Masai Mara Game Reserve is located in the southern part of Kenya and one of the top tourist attractions in the country. There are numerous activities that you can engage in while in Masai Mara and these include watching the wildebeest migration, birding at the different spots in the Reserve, take guided walks with the Masai Mara and balloon rides among others.
Getting to the Game reserve is not so hard but first all international visitors first have to fly into the country and the recommended airport is the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. There are several international flights you can use to get to Kenya and from there, you will be picked by an experienced tour guide or you can hire a vehicle for those that want to do a self-drive.
Getting to Masai Mara using road transport
This is the most commonly used transport mans by tourists. The route that leads to Masai Mara Game Reserve goes through the Lake Nakuru National Park and the Amboseli National Park where you can make a stopover if it is on your itinerary. There are two ways that you can get to Masai Mara by road and this is by either self-drives or getting a local tour operator with a tour vehicle to get you there.
Self-drive to Masai Mara
In case you are interested in self-drives to Masai Mara, you will need a 4×4 wheel tour vehicle and these can be hired from Nairobi at different costs depending on where you’ve hired it from. Self-drives are not usually recommended even though the roads leading to the Reserve are accessible because then you will have to drive yourself to an unknown destination and might miss out on the spots that are worth checking out if you do not have an experienced tour guide with you.
Masai Mara Drive with a tour company
This is the better option because by the time you get to the airport, you will find that everything has been catered for already for as long as you have booked in advance and finalized with the pay.
Vehicles used for travelling to Masai Mara game Reserve
Two types of safari vehicles are normally used when traveling to Masai Mara and these are the tour vans and the 4×4 land cruisers. These 4×4 land cruisers are commonly used because they have cooler boxes, top pop up hatches which enable good viewing, UHF Radio calls and are extremely comfortable. They carry a maximum of 6 to 8 passengers but have a restriction on the luggage to be carried.
The tour vans carry more passengers and are the best option for all tourists who are travelling on a budget. The only time they are not comfortable is when they are on the bumpy pothole dusty end of the road leading to the Masai Mara.
Getting to Masai Mara by road from Nairobi
As you head out Nairobi city, you will use the A204 highway and join the B3 which is found just right before the Limuru Junction. When you get to the Narok town, take the C12 road and this will lead you to the different gates of the Masai Mara Game Reserve.
The road conditions to Masai Mara
The roads leading to the Masai Mara from Nairobi are in good condition and tarred. It is only the last part of the road that is bumpy, dusty and filed with potholes. The road has a highway A104, B3 and then the last part is C12. As you drive to the Masai Mara Game Reserve, you get to see the beautiful scenery of the surrounding areas and a few wild animals as you get closer to the Game Reserve.
Getting to Masai Mara by air transport
The most favoured airport when jetting into Kenya for the Masai Mara safari is the Nairobi Wilson Airport which is closest to the Game Reserve. A flight from the Nairobi Wilson airport takes between 50 minutes to an hour to get to the Masai Mara Game Reserve and although it is fast and comfortable, you should note that it is an expensive mode of transport. There are several airstrips that are found near the Masai Mara Reserve and all you need to do is to choose one that is closest to your accommodation. The airstrips include the Ol Kiombo, Keekorok airstrip, Musiara airstrip, and Mara North airstrip, the Kichwa tembo, Cottars, Ngerende and Serena airstrip.
Flights to the Masai Mara game Reserve from Nairobi
Several airlines offer flights from the Wilson Airstrip to the Masai Mara and these take a maximum of about an hour for the journey. The Airlines that offer these services to Masai Mara include the following:
- Air Kenya
- Silverstone Air
- Silverstone Air.
The domestic flights that are used have a maximum of only 15 kilograms of check in and carryon luggage. Several aircrafts are used to charter people from Nairobi to Masai Mara and these include the Cessna Caravans, propeller planes and the DeHavilland Dash. Note that all these have different capacity seating and you should find out which one suits you. Once you land in the Masai Mara, a tour vehicle will be waiting for you to take you to your accommodation facility.
Schedule for the flights from Nairobi to Masai Mara
Below is the schedule of the flights from Nairobi to the Masai Mara but you should note that it is liable to change and it is better to fist inquire before planning for the trip
Morning flight from Nairobi 10:00am arrival in Masai Mara 11:00am
Afternoon flight from Nairobi 3:00pm arrival in Masai Mara 4:00pm
The planes always make return journeys after tourists disembark. During the peak season, there are direct flights from Mombasa that you can use and you can also fly directly from the Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania to save on time.
Flights to the Masai Mara game Reserve from Mombasa
There are direct flights from Mombasa t the Kichwa airstrip which is found in the Masai Mara and you can also opt for a flight from Mombasa to Nairobi and then get another from Nairobi to Masai Mara. There are several packages that you can consider depending on your budget but if you have an unlimited budget, we would advise you to try out flying to the Masai Mara for a wonderful experience.
The Masai Mara gates
The Masai Mara Game Reserve has about 5 main gates and these lead to the different sections of accommodation facilities that are within the Game Reserve. The gates at the Masai Mara include the Oloololo, the Musiara which are located about 30 to 40 minutes away from the rest, the Sand River gate, Sekenani gate and the Talek gate. Note that all the gates at the Masai Mara Game reserve open at 6:00am and close at 6:00pm in the evening as you drive from Nairobi to the Masai Mara Game reserve which is 5 to 6 hours away.
When you get to the Masai Mara, you are expected to pay entrance fees and these differ according to age and where you will be staying while on your safari. The entrance fees structure has been explained below.
- Visitors to the National reserve who are not staying within Masai Mara and are above 12 years are supposed to pay $80 per person and those below 12 years pay $45 per person and the fee is only valid for one day.
- Visitors staying within the Masai Mara game Reserve and are 12 years and above pay $70 per person and those below pay $40 per person valid for only one day.
- Children 3 years and below are exempted from paying the park entry fees.
Time spent on the road to the different gates of Masai Mara
Once you have decided to drive to Masai Mara, know that you are going to spend while on the road and below is an approximation of the time you get to spend while on the road.
- Nairobi to Oloololo 6 and half hours
- Nairobi to Musiara Gate 6 and half hours
- Nairobi to Sekenani Gate 5 to 6 hours
- Nairobi to oloolaimutia Gate 6 hours
- Nairobi to Talek Gate 5 to 6 hours
How to make your travel arrangements to the Masai Mara
Travel arrangements to the Masai Mara can easily be made through tour operators that are well conversant with Masai Mara. The transfer arrangements from the airport, drive to the Masai Mara and then back to the airport after you trip can easily be arranged by a tour company and all you need to do is book in advance. All in all the best way to get to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in the southern part of Kenya depends on your travelling budget and ask all the questions that you have about getting to Masai Mara to your tour operator so that they can choose for you the best and comfortable way that fits into your budget.