Dream of Africa and chances are you dream of Maasai Mara. It is the home to Africa’s Big Five
species, as well as an abundance of other wildlife, including wildebeest, cheetah, hyena, giraffe
and many more. It borders the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
Often described as nature’s greatest spectacles, the great migration is one of Africa’s dramatic
stories. This occurs every year between July and October where more than 1.5 million
wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and elands move mysteriously from the Serengeti in Tanzania to
Maasai Mara in Kenya in search of grass and water. This movement offers nature lovers the
opportunity to view as predators such as the Lion, Hyenas, Crocodiles and Cheetahs prey on the
wildebeests. This mass movement is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Mara can be accessed through Sekenani, Ololomutiek, Talek and Musiara Gates. By road
from Nairobi it’s about five hours and by air one can take a scheduled flight from Wilson airport
and Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Nairobi which is about 45 minutes to either
Keekorok, Olkiombo or Musiara airstrips.
Activities include: Game viewing, camping, night game drives, bush dinner, lunch and breakfast,
ballooning and visits to Maasai cultural villages.
Dream of Africa and chances are you dream of Maasai Mara. It is the home to Africa’s Big Five
Often described as Tanzania’s most underrated National Park, Tangarire is one of Africa’s little – known gems. Boasting a variety of wildlife as diverse as its landscape, it also boasts to being home to Tanzania’s largest population of African Elephants. Named for the Tangarire River which flows through it, the park is an excellent choice during the dry season when animals are forced to move closer and closer to the river in search of water. Set against a backdrop of majestic baobab trees and twisted acacia, it makes a beautiful experience.
With the exception of the critically endangered black rhinos, Tangarire is home to all of Tanzania’s most iconic animals- from the dimunitive dik- dik to the towering African elephants and giraffes that attract visitors from all over the world. In addition to these popular animals, the park is home to three endangered animals that can be found nowhere else in the country; the fringe – eared oryx with its graceful horns, the towering greater kudu, and the tiny Ashy Starling.
Tangarire is a popular destination for birds with over 550 species – the highest number on all of Tanzania. The parks woodlands are home to hoopoes, hornbills, brown parrots and the white – bellied go away birds as well as game birds such as the helmeted guinea fowl, yellow necked spurfow and the crested francolin.
Activities include: Game viewing, sightseeing and Bird watching.
Pride of lions in the Serengeti
Serengeti National Park was established in 1952 and is one of Tanzania’s oldest National Parks and the flagship of Tanzania’s tourism industry.
Serengeti is a national park and wildlife refuge located on the Serengeti Plain in north-central Tanzania. It is partly adjacent to the Kenya border and is northwest of the adjoining Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
It is best known for its huge herds of plains animals (especially gnu wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras), and it is the only place in Africa where vast land-animal migrations still take place (Wild Beest migration from the Serengeti to Maasai Mara in search of grass and water).
The name `Serengeti’ is derived from the Maasai word Siringitu, which means: ‘The place where land moves forever’, and this aptly describes the sea of endless grasslands and rolling, grassy hills.
The Park can be divided into 3 sections. The popular southern/central part (Seronera Valley), is what the Maasai called the “serengit”, the land of endless plains. It’s classic savannah, dotted with acacias and filled with wildlife. The western corridor is marked by the Grumeti River, and has more forests and dense bush. The north, Lobo area, meets up with Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve, is the least visited section.
The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the oldest on earth. The essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaptation and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
Undoubtedly the highlight of any visit to the Serengeti, is viewing the famous Wildebeest migration. Every year, millions of hooves trample their way across Serengeti’s plains in Tanzania to Masai Mara in Kenya and back again. Some two million animals, including more than a million wildebeest, make the 3,000-kilometre trek in search of fresh grass and water.
During the great migration, the animals migrate in herds of several thousand wildebeest, gazelles and zebras. It is the world’s largest migration of land mammals, and the phenomenon is listed as one of the seven natural wonders in Africa and also known as The World Cup of Wildlife. The migration can be experienced in various places in Tanzania and Kenya during the year.
Particular highlights of the migration include the various crossings of the Grumeti and Mara rivers. The migration has to cross the Mara River in the Maasai Mara where crocodiles will prey on them. This is one of the highlights as the animals try and cross the Mara River alive. For most of the year these rivers are relatively placid, but they can become violent torrents in response to rainfall in their catchment areas, and then they present major obstacles to the progress of the wildebeest. While the wildebeest are drawn into migrating by the needs of their stomachs, the fact that they’re constantly on the move has the added benefit that they out march large numbers of predators.
In Maasai Mara they will be hunted, stalked, and run down by the larger carnivores. The Maasai Mara also has one of the largest densities of lion in the world and is no wonder this is the home of the BBC wildlife channel Big Cat Diary.
