting around the Masai Mara, you are not allowed to go by foot due yo varied wild animals in the area. The preferred ride is a 4-wheel safari vehicles. Another way to get around the place is to ride by a hot air balloon. This gives you a beautiful view of the whole paradise. When you decide to go on a game viewing adventure, make sure you go on the Masai Mara during the morning, noon, and night so you can see as much wildlife as possible. Some which wander around are the lion, leopard, elephant, zebra, giraffe, Thomson’s gazelle, hyena, rhino, hippo and the thousands of migrating wildebeest which make the park famous around the world.
There are many camp sites and lodges which also offer game drives with experienced drivers and skilled tour guides in Masai Mara. 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 so you may want to consider hiring them if it is your first time to visit the Masai Mara. Lastly, make sure you pay a visit to the Masai village near Oloolaimutiek gate of the game park. You will be able to appreciate their culture and see life from a different perspective.
4. Masai Mara National Reserve is 270 km away from Nairobi in the south Rift. It is easily accessible by road when the weather is good. If on bad condition, you can stop at stop overs. There are also highway signs on the location and distance from one town to the next. The driving time between Nairobi to Narok is approx 2hrs 30minutes and Narok to Masaai Mara due to the condition of the road take approx 3 hrs on a 80 km stretch.
As per accommodation and places to sleep at, there are many hotels and hostels to choose from while at the Masai Mara. If you have chosen a package with a tour company, this is sometimes included already.
5. In the Mara Triangle, part of the Masai Mara, you can find both public and private campsites available to use.
There is a public campsite next to Oloololo gate with both shower and toilet facilities, with great views over the Masai Mara and the protection of the rangers camp nearby. There is also another public campsite next to Serena Hotel which has toilets and a clean, neat, and very basic camp. The private campsites in Masai Mara are located along the river which have a special booking fee. If you’d rather camp privately, visit the website of the Mara Triangle for full details of payment amounts and availability of campsites.
It can be helpful to take note that none of the campsites in Masai Mara are fenced. Therefore it is highly recommended to hire rangers for your safety especially during the night when you are sleeping. Make sure to organize your fly camp with a professional. Some lodges and camps offer fly camping to Masai Mara travelers. The fly camp team will make sure you have a comfortable, safe, and unforgettable experience while in the Masai Mara.
6. Regarding cameras, Masai Mara people or the Masai, believe that travelers who take their pictures are taking their blood. So if you see a local that you want to photograph, it is best to ask for their permission first. If you have a personal tour guide, tell them that you wanted to document your adventures while in the Masai Mara so they can make sure you get to take as much photos as possible. Bring extra batteries so that you have something ready in case your battery runs dry and you are far from the campsite or hotel. You can charge your camera, video recorder, and phones at the campsites you are staying at while in the Masai Mara, but the power can be restricted to some hours only so its best that you check with the staff. Check with the staff. Also, bring cameras and video recorders which can withstand the dust in game safaris. Make sure they have good covers and that you have tools at your disposal when they needed cleaning.
7. Children are allowed to come with you while in the Masai Mara. A safari is an excellent experience for all regardless of age. However you have to choose the most family friendly camp to ensure the safety of your children as well. Children below 16 cannot be in the game safaris. If 16 to 18, they must be with their guardian or parents. The Masai people are very fond of children and they are happy to cater for the kids if the parents want to go to the Masai Mara game safari on their own. Some camps have special activities also for young adventurers.
8. There isn’t any dress code in the Masai Mara. You can wear comfortable clothes if you want but it is highly recommended to wear something fast drying so you can be as cool while in the game safaris. Also wear the most comfortable shoes. If you are planning to visit Lamy town or Shela village, wear a conservative set of clothes to show your respect for their culture and religion. If you are going in thd nearby Dhow or any beach, bathing suits are acceptable in Masai Mara.
On a safari in the Masai Mara you are at typically 1300-1500 meters above sea level, so it can be really cold during the night time. Bring your sweater/fleece jacket and wind jacket/rain coat too which you can use during the night in Masai Mara. Morning and evening game drives can be quite cold. The savannah is dusty so white clothes are not advisable. Sandals are fine within the camp, but gym shoes – preferable with a solid sole – or hiking boots are important for walking in the game safaris. Lastly, bring a small backpack where you can put the essentials like water bottles, binoculars, journals, sunglasses, sun hat, sun cream, small torch, etc to make sure you’re always prepared while in the Masai Mara game reserve.
9. Make sure that you have valid travel insurance that covers your game safari trip to the Masai Mara and other parts of Nairobi. You will never know what may happen while you are hunting in the game reserve so it is always best to be safe than sorry. Check with your insurance company even before you book a flight to Masai Mara.
Masai Mara: Ultimate Destination For Adventure Seekers
Masai Mara is generally safe for tourists and travelers, seasoned or not. However, you should use the same travel precautions as you would in other parts of the world that you have been to. Avoid traveling after dark in isolated places, and keep valuables safe at all times. It is advisable to not carry large sums of cash or wear expensive-looking jewelry and watches while roaming around the streets.
Whether you are a travel writer, documentary producer, or just a plain traveler who wanted to make the most of the safari experience, the Masai Mara would not disappoint your high expectations. It can provide you with all the adventure in the wild that you are seeking to watch and maybe even be a part of yourself, as in the case of game hunting.
The Masai Mara is indeed a great place to hunt animals in a controlled method while spending time too at the campsites. It offers its own unique adventure which you won’t get anywhere else. The game safaris are an experience in themselves even if you don’t hunt.
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