Meet the Maasai people and witness the annual wildlife migration
0 travellers have this on their Bucket List
3 been here
The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is part of the Serengeti ecosystem. This nature reserve is world famous due to the annual migration of animals, as well as the Maasai people who live there.
This vast landscape is home to the Big Five. There is also an impressive annual migration of the blue wildebeest, plains zebra and Thomson’s gazelle. These animals migrate freely between the two nature reserves.
You can rent a car yourself and drive around the Maasai Mara. As long as you stay on the trails. The consequence will be that you probably see less (a guide has hawk eyes), but the experience is completely different. Keep in mind that you are well prepared to go out, because if you get lost you have a big problem. In addition to a good map, you can also hire a local guide who knows the way. And possibly help with spotting animals.
Those who stay overnight in the Maasai Mara will not only be impressed by the sounds, but also by the sky. On a cloudless day (and there are many) there is no light pollution at all. And you can see the stars, but also the galaxy and planets, extremely well.
And the Southern Cross, which can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere. Many lodges and hotels have stargazers that allow you to scan the sky. Staring for half an hour gives you the feeling that you are far away from civilisation.
There is also an impressive annual migration of the blue wildebeest, plains zebra and Thomson’s gazelle. These animals migrate freely between the two nature reserves.
If you’d like to witness the migration, June until late September is the best period to go. Be aware that prices in this period are much higher. But it is definitely worth the money.
The whole Serengeti region includes several national parks and reserves. The Maasai Mara is classified as a reserve, also because it’s home to the Maasai people, and the Serengeti is a national park, which has the highest form of a protected area to preserve the natural landscape and its fauna. Tanzania also has ‘controlled areas’, where humans are allowed to grow crops and keep some cattle, but this is limited and must have minimum impact on nature.
As far as the eye can see there are savannahs, large grassy plains with a tree here and there. There is remarkably little water in the area, except in the wet season. But there are also forests, rivers and rocky hills in the region. Most tourists come here to meet the Maasai people, as many travellers want to learn about the local culture as well as see the beauty of the landscape and animals.
Along the main routes to the Maasai Mara there will be many offers to experience ‘traditional’ experiences with the Maasai people. These are generally very busy, touristy and not very authentic, yet can cost quite some money. You’re also likely to be sold overpriced souvenirs. If you’d like an authentic experience with the Maasai people, you have to leave the main road.
The migration is high-season. This is from June to late September. Of course, you can visit the region at other times during the year, though it can be challenging in the wet season, which lasts from March to late May. The roads may be in poor condition, or closed entirely. But you'll almost no tourist and travelling to the Mara is an adventure.