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Masai Mara NR

Overview

Wildlife

Birds

Best Time To Visit

Weather & Climate

Getting There

Malaria & Safety

Overview – Masai Mara NR
The Masai Mara National Reserve is celebrated as one of the most iconic wildlife sanctuaries in Africa, offering unmatched animal viewing throughout the year. Its verdant plains and regular rainfall create an ideal environment for a vast array of herbivores, which naturally attracts a diverse group of predators. The park is particularly noted for its ease in spotting all three major big cats. Moreover, witnessing the annual wildebeest migration through the reserve is considered one of the most spectacular natural phenomena globally.
masai mara
Best Time To Go
Wildlife viewing is optimal from June to October, while the best time to witness the wildebeest migration is from August to October.
High Season
June to October and December to March
Size
1,510km² / 583mi²
Altitude
1,435-2,143m / 4,708-7,031ft
Pros & Cons
Superb year-round opportunities for wildlife observation.
The spectacular annual wildebeest migration, occurring from July or August through October.
The expansive open savannah offers unobstructed views for effortless wildlife spotting.
A diverse range of lodging options to suit all budgets.
Hot-air balloon safaris offer an exhilarating aerial view of the landscape.
The park experiences higher visitor traffic, particularly in the peak season.
Due to poor road conditions, opting for a fly-in safari is advisable.
Road conditions often deteriorate significantly, especially following rainfall.
Wildlife
The Masai Mara is renowned as one of the top destinations in Africa for observing big cats, with lions frequently sighted throughout the park. Leopards, well-adapted to the presence of safari vehicles, freely exhibit their natural behaviors. Cheetahs, thriving in the open savannah, are often seen stalking or chasing down their next meal. While elephants and buffaloes are commonly encountered, the more elusive black rhino remains a rarer sight, generally confined to the Mara Triangle area.

The Wildebeest Migration

The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is the stage for a grand annual spectacle, where 2.5 million wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles embark on a vast trek across the landscape in search of greener pastures following the rains. Beginning their journey in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, these herds usually cross into Kenya’s Masai Mara around July or August. Although timing may fluctuate, the peak chances to observe the dramatic Mara River crossing typically occur in August and September. Come October, the herds start their southward migration back into the Serengeti.
Scenery
The Masai Mara is predominantly covered by expansive grassland savannahs, interspersed with clusters of acacia woodland, lush riparian forests along the Mara River, and scattered rocky outcrops. The term ‘Mara,’ derived from the Maasai language meaning ‘spotted,’ aptly captures the pattern of these varied landscapes speckling the plains. To the north, the Oloololo Escarpment (also known as the Siria Escarpment) defines the northern boundary of the Mara, providing spectacular panoramic views that encompass the vastness of this unique ecosystem.
Weather & Climate
The climate in the Masai Mara is generally mild and stable, maintaining an agreeable average temperature of 26°C (79°F) throughout the Dry season from June to October. This consistency is slightly altered by the park’s varying altitudes, with temperatures dropping in the higher elevations. From November to May, the Wet season is marked by a long and a short rainy interval, punctuated by a brief dry interlude, offering a diverse range of weather patterns throughout the year.
Best Time To Visit
The optimal time to explore the Masai Mara is during the Dry season, spanning June to October. In these months, the landscape is easily navigable as the roads are yet to be affected by rain, and wildlife congregates around water sources due to limited availability. The peak of the Dry season is particularly remarkable, aligning with the breathtaking annual wildebeest migration. Moreover, January and February provide another excellent opportunity for visits, falling in the tranquil period between the Wet season’s short and long rains.
​Wildlife & Animals – Masai Mara NR

Masai Mara National Reserve is recognized as Kenya’s top wildlife destination. It consistently offers sightings of three of the Big Five, with leopards and black rhinos being more elusive—the latter occasionally spotted in the northern reaches of the Mara Triangle. Esteemed as one of the best places in East Africa to watch big cats, the reserve is also home to a range of smaller predators, including bat-eared foxes, black-backed jackals, and spotted hyenas. The reserve boasts a rich variety of antelope, featuring impala, reedbuck, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, and topi. Furthermore, buffalo, elephants, and giraffes are frequently seen, known for their placid nature and ease of spotting.

