maasai mara game reserve

Maasai Mara Game Reserve

(Kenya)
Maasai Mara Game Reserve

Background

The Maasai Mara Game Reserve National Reserve in the south western part of Kenya forms part of the greater eco-system that encompasses the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is named for the Maasai people and the Mara River, which divides it but does not confine wildlife within the reserve's boundaries. The reserve is famous for its exceptional population of game and the migration of the wildebeest, which occurs here every year between July and October, depending on the arrival of the rains. There are many private conservancies to the north and east of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve where, over centuries, an almost symbiotic relationship has developed between the Maasai people and the wildlife, extending the Maasai Mara Game Reserve eco system's size.

Private conservancies were created by local Masai villages and lodge owners, who reached an agreement to lease land and employ the locals, ensuring upliftment in the Masai villages. The entire area of the park is nestled within the enormous Great Rift Valley. The Maasai Mara Game Reserve consists of open savannah, rolling grasslands and undulating hills. The western border is the Esoit Olooloo Escarpment of the Rift Valley, and wildlife tends to be most concentrated here as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good and tourist disruption is minimal. The easternmost border is 224km from Nairobi and hence it is the eastern regions which are most visited.

The Maasai Mara Game Reserve

Wildlife Experience

The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is Kenya’s flagship park. Sightings of four of the Big Five are pretty much guaranteed. Black rhino is more elusive, but can sometimes be spotted in the Mara Triangle. The reserve is one of the best for big cats, but sightings of smaller predators like bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal and spotted hyena also tend to be rewarding. Antelope include impala, reedbuck, Thomson's gazelle, eland and topi, while buffalo, elephant and giraffe are relaxed and easily spotted. The legendary wildebeest migration is one of the world’s most amazing wildlife encounters. Sometime in July and August, millions of animals leave the Serengeti and head into the Maasai Mara around September. The crossing of the Mara River along the way is the most spectacular part of the migration. Around October, the migration slowly heads back into the Serengeti again. It should be noted that, although the pattern is well known, the exact timing of the migration is unpredictable as animals move with the rain looking for greener pastures.

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Maasai Mara Game Reserve | Birdlife

The Maasai Mara Game Reserve isn’t one of Kenya’s birding hotspots. However, with more than 500 bird species recorded, this isn’t a bad place to mark off a lot of Kenya’s savannah species from your bird list. The park is particularly rich in raptors with 57 species present. Bateleurs can often be seen soaring above the grassy plains and predator kills are a good place to find up to six species of vultures scavenging. Migratory birds are present from November to April. The Maasai Mara Game Reserve offers good bird-watching any month of the year, but the best time is from November to April when the migrants from Europe and north Africa arrive. This coincides with the Wet season when many species can be seen in breeding plumage. June to October is the Dry season, and tends to be best for general wildlife viewing.

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