Things to do in Masai Mara
Found nestled in the southern part of Kenya is one of the top destinations in the country known as the Masai Mara Game Reserve. It borders the Serengeti National park in Tanzania separated by two Rivers known as the Grumeti and the Mara. It was listed as one of the seven wonders in the whole world, home to over 1ooo wildlife minus the wildebeest that cross over from Tanzania, Masai Mara is one place that every tourist should visit while in Kenya. The wide range of wildlife and its location make it worth visiting due to the many activities that you can engage in and these will keep you on your toes throughout your stay in Masai Mara. Below is a list of activities that are carried out in the Masai Mara Game Reserve
Game drives in the Masai Mara
Game drives are the most participated in activities within the Masai Mara Game Reserve. They refer to driving through the Game Reserve in an open-roof vehicle as you get to see the great views offered by the different animals that live within the Reserve. Game drives within the Masai Mara are done in three phases that are in the morning, afternoon/evening, and game drives.
Masai Mara is a top destination for tourists who love game drives in Africa rewarding the tourists with the sight of the annual wildebeest migration which sees many animals migrating from Tanzania into the Masai Mara. Some of the animals that you will see while on the game drive include crocodiles, the African lions, elephants, hippos, wildebeests, Zebras, elands, cheetahs, Gazelles, crocodiles, leopards, Rhinos, Buffalos, giraffes, Aardvarks, Bush-baby, oribi, pangolins, side stripped jackals, African hair and the bat-eared fox among others.
Morning Game Drives
The Morning drives start very early in the morning at dawn. The morning drives are the best as you have the chance to see the early bird animals and do some birding before the sun fully comes out. The animals are always active in the morning when searching for food and water and when the heat from the sun gets high, they converge at the banks of the different waterholes to cool off.
Evening Game Viewing
Evening game drives also known as the afternoon game drives usually start at 4:0pm ad end at 6:00 or 6:30 pm. The evening game drives are done mostly for leisure purposes because this is the time when most of the animals are retiring and you will not see as many animals as those that are seen during the morning drives. Some of the animals that you get to see on the afternoon drives include kobs, the big five, and other animals.
Night game drives are extremely rare and can only be done with the help of trained armed rangers and experienced tour guides. This is the best time to see the nocturnal animals that come out at night to hunt especially the cats. The night game drives also come at an extra cost and you will also have vision goggles to be able to see the animals easily. The night game drives are carried out only in the conservancies where the experienced tour guide will take you to the spots from where you can easily watch the animals.
When to go for game drives in the Masai Mara
Game drives in the Masai Mara can be done throughout the whole year however the best time to catch the largest number of animals is during the dry season which is experienced from July to the end of October.
Enjoy cultural tours with the Masai Mara
Cultural safaris to the Masai Mara will take you to the 50 Masai communities that live harmoniously with the animals. The Masai people tend to live in groups and homesteads known as the Bomas where you will find them going on with their day-to-day activities. When you get to the Masai villages, it will feel like you have gone back in time because technology and other developments have not been adopted by the Masai people and they still live the way they used to since time immemorial.
They have a clan chief who is the head and permission to visit the village is granted by him. A warm welcome will be waiting for you from the locals from the women who will sing and dance as a way of welcoming you. You can as well join in their day-to-day activities as you learn more about their culture by learning how to milk a cow, join in the dance which involves jumping up and down, coking local dishes, construction of their houses which are made of mud, learning how to track animals, hunt and also listening to the stories that are told by the elders (interpretations will be made by the tour guide).
While on your cultural tour with the Masai people you will also get to meet the Masai warriors who will showcase their skills in hunting and tracking animals. Cultural tours can be done all year round irrelevant of whether it is the dry or wet season however the best time would be the dry season when the roads are not muddy and slippery.
Watch the wildebeest migration
This is the most participated activity in Masai Mara and it happens annually. The wildebeest migration is a known world activity and many tourists throng Africa just to get a glimpse of the animals that cross from one country to another in search of food and water. The best time to come for the wildebeest migration in Masai Mara is during the dry season which runs from July to October. The animals cross the Grumeti and the Mara River from Serengeti National Park to the Masai Mara towards the end of June into July and you can get to witness all this as long as you book early because this is the peak season in Masai Mara.