Wildebeest
Zebra
Bufallo
Hippo
Black Rhino
Giraffe
Elephant
Lion
Leopard
Cheetah
Hyena
Wild Dog
Wildlife Highlights

The legendary wildebeest migration stands as one of the planet’s most mesmerizing wildlife phenomena. While each year brings its own unique dynamics, usually between July and August, and sometimes stretching into September, millions of animals embark on a monumental journey from northern Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to the Masai Mara. The riveting spectacle of the Mara River crossing marks a pinnacle moment in this epic migration. As October unfolds, the migration begins its gradual return journey back to Tanzania.

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife observation in the Masai Mara offers rewarding experiences throughout the year. Yet, from June to October, when drier conditions prevail, presents the ideal window for comprehensive wildlife sightings. To witness the breathtaking wildebeest migration in its full splendor, plan your visit between August and October. Keep in mind that while the migration’s pattern is generally known, the precise timing fluctuates yearly as the animals track the rainfall to find verdant pastures.

Wildlife Photos
feature masai mara - bush2city (4)
​Birds – Masai Mara NR
Masai Mara National Reserve is revered among birdwatching enthusiasts worldwide, boasting a staggering array of over 500 recorded bird species. This premier destination offers abundant opportunities to observe a wide variety of savannah birds, including an impressive presence of raptors, with a total of 57 species. The expansive skies above the grassy plains often showcase the majestic flight of Bateleurs, while predator kills attract up to six species of vultures, engaged in circling, roosting, and scavenging behaviors. From November to April, migratory birds enhance the reserve’s diverse avian panorama, enriching the already remarkable birdwatching experience.

Notable Birds in Masai Mara NR

Kori bustard
common
Ostrich
common
Black Bellied Bustard
common
Giant Kingfisher
common
Saddle Billed Stork
common
Best Time for Bird Watching

Birdwatching in the Masai Mara is a delight year-round, but the most rewarding experiences unfold from November to April when migrants from Europe and North Africa grace the region with their presence. This window coincides with the Wet season (November to May), showcasing many species adorned in their vibrant breeding plumage. Conversely, the Dry season, spanning from June to October, offers prime conditions for comprehensive wildlife viewing.

Facts & Figures

Bird Species

450+

Migratory Birds

Nov to Apr

Best Time To Visit – Masai Mara NR

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

For those passionate about wildlife, the optimal window to explore Masai Mara National Reserve falls within the Dry season, extending from June to October. This timeframe presents ideal conditions as animals congregate near rivers and waterholes, while the sparse vegetation ensures superb wildlife visibility. However, navigating certain driving tracks can be tricky during the rainy months, notably in March, April, November, and December. To witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of the great migration, plan your visit between August and October for an unforgettable experience.
Best Time
June to October is best for wildlife viewing, while August to October is prime for the wildebeest migration.
High Season
June to October and December to March are busy times, except in remote areas.
Low Season
In April and May, roads may worsen and rain can disrupt travel.
Best Weather
June to October (Days are sunny, but not too hot)
Worst Weather
March and April (Peak of the Wet season)
June to October – Dry Season
It is seldom hot, but often sunny and dry.
Animals congregate near rivers and waterholes, making them more visible.
August and September offer prime viewing of the wildebeest migration across the Mara River.
The park often becomes crowded, and popular sightings typically draw numerous vehicles.
November to May – Wet Season
The park is less crowded, enhancing the experience of wildlife viewing.
The skies are free from dust, the park bursts with greenery, and flowers abound.
Ideal period to witness the birth of new animals.
Reduced rates are available during the low season in April and May.
The Mara is home to numerous resident animals, ensuring consistently good wildlife viewing.
Bird watching is exceptional, especially with the presence of migratory birds.
Rain during March, April, November, and December may occasionally disrupt your scheduled activities.
Roads may become challenging to navigate.
Wildlife Photos
feature masai mara - bush2city (4)
Weather & Climate – Masai Mara NR
Due to its altitude, the climate in Masai Mara National Reserve is cooler and wetter than typical equatorial weather. Daytime temperatures are pleasant, ranging from the mid to high twenties Celsius (mid-seventies to low eighties Fahrenheit), but it cools off considerably at night.
Dry Season – June to October

This period offers a delightful experience in the park, characterized by lovely weather. Expect mostly sunny days with mild temperatures and remember to bring warm clothing for early morning game drives.

 

June, July & August – While occasional rains may occur, the weather is predominantly sunny and dry. Afternoon temperatures are comfortable, typically reaching 25°C (77°F), though it can feel quite chilly in the evenings and early mornings with temperatures around 12°C (54°F).

