Size: 1,510 sq km
Location: The Masai Mara National Reserve lies in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, on the border to Tanzania and the Serengeti National Park.
Rainy Season: It rains in April and May and again in November to February and this can cause some areas of the Mara to be inaccessible due to the sticky ‘black cotton’ mud.
Dry Season: July to October is dry and the grass is long and lush after the rains. This is a good time to come and see the huge herds of migratory herbivores.
Hottest time: The warmest time of year is December and January.
Coldest Time: June and July are the coldest months.
Most famous for: Annual wildebeest migration and indigenous Maasai Tribes.
The Maasai Mara is one of the most well known and most popular reserves in the whole of Africa. This is also partly because of the tall red-robed Maasai people whose lifestyle has changed little over the centuries and jointly with the government own the Maasai Mara which is its reasoning for being a Reserve rather than a National Park. As with most game parks in East Africa, there is no border fencing which gives animals the liberty to move outside the park into huge areas known as ‘dispersal areas’. There can be as much wildlife roaming outside the park as inside. Many Maasai villages are located in the ‘dispersal areas’ and they have, over centuries, developed a synergetic relationship with the wildlife.
In a short stay during the wildebeest migration you could see thousands of animals, at other times there are still hundreds. The plains are full of wildebeest, zebra, impala, topi, giraffe, Thomson’s gazelle. Also regularly seen are leopards, lions, hyenas, cheetah, jackal and bat-eared foxes. The black rhino is a little shy and hard to spot but is often seen at a distance. Hippos are abundant in the Mara River as are very large Nile crocodiles, which lay in wait for a meal as the wildebeest cross on their annual quest to find new pastures. Due to their generally relaxed state once in the water, there is the opportunity to leave the vehicle and with a park armed guard to walk high along the river bank to view the crocodiles and hippos lazing in the sun.
The Mara is a bird lover’s paradise with great variety and colour including common but beautiful ones like the lilac-breasted roller and plenty of large species like eagles, vultures, and storks. There are 53 different birds of prey. Game driving in the Mara is done in the comfort of our ATC truck, which allows great height for game viewing! ATC has their own camp on the border of the Maasai Mara and it is at this camp, Acacia Camp that all trips stay. The campsite has great facilities and clients overnight in pre-erected safari tents for the duration of their stay.
ATC has a 3 day Maasai Mara Safari (NN3) that departs from Nairobi daily with a minimum of 2 passengers. This safari can be sold as a standalone product but is most times taken up as our bonus safari offer (clients receive the trip price of the safari for free only needing to pay the local payment on any trips ten days or longer starting or finishing in Nairobi. Please note the free safari only departs the Thursday before or the Sunday after the main tour.
Staying in the Maasai Mara between tours: This is possible if you take up our Free Maasai Mara Safari before doing the trips that start in Nairobi. These trips do visit the Masai Mara region, so you will be travelling the same route twice if you do the free trip. There is an option for you to do the free trip (Thursday to Saturday) and then remain at the campsite (this saves you having to do the full days drive on not the greatest roads). The campsite has great facilities and all clients stay in pre-erected safari tents whilst in the Mara. This option is highly recommended as the Acacia Campsite in the Maasai Mara is a very beautiful campsite. The truck will arrive at the Mara Campsite on Saturday and then return to Nairobi to meet the rest of the clients who chose not to do the Free Maasai Mara Safari. You will then have Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon (when the truck returns) to relax, reading a book, soaking up the African sunshine and even visiting the local Masai villages. There is also an option to go on a game walk in the conservation area or again visit the Manyata. Any game drives undertaken are at your own cost.
The cost to stay at the campsite for the Saturday night after the 3-day tour ends and before the gorillas trip group arrives on Sunday is US$ 85. This is settled directly with the campsite. This US$120 (2012 price) includes accommodation in Walk-in tents on Saturday night, lunch, and dinner on the Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sunday (excludes any activities).