The wildebeest migration has over 2 million animals crossing o the Masai Mara and they spread over the Game Reserve until the dry season sets in and they can be seen moving towards the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the pattern repeats each year. As the herbivores stretch out into the Masai Mara, they become prey to the predators who lie in wait for the plenty of food in sight. The pattern tends to be unpredictable but the beautiful scenery created by the animals as they cross into the Masai Mara is something that you would not want to miss out on.
Birding in Masai Mara
The Masai Mara Game Reserve is home to over 500 bird species that are spotted in the different bird habitats within the Reserve. It is a birding paradise with some of the most common bird species found in the Masai Mara being the Rosy throated shrike, sacred Ibis, African fish eagle, William’s lark, Egyptian vulture, Kori Bustard, Greta Egret, the Martial Eagle, white storks, Madagascar Squacco, lovers and Turacos among others. Birding in Masai Mara can be done throughout the year but the best time is during the rainy season which is experienced from November to April when the migratory birds also join the locals from Europe and other places across the world.
Balloon safaris in Masai Mara
A hot air balloon around the Masai Mara is one experience that you can never forget once you get to go on one. You get to see the Game Reserve from a bird’s point of view and though it can be scary for first-timers, the money and time spent will be worth it. The hot balloon rides start very early in the morning with guidelines and what to expect from the tour guides. As the balloon starts rising from the ground you will feel a bit uneasy and shaky but as you approach the skies, the uneasiness fades and you start enjoying the view of the animals, birds, and the landscape of the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The balloon ride will take between 1 to 2 hours and after descending, you will find breakfast waiting for you and everyone who participated in the activity will be given a certificate of completion. The best time to go for the balloon safaris in Masai Mara is during the dry season which is July to October as it might be a bit hard to ride one during the wet season.
Horseback riding in Masai Mara
Way back before safari vehicles were introduced in the Masai Mara, the mode of transportation that was used was horseback. It was the best way to view the animals and even after the vehicles were introduced, some visitors prefer to use horseback riding to get around the Masai Mara because it brings them closer to nature.
Masai Mara Game Reserve is the only place in Kenya where visitors enjoy game viewing on horseback and this is done with the help of tour guides and armed rangers. It gives you a fresh and different vibe as you enjoy nature on horseback and you can even get close to the animals but only with guidance from the tour guide and even touch them (not the predators of course). Horseback riding is best done during the dry season starts in July and ends in October or early November.
Enjoy the sun downer in Masai Mara
This is a relaxing activity after a long day of either driving or walking around the Masai Mara game reserve. Grab that drink and settle under an Acacia tree as you watch the African setting sun with other tourists. This can easily be arranged by your tour operator and as you sip on that drink, you will relax with the smooth sounds from the different bird species and animals as they too retire to their resting places.
Enjoy nature walks in Masai Mara
Nature walks through the Masai Mara have been quite easy due to the marked routes that you can use. These are carried in the danger fee zones and each group going for the nature walks is escorted by two armed rangers and an experienced tour guide. It is one of the most rewarding easy in which you can enjoy viewing the animals, getting close to the locals, and enjoying the geography of the Game Reserve.
Walking safaris will lead you through trails that have animals like antelopes, zebras, elephants, buffalos, giraffes, and gazelles among others. It is an activity that is carried out by those that love nature and are physically fit because you might be required for a long distance in search of the wildlife. Other activities that you can enjoy while taking nature walks include game viewing, birding, and a geography lesson and you also get to meet the locals and learn about their culture. Nature walks are best done during the dry season which is July to October when the trek routes are not slippery and muddy.
Camping within the Masai Mara
Camping is the real deal when it comes to experiencing the African wilderness and this is one of the activities that you can try out while in the Masai Mara. Several camps are found within the Masai Mara with some being privately owned whereas others are public campsites.
You can also join the mobile camping crew in the conservancies and get the thrill of camping out in the open wild. The mobile camping experience comes with Masai guides and armed rangers to keep you safe from the wild animals. Enjoy a campfire and dinner while camping in the Masai Mara however there are some rules that you need to follow when it comes to camping and these have been listed below:
- You must not move out of the tent in the middle of the night because animals keep prowling the area.
- Carry a torch with you at all times and move in groups
- Do not leave any fire burning as it can cause harm to the animals
- Keep your tent close at all times when you are inside.
Book early with a local tour operator and get to enjoy the above activities while on safari to the Masai Mara Game Reserve.