The Masai Mara
THE MASAI MARA
The Masai Mara is one of the best known and most popular reserves in the whole of Africa. At times and in certain places it can get a little overrun with tourist minibuses, but there is something so special about it that it tempts you back time and again.
Seasoned safari travellers, travel writers, documentary makers and researchers often admit that the Masai Mara is one of their favourite places. So why is that? Perhaps it is because of the 'big skies', the open savannahs, the romance of films like 'Out of Africa' and certainly because of the annual wildebeest migration, the density of game, the variety of birdlife and the chance of a hot air balloon ride.
Area: 1510 sq km Altitude: 1500 to 2180m [4950-7195 ft]
Access from Nairobi: Road : 270 kms ( 5.5-6.5 hours )
Air : 60 minutes, daily flights.
Location: Masai Mara is in the Rift Valley Province, S. W Kenya and S.E of Lake Victoria. Animals: Prolific wildlife , including the "big 9" and many more carnivores and plains herbivores.
Vegetation: Open savannah and light patches of bush, woodland. River forests along the Mara river.
Birds: Rich variety , including birds of prey such as vultures commonly found in Masai Mara and other Kenya parks. Other parks in Kenya such as Lake Nakuru however have a more diverse birdlife than the Mara.
Accomodation : Several lodges, ranging from luxury to budget as well as campsites within the reserve.
Safari Attractions: Wildlife all year round, and the annual wildebeest migration between July and September makes Masai Mara a prime safari location.
The Maasai Tribe
This warrior tribe of nomadic pastrolists are descendants of Nilotic and Cushitic people originally from north of Lake Turkana over 10 centuries ago. Their life is dominated by their herds of their cattle and livestock.
They often move hundreds of kilometers with large herds of livestock in search of water and rich pastures. The Masai diet is based on fresh curdled milk and meat from their livestock.
Centuries ago the Maasai were feared as ruthless conquerors and cattle rustlers who invaded other tribal areas in search of bigger grazing land and more cattle. The Maasai are also famous for drinking a mixture of cattle blood and milk during ceremonial rites.
Conservation in the Masai Mara
The Masai Mara has a strong but vulnerable eco system with thousands of tourists annually visiting the reserve , putting pressure on the environment. Conservation in the Mara is of paramount importance,
and has been targetted at preservation of the wildlife and environment.
Like most third world countries, Kenya has growing demand for land,
with the increasing population ever searching for more space to live and cultivate on. The Mara has it's share of human-animal conflict.
This is an issue being taken up by government, conservation bodies
and NGOs. Funds are a major problem when it comes to conservation
and often, organisations involved in conservation bodies depend on charities and donor funding.
MASAI MARA SPECIALITIES
· Wildebeest Migration
· Hot Air Ballooning
· Huge savannahs of golden grasslands
· Big skies
· Rift Valley escarpment
· Lion sightings
This is a malarial area
There is no night driving and vehicles must be back at the lodge by 6pm.
Several lodges are located outside the park's boundaries, but as there are few fences you may not be aware of this.
This is a Reserve rather than a National Park and it belongs to the Masai people.