Experience the Great Migration at the Masai Mara National Reserve
What makes Kenya’s sprawling 1,510 km²wide Masai Mara National Reserve so special? Sure, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, crocodiles, elephants, rhinos and a host of other animals roam the lands (and waters). The sunsets are spellbinding. The acacia trees that are sprinkled all over the jungle seem like they were painted across the landscape by a whimsical artist. The Masai tribe fascinates. The tourist who visits the Masai Mara will agree.
But the nature lover who visits the Masai will find there is more to the Mara than meets the eye. There’s a story being told. A drama seems to unfold before your eyes. A story written by nature. Raw, honest and historically one of a kind. We call it the Great Migration. Year after year, without fail, hundreds of thousands of animals migrate in a clockwise direction from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to Kenya’s Masai Mara, and back. What is the animals’ compass? The rains.
Are you one such nature lover that can feel the beating heart of the Mara? Here’s how you can make the most of your experience here.
Sail the Skies of the Masai Mara
To get the best out of your Masai Mara experience, you will have to run on nature’s clock. You will be picked up at 5 am at your accommodation and driven to the hot air balloon site. You get to see up close how the hot air balloon is prepared for take-off. And then, you rise with the sun.
Imagine what a bird’s-eye view of the Masai Mara will be like. A vast expanse of grasslands, hordes of animals of your picking on the move and the sensation of floating through the sky. The Mara’s hot air balloon ride is truly one of a kind. Once you land, you enjoy a lavish breakfast. With a possible surprise twist.
You get to enjoy a fresh breakfast on the savannah, under an Acacia tree. The lavish spread includes fresh fruit juices, hot chocolate, crepes, freshly baked bread and English breakfast-style dishes such as baked beans and grilled sausages, and even champagne, all served by waiters served by waiters in traditional Swahili outfits. And you may be greeted by unexpected guests.
Experience the Masai Mara Safari (and bring your camera)
This is a given. A must-do for a nature lover visiting the Masai Mara. If you love nature and animal photography, this is your chance to shine. The Masai Mara jungle safari offers everything you could ask for.
To really capture the Masai Mara’s essence, and the Great Migration in full swing, the best time to visit is between May and September. It’s quite the thrill to feel the earth shaking beneath your feet as thousands of wildebeest race past.
As you may already know, a photographer’s job is one of patience and stillness. If you’re at the right place at the right time, you will be rewarded handsomely.
Spend an Afternoon by the Masai Mara River
On the one hand, the great water body serves as a haven for all animals looking for a rest. You will find zebras and wildebeest and gazelles going about their day in harmony. These waters are where the animals are safest from predetors, as they are better capable of surviving as a pack against a lone cheetah or lion.
On the other hand, the waters – that the migrating animals must wade through – turn treacherous. Crocodiles lie in wait to snap up any animal they can land their jaws on. Thousands of animals don’t make it past the river. During peak season, you may find the waters turn red and bodies of wildebeest flow down the river. It is not a sight for the faint-hearted. But it is the script that nature has written.
Experience the Masai Way of Life
The Masai tribe is Kenya’s semi-nomadic warrior tribe.The people of the tribe lead simple lives and build their small homes with whatever resources are easily available in the vicinity. You will commonly find the Masai people clad in red cloaks and carry long staffs. The tribes are friendly, welcoming and also capable of communicating in English.
Perhaps the most exciting part of meeting the people of the Masai is their song and dance. Their famous jumping dance involves a group of people lined up with one or two of them positioned in front of the rest and jumping as high as they can. They have their own choirs led by a lead singer known as the Olaranyani. You are invited to participate in their festivities and experience their culture first-hand. A culture so different from yours, so unique, and so special.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Sunset
If that’s the last thing you do at the Masai Mara. The days begin early, they are long, and you will inevitably tire by dusk. Don’t retire just yet. Watch the sunset over the jungle. Take pictures if you like. But just watch. The golden hues will lift your spirit.
The Masai Mara promises an adventure of a lifetime. Make sure you get to experience it at least once.