Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the Kenyan premium parks alongside Ambosle national park, Lake Nakuru national parks. The reserve is not only popular in Kenya but entire world. The reserve is found along the great rift valley region adjacent to the mighty Serengeti national park of Tanzania forming the great Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem. The national reserve was named in hornor of the local Maasai people who are the inhabitants of the area. They named the reserve as Mara which means the “spotted circles of trees”. The reserve is characterized by open savannah grass land dotted with scrub and Acacia trees.
Masai Mara National Reserve was established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary to protect the large cats and other animals from poachers. The sanctuary was small covering only 520 square kilometers by area. The pilot study sanctuary was centered in the central part of the current reserve which is covered by the current Mara Triangle. After few months of great achievements the sanctuary was expanded to the East covering now the total land area of 1,821 square kilometers. After the expansion of the sanctuary the locals together with Kenyan Government declared the sanctuary in to National Reserve hence naming it Masai Mara National Reserve.
The newly promoted game reserve was under the management of the local community of Narok County Councils. In 1974 Masai Mara National Reserve was fully declared as national reserve status. Due to increase in the population the local council agreed to return some area of land to the locals hence taking back 159 square kilometers. In 1976 the Masai Mara National Reserve was affected once more with reduction of some land and by 1984 the reserve had a total of 1510 square kilometers.
After the creation of the new council in the area which was broken away from Narok County, the leaders agreed to form a new block the governs Masai Mara National Reserve. The Trans Mara County Council was formed to ease the management of the reserve among the two councils in which the reserve sits on. In 2001 Mara Conservancy was formed to strengthen the management and protection of the reserve with the direct involvement of the local community.
Its only in Masai Mara that Elephants population is warmly increasing year in and year out. The park has all the African big five those are Elephants, Buffalo, Lions, Leopards and Rhinos. The reserve borders Siria escarpment in the West, Serengeti national park in the South and many Maasai pastoral ranches on the West, East and North. The Reserve is serviced by the Masai Mara river which is the key source of water and Talek River. Its these two rivers where the great wildebeest migration happens. The locals term Mara river as the entry gate where the wildebeest. The Talek river is the exit gate where the wildebeest migration exits Masai Mara National Reserve and enters back to Serengeti national park.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is much famous with the annual and largest animal migration on earth. The wildebeest migration happens along the mara river when millions of wildebeest crosses to and from Serengeti national park. Other wildlife at the reserve include: Nile crocodiles, gazelles, dik-dik, olive baboons, zebras, kudu, giraffes and many more.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is composed of the Mara Ecosystem which encompasses area like The Mara triangle, and conservancies like Koiyaki, Ol Chorro Oirowau, Lemek, Siana, Olkinyei, Oloiren, Naikara, Kimintet, Kerinkani, Maji Moto.
Location of Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve is located in the South West of the capital Nairobi. It takes 5-6 hours drive from Nairobi through the Maasai local communities and Towns. The distance between Nairobi and Masai Mara National Reserve is 224 kilometers which is 139.2 miles. The drive is much scenic along the great rift valley regions viewing the features of the volcanic activity. The state of the roads is good till you reach Narok town, after Narok town the state of the roads change and this affects the use of 2×2 wheel drive cars hence needing 4×4 wheel drives. When its rainy season the driving is funny especially inside the park.
One can access the park through air with more domestic flights that services all the airstrips found at the reserve. The flight takes 45 minutes from Nairobi Wilson Airport directly to any of the airstrips like Kichwa Tembo, Mara Serena and others.
Safari attractions in Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most popular reserves in Kenya. Wildlife viewing is just superb which can be done throughout the year.
World’s famous reserve is a home of great animals like wildebeest, Cheetah, Hyenas, giraffes, jackals, zebras, gazelles mention but a few. The reserve is a home of African big 5 those are Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalo and Rhinos. The reserve inhabits both migratory animals that come around July to October from neighboring Serengeti national park.
The Maasai people are the extraordinary people whose culture has lasted for years without any change. However much the locals are exposed to all kinds of modern cultures through interacting with different tourist across the world they have remained rigid to their culture. The true African life is attributed to the local Maasai people. However much to world is taking greater steps of modernization the Maasi people are happy with their mode of life. These are the local pastoralist who have managed to leave together with wildlife in different protected areas in Africa. When planning to explore the land of Africa you will not miss the Maasai people on your trip to the prestigious Masai Mara National Reserve.
The National Reserve is a home of over 450 bird species with 45 bird species of prey. The largest bird commonly known as Masai Ostrich was named after the reserve due to high population of this birds in the reserve. The vegetation of the reserve with a wide range of ecosystems found at the park has contributed to the diversified bird species at the reserve.
The reserve broke the birding record when the 342 bird species were seen in one day birding safari. The reserve was gifted with a certificate award by Birding Safaris. It hosts more migratory birds that come between October to February especially the Palearcti migrants, Tens, Swallows, Waders and others. The birding list is long: Long tailed Cormorant, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, Rufous-billied Heron, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Hamerkop, Marabou stork, Yellow-billed stork, Hadeda Ibis, Sacred Ibis, Ruppels Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, African Fish Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Kori bustard, Secretary bird, Sooty chat, Usambiro barbet, Ostrich, Kori Bustard, lovebirds mention but a few.
This is the world’s largest wildlife migration that is termed as one of the natural wonders of Africa and happens here. The wildebeest migrations happen annually from July when millions of wildebeest cross the Mara river from Serengeti national park to Masai Mara National Reserve. The migration time is determined by the weather or rainfall patterns in the year. This is one of the key attraction that fetches thousands of guests to Masai Mara National Reserve during July. In October the wildebeest cross back to Serengeti national park.