Serengeti National Park is also home to some amazing birds. More than 500 different bird species live in the park, five of which are only found in Serengeti. These include the beautiful Fischer’s lovebird, which is recognizable by its green plumage and red and yellow head. You may also see the lilac-breasted roller and the crowned cranes. What’s more, Serengeti has the largest ostrich population in Africa.
Serengeti National Park generally offers a very varied and fantastic selection of birds all year round. The abundance of birds peak between November and April, when numerous migratory birds from Europe and North Africa migrate to Tanzania. This is also the period when Serengeti’s own birds nest.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is a UNESCO natural World Heritage site located in the northern highlands of Tanzania. It extends over part of the Eastern (Great) Rift Valley of Eastern Africa and contains a variety of habitats and landscapes, including grassland plains, savanna woodlands, forests, mountains, volcanic craters, lakes, rivers, and swampland. Ngorongoro Crater, one of the world’s largest unbroken calderas, is the most prominent feature of the park. Also located there are the major archaeological sites of Olduvai Gorge and Laetolil, within which were found hominin remains dating from 2.1 million and 3.6 million years ago, respectively.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is host to the largest ungulate herds in the world, including gnu(wildebeests), plains zebras, and Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelles. Predatory animals include lions, spotted hyenas, leopards, and cheetahs. The endangered black rhinoceros and African hunting dog can also be found there. Notable among more than 400 species of birds in the area are flamingos, silvery-cheeked hornbills, superb starlings, and bronze and tacazze sunbirds.
Activities include: Hiking, Camping, Game viewing, Bird watching, Bush walks and Cultural visits.
Lake Manyara National Park offers a wilderness experience in diverse habitats, from its Rift Valley soda lake to dense woodlands and steep mountainsides. Located on the way to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, Lake Manyara National Park is worth a stop in its own right.
The alkaline soda of Lake Manyara is home to an incredible array of bird life that thrives on its brackish waters.The shores of the lake, encrusted with pink flamingo; attract more than 400 species of birds, many of them waterfowl or migrants. Large herds of buffalo, cheetah, Masai giraffe and impala roam the lake shores and the forested valley slopes.
A Lake Manyara safari is a fascinating experience, as the park also features a ground-water forest, acacia tortilis woodland and hot springs called Maji Moto. Troops of several hundred olive baboon appear alongside Sykes monkey and short-eared galago. Cape clawless otter, Egyptian mongoose, hippo and klipspringer are other park residents.
Lake Manyara’s famous tree-climbing lions are another reason to pay a visit to this park. The only kind of their species in the world, they make the ancient mahogany and elegant acacias their home during the rainy season, and are a well-known but rather rare feature of the northern park.
Activities include: Game viewing, camping, night game drives, Bird watching and cultural visits.
Olduvai Gorge, in Northern Tanzania is internationally recognized for Louis and Mary Leakey’s famous discoveries of early humans and magnificent antiquities documenting the evolutionary history of our stone tool – using ancestors, vertebrate fauna, and the environments over the last two million years.
Olduvai is a misspelling of Oldupai, a Maasai word for a wild sisal plant that grows in the area. The gorge is located in the Great Rift Valley, between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. It is 30 miles from Laetoli, another fossil-rich area. Olduvai Gorge was formed about 30,000 years ago, the result of aggressive geological activity and streams.The steep ravine is about 30 miles (48.2 km) long and 295 feet (89.9 meters) deep, not quite large enough to be classified as a canyon. A river cuts through several layers to form four individual beds, with the oldest estimated at about 2 million years old.
Olduvai is an important place in the world for the study of human origins and human evolution.
It’s one of the smallest National Parks in Kenya, but its unusual features and charm compensate for what it lacks in size. It covers an area of 68.25 square km and is situated in the environs of Lake Naivasha about 90km from Nairobi. The park is 14 km after the turnoff of the old Nairobi- Naivasha highway. It is characterized by diverse topography and geological scenery. The towering cliffs, water formed gorges, a variety of wild animals (such as African Buffalos, Zebras, Elands and Thomson’s Gazelles), over 100 bird species including Vultures, Verreaux’s eagles, Augur buzzards and unique flora give this park an almost magical feel. The park is also home to Olkaria Geothermal Power Station, the first productive geothermal installation in Africa.
Hell’s Gate has two gates – the main Elsa Gate and the Olkaria which serves the Olkaria Geothermal Station. Hell’s gate can be visited for hiking and cycling throughout the year, but wildlife viewing is best in dry months from June to October when the grass is short.
Activities include: Hiking through Hell’s gate Gorge, cycling tour of the park, Game viewing, Bird watching, Rock climbing, optional visit to the Geothermal Power Station and optional picnic or hot lunch