Masai Mara National Reserve has been voted the best park in Africa by the World Travel Awards for five years. The park had to trounce other continental giants to earn this prestigious title. Some of those include South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park, and the Etosha National Park in Namibia. Not to mention, the Okavango Delta in Namibia, Tanzania’s Serengeti, and the South Luangwa in Zambia.
Masai Mara’s massive collection of wildlife is its main claim to fame, but others could argue that it’s the great wildebeest migration that puts this park on the global map. But as you traverse this vast savannah grassland, you begin to think that there’s more to it than just the wildlife.
The following is a review of the top five things to do in Masai Mara.
Scintillating Game Drive in the Mara
Maasai Mara is famous all over the world for its rich abundance of wild animals, and a game drive across the Mara is one of the best ways to experience the park.
You can choose to go on a day or night game drive, either of which will enable you to uncover the hidden wonders of this park. However, night game drives are restricted to the conservancies such as the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.
The Mara teems with hundreds of animals, including Africa’s Big Five – lions, leopards, buffaloes, rhinos, and elephants. You’ll also sight herds of zebras, giraffes, and gazelles, as well as packs of hyenas and cheetahs on the prowl.
A tour around the park’s watering holes, most of which are spread throughout the Mara River, will introduce you to water dwellers such as the hippos and Nile crocodiles. Much of the hunting takes place near the water holes where lions, cheetahs, and hyenas lie in wait for the grazing herds.
Ideally, book your Masai mara safari with local Kenya safari operators such as AjKenyaSafaris.com. I chose them to plan my trip last year, and the experience was surreal. I saw all the members of the big five on a single day game drive.
Camping in Masai Mara is possible, thanks to the numerous camping sites, such as the Governors Camp and the IL Moran Camp. There are also budget campsites such as the Rhino tourist camp.
Exotic Cultural Tours with the Masai
The red-cloaked Maasai people are the defining symbols of tourism in Kenya. That’s because incidentally, the community’s settlements are spread along with Kenya’s major game parks and national reserves.
Going on a cultural tour with the Maasais is an opportunity to uncover the rich cultural heritage of this unique Kenyan community. Explore the Maasai’s way of life and understand how they have managed to live harmoniously with some of the fiercest wild animals from time immemorial.
Sample the traditional Maasai manyatta homesteads and spare some time to listen to the morans recollect some of their most daring encounters with the wildlife, as you taste the community’s staple diet of roast meat, milk, and animal blood.
The Maasai people are also distinguished for their elegant curiosity, so this is an excellent opportunity to buy some souvenirs.
Fly On a Hot Air Balloon over the Mara
A hot air balloon over the Mara is an excellent way to traverse the park from a vantage point. It’s the cheaper alternative to chartering a helicopter ride over the park. From these balloons, you can relish the wonder of this ecosystem as you admire the surreal beauty of the rolling landscapes.
Most hot air balloon tours begin from the Little Governors Camp, right before dawn. That makes it possible to catch a glimpse of the sun rising above the clear azure sky as you take in the sights of the sprawling Mara plains.
Masai Mara mostly comprises of isolated trees, bushes, and thickets, with grass being the predominant vegetation. This rich flora, along with the wildlife, creates a spectacular image of spotted shapes when observed from a hot air balloon.
A hot air balloon flight also offers an excellent opportunity for photography and videography. A glamorous champagne breakfast marks the end of the one-hour flight. After that, you can enjoy a leisurely drive back to your camp in readiness for your next adventure trips.
Camp Amid Nature
Another excellent way to experience the Mara is to camp in nature. There are numerous camping sites spread across the park. Examples include the Governors Camp, Private Governors Camp, Little Governors Camp, and the IL Moran Camp. Highly-trained guards and competent tour guides man most of these campgrounds. Plus, they also feature facilities that will make your stay worthwhile.
You might also consider setting up your camp at the Naboisho Conservancy, especially if you fancy the idea of walking safaris. Each morning, tour guides will take you through exotic walks off the beaten tracks, offering you an opportunity to sight some small, skittish, and elusive games that you wouldn’t otherwise spot from a car.
Depending on how long you intend to stay at the park, you can choose to spend your nights in different camps, each time waking up to new sights and sounds of Mother Nature. And if you prefer the very secluded areas, there are also provisions to set up camp far into the bushes. Just ensure you have guides and guards on standby to protect you from possible attacks by wild animals.
Watch the Iconic Wildebeest Migration
The Great Migration is undeniably the most significant highlight of the Masai Mara. The annual event sees millions of wildebeest, gazelles, and zebras migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park into Kenya’s Masai Mara.
The migration is usually triggered by the onset of rains in the Masai Mara, which heralds greener pastures. July to October is the ideal time to catch a glimpse of this spectacle.
The Mara River, which lies on the migration route, is the epicenter of all the action. If you can make it here in good time, you’ll watch the mighty Nile crocodiles enjoy their annual banquet as they seize and drown hundreds of the crossing herds. Many of the strugglers, such as the sick and very old, mainly fall victim to the ensuing stampede, much to the delight Nile crocodiles.
But the crocodiles aren’t the only beneficiaries of the wildebeest migration. Numerous other predators, such as the lions, cheetahs, and hyenas, gather around nearby thickets, lying in wait of the crossing grazers. It’s also a chance to spot the elusive African leopard also join in on the feast.
Maasai Mara, or the land of spotted beauty, as the local Maasai people know it, is indeed a park worth adding to your travel bucket list. Besides its rich biodiversity, the park boasts numerous other attractions for adventure-seeking souls. MasaiMarasafari.in has written an extensive guide about Masai Mara, Serengeti, and the annual wildebeest migration.
Fun Things to do in Masai Mara – Wrapping Up
These are the top 5 things to do in Masai Mara. As the saying goes, the best way to explore a new place is with the people who were born and raised there. Local safari experts who will safely and smoothly guide you to the country’s remote settings where the adventure is at its highest. Head over to Masaimarasafari.in and start planning your Masai Mara safari. Their safari guides are Kenyan born and bred, and they have Masai Mara packages of all budgets.