Masai Mara National Reserve
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Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara National Reserve covers an area of 1,510 square kilometers (580 square miles) and was established in 1961. Its southern boundary is continuous with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Masai Mara National Reserve is divided into two sections. The inner section allows no human settlement while in the outer section, the local community, the Masai are allowed to pasture their cattle.
Masai Mara Game Reserve has been named one of the new Seventh Wonders of the World in a poll of experts conducted by ABC Television’s Good Morning America. The incredible annual migration of over a million Wildebeest from the Serengeti Plains to the Mara has been described as being one of the most awe inspiring sights on earth, and a broadcast on US morning television took this spectacle into millions of American homes. Your Kenyan safari will not be complete without Masai Mara safari. The BBC Television show Big Cat Diary is filmed in both the Reserve and Conservation areas of the Masai Mara and highlights scenes from the Reserve’s Musiara marsh area and the Leopard Gorge and Fig Tree Ridge areas of the Conservation area.
Masai Mara is famous for the plains game together with the associated predators. It is the only region left in Kenya where visitors can see animals in the same environment as existed a century ago.
The Masai Mara National Reserve extends from Loita Hills in the east to Mara Triangle at the base of Siria Escarpment in the west. The inner section with its network of roads specially constructed for game watching embraces the area around Keekorok Lodge and westwards to the Mara River.
Everything is big in Masai Mara. It is a country of panoramic rolling plains and rounded hills, and intermittent groves of acacia woodlands and dense thickets of shrubs. The whole area is bisected by the Mara River and its tributaries which have luxuriant, prolific riverine forests. In every direction, there are endless herds of game animals.
The Wildebeest Migration
There is a particularly dramatic spectacle from July to September, the annual migration of huge herds of wildebeest and close to 2 million followed by their predators. They migrate from Serengeti to Masai Mara in search of pasture. You will have the opportunity to see the migration crossing Mara River battling crocodiles and resisting being swept down by the river.
Masai Mara National Reserve possesses the largest population of lions in Kenya, although poisoning by farmers along the western border has reduced the number of Black-maned Lions. It also boast large herds of Topi and a small population of Roan Antelope, animals not found in many other parts of Kenya (although more common in Lambwe Valley and Shimba Hills National Park).
Elephants are fairly common and the traveler may sometimes be held up by ‘elephants on the road’.
Among the great variety of large beasts, area Buffalo, Black Rhino and Hippopotamus. The hippo viewing platform on the Mara River near Mara Serena Lodge is probably the best point in Kenya to see hippo. Other mammals include Leopard, Cheetah, Common Zebra, Coke’s Hartebeest, Oribi, Warthog and Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelles.
The bird life of Mara is as profuse as its mammalian fauna. The Reserve is home to more than 470 bird species, which includes 60 raptors such as vultures and martial eagles. There are also signature species lilac-breasted rollers, superb starling, pygmy falcons, grey crowned cranes and endangered ground hornbills.
The red-winged Schalow’s Turaco with its white-capped crest is common along the wooded watercourses. Mara River is home to Ross Turaco, the great orange-buff Pel’s Fishing Owl and flocks of Crested Guinea-fowl.
On the open plains there are bustards including Jackson’s Bustard and black-bellied Hartlaub’s Bustard. The latter during the nuptial display soars high in the air, then with rigid wings descends slowly to earth like a pricked balloon. Ground Hornbills are one of the most spectacular birds of the open plains and are more easily seen in the Mara than elsewhere in Kenya. Secretary birds are common as they stalk sedately over the grasslands.