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Maasai Mara, also sometimes spelled Masai Mara and locally known simply as The Mara, is a large national game reserve in NarokKenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named in honor of the Maasai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the area, who migrated to the area from the Nile Basin. Their description of the area when looked at from afar: "Mara" means "spotted" in the local Maasai language, due to the many short bushy trees which dot the landscape.

Maasai Mara is one of the most famous and important wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa, world-renowned for its exceptional populations of lionleopardcheetah and African bush elephant. It also hosts the Great Migration, which secured it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the ten Wonders of the World.

The Greater Mara ecosystem encompasses areas known as the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Mara Triangle, and several Maasai Conservancies.



Blue Wildebeest, Topi, Plains Zebra and Thomson's gazelle migrate into and occupy the Mara reserve, from the Serengeti plains to the south and Loita Plains in the pastoral ranches to the north-east, from July to October or later. Herds of all three species are also resident in the reserve.

All members of the "Big Five" – lionAfrican leopardAfrican bush elephantAfrican buffaloblack and white rhinos – are found here all year round. The Maasai Mara is the only protected area in Kenya with an indigenous black rhino population, unaffected by translocations, and due to its size, is able to support one of the largest populations in Africa.

Hippopotamuses and Nile crocodiles are found in large groups in the Mara and Talek rivers. The plains between the Mara River and the Esoit Siria Escarpment are probably the best area for game viewing, in particular regarding lion and cheetah.

There are many large carnivores found here in the reserve. Lions are the most dominant and are found here in large numbers. Spotted hyenas are another abundant carnivore, and will often compete with lions for food. Leopards are found anywhere in the reserve where there are trees for them to escape too. East African cheetahs are also found in high numbers on the open savanna, hunting gazelles and wildebeest. African Wild Dogs packs also roam around a lot and travel far distances throughout the plains, making it hard to track them. Smaller carnivores that don't directly compete with the latter include African wolvesblack-backed jackalsAfrican striped weaselscaracalsservalshoney badgersaardwolvesAfrican wildcatsside-striped jackalsbat-eared foxesStriped polecatsAfrican civetsgenets, several mongoose species, and African clawless otters.

Wildebeest are the dominant inhabitants of the Maasai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Around July of each year, these animals migrate north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture and return to the south around October. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving some 1,300,000 Blue Wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson's Gazelles, 97,000 Topi, 18,000 common elands, and 200,000 Grant's zebras.

Antelopes can be found, including Grant's gazellesimpalasduikers and Coke's hartebeests. The plains are also home to the distinctive Masai giraffe. The large roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya, can be seen within the reserve borders.

More than 470 species of birds have been identified in the park, many of which are migrants, with almost 60 species being raptors. Birds that call this area home for at least part of the year includes vulturesmarabou storkssecretary birdshornbillscrowned cranesostricheslong-crested eaglesAfrican pygmy-falcons and the lilac-breasted roller, which is the national bird of Kenya.


The Maasai Mara is one of the most famous safari destinations in Africa. Entry fees are currently US$ 70 for adult non-East African Residents per 24 hours (if staying at a property inside the Reserve) or US$80 if outside the reserve, and $40 for children. (Please consult Entry Fees, while Booking your Safari). There are a number of lodges and tented camps catering for tourists inside or bordering the Reserve and within the various separate Conservancies which border the main reserve. However, the main reserve is unfenced even along the border with Serengeti (Tanzania) which means there is free movement of wildlife throughout the ecosystem.

One third of the whole Maasai Mara in the western part of the larger reserve, Rangers patrol regularly which means that there is less poaching and excellent game viewing. There is also strict control over vehicle numbers around animal sightings, allowing for a better experience when out on a game drive. Most lodges within the region charge higher rates during the Migration season, although the Maasai Mara is home to prolific wildlife year-round.

There are several airfields which serve the camps and lodges in the Maasai Mara. Game drives are the most popular activity in the Maasai Mara, but other activities include hot air ballooning, nature walks, photographic safaris and cultural experiences.

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