Highlights of the Masai Mara

Few places have a higher concentration of wildlife than the Masai Mara, and sightings of four of the Big Five are almost a guarantee on any trip (although rhino are harder to spot). The Mara is also one of the best reserves on the planet for seeing the three big cats: leopard, lion and cheetah. It’s no wonder that the BBC TV show Big Cat Diaries is filmed on the reserve.

masai mara migration safari river crossing Credit: Governors Il Moran Camp

Along with the Serengeti in Tanzania, the Masai Mara plays host to the greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth: the Great Migration. For most nature lovers, witnessing the movement of millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle across the Mara River and streaming through the vast plains of the Masai Mara, is one of the ultimate wilderness experiences. Seeing the daily dramas of survival and death are the stuff nature documentaries are made of.

The Masai Mara conservancies – private concessions which border the reserve and make up part of the Greater Mara Ecosystem – are reason alone to visit the safari area. These conservancies encompass nearly as much land as the national reserve and offer the same incredible wildlife densities – as well as the Great Migration herds – but without the crowds, as each conservancy adheres to a limited number of beds per acre.

giraffe masai mara kenya Credit: Rekero Camp

The Maasai, one of Kenya’s most recognisable tribes, are part of what makes a visit to the Masai Mara so unique. These semi-nomadic pastoralists have a rich and fascinating culture and visiting a Maasai village or doing a homestay with a Maasai family can be one of the most memorable aspects of a trip to the Masai Mara. Many guides in the lodges and camps of the Mara are Maasai, and they share their superb tracking skills to wildlife spotting and a wealth of knowledge about the ecosystem, animals, plants and birds with guests. The private conservancies that border the national reserve are either owned by or leased from the Maasai, and the tourism industry provides important financial support to local communities as well as an incentive for continuing conservation projects and initiatives.

The Masai Mara has one of the best concentrations of game in the world and is the best reserve for spotting big cats – and that’s not to mention the legendary Great Migration that takes place here annually, providing the kind of dramatic scenes that you usually only see on nature documentaries. There’s plenty to the Masai Mara to warrant return trips.

golden winged sunbird kenya Golden winged sunbird

As with any safari destination, there’s much to be said for returning to the Masai Mara at different times of the year for various natural attractions. The Great Migration months of July to October promise thrilling sights, but the other months of the year have their own attractions, such as migratory birds between November and April and baby animals being born during the rainier months of the year. Travelling during the quieter months of the year will also mean that you have more of the wilderness to yourself, as the migration period and the Christmas holidays can get incredibly busy, and it’s not uncommon to have many cars packed around a sighting.

The conservancies that border the Masai Mara are destinations in their own right, offering abundant game, spectacular scenery and the exclusivity of only a few camps over massive areas. If you stay inside the park itself on your first visit, it’s definitely worth returning to the Mara for a different experience on a conservancy and for the chance to do walking safaris.

Popular Masai Mara Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Tanzania and Kenya Highlights Safari (10 days)

Tanzania and Kenya Highlights Safari

This journey covers all the highlights of Tanzania and Kenya...

 | Migration River Crossings Safari with Governors’ Camps (4 days)

Migration River Crossings Safari with Governors' Camps (4 days)

Enjoy the migration and river crossings at Governor's Camp and choose your level of comfort...

The Uganda Hills | The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

The Complete East Africa Experience (13 days)

Enjoy East Africa's most celebrated highlights, from a snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, to sailing above the Serengeti in a hot-air balloon and meeting mountain gorillas...

 | Masai Mara Safari Adventure (6 days)

Masai Mara Safari Adventure (6 days)

Explore the jewel in Kenya's crown; the wildlife-rich Masai Mara National Reserve...

Asilia Africa | Spectacular July to September Wildebeest River Crossings  (10 days)

Spectacular July to September Wildebeest River Crossings (10 days)

Experience one of Africa's greatest spectacles – smell the dust and hear the noise of thousands of animals crossing the Mara River...

Enjoying a sundowner whilst watching the wildebeest migration.  | HerdTracker Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Journey (7 days)

HerdTracker Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Journey (7 days)

Witness the wildebeest migration in Kenya's iconic Masai Mara National Reserve with HerdTracker...

 | Gorilla trekking and the Great Migration Combined

Gorilla trekking and the Great Migration Combined

Unforgettable experience in the jungles of Rwanda to track the last Mountain gorillas on earth and view the awesome Great Migration river crossings...

Lion Cubs | The Big Cats of East Africa Safari (10 days)

The Big Cats of East Africa Safari (10 days)

This safari to the Serengeti and Masai Mara in East Africa is all about big cats – lots of them and up close for outstanding photographs...

 | Best of Africa Safari (16 days)

Best of Africa Safari (16 days)

Experience the best of Africa, from the Okavango Delta – one of Africa's Seven Natural Wonders – to the endangered mountain gorillas and East Africa's Great Migration...

 | Masai Mara Wildlife Discovery Safari (10 days)

Masai Mara Wildlife Discovery Safari (10 days)

The Masai Mara is the world's most prolific game viewing area for big cats and the Great Migration...

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