The crowning jewel of East Africa
Maasai Mara Safari
When it comes to world-class safaris, East Africa nearly always comes out on top. But if there’s one place that stands out from the crowd, it’s Maasai Mara in Kenya. Brimming with bucket-list wildlife and spectacular scenery, it’s easy to see why this abundant national park is a safari hotspot. You won’t forget the first time you gaze upon the vast, sun-drenched plains or feel the rush of excitement when you glimpse a big cat in the wild. Its biggest claim to fame, though, is the annual migration of zebras and wildebeests stampeding across the grasslands and rivers in one of the world’s most epic races for life. This is Africa at its most raw and untamed, where jaw-dropping views and heart-stopping animal encounters await around every corner.
We’d be surprised if you’re not already sold on a Maasai Mara safari, but if you still need some convincing, read on.
If you’re going on a safari in Africa, the Big Five are bound to be at the top of your wildlife wish-list. The good news is that all members of this sought-after group (lions, leopards, elephants, rhino and buffalo) can be found roaming within Maasia Mara National Park - though admittedly, some are easier to spot than others. The park is renowned for its high population of big cats, and the sight of snoozing lion prides and stealthy leopards is a highlight for many safari-goers.
Due to the park’s vast size, seeing all of the Big Five on a single safari isn’t guaranteed. But don’t let that put you off – there are plenty other exciting species to marvel at. The picturesque Ngama Hills are particularly good for wildlife watching. Giraffes can be seen munching on acacia trees, elephants, buffalo and gazelles graze in the grasslands and monkeys forage in the foliage. If you’re lucky, you might even spy an endangered black rhino, most commonly seen in the south east corner of the park.
For even more flora and fauna, head north towards Lolita Hills. This tranquil oasis isn’t the easiest to get to (brace yourself for some very long, winding roads) but it’s more than worth the journey. It’s here where you’ll find some of the park’s most pristine jungle, untouched tribal villages and surprisingly diverse wildlife including monkeys, buffalos and colorful birds. Lolita Hills is also the starting point of the so-called northern migration, which starts around March. Though it might not have the wow-factor of the legendary great migration, seeing thousands of wildebeests and zebras travelling from the hills down to the Maasai Mara plains is still pretty impressive.
If you’re a keen bird-watcher and you want to add to your checklist, Maasai Mara won’t disappoint. The park is home to more than 450 species, including vultures, eagles and ostriches. Smaller species, such as secretary birds and lilac-breasted rollers, can also be spotted.
The Great Migration
Chances are you’ve already heard about the majestic beauty of the Serengeti. And yes, the rumours are true. But did you know that Maasai Mara is actually part of the Serengeti, which spans across northern Tanzania and south east Kenya? Together, these epic reserves play host to one of the world’s biggest migration circuits. Every year, millions of wildebeest and zebras migrate from the southern Serengeti plains towards the Maasai Mara, risking life and limb as they charge across the grasslands and rivers, dodging predators at every turn. First come the zebras, munching through the tall grass, followed by the wildebeest. This natural wonder has captured the interest of photographers, filmmakers and naturalists for many years – now it’s your turn to see what all the fuss is about.
At Maasia Mara, the best time to witness the great migration is in late July or the beginning of August. But if it’s true drama you’re after, the crossing of the Mara River is particularly popular with safaris. Here, you can watch the crocodiles lurking in the waters, waiting for the perfect moment to attack their unsuspecting prey. Herds dramatically decline during these crossings, and for those that do make it to the other side, another danger waits. Hungry lions, cheetahs and leopards are getting ready to pounce, while hyenas and jackals loiter for second pickings. You’ve probably seen these sorts of scenes on wildlife documentaries, but nothing compares to witnessing the heart-stopping spectacle for yourself.
There’s no denying that the wildlife is the crowning jewel of Maasai Mara, but that’s not to say that’s all there is to do here. When you’re all safaried-out, there’s the rare opportunity to immerse yourself in Kenya’s unique culture. Dotted around the park are a number of traditional Maasai villages (bomas), home to the country’s oldest tribal groups. Meet the red-shawled Maasai warriors and their families and deepen your understanding of how these communities have lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years.
Fancy sleeping next to roaring lions? Us neither, but this is everyday live for the Maasai people. They’re one of the few remaining tribes in Kenya that still live by many of the same traditions as their hunter-gatherer ancestors and remain refreshingly untouched by modern life. On your visit, you’ll get to enjoy singing and dancing displays, take a peek inside their mud hut homes and learn more about the age-old customs passed down through generations. You’ll also have the chance to pick up a souvenir at the village handicraft market to remember your trip by. This heart-warming experience is a real eye-opener, and by the end of the visit, you’ll be under the spell of these humble and hospitable people.
So whether you go for the wildlife, the scenery or the culture, a trip to the Maasai Mara is guaranteed to be packed full of memorable moments. To find out what experiences Meraki Travel offer at this awe-inspiring national park, browse our website further. From game drives and nature walks to Maasai village trips, you shouldn’t struggle to find something that tickles your fancy from our experience packs.