Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara National Reserve is a national reserve located in Narok County. It is named in honor of the Masai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked from a bird view: “Mara,” which is Maa (Maasai language) for “spotted,” a description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area. Masai Mara National Reserve is an area of preserved savannah wilderness in southwestern Kenya, along the Tanzanian border. Wildebeest traverse its plains during their annual migration. The landscape has grassy plains and rolling hills, and is crossed by the Mara and Talek rivers. Maasai Mara National Reserve is considered Kenya’s best park and one of Africa’s highest wildlife density region for predators. The reserve covers 1510 km2 of outstanding wilderness in southwest Kenya. It is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem which covers some 25,000 km2 in Tanzania and Kenya. It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Maasai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Rainfall in the ecosystem increases along a southeast–northwest gradient, varies in space and time, and is markedly bimodal. The Sand river, Talek river and Mara river are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hill slopes and hilltops.
Wildlife tends to be most concentrated on the reserve’s western escarpment.
The Masai Mara is regarded as the jewel of Kenya’s wildlife viewing areas. The annual wildebeest’s migration alone involves over 1.5 million animals arriving in July and departing in November. Recognized as one of the most spectacular wildlife events on the planet, the migration is a continuous route that is followed by an over 1.5 million wildebeests and thousands of zebras, gazelles and elands. In their never-ending pursuit for the finest grazing and watering grounds, the gnu relocate on an almost constant basis. The perseverance of these wildebeests is demonstrated in their ability to mate while on the move, and many cows are pregnant during part of the migration. Additionally, even the youngest wildebeest calves are expected to keep up with the herd. Standing and walking within minutes are critical to its survival.
There have been some 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and over 400 birds species recorded on the reserve.
Nowhere in Africa is wildlife more abundant, and it is for this reason a visitor hardly misses to see the big five (buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino). Others include: cheetah, serval, hyena, bat-eared foxes, black-backed and side-striped jackals, hippo, crocodile, baboons, warthog, topi, eland, Thompson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, impala, waterbuck, oribi, reed-buck, zebra
The reserve has an altitude of 1,600 metres above sea level. The short rainy season from March through May, with peak rainfall in November to end December. Dry season from June-November.