 

September & October – These months continue to be dry, though occasional rainfall is possible. Temperatures start to rise in October, averaging around 27°C (81°F) and occasionally higher, with chilly early mornings around 14°C (57°F).

Wet Season – November to May

The region frequently experiences overcast and cloudy conditions, with afternoon showers being quite common. Daytime temperatures are relatively stable, while early mornings tend to be cool at around 14°C (57°F)—make sure to pack some warm clothes.

 

November & December – ‘Short rains’: Rainfall typically lessens starting in November, with afternoons warming up to an average of 27°C (81°F).

 

January & February: This period serves as a bridge between the short and long rain seasons, featuring sporadic showers. The precise timing of these drier intervals is difficult to pinpoint.

 

March, April & May – ‘Long rains’: The height of the rainy season is in April. Although all-day rain is rare, expect frequent and vigorous afternoon thunderstorms. Paths can become slick and hard to travel. Mornings are marginally warmer, averaging around 14°C (57°F).

Masai Mara NR
Masai Mara NR Photos
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​Getting There – Masai Mara NR

Your likely entry point into Kenya will be Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), located about 15 km (9 mi) southeast of Nairobi.

 

Many visitors choose to fly directly to the Masai Mara for convenience.

If you prefer driving, the Masai Mara National Reserve is approximately 270 km (168 mi) west of Nairobi. The journey takes about 4 to 5 hours, with a paved road leading all the way to Sekenani Gate. For those heading to the northern regions of the Mara, including Mara North and Mara Triangle conservancies, be prepared for an unpaved 70 km (43 mi) stretch after Narok, though there are plans to pave this section.

 

Additionally, you can drive from Lake Nakuru National Park to the Masai Mara, covering around 235 km (150 mi) in roughly 6 hours.

Driving times are approximate and can vary widely. It’s important to account for potential delays when planning your trip.
Main Park Map
Kenya Travel guide map
Airlines & Ticket Prices

We recommend using Skyscanner to explore which airlines fly to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) and to compare ticket prices. Alternatively, you can book your flight directly through any airline’s website that serves destinations in Kenya.

Domestic Flights

When you book our package tour, we’ll take care of arranging charter flights between parks for your convenience.

 

The reserve and nearby conservancies are equipped with at least nine airstrips, each servicing different lodges. Most domestic flights, including those to popular destinations like the Masai Mara, depart from Wilson Airport (WIL), situated 6 km (4 mi) south of Nairobi. You have the option to book flights directly through several domestic airlines, or allow us to handle the reservations for you:

 

AirKenya operates flights from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to a variety of locations including Kisumu, Migori, Samburu, Nanyuki, Meru, and international destinations such as Tarime in Tanzania and Entebbe in Uganda. We are happy to make these bookings on your behalf.

 

Mombasa Air Safari offers routes connecting the Masai Mara with Amboseli, Tsavo West, Diani Beach, Malindi, and Mombasa. We can manage these bookings for you.

 

Safarilink provides services between Nairobi’s Wilson Airport and cities like Mombasa, Diani Beach, and Migori. We can arrange these flights for you as well.

Passport, Visa & Other Entry Requirements

Please visit our “Getting There” or “FAQ on Kenya” page to find detailed information about passport, visa, COVID-19, and other entry requirements

​Malaria & Safety – Masai Mara NR
Safety

We consider the Masai Mara National Reserve to be a very safe destination for tourists. Traveler-targeted crime is exceptionally uncommon in Kenya’s wildlife zones. Although, as with most places globally, cities can experience higher crime rates. It’s wise to follow usual safety protocols in urban environments (please see ‘Cities & Urban Areas: Safety Precautions’ below for guidance). When you’re on an organized tour, you can feel confident about your security from crime-related concerns.

Malaria & Vaccinations

You may require certain vaccinations before traveling to Kenya. We advise consulting with your doctor or a travel clinic beforehand. Additionally, the Masai Mara region is a malaria zone, and taking antimalarials is strongly recommended. To further reduce the risk of mosquito bites, it’s wise to use mosquito repellent that contains DEET and to cover up during dusk.

Wildlife Viewing

Observing wildlife in the Masai Mara is typically quite secure, provided you heed the guidance of your guide. Rare occurrences of incidents exist. To learn more, refer to the ‘Wildlife Viewing Safety Precautions’ provided below.

Photo Gallery of Masai Mara NR

Map of Masai Mara NR

Photo Gallery of Masai Mara NR

Main Park Map

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