Kenya, to most people, is safari. This is where it all began, after all, and from out of Africa to Big Cat Diary the country has provided the images that define the visitor’s idea of Africa. Certainly, when it comes to game viewing, this country has it all.
Highlights include the Big Five spectacular of Maasai Mara, with its celebrated wildebeest migration and legions of predators; the Rift Valley soda lakes, with their countless flamingos; the slopes of Mount Kenya, with its forest wildlife and famous lodges; the Laikipia Plateau, with its wild landscapes and rare species; and the marine wildlife of the numerous tropical beaches and islands. And that’s not even to mention the likes of Tsavo, Amboseli and Marsabit, all world-class reserves in their own right.
Nowhere else sums up the East African dream like the Masai Mara. Always the best place in Kenya to see huge herds of grazers and a seemingly endless procession of carnivores big and small the Masai Mara is the one place in East Africa I could return to again and again and never get jaded or bored.
Fantastic at any time, visiting the Mara during the annual wildebeest migration (roughly late June – October) though is to witness one of the undisputed wildlife wonders of the world.
There is simply no other Kenya safari park that comes close to matching the Mara and if the reserve itself weren’t good enough on its own then in the last few years things have got even better with the establishment of a number of private and community conservancies bordering the reserve.
Of course, there are some downsides. The Mara is the one protected area in Kenya that everyone wants to visit and the easiest way to find a lion is often to look for a group of minibuses. The sight of Zebras crossing the Mara River and the crocodiles waiting for their preys is amazing.
In fact, it is worth the wait for the crossing to take place. We have heard so much about wildebeest crossing; but the zebra crossing in the twilight is a sight to behold. The wildebeest crossing is an annual phenomenon and most of the tourists’ flock to Masai Mara to have a view of the migration from Serengeti in Tanzania to Masai Mara in Kenya.
Mara river is beautiful to say the least! It houses the great migration. You will witness a National Geographic scenery. Kenya has amazing nature with all the Big Five. We witnessed over a hundred lions and got to see a chase and kill. Amazing and one of the best trips I have ever had.
Visiting these conservancies can be very expensive you have to be a guest of one of the very upmarket lodges to enter conservancy lands but if you can afford it then these are the ultimate in safari indulgences.
Each conservancy will have only a handful of other guests at any one time (several times I have been the only tourist present in a conservancy!) meaning there’s none of the minibus circus common in the reserve itself.
The animal populations in the conservancies are phenomenal and increasing as more and more animals leave the reserve itself and head to the peace and quiet of the conservancies and, best of all, by and large most local Maasai, who feel they are finally gaining from the presence of wildlife and tourists on ‘their’ land are fully supportive of the conservancies.
The conservancies have other advantages as well over the reserve itself. Walking safaris and fly-camping are allowed in all of them as is, in most cases, a certain amount of respectful off-road driving and vehicle numbers around any given sighting are strictly limited. All up these conservancies might well offer the best safari experience on the continent.
At the end of the day though, whether it’s the reserve itself or one of the conservancies there is no other place in East Africa I would recommend you other than the Masai Mara in Kenya.