Photo Blog: Why We Love the Masai MaraFebruary 4, 2019
There are so many reasons to love the Masai Mara in Kenya. It was a difficult task but we’ve managed to narrow them down to our top four.
Watching the Great Migration
Kenya is brimming with diverse animal and bird life that thrives across the length and breadth of the country’s distinct landscapes. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Masai Mara, famous for playing host to the largest animal migration on the globe.
From July to November each year, millions of wildebeest, zebra and antelope move across the Masai Mara. This huge wildlife spectacle has drawn travellers from all over the world for many years; it is on the bucket-list of many wildlife enthusiasts and continues to make the Masai Mara a popular safari destination.
This mass movement of game brings with it large predators both on land and in the water. In the Masai Mara, large cats stalk wildebeest among the long grasses and the Mara River teems with crocodiles that wait for the next crossing of game.
Driven by sheer instinct, the wildebeest and their plains game companions demonstrate impressive bravery and resilience during this perilous journey.
Meeting the Maasai
Kenyan people are by far some of the friendliest in the world and are always willing to show a huge smile, give a helping hand and warmly welcome visitors with jambo (hello) or karibu (welcome).
The Maasai people are, of course, another authentic icon of Kenya’s south-western wilderness, and they have actively shaped the way that ecotourism has occurred in this popular safari destination.
The Maasai people are semi-nomadic, moving within the region of game parks found in Kenyan Tanzania. They are known for their impressive hunting expertise, survival abilities and particular traditions that they continue to practice today.
Many safari camps and lodges within or on the outskirts of the Masai Mara work together with local Maasai communities to deliver on responsible and environmentally-friendly tourism. Learning from and sharing stories with Maasai people whether at the safari accommodation or by visiting a local community whilst on safari in the Masai Mara is a special experience.
While the Masai Mara is better known for its amazing wildlife than its feathered residents, there are habitats that are conducive for great bird watching and will expose birders to some of the endemic and migratory species of the Great Rift Valley.
There are over 500 bird species found in the Masai Mara, with a particularly notable population of birds of prey, such as bateleurs, martial eagles and pale chanting goshawks. Birders can expect common sightings of Africa’s heaviest flying, the kori bustard, along with the Usambiro barbet and lilac breasted roller.
Seasonal rainfall between November and June creates areas of dense vegetation around the Mara River and the various surrounding areas of acacia woodland, thorny scrub and swamps. A range of water bird species include the goliath heron, shoebill and saddle-billed stork.
Another common resident of the Masai Mara is the secretary bird, which can be seen stalking in the tall grasses of anything from insects, mice and tortoises. Snakes are also part of its diet and this is always an action-packed fight that makes for a great sighting.
Encountering the big cats
The Masai Mara is undoubtedly one of best places in Africa to encounter large cats such as lion, leopard and cheetah that are drawn there by the Great Migration.
With lion populations decreasing and putting this species in the vulnerable category on the IUCN Red List, seeing large prides is very special. The Masai Mara is well-known as having a healthy population of lions and private concessions often offer the best opportunity for fantastic sightings.
Leopard sightings in the Masai Mara are exceptional because they can occur in the middle of day and last for several minutes, despite this big cat being notoriously shy and nocturnal. In the heat of the day, they can be seen resting in a tree or searching for their next kill.
As the world’s fastest land mammal, the cheetah is built for speed and can be seen sprinting across the plains of the Masai Mara, taking down its prey by seizing the throat and suffocating it. They have been known to use car bonnets as a vantage point to find prey grazing among the tall grasses.
Chat to us to find out more about the Masai Mara or any of the other fantastic African safari destinations.
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