Masai Mara Game Reserve is an open grassland that is located in the south-eastern part of Kenya. The breath-taking landscape is home to thousands of wildlife that can be seen in the different corners of the Game Reserve. Masai Mara is a top destination for many tourists in Kenya and this is because of the abundant wildlife.
The animals that are found in the Masai Mara Game Reserve include the big five that is lions, Rhinos, elephants, leopards and hippos, zebras, wildebeests, cheetahs, hyenas, blackjacked jackal, impalas, elands, bat-eared fox, and Thomson’s gazelle among others.
Masai Mara is home to over 5oo bird species and the commonest that you should expect to see include the Sooty chat, Tawny eagle, cattle Egret, Magpie Shrike, Great Egret, Egyptian Vulture, Kori Bustard, Usambiro barbet, Long-tailed cormorant, Rosy throated shrike, grey Heron, secretary bird, Marabou stork, African fish Eagle, Hadeda Ibis, Little Bittern, Rufous-billed Heron, Sacred Ibis, Hamerkop and yellow-billed stork, Clarke’s weaver, Aberdare Cisticola, Sharpe’s Pipit, William’s Lark, Tara River Cisticola, and the Hinde’s pied babbler, Ground Hornbills which are almost the size of a turkey, saddle-billed stork, crowned cranes, Great white egrets, Grey Heron, yellow-billed, Kori Bustard, secretary birds, Jaunty crowned plovers, the sacred Ibis, and the white storks. The Musiara Marsh is also the only place in Kenya where you get to see the Madagascar Squacco Heron which is endangered and the Rufous-bellien.
Rules and regulations in the Masai Mara Game drive
Several rules and regulations were set up by the Reserve management to protect the wildlife and ecosystem of the Masai Mara. The Game Reserve receives a large number of tourists every year especially, during the dry season which is from July to October to watch the famous wildebeest migration. So to make sure that tourists don’t get attacked and that the Reserve is left the way it was found, the following rules and regulations were set up and some of these have been written right at the entrance of the Masai Mara.
- You need to pay your entry fees before you gain access to the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The park fees paid are only valid for one day.
- Do not pick anything from the Park that is bones, feathers, plants, and many, more others as souvenirs. You are to leave the park exactly the way you found it and how you came in.
- You are not allowed to take nature walks or strolls while in the park if you are not supervised. All nature walks that are done within the park are strictly done with the help of a tour guide and two armed rangers.
- Do not at any one point get off your safari vehicle during the game drives in Masai Mara Game Reserve.
- Try as much as possible not to make any type of noise while on your game drive and most especially during the walking safaris. Noise usually disrupts the wildlife and that is why it is advised that you use soft or whispered tones while talking.
- Keep a distance away from the animals that are at least 100m. if you want to get a closer look at the animals, use your binoculars but do not at any one point in time approach the animals. Some dustbins are found within most the safari vehicles and that is where you are to place all your rubbish. Do not litter the park because it might affect the wildlife.
- You are not allowed to feed the animals even when they get in close contact with you.
- You are supposed to drive at a speed limit of 50km hour r while on game drives in the Masai Mara Game Reserve. The speed limit was put in place to prevent animals from being knocked down.
- Phones, radios, and anything else that is bound to make noise should be switched off to maintain silence while on game drives.
- Do not smoke while in Masai Mara Game Reserve.
The rules and regulations in Masai Mara Game Reserve are meant to be followed by all tourists and failure to adhere to them can lead to consequences such as
- Littering in the park amounts to a fine of 3,000Ksh
- Harassing the animals leads to a fine of 10,000Ksh
- Defaulting park entrance fees invites a fine of 2000ksh.
Note that if you fail to pay any of these fines, you will be indefinitely suspended and also most probably banned from the Game Reserve.
Best time for wildlife viewing in Masai Mara Game Reserve
Wildlife viewing in Masai Mara is done all year round due to the abundant wildlife present throughout the year. The best time to go for game drives in Masai Mara Game Reserve is from July to October during the dry season. It is also known as the peak season due to the many tourists in the Reserve at this time. You get to see a variety of animals during this time while on your safari. The best time for birding in Masai Mara is the wet season (November to May). So the best time for wildlife viewing in Masai Mara depends on what you want to see.
Wildlife highlights in Masai Mara
The best wildlife highlight in Masai Mara is the wildebeest migration which is experienced from July to October. The wildebeest migration which happens annually starts from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the animals can be seen crossing the Mara River and Grumeti River to Masai Mara Game Reserve in large numbers. Over 1.2 million animals which include wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, antelopes, and elands come into the Masai Mara in search of pasture and water. This is an experience that everyone should experience.
The other wildlife highlight includes the bird species that include both the migratory birds and indigenous bird species. These are best seen during the wet season which is experienced from November to May. These highlights can be seen during game drives and guided nature walks around the Game Reserve. Plan your safari to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in advance and enjoy the vast wildlife that the Reserve has to offer.