aasai Mara. It is the home to Africa’ 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 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.
From the western Serengeti the herds head north, following the rains (or their effects) into Kenya and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. On their trek the wildebeests’ path is cut several times by rivers: in the Serengeti by the Mbalangeti and the Grumeti, and in Kenya by the Mara.
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.
Wildebeest arrive at the Mara River in their tens of thousands, and gather waiting to cross. For days their numbers can be building up and anticipation grows but many times, for no apparent reason, they turn and wander away from the water’s edge.
Eventually the wildebeest will choose a crossing point, something that can vary from year to year and cannot be predicted with any accuracy. Once on the grasslands of the Maasai Mara, the wildebeest spend several months feeding and fattening once more, taking advantage of the scattered distribution of green pastures and isolated rainstorms.
A remarkable feature of their wanderings is their ability to repeatedly find areas of good grazing, no matter how far apart.
The physiology of the wildebeest is such that it has been designed by evolution to travel large distances very quickly and economically, apparently requiring no more energy to run a certain distance than to trudge along at walking pace. Every facet of its life and behavior is designed to save time – wildebeest even mate on the move, and newborns are, as we have seen, up and running in minutes.
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 outmarch large numbers of predators. The predators are unable to follow the moving herds very far, for many are territorial and can neither abandon their territories nor invade those of others. Moreover, the young of most predators are highly dependent upon their mothers, who can’t move very far from them.
The Mara is not only famed due to wildebeest’s migration but also to unique sightings such as Tira, Tano Bora and the iconic Scarface.
Nicknamed after the driver guide that spotted the stunning dark-skinned zebra with black spotted polka dots, Tira was such an eye – catching sight. Tira’s black spots are due to pseudomelanism – a rare genetic mutation in the stripes pattern.
Tano Bora (the 5 musketeers or the 5 brothers) which means ‘Magnificent Five’ is a coalition of five male cheetahs that have claimed Mara as their stomping ground and have become popular for their incredible take downs of huge prey and their hunting prowess. Tano Bora have challenged so many assumptions about typical cheetah behaviour. Typically, once reaching adulthood, a male cheetah becomes solitary or joins another to form a pair. It is very rare to see a group this large bonding together. The Tano Bora are now four after Olpadan, formerly the leader of the pack left the coalition. After he lost one of his testicles in a fight with males in March 2019, his rank dropped. From the decision maker and leader of the group, he became the last in the chain and the last one to join the meal.
Owing to one scar in his right eye, Scarface is the oldest and most sought-after lion in the Mara. His machismo is legendary and coupled with his sturdy looks – a black exceptional mane that sweeps back from his forehead- Scarface is the face of survival and resiliencee. Scarface earned his moniker in 2012 when he lost his right eyelid while making a territorial grab with his three brothers Sikio, Morani and Hunter. Scarface died in June 2021 at the age of 14 of natural causes.
The Mara offers such breathtaking moments – an experience in the Mara is never the same from previous encounters. Each day offers a rewarding experience. Other rewarding activities are a balloon safari and a visit to the Mara village.
Maasai Mara Ballon Safari
The trip is magical, spend about one hour silently floating over the savannah in a hot air balloon
and it will fill you with enough memories to last a lifetime. You take off in the wee hours of
the morning, float in the sky, drifting with the whim of the wind, overlooking the plains, just
in time to experience a breathtaking sunrise and catch a bird’s eye view of the reserve.
After the flight, you will be treated to a luxurious breakfast to complete the experience as you relax
and absorb the moment.
Maasai Mara Village Visit
You’ve seen pictures of them – adorned with the brilliant red, blue and purple patterns of the
shukas they wear. The men with their spears, tall and proud. The women bejeweled with bright
beaded earrings and scarves. These are the some of the oldest inhabitants of East Africa, the
They live in small mud-thatched villages, surrounded by their cattle and smaller
livestock. For hundreds of years the Masai have roamed these lands of Kenya, living a free,
nomadic lifestyle. Their traditional lands now comprise much of Kenya’s national parks. A
highlight of your safari vacation is a visit with these Maasai people. Many of the tribes welcome
visitors to their villages to view up close their culture and lifestyle.
You may get to experience the villagers singing and dancing… and you might even be able to
join in! The Maasai are known for their rhythmic call-and-response singing. Perhaps their most
widely known dance is the adumu or “jumping dance”. The warriors form a circle with one
person entering the center. This dancer will jump higher and higher to the rhythms of the
singers. As he jumps higher the singers will raise the pitch of their