Masai Mara: Main Sights

The ultimate safari experience

Masai Mara Main Sights

The Masai Mara is the world's favourite African safari destination and Africa's most famous reserve. And with the chance to see such a varied number of species, along with the opportunity for year-round wildlife spotting it's easy to see why. Here we list some of the main reasons why the Masai Mara in Kenya is such a popular safari destination.

The great Wildebeest migration

The Masai Mara is the location of the great Wildebeest migration (late July-November), when more than a million Wildebeest and Zebra migrate from Tanzania to Kenya in search of rich grazing, crossing the Mara river on the way, where they may well fall prey to the hungry crocodile.

From November, the rains on the southern Serengeti are over, so thousands of mammals – wildebeest, zebra and antelope – head to the Ngorongo Highlands.
The southern section of the Serengeti is the place to spot all the action from December to March. This is when all the animals give birth and start getting ready for their trek north to the Masai Mara. During April the animals start moving towards the western corridor of he Serengeti, and around June millions of animals have to cross the Grumeti River on their way to the Masai Mara – many of them being picked off by the river's crocodiles.

During July, the animals reach the private Grumeti Reserve, although some of them split off and head to the Lobo area.

In August the migration heads further north towards the Masai Mara.
Between late July and August and early November, the animals then cross the Sand River and head into the Masai Mara, where water is readily available to them, until they start making their way from the Masai Mara and back to the Serengeti in November.

Bagging the 'Big Five'
Many people go to the Masai Mara to spot the ‘Big Five’ – lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo – and there’s a good chance that, with a good guide and a bit of luck, you may well ‘bag’ the lot! During the great migration, the presence of so many mammals brings many predators out into the Masai Mara, which increases the chance of holidaymakers seeing even the elusive leopard, as well as lion and cheetahs. But there are plenty of other creatures to see – zebra, giraffe, cheetah, bushbuck, baboons and more!

Night game drives

As well as daytime game drives, taking a night drive is another unforgettable experience while on holiday in the Masai Mara. You’ll be helping your guide spot the tell-tale signs of eyes glowing in the reflection of your headlights and can expect to see hyena, jackal, bat-eared fox and many more creatures during a night drive in the Masai Mara. There is the added thrill of being out in the wild during the night, when the Masai Mara takes on a different character from its daytime guise. The sounds of the Masai Mara are more noticeable at night, and you will rely on your safari guide to let you know what you are hearing!

A balloon safari over the Masai Mara

A balloon safari is an experience that will never be forgotten in the Masai Mara. Flyers set off early, usually taking off before the sun rises. As you float soundlessly across the plains of the Masai Mara, you’re likely to catch animals still sleeping – though if the pilot turns on the burner, they will soon wake up. It can be an opportunity to see animals closer than you do on a safari drive in the Masai Mara. Anyone who has experienced a balloon safari over the Masai Mara will tell you that there is nothing so peaceful as floating above the landscape with just the gentle hiss of the balloon. A balloon safari over the Masai Mara is a chance to experience the wilds of Africa in a very different light. And to round things off, on landing, the special flight over the Masai Mara ends with a champagne breakfast.

Bird watching

With 485 bird species recorded in the Masai Mara, keen ornithologists will find they have plenty to keep them occupied during a trip to the Masai Mara. With so much game on the Masai Mara it is hardly surprising that visitors can see six out of seven species of Kenyan vulture – Egyptian, Hooded, Griffon, Nubian, White-backed and White-headed. Birdwatchers visiting the Masai Mara can also add ostrich to their list, along with cardinal quelea and the fabulously named white-bellied go-away bird. If you’re lucky you might see an African Finfoot or a rare bluer quail during your visit to the Masai Mara.

Meet the locals: a visit to a Maasai village

Another must for visitors to the Masai Mara is a visit to a Maasai village. The Maasai people are tall and willowy, clothed in red cloths called shukas, bead jewellery and with a reputation as fearsome warriors. If you want to make sure your money is going to the local community (and not to tour operators as 'commission') visit a Maasai village that is part of the Mara Triangle Maasai Villages Association.

These semi-nomadic people are famous for their 'jumping' dance and are free to graze their cattle and hunt within the reserve. If you have the chance and the time, there are opportunities to stay in a Maasai village, rather than just visit, and find out even more about their fascinating culture. Children may be fascinated to discover how Maasai boys pass through a number of rituals and stage in their life, while Maasai women can only marry once, though Maasai men can have as many wives as they like (provided they have enough cows!) The Maasai rely heavily on their herds of cows and goats in the Masai Mara, mostly for milk and occasionally for meat.