Picture Africa in your mind’s eye and chances are you will visualise the vast, acacia-dotted plains of the Masai Mara, teeming with game. Situated in the south west of Kenya, the Masai Mara is part of the Serengeti ecosystem. Huge herds move through the sweeping plains on their annual migration followed by a supporting cast of predators. It has gained an unfair reputation as being too busy or too commercial, but this is simply not true.
Situated in the southwest of Kenya, covering an area of 1 510 square km (583 square miles), the Masai Mara National Reserve is a land of breathtaking vistas, abundant wildlife and endless plains. The quintessential Masai Mara safari delivers many attractions, as the reserve is home to an excellent year-round concentration of game, including the more than two million wildebeest, zebras and other antelopes that make up the famous Great Migration. &Beyond owns 2 lodges in the Masai Mara; Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp and Bateleur Camp.
The reserve is a photographer’s and naturalist’s paradise, with abundant elephant, buffalo, giraffe, lion and cheetah alongside the migratory wildebeest and zebra. Leopards are frequently encountered, endangered black rhino hide in the dense thickets and large rafts of hippo and enormous crocodiles are found in the Mara River. The park is also home to over 450 bird species.
When to go
Every month is different. Peak time in the Masai Mara is August and September, when the migration is in full flow. The promise of rain and fresh grass in the north brings more than a million wildebeests together – into a single massive herd, which pours across the Tanzanian border and into the Mara. Undeniably exciting and an assault on the senses, catching it takes patience and expertise.
That said, the Mara is always full of wildlife, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking the reserve is void of game for the rest of the year. One of our favourite times to visit is during the green season, from February until March or between October and November. The showers clear the air, the build-up of clouds makes for the most dramatic sunsets, the plains are a lush green and the animals look healthy. There are also virtually no tourists; you have Africa’s most wildlife-rich park to yourself.
Where to stay
- Kicheche Mara Camp is a tried and tested, classic bush camp.
- Leleshwa Camp, which overlooks the Loita Hills.
- Alex Walker’s Serian, the original of the Serian Camps
- Angama Mara