Kenya is one of the most renowned countries in the world for safari holidays. With around 18 National Parks and over 17 various Reserves, it is no wonder that tourists flock to this beautiful country in their hundreds of thousands each year.
But with such a large selection of wildlife destinations available to tourists, it is often a dilemma to select which reserves to add to their itineraries. However, one safe bet is the most popular and famous park in Kenya, the Masai Mara National Reserve.
The Masai Mara is located in the South-West of the country, and follows on as the Northern extension of the Serengeti in Tanzania. However, the Masai Mara is a much smaller park when compared to the Serengeti, measuring around 1,510 square Kilometers.
The terrain of the park is made up of mostly flat and open grassland, however small rivers do tend to emerge during wet seasons.
The Masai Mara is richly populated with a huge variety of wildlife, from predators such as cheetah, crocodile and the rarely seen African hunting dog, to ungulates such as the Masai & Rothschild’s varieties of giraffe, plains zebra, hartebeest, topi and warthog.
The Mara is also home to a great range of birds of prey, like the tawny and crowned eagles, Ruppell’s vulture and Augur buzzard. You can also spot the largest bird in the world within the park, the Masai ostrich, which is a flightless bird that can grow to be around 9 feet tall and weigh around 330 lb.
Many people who visit the Masai Mara have their eyes peeled for 5 particular animals, they are the black rhino, elephant, Cape buffalo, Masai lion and leopard, which collectively make up the famous ‘Big Five’.
All of these great creatures can be spotted within the park, however numbers of black rhino have fallen in recent years, with a population of only 37 being recorded around 10 years ago.
The ‘Great Migration’ is the journey that nearly 2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle participate in which starts at the Serengeti and takes them to the plains of the Masai Mara, where they can graze upon the fresh grass.
The migration is one of the main attractions that make the Masai Mara stand out from other parks, as it is after all a natural wonder, and a very special event to spectate.
The time of year when the herds are in the Masai Mara varies each year, but the herds can be seen roughly between August and October.
There are a great series of events that entail themselves as the migration goes on: the threat of predators, such as lions looking to pick off any potentially weak or tired animals, and the crossing of the Mara River which is a struggle for the animals, as not only are they trying to avoid drowning, but there is always the danger that crocodiles are lurking beneath them, ready to snap them up for an easy meal.
If the idea of a Masai Mara safari appeals to you, then get in touch with Tanzania and Kenya safari experts, Ziara Safaris. With over 10 years experience in the East African tour industry, Ziara can create a customized private safari itinerary which can include a visit to the Masai Mara National Reserve, as well as any other places you’d like to see.