Being the most popular safari destination in Kenya, Maasai Mara National Reserve is always flocked with travelers all year round. A wide variety of wildlife species thrive in this beautiful space. The Big Five – Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhinos, and Buffalo as well as other species including giraffes, zebras, hyenas, and wildebeest call this place home. Visiting Kenya and exploring Maasai Mara is something special that every traveler should experience. Here is everything to know when visiting Kenya’s most famous safari destination.
How to Get To Maasai Mara National Reserve
Getting to Maasai Mara through flight is the quickest way possible. Board a plane from the Wilson Airport in Nairobi to Maasai Mara. A visitor can then take a drive to their accommodation space.
- Cost: $370
- Duration: 45 minutes.
Of course, there is a cheaper option; drive from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara National Park, which will take roughly 6 hours, depending on the entry point one is looking to access. The Narok side of the park is the easier way. From Kenya's Capital to Maasai Mara is roughly 140 miles to the nearest gate, either Oloolaimutia, Sekenani, or Talek gates in the Mara. One can have an insight into the Kenyan rural life when driving through remote places. Visitors will also view Kenya's Great Valley as they drive towards the main attraction. Entering the park from the western side, like Oloololo or Musiara will take 30 minutes more. Other than extra time, a visitor choosing this route will have to persevere the poor conditions of roads and grumpiness 75 km before the reserve.
Where to Stay near Maasai Mara National Reserve
Visitors have so many options when it comes to accommodation in Mara. Maasai Mara is the best Park in Africa when it comes to budget-friendly accommodation options. Whether one chooses to cut costs or the luxurious way, the safari experience is almost the same in the end.
One can dwell in the campsites on the Mara Triangle side of this popular safari destination. Prices usually start from roughly $30, a bit cheaper than the private campsites located inside the Mara Triangle. While these camps are more expensive, services and amenities are way better. From the private camps, visitors can schedule safari drives across the park.
Opting for lodging outside the Maasai Mara National Park is excellent for visitors looking to stay on their budget. One will still have the best experience of the National Reserve from the beautiful lodges outside the park. Right next to the Park’s gates, in Keekerok, Kawai, or Talek towns, one can find accommodation. The cost of accommodation in these lodges is much cheaper; usually a third of what’s charged within the reserve.
There are many lodging options inside the park. Unfortunately, travelers will find the prices quite higher here. After all, a more rewarding Maasai Mara safari experience comes with a price.
- Price: ranges from $150 to $450 per night, per person.
There is nothing more fun than staying within the Mara Reserve, listening to baboons' grunt and lions roaring at night. This option is best suited for someone looking to make the most of their safari experience.
Looking for an experience like no other? Book lodging in a private conservancy. Here, one must be prepared to spend a fortune! Waking up with a glass of ice coffee or a cocktail, while on a Maasai Mara safari is an experience of a lifetime.
The Cost of a Maasai Mara Safari
Many factors will come into play when determining the cost of a Maasai Mara safari trip. The factors include the type of accommodation, the preferred mode of transport (by plane or car), duration of the safari tour, number of people touring, the season one is visiting Maasai Mara, and activities, including a visit to the Maasai village.
- A luxurious tented camp: $300 per person during the low season and $600 during the peak season.
- Mid-luxury lodging: $150 per person during the low season and $250 during the peak season.
- Budget tented camps: below $100 per person.
The mode of transport one chooses is another strong factor that determines the price of the tour. Flying is pricier than traveling by road. The cost also depends on what season of the year one is visiting the Great Mara.
- Flight Cost: Ranges from $300 to $450 per person, depending on factors, including taxes, flight availability, and the time of the year.
Traveling by road is charged per vehicle, not per person, meaning the larger the group going on a safari, the less expensive it will be.
- Cost of a Landcruiser safari vehicle: about $250, depending on the availability of the vehicles and the time of the year.
The fees for entrance into the park depend on whether one stays within the park or is camping in a lodge outside. The citizenship of the visitors also determines the entrance fee. Kenyan citizens must avail of their ID at the entrance of the reserve.
- Entrance fee for travelers staying within the reserve: $70 per adult, $40 per child under 12 years for 24 hours.
- Entrance fee for visitors staying outside the park: $80 per adult, $45 per child for 24 hours.
Best Time to Visit Maasai Mara National Reserve
The dry season is the best time to visit Maasai Mara National Reserve. The season is sunny and dry and is the perfect opportunity for spotting wildlife as they make their way to the rivers and waterholes. Most visitors travel to Maasai Mara during the Wildebeest Migration, which happens in September and October. These are the busiest months in Maasai Mara as visitors flock to the reserve to experience the spectacular Great Migration event.
In the wet season (November to May), the park is clear, making viewing of the wildlife more special. It is an excellent moment to experience newborns. Those who enjoy bird watching can travel during the wet season as well. Travelers looking to visit Maasai Mara when the rates are low should try November to May.