Masai Mara National Reserve is 1.510 sq km and is managed by local authorities.
The Maasai are a strongly independent people who still value tradition and ritual as an integral part of their everyday lives. They regard themselves not just as residents of this area, but as much a part of the life of the land as the land is a part of their lives.
Traditionally, the Maasai rarely hunt and live alongside wildlife in harmony, which is an important part of their beliefs. Lions and wildebeest play as important a role in their cultural beliefs, as do their own herds of cattle. This unique co-existence of man and wildlife makes this Maasai area one of the world’s most unique wilderness regions.
At the heart of these lands is the Masai Mara Game Reserve, widely considered to be Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve. The Mara comprises 200 sq miles of open plains, woodlands and riverine forest. Contiguous with the plains of the Serengeti, the Mara is home to a breathtaking array of life. The vast grassland plains are scattered with herds of Zebra, Giraffe, Gazelle, and Topi. The acacia are scattered in savanna type, teeming with birdlife and monkeys. Elephants and buffalo wallow in the wide Musiara Swamp. The Mara and Talek rivers are brimming with hippos and crocodiles.
Each year the Mara plays host to the world’s greatest natural spectacle, the Great Wildebeest Migration, from the Serengeti. From July to October, the promise of rain and fresh life-giving grass in the north brings more than 1.3 million wildebeest together into a single massive herd. They pour across the border into the Mara, making a spectacular entrance in a surging column of life that stretches from horizon to horizon. At the Mara River they mass together on the banks before finally plunging forward through the raging waters, creating a frenzy as they fight against swift currents and waiting crocodiles.
The wildebeest bring new life to the Mara, not just through their cycle of regeneration of the grasslands, but for the predators who follow the herds.
The Mara has been called the Kingdom of Lions and these regal and powerful hunters dominate these grasslands. Cheetahs are also a common sight in the Mara, as are hyena and smaller predators such as jackals.
Birdlife is as profuse as the abundant wildlife. This includes 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 too.
The Mara is an awesome natural wonder, a place where Maasai warriors share the plains with hunting lions, a place of mighty herds and timeless cycles of life, death and regeneration.
The Mara is probably the best serviced of all Kenyan national parks and reserves with a wide range of accommodation for any budget. The reserve is a popular attraction with safari companies. The reserve is ideal for game drives, and some lodges and camps offer walking and balloon safaris.