Maasai Mara is located in Narok County, Kenya. It is a famous wildlife park. The National Reserve is located near the Serengeti National Park in the Mara region that extends to Tanzania. The word "Mara" originates from the local language, and means "spotted". The reserve was named in honor of the Ancestral inhabitants of the area, the Maasai people.
Maasai Mara was established in 1961. It spreads on 583 square meters of land and it has an altitude of 5,300 feet (1600m) above sea level. To the south, it borders Serengeti National Park, as well as Maasai pastoral ranches both in the northeast and west. The major rivers that flow across the reserve are the great Talek and Mara Rivers. The hilltops and slopes of the whole reserve are covered by trees and shrubs, making it beautiful from an aerial view.
The Mara region is a Savannah area which experiences a dry season from June to November. Heavy rainfall is experienced from both December-January and April-May, though the whole rainfall season extends from November to May. Temperatures range between 20°C and 30°C. The climate is suitable for wildlife survival.
Wildlife Variety and the Great Migration
Maasai Mara is famous for its rare population of Maasai Lions, Tanzania Cheetahs and African leopards, zebras, elephants, hippos and Thompson gazelles. It is popularly known for the wildebeest migrations to and from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania that occurs annually every July to October. This wildebeest movement is known as "the Great Migration".
The "Big Five" animals are also all found in the Maasai Mara Reserve. The big five include the lion, cape buffalo, black rhinoceros, elephant, and leopard. One also gets a chance to see hyenas, jackals, crocodiles and bat-eared foxes which are rarely found in any other reserve in Kenya.
Home for Birds
The reserve is also home to more than 470 bird species, although most birds are migrants. The birds include long-crested eagles, secretary birds, horn-bills, crowned cranes, ostriches, marabou storks, the lilac-breasted roller, pygmy falcons, and vultures.
The best time to visit Maasai Mara is between July and October. This is the period of the Great Migration, and it is also the most favorable season for game adventures. Activities such as camping, game viewing, day and night game drives are available. Tourists also have an opportunity to enjoy guided game tours and visit Masai cultural villages. For an aerial view of the reserve, air balloons are available for the experience.
The park has tented campsites and a number of lodges inside the reserve and at conservation areas at the borders. Roads leading to the park are all-weather.
The Maasai Mara Game reserve is the richest game reserve in Africa, and the only one that hosts the big five in the same park. It is hence a travel destination for every adventurous tourist visiting the region.