The Masai Mara National Reserve is world famous for the Great Wildebeest Migration, a natural spectacle unrivalled for size and drama.

Between July and October, over two million animals follow the rains from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Mara in search of fresh grazing. Among the multitudes are numbered 1 500 000 wildebeest, 200 000 zebra, half a million Thompson’s gazelle and thousands of other antelope.

Their trek becomes a life-and-death drama when they reach the banks of the Mara, Talek and Sand rivers. No wonder this has not only been rated one of the seven wonders of the natural world but has earned the moniker ‘the World Cup of Wildlife’. The animals mill on the rivers’ edge until instinct drives them to cross. Carnivores drawn to the on-the-hoof banquet are the villains of the piece. Great Nile crocodiles kill and feast in the river and on the far side the Big Cats (cheetah, lion and leopard), hyenas and jackals wait. The epitome of great African adventure, this is also life’s great balancing act in action: without predators, the wildebeest numbers would grow too great, but the herbivores’ constant movement from the Serengeti to the Mara and back preserves them from worse predation.

Outside migration time, the drama diminishes but the greater Mara region teems with wildlife all year round, including the Big Five, handsome roan antelope, giraffe and huge pods of hippo, and game viewers reap the reward of fewer safari vehicles and a blissful quiet. Birders pursue their checklist of 470 bird species. The reserve is bordered to the east, north and west by pastoralist ranches and conservancies managed by the Group Ranch Trust. Cattle herds keep the grasslands of the Mara Conservancy short. When the grasses of the reserve grow too high, elephant and antelope grow nervous about the unseen dangers lurking there and move into the conservancy. As they move, so do the carnivores, including the lions made famous by the BBC’s Big Cat Diaries. In consequence, visitors are assured of spotting satisfying numbers of wildlife.

The Masai community is deeply invested in their namesake reserve and the conservancy. The pastoralist ranches and conservancies that make up the Mara Conservancy are managed by the Group Ranch Trust. Masai are employed as knowledgeable guides and trackers and the recently-established Koiyagi Guiding School is equipping young guides, including the first female Masai guides, with additional skills. Cultural visits to the local villages are always rewarding.

Masai Mara National Reserve

Things to do in Masai Mara National Reserve

Horseback riding

Cultural experiences

Hot-air balloon safaris

Guided walks

Game-viewing drives

Viewing the Great Migration

Accommodation in Masai Mara National Reserve

Angama Mara

Award-winning Angama Mara is perched 300 metres above the floor of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, with spectacular 180˚ views that stretch for miles across the pristine Masai Mara National Reserve. This remarkable setting ensures unrivalled exclusivity, with a private airfield and a track directly down into the reserve – a mere 10-minute drive away. The estate comprises 700 hectares directly bordering the Mara Triangle, with 1,2 km of Rift Valley frontage, its own forests and simply masses of wildlife. A highly personal safari experience is guaranteed, with two intimate camps of just 15 tented suites each, tailor-made safari days and…

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Angama Mara
Accommodation in Masai Mara National Reserve

Mara Bush Houses

Mara Bush Houses consists of three separate houses, each accommodating six people. This can get no more private: guests enjoy an intimate bush experience with an entire house to themselves, complete with wonderful staff to see to their every need. Each house comes with its own vehicle and guide, so the guests’ wishes shape each day’s game viewing. A guided bush walk gives children of all ages the chance to learn their bushcraft. The delicious home-cooked meals are flexible – dine ‘at home’ or take a packed meal for an extended game drive. Chefs cater to special dietary needs. The…

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Mara Bush House
Accommodation in Masai Mara National Reserve

Mara Plains

A member of the Great Plains Conservation family of exclusive lodges, Mara Plains is a Kenyan under-canvas dream come true for any safari and wild animal enthusiast. Situated on the banks of the Ntiakitiak River in the 35 000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Mara Plains celebrates its East African heritage and sings a song of commitment to the communities of people and wildlife who have lived here for generations. The company’s ethos is all about low-impact tourism, from the sensitive lodge design that celebrates the nostalgia of traditional East African safaris to its minimised impact on the surrounds, low-vehicle density policy…

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Mara Plains
Accommodation in Masai Mara National Reserve

Naboisho Camp

Owned by local Masai, the Naboisho Conservancy adjacent to the northern Masai Mara Reserve is simultaneously exclusive, in its restriction on tourist numbers and their impact on the environment, and inclusive. ‘Naboisho’ means ‘coming together’ in Maa and this is borne out in the coming together of tourists and community, game animals and livestock.   The conservancy was the overall winner, and winner of the Best Conservancy award at the 2016 African Responsible Tourism Awards for its governance, protection of wildlife and the direct benefits for the community created by the local people’s ownership and active involvement in its management.…

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Accommodation in Masai Mara National Reserve

Rekero Camp

Located deep in the Masai Mara Reserve at the confluence of the Mara and Talek rivers, Rekero occupies the prime spot for watching the Great Migration. Watch the drama unfold from the comfort of the camp’s main deck or listen to hippo grunts and bird calls out of migration season. Rekero was set up by Jackson Ole Looseyia and Gerard Beaton, who grew up together in the region. The Beatons pioneered conservation in Kenya. Jackson’s father, Sayole, was a hunter turned game ranger and worked with Gerard’s father, Ron. As one of the presenters on the BBC television series, the…

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Accommodation in Masai Mara National Reserve

Sand River

Named for the river on which it sits, Sand River is deep in the Masai Mara National Reserve and close to the border with the Serengeti. Guests get up close to Africa’s stunning wildlife all year round, with added drama in migration season. Luxury combines with outdoor adventure – guests can choose soothing soaks in a copper-clad bath with the fun of an outdoor bucket shower. Interiors are sumptuous, with special touches like four-poster beds bedecked with mosquito nets and crystal glasses and decanters in each room. Wooden floors scattered with oriental carpets open onto decks facing the river. Each…

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