The Masai Mara

The Masai Mara is the most famous of the Kenyan Game Parks, covering an area of some 1,500 square kilometres. Situated in the south-west of the country, it joins with the Serengeti to its south, across the border in Tanzania, to form a huge reserve for the animals within. It gets its name from the tribe who own the land, and still herd cattle here, the Maasai, and the river that runs through the park, the Mara.

The national reserve which has two rivers, the Mara and Talek, naturally divides into three key areas:
1.Sekenani - south-east of the Talek and Mara Rivers
2.Mara Triangle - the land lying between Oloololo Escarpment and the Mara River
3. Musiara - the area between the Mara and Talek rivers

The national reserve has a number of camps and lodges, which can be accessed with a private vehicle and guide. Accommodation within the reserve itself tends to be in larger camps and lodges, and the reality is that these areas have a high density of traffic.

We prefer the private conservancies which adjoin the national reserve - all these areas are unfenced to assist the migration of wildlife. These exclusive conservancies have strict limitations on visitor numbers. They tend to be far smaller, high quality operations, with many of them reached by light aircraft with guests joining game drives in camp 4x4 vehicles led by their own guides, many of them local Maasai.

The Mara North Conservancy, 64,000 acres of prime wilderness situated immediately to the north-east of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, works in partnership with local Maasai landowners. In MNC, there are eleven member camps. Each is represented by a land management committee. The committee meets monthly with the Maasai Landowners Committee representing over 800 Maasai landowners, who have opted to lease their land for conservation. The MNC is one of the largest community and private sector owned conservancies in the world and this is the first time many Maasai have been able to receive a direct income from wildlife.

Crucially, all the camps in the private conservancies promote low density tourism with, for example in MNC, one camp visitor to 350 acres. This ensures an exclusive safari experience and minimal impact to the environment and its wildlife.

Wherever you choose to stay in the Mara there is no getting away from the most famous spectacle here - the annual wildebeest migration. Over 1,000,000 animals migrate across the savanna in search of fresh pasture. Although impossible to predict exactly, those visiting in July through to September are likely to see the huge herds, maybe even crossing the Mara River with its giant Nile crocodiles in attendance. If you want to be right in the thick of it and don't mind the crowds, position yourself close to the Mara/ Talek rivers - consider one of the Governors Camps, Mara Serena, Rekero Camp, Serian Nkorombo or Naibor.

Slightly further away from the river front in the private conservancies you'll find Mara Plains, Kicheche, Offbeat Mara and Mahali Mzuri to the east, Serian, Saruni Wild, Angama Mara and Karen Blixen Tented Camp to the north - and many more - all geared up for the migration months. The best thing to do is to speak to us so we can look at the time of year and your budget and then give you options for where to best position yourself.

You can read more about the migration, with a rough guide to the timing of key events on the Serengeti page, and also browse our selection of lodges in Kenya's Masai Mara or Tanzania's Serengeti, in our Lodge Library. We can also book hot air balloon safaris for you - these take off at dawn and end with a champagne breakfast on the plains.

The Masai Mara is home to all of the Big Five. It is especially famous for its Lion prides and it is in the Mara that the BBC filmed the series "Big Cat Diary". The Mara and Talek rivers are also home to some large groups of Hippos. The area is especially good for cheetah, with the parks vast, flat savanna allowing them to use their speed to good effect.

Herds of elephant wander through its grasslands, feeding off the shrubs and trees that litter the park. There are several important elephant migration corridors. Amongst them, zebra, eland, Thomson's gazelles and many, many more types of grazing animal spend their days and nights grazing the rich grasslands. To the west of the park is the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment, a particularly good area in which to see the wildlife. But overall, the Wildebeest rules, with huge numbers around the park.

Safaris visiting this attraction

7 days
From £4275
Laikipia & Masai Mara Fly-in Safari

Perfect for those seeking spectacular game viewing and a conservation experience.

7 days
From £6430
Lewa & the Mara: Lewa Wilderness & Mahali Mzuri Fly-In Safari

Superb luxury two centre fly-in safari combining some of the best properties in Kenya.

12 days
From £6865
Mara & the Seychelles in Luxury

A superb luxury bush and beach escape pairing the wonderful Ngare Serian camp in the Mara with Constance Ephelia in the Seychelles.

12 days
From £5230
Masai Mara Safari & the Seychelles

Wonderful luxury getaway combining the Masai Mara with the Seychelles.

9 days
From £3690
Safari & Beach - Classic Masai Mara & Diani

A great value all inclusive fly-in holiday to Kenya combining a tented safari in the Mara with a stay on the Indian Ocean coast.