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Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara National Reserve is located in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, in mainly open grassland. It borders the Serengeti National Park and together they form Africa’s best known wonder – the annual great migration. The area got the name Masai Mara in honor of the Masai people.

Meet the Masai tribe

The Masai (also spelled “Maasai”) have lived in this region since they migrated from the Nile Basin centuries ago. Mara means spotted in Maa language, which refers to the region’s landscape which is marked by many short bushy trees scattered all over the outstretched savannah. To get more familiar with the Masai lifestyle, you can visit a village in the Masai Mara.

Great migration

The National Reserve is home to more than 95 animal species and over 400 species of birds. The wildlife is usually based on the escarpment of the reserve. Mid July to mid October is the best time to visit the Masai Mara as this is the time for the great migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, antelope and impala. By mid July, they normally start crossing over from the Tanzanian Serengeti. This annual migration involves over 2.5 million animals. Together these animals cross the dangerous Mara river in massive herds in order to find fresh grass on the other side. Crocodiles always await in the waters. This is an exciting spectacle you shouldn’t miss!

Masai Mara Triangle

The Masai Mara Triangle is a special area of the Masai Mara National Reserve that is managed by a non-profit conservancy formed by local Masai communities. It is also one of the best destinations in the world to spot wildlife. The mara river runs through the Mara Triangle and it is the first part of the Masai Mara that the animals reach after crossing the border with Tanzania.

You have an excellent chance to see animals here. The famous Big Five – elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo – live in the Masai Mara Triangle. And with a bit of luck you can see cheetahs, servals, hyenas, bat-eared foxes, and black-backed or side-striped jackals. The Mara Triangle is also home to hippos, crocodiles, baboons, warthogs, topis, elands, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles, impalas, waterbucks, oribis, reed-bucks, zebras, and many more…

Common animals in the Masai Mara

  • Big five – elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo
  • Migration animals – wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, antelope and impala
  • Cheetah
  • Serval
  • Hyena
  • Bat-eared fox
  • Black-backed and side-striped jackal
  • Hippo
  • Crocodile
  • Baboon
  • Warthog
  • Topi
  • Eland
  • Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle
  • Impala
  • Water- and Reed buck
  • Oribi

masai mara cheetah

Masai Mara Video

Facts about Masai Mara

Although every year is different and there are no guarantees about the way the great migration moves, there is a certain pattern:

  • The great migration is present in the Masai Mara and Serengeti
  • The herds of wildebeests and zebras follow the rains and the accompanying green pastures for their survival
  • The migration comes to the Masai Mara to cross the Marariver between July and October

Best time to visit Masai Mara: mid July to mid October

Activities in the Masai Mara

  • Game viewing
  • Night game drives
  • Visit Masai cultural village
  • Hot air balloon safaris
  • Bush dinner, lunch or breakfast

How to get there

It’s a 260 kilometer drive from Nairobi to the Masai Mara, which will take you five to six hours.

It’s also possible to fly, as the Masai Mara is only a 45 minutes flight away from Nairobi. There are several airstrips which are serving the different areas of the Masai Mara.




Kenya has a cold season from June to November with average temperatures of 20°C during the day. Nights can get cold during this season, so it’s best to take a sweater.

Mid October to November is the short rainy season, after which temperatures rise up to 30°C during the day from December to April. April and May come with showers again as this is the long rainy season. It normally doesn’t rain throughout the day as one sees sunny mornings with rain clouds building up towards the afternoons and evenings.

Best time to visit Masai Mara

We recommend to visit the Masai Mara between mid July and mid October, during the great migration. But even the other dryer months of the year (June to October and December to March) are good for a visit to Masai Mara as you can also spot the Big Five and many other animals here.