The Maasai Mara National Reserve is undoubtedly Kenya's most notable and revered reserve. Its sheer size – extending to and eventually joining Tanzania's Serengeti National Park – and stringent anti-poaching systems have made it famous for its thriving lion, cheetah, and leopard populations.
Maasai Mara is also a starting point for one of the oldest pilgrimages in history. Every year from July to October, the Great Migration sees thousands of zebra, wildebeest, and gazelle leave clouds of dust in their wake as they stampede toward (literally) greener pastures in the Serengeti. When on the move, their pace is frantic and panicky as they attempt to avoid being singled out by a watchful pride of lion or unsuspectingly clamber too close to a crocodile lying in wait near the riverbanks.
The reserve's name is attributed to the Maasai tribe, who call the area home. Their original name for the land, "mara", refers to the vast landscape "speckled" with animals and acacia trees and the cloud shadows that characterise the area. Maasai Mara is home to a range of lodges and camps where visitors can immerse themselves in an authentic safari experience.
We've taken the liberty to answer everything you may need to know about visiting Maasai Mara National Reserve
The best time to visit the Maasai Mara Reserve depends on what you want to experience. However, most people want to witness the spectacular Great Wildebeest Migration. Each year the animals move at different times because their pilgrimage is determined by rainfall, becoming increasingly unpredictable.
But here's a rough breakdown of the best time to visit the Maasai Mara Reserve, where they'll be at specific points of the year, and where you should stay:
August: The grasses of the western Serengeti are turning yellow, and the herds continue north. After crossing the Grumeti River in Tanzania, the wildebeest and zebra head to Kenya's Lamai Wedge and the Mara Triangle. However, before they get to the lush plains of the Mara, they have to make another river crossing. This time it's the world-famous Mara River filled with hungry crocodiles. The Mara River crossing has been immortalised by David Attenborough over time, with scenes of nature ruthlessly selecting which animals live and which will die. During this time, you should consider witnessing the spectacle from Angama Mara Lodge.
September through November: The Mara plains are filled to the brim with large herds, naturally followed by predators. Governors' Camp is the best place to stay while the migration is in the Mara.
November and December: The rains start in the south again, and the herds begin their long trek back down to Tanzania to give birth to their young. During the short rains of November, consider Klein's Camp when deciding where to see the Great Wildebeest Migration.
All our tours are tailor-made for an itinerary curated just for you and those you’re travelling with. Therefore, how much it costs to visit the Maasai Mara Reserve will depend on where you decide to stay, the duration of your trip, what activities you partake in, and more.
Our Maasai Mara Reserve tours can cost anything from $350 to $3,000 per person per night and depend on various factors, including but not limited to types of accommodation, availability, and seasonality.
The Maasai Mara has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife on earth and is best known for its annual Great Migration. However, it’s really a year-round safari destination offering plenty of activities. Here are just some of the Maasai Mara highlights you can look forward to on your trip to Kenya.
- Witnessing the Great Wildebeest Migration
- During certain times of the year, you can watch the Mara River crossing, where the Great Migration tries to pass through without becoming the crocodiles’ lunch
- Keep an eye out for the “Tano Bora” or “Magnificent Five” cheetah coalition
- Hot air balloon safaris for a bird’s-eye view
- Luxury Tented Camps for an immersive experience
- High density of lion and other big cats to see
- Cultural experiences with the local Maasai
- Diverse landscapes offering unique sightings
- 470 bird species to admire
The quickest and most convenient way to get to the Maasai Mara is to fly. Most guests fly into the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi. This airport is East Africa’s largest hub with many flight options such as Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Dutch Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss, Qatar, Kenya Airways etc.
From Jona Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, you have the option to either take a road trip to the national reserve or to take a charter flight straight to one of the airstrips closest to the lodge you’re staying at. The most popular route for a fly-in Maasai Mara safari is from the Nairobi Wilson Airport (WIL), which will take you roughly 45-60 minutes to get to the reserve.
You can book a guided drive-in safari if you want to take a road transfer. Although you can self-drive, we don’t recommend it as you will need a 4x4 for certain parts of the journey.
Maasai Mara safaris are special because of the sheer volume and diversity of wildlife that you can see here. It’s also host to part of the world-famous Great Migration, an annual spectacle where wildebeest followed by other wildlife and predators journey across the plains searching for greener pastures.
East Africa is known for its wide-open spaces and excellent safari sightings. Picture the classic safari image of a lone flat-topped acacia tree set against a striking red sunset. That’s East Africa for you! It’s also known for its thriving big cat populations and many bird species. Whether you’re an amateur or pro photographer, this is a paradise for you! With an abundance of giraffe, buffalo, cheetah, lion, leopard, endangered black rhino, zebra, hippo, crocodiles, and many more, you’ll be clicking away at every turn.
Maasai Mara safaris are all about exploring the landscapes and wildlife in different ways, from walking safaris with local Maasai warriors to hot air balloon safaris for a bird’s-eye view. The many luxury tented camps are also set up in prime positions so that you have a front-row view to witness Africa’s greatest scenes unfold.