The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the globally renowned reserves, located in South Western parts of Kenya. It is named after the Maasai ethnic community that borders the reserve. The Mara is an extension of the expensive Serengeti National Park of Tanzania. It is also a fraction of the greater Mara ecosystem which includes other ranches such as Koiyaki, Maji Moto, Naikara, Siana, Ol Oirien, Kimintet, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua and Olkinyei.
It comprises only 0.01% of Africa’s landmass and home to over 40% of Africa’s large mammals. It is also home to more than a quarter of what is left of Kenya’s wildlife.
The Mara lies in the fault line of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. The Great Rift Valley stretches approximately 6,000km (3,700 miles) from the Red Sea through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and into Mozambique.
The terrain is primarily grassland and categorized into four:
- Oloololo Escarpments to the west;
- Ngama Hills to the East;
- Mara Triangle; and
- The Central Plains (This is the reserve’s largest part)
It is located on the South-Western parts of Kenya and covers an area of 1510km2. No animal could survive in the Mara without water. Nature has provided the ecosystem with three rivers namely Talek River, Sand River and the Mara River, which hosts crocodiles and the massive hippopotamus.
At 225km from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the Mara is at between 1500m and 2200m above sea level. The Mara receives an average of 83mm of rainfall monthly and temperatures between 12° and 30° Celsius (54° – 86° F) annually.
It is the home of the famous Big Five, namely:
- Buffalo; and
Others include the fastest animal on the planet, the cheetah, black-backed jackals, spotted hyena, and the Tsavo cat among other carnivores. It is also host to other many herbivores such as the impala, gazelles, zebras, kudu, zimmerman, eland, topi, oryx and the gnu.
Though most migrate, there are over 470 species of birds recorded. They include the fastest and largest bird on land, the ostrich. Others are vultures, marabou stocks, hornbill, weaver birds, doves, secretary birds, long-crested eagles, krestels, African pygmy falcons, cranes among others.
The Mara is also home to the eighth wonder of the world, the wildebeest migration. This is an annual migration of gnus, zebras and antelopes from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara Reserve. This migration is between June, when they move into the Mara Reserve, and September, when they retreat back to the Serengeti. This is the largest assembly of animals anywhere in the world. Over 1.7 Million wildebeest gather during their annual migration. The Mara provides the migrant wildebeests with fresh grass to feed on.
It is also at the Mara, where you’ll find modern, state-of-the-art accommodation facilities offered by various hotels such as the Serena Sarova and Norfolk hotels. For those who would wish to visit the Mara by air, an airstrip at the heart of the Reserve has been provided. Well-maintained murram roads snake through the Mara providing an avenue through which visitors can access the entire Reserve.
Tourists can also have a bird’s-eye view of the spectacular Reserve aboard the air balloon.