The Masai Mara National Reserve simply stated, is an "awesome" place. The Mara, as it is referred to, is 721 square miles and was established in 1961. It is one of the few places where you can actually encounter a live Discovery Channel a haven for viewing a congregation of all sorts of animals in a five mile radius. A pride of lions can be spotted ready to make a run for a gazelle (actually, the last time we visited the Masai Mara we saw a lioness take down a giraffe), a cheetah and its cub taking a nap on a rock, a pair of ostriches walking the open stretches of the savannah or a gazelle giving birth.
The Mara is located in southwestern Kenya. The Mara is an extension of the Serengeti National park of Tanzania, and is cushioned by the Loita Hills in the east, Itong Hills in the North and Siria escarpment in the west. Depending whether you are departing by air from Mombasa or Nairobi, you will be flown to the Mara airstrip, and transferred to your particular lodge.
If you are lucky, there may be other clients on the flight who may select another lodge to stay over at, and you will have the opportunity to view animals near airstrips and also aerial views of their resident lodge when dropping or picking them up. If you are flying from or to Mombasa, you will also get to see Kilimanjaro's snow peaks, a lovely sight. The view from you aircraft while flying through the escarpments brings a sense of serenity in our busy lives. The lush greenery with strips of red murram soil depicts a picturesque view. If you opted to drive, you can enter the Game Reserve through following gates: Sand River, Musiara, Oloololo, Talek, Sekenani.
The best thing the Mara has to offer is the wildebeest migration. This sensational display starts during the month of July when the wildebeest start moving north from the Serengeti. There are estimated to be over 1.5 million animals that partake in this migration. The wildebeests move north in search of the lush vegetation during the long rains. The wildebeests crossing the Mara river is comical yet sad. The long rains flood the rivers, and yet the wildebeests senselessly force their way upstream, and this causes many deaths and injuries. But that is natures way of dealing with it all; the wildebeests fresh death bring lions, vultures, jackals and hyenas who complete the food chain part of the migration. At the start of October, when the Masai Mara National Reserve experiences short rains, the wildebeests return south to the Serengeti. On the return trip the numbers are significantly less but the birth of new calves during February of the following year make up the numbers, and prepare for another migration and thus the cycle continues.
There are a variety of animals that can be seen at the Masai Mara, including all the big five: leopard, lion, cheetah, rhino, buffalo, hippos, buffalo, hartebeest, gazelles, topi, antelopes, elephants, zebras and a whole stretch of other game animals.
If you plan not to come back to the Masai Mara, a worth it and recommended activity is the hot air balloon safari. Early in the morning, you will be woken and driven to the departure site. Once in the air, the view of the surrounding landscape, the rising of the sun between the mountains and the congregation of the animals at the river is beautiful. This all concludes with a champagne breakfast and memories of a lifetime.
Other activities available are "breakfast in the bush", where early morning walks through the Masai Mara with an armed escort concludes with a breakfast, and a visit to the Maasai Enkang or Manyatta (housing), where you can speak to the Maasai and purchase their ornaments.
National Park Size 1510 sq km
The Masai Mara National Reserve is administered by the local county council. It is probably the most famous and most visited reserve in Kenya. It offers breathtaking views (seen in the film 'Out of Africa', much of which was filmed here)an extraordinary density of animals including the "Big Five" and many varieties of plains game.
An impressive feature is the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle from the plains of the Serengeti that cross the Tanzanian border and rivers to reach the Mara's lush grassland from late June, hunted by the predators: lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and circled by vultures as the journey unfolds. Their dramatic river crossings are a reality for tourists visiting in July – August.
Apart from the seasonal migration, game viewing is excellent year round. Game includes: elephant, Black Rhino, buffalo, plains zebra, roan antelope in small numbers, white-bearded gnu, Oribi, warthog, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle, hartebeest and the big cats; the rivers are home to hippo and crocodiles.
Maasai Mara has the largest population of lion.Birdlife is as profuse as wildlife. This include red winged schalow's turaco, white-tipped crest, ross turaco, orange buff pel's fishing owl, wary guinea fowl. The open plains birds include Jackson's bustard, black-bellied hartlaubs bustard. 53 species of birds of prey have been recorded. Secretary birds are common.
Balloon Trip over the Mara.
Probably the most beautiful balloon flight in the world and the ultimate African safari experience.
5:00 am: Collection from your Masai Mara lodge , and transfer to the launch site. Here you will meet your pilot, receive a briefing and watch the inflation of your balloon.
At dawn we take off, rising as the sun rises and float in whichever direction the winds of the morning take us. Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon: sometimes flying at treetop height, sometimes lower, offering a unique perspective and great photographic opportunities of the wildlife below.
At other times he will ascend to 1000' or more to see the enormity and wonderful panorama of the Serengeti. From time to time the pilot must put more heat into the balloon with the powerful whisper burners. In between these burns, there is silence apart from the natural sounds below The flight is for about one hour depending on conditions, on landing you celebrate in the traditional manner with champagne (well, an excellent sparkling wine), before sitting down to a full English breakfast prepared and served in the bush in 'Out of Africa' style with bone china, linen table cloths, King's silver etc. After breakfast you receive your Balloon certificate and we drive you back to the Lodge with game viewing en route. 9:30 am Arrive at the lodge ready to continue your day's activities.
Included in the hot air balloon Safari:
- 1 hour of balloon flight.
- Services of an experienced Guide.
- Pick and Return transport from the Lodge.
- En-route game drives.
- Champagne Breakfast.
- Balloon Safari Certificate.
SPECIAL NOTE: There are no special requirements for participation in a Balloon Safari. You should be in good health condition and reasonably fit and active. It is not recommended for children under 10 years. People with health and/or back problems should not participate as the landing can be bumpy and may cause injury. ballooning is subject to weather conditions. Height restrictions may apply