Masai Mara Safari

The first thing I notice when flying into Nairobi at night is the darkness. I always imagine the utter disappointment tourists must feel as they look eagerly out their windows when the captain announces that "we have begun our decent towards Jomo Kenyatta International Airport". There are no twinkling lights from the houses of suburbia, nor is there the slow moving yellow beam that comes from lines of traffic on an 8 lane freeway.

Nairobi Skyline @liakadatravel

Yet, despite the lack of an impressive skyline the darkness represents something so much more thrilling ... the African wilderness. 7 km from the city centre is Nairobi National Park, home to lions and rhinos, so even as you land in East Africa's largest city the safari has already begun!

Sunrise over the African Plains @liakadatravel

Kenya has taken a bit of a hammering in the news of late due to terror attacks but I would like to re-state that the attacks have not affected the safari parks and the country thus remains a safe and beautiful safari destination.

The Masai Mara is Kenya's most famous game reserve and is located in the south west of the country along the Tanzanian border. The Mara is an extension of the greater Serengeti which lies on the Tanzanian side. If you are in any doubt about where to go on safari just know that this is the region that inspired The Lion King... need I say more?

Male Lion in the Masai Mara @liakadatravel

The easiest way to get to the Mara is by plane from Nairobi. The flights are less than an hour long and will drop you at an airstrip near your camp, though if you are not a keen flyer they are probably best avoided as I have seen cars larger than these planes.

Baby Plane @liakadatravel

I personally have always gone by road to the Mara, which is about a 5 hour drive to the main gate from Nairobi. I would strongly recommend that you don't attempt to drive yourself; massive lorries think nothing of overtaking at speed around corners, driving on the wrong side of the road is quite normal, and indicators or stop lights have literally no meaning. Better yet, if you survive the road to the park once in the park the roads have often disintegrated or have been washed away. Most safari tours include a driver and vehicle or you can rent a car with a driver at the extra cost of 20-30euros per overnight stay.

Our Safari Car @liakadatravel
Accommodation in the market is currently weighted towards the more luxury end of the market with numerous boutique 5* camps to choose from. If you don't have several thousand dollars to spend on a tent you can either go with a local - they get special rates - or there are budget 3 day safari tours for around $300 - $400 pp all inclusive apart from park entrance fees which are 70usd a night. Sadly safari is an expensive holiday and there isn't really anything for much cheaper than that.

Tent at Mara Intrepids @liakadatravel

We stayed in the Mara Intrepids, a beautiful tented camp overlooking the Telek River. The tents are fabulous and definitely count as "glamping".

Glamping in the Masai Mara @liakadatravel

Definitely the best bathroom you will see in a tent...

The camps are all inclusive - not exactly many restaurants in the wilderness - and there is entertainment provided every evening.

Lions in the Masai Mara @liakadatravel

Game drives are twice daily at 6am until 8.30am and then 4pm until dark. The guides have excellent knowledge of the park and will take into account if you have anything in particular you want to see.

Elephant and Zebra in the Masai Mara @liakadatravel

If you are in your own car you can hire a guide for around $15 per game drive, definitely worth it!

Masai Giraffe @liakadatravel

Late July to early October is the best time to go to the Mara as the Great Migration takes place during this time. Deemed as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World the Great Migration sees over a million wildebeest and zebra move from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Mara in search of better grazing.

Wildebeest Migration @liakadatravel

Wildebeest @liakadatravel

The journey is sometimes perilous as the crocodiles lie waiting in the Mara River for the Wildebeest to cross.

Mara River @liakadatravel

Even if you don't manage to go during migration season there is always plenty of game to see. The Masai Mara is really a spectacular place and I think it truly deserves a spot on everyones bucket list!

Thanks for reading, next stop is the Great Rift Valley!


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