The Masai Mara game reserve, located in Narok County in Kenya, is Africa’s most popular safari destination. The World Travel Awards has repeatedly crowned it as Africa’s Leading safari destination for 5 years in a row.
To clinch this coveted award, the park had to topple other premium game reserves such as Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Okavango Delta in Botswana. But what makes the Mara so popular?
The magic of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve cannot be fully captured in writing. It has to be personally experienced and savored. Only then can you immerse yourself in the culture and spirit of the Mara.
In this detailed and exhaustive compilation, we present you with the 5 most adventurous activities to do and see in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
1. Cultural visit to a Maasai village
Arguably one of the most distinctive peoples of Africa, the Maasai are a hotpot of cultural preservation and heritage. Incredibly, these semi-nomadic people have managed to resist most western influences and zealously guard their cultural beliefs and practices.
The area around the Mara is mainly inhabited by the Maasai, and naturally, a visit to a Maasai village is a must for any culture enthusiast. Did you know that despite their tall stature, the Maasai reside in huts (manyattas) that are roughly only 3 feet in height? Here, you will be able to experience these dwellings firsthand.
You will also get to witness the Maasai world-renown unique sense of fashion, their incredible and intricate beaded jewelry as well as their fascinating choice of shoes. If you are lucky, the Maasai morans (warriors) will throw in a dance or two for your enjoyment!
For curio aficionados, their craft shops are replete with African carvings, artwork, and jewelry, which you can purchase as mementos of your time in the Mara. If you so wish, these highly amiable locals resplendent in their traditional regalia will also freely pose for photographs with you and answer any queries you may have pertaining to their way of life.
As the saying goes, the best way to explore a new place is with the people who were born and raised there. That said, for a more immersive and educational Masai Mara cultural tour, plan your trip with Nairobi based travel agencies such as AjKenyaSafaris.com or MasaiMarasafari.in. Their guides were born and raised around the Mara, and they will safely and smoothly introduce you to the natural wonders of the Masai mara game reserve.
You can plan your cultural tour to Masai Mara at any time and have a great holiday. However, the dry months between July and November and January to March are great, especially if you also plan to do game drives in the Mara. April to June is the rainy season and the best time to plan budget Masai Mara safari packages.
2. Hot Air Balloon ride
The beauty with Hot Air Balloon rides is that they are perfect for everyone, as they give you a good view of the nooks and crannies of the Mara ecosystem. A Maasai Mara or Serengeti safari is never quite complete without one.
The only catch here is that you have to be ready for take-off at the crack of dawn, as the balloons take to the skies at 5 am. It proves to be well worth it in the end, though- imagine the aerial view as you leisurely drift like a gentle wind over the expansive sleepy Mara savannah, as far as the eye can see.
Now picture that landscape steadily but gradually getting sun-kissed and stirring to life before your very eyes, as the orange rays of the early morning sunbathe it with warmth, chasing away the last remnants of the night’s darkness.
Suddenly, the vast expanse is rife with activity. Predators going for the kill just before the scorching sun becomes too much for this grueling task- a life and death dance ensues, set against the ironic happy tunes of innocently chirping birds.
The balloon rides are your perfect precursor to an adventure-filled day. They offer you an idyllic escape and a fresh perspective without missing out on the action! As part of the trip, you may be treated to complimentary champagne, and just when your aerial tour winds down, you find a warm and hearty breakfast awaiting you!
3. Game Drives
Game drives are by far the most popular activity while on a Kenya safari holiday in the Mara. Depending on your preference, you can go for a half-day game drive, a full day game drive, a night game drive, or any combination that suits your fancy. For people traveling with toddlers, half-day drives are the most advisable and convenient.
All in all, the drives are facilitated through the use of open vehicles for easy game viewing. Here, is where you get in close proximity with the Big Five (African Lion, Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant and Leopard) in their natural habitat. The excitement brought on by this experience is even more palpable if your visit coincides with the annual Wildebeest migration (also known as the 8th wonder of the world)
However, if you crave adrenaline-fueled encounter, be sure to factor in a night game drive in your itinerary as well.
A night game drive brings with it some nocturnal predators who are otherwise elusive during the day. One such example is the Leopard, who prefers to hunt after nightfall. The night game drive would afford you an opportunity to catch this majestic beast in action.
4. Game Walk safari
Still, feeling adventurous yet tired of being cooped up in the safari vehicle? – No problem. A guided game walk safari might be just what you need. Unlike the game drive, a walking safari avails you the opportunity to interact with the smaller game that may otherwise not be visible while onboard a safari vehicle. Aside from big games, animals such as the Genet, Warthogs, Black Eared fox, Dik Diks, and the Lesser Kudu are what you can expect to find on such excursions.
This intimate excursion into the African jungle is absolutely safe as you will at all times be aided by experienced armed Maasai rangers and animal trackers who interact with all the wild game on a daily basis. The feeling of encountering the Big Five up close is quite an exhilarating experience. The game walk can be as long or as short as you wish it to be.
The game walk experience is perfectly complemented by a bush dinner at the end of the day.
5. Mobile camping
Mobile camping safaris are comprised of real camping experiences using very basic amenities. It affords you the rare opportunity to constantly move around within the 1,510 sq Km Maasai Mara reserve to where the action is. This movement especially comes in handy during the annual Wildebeest migration, as you can constantly follow the migrating herds and their predators.
Another advantage that comes with mobile camping is that compared to the luxury resorts, it is fairly cheaper, given that you will be making do with just the most basic of amenities. To be a mobile camper, be prepared to sleep in a tent with just a mattress and sleeping bags, just as these founded on this website. Movement around the reserve is through 4WD Land Cruisers or minivans.
Each camping excursion comes with a trained and experienced safari guide, a trained cook, and an experienced driver. The food and tents are also supplied, as are the makeshift mobile shower and flush toilets to be used by the campers. The staff will be at hand to do all the work from cooking, heating the campers’ shower water to cleaning up. All you have to do is relax and enjoy nature’s drama as it unfolds.
Mobile camping is particularly ideal for nature photographers and birdwatchers, who might need more time with the outdoors, unlike the average visitor.
Regardless of whether you opted for the main activities listed here, or for the lesser-known but equally rewarding experiences such as horseback riding in the savannah; one thing is for sure- there will be many tales shared on the day’s activities. After all, no two moments are ever similar in the African savannah. Visit MasaiMarasafari.in and start planning your Kenya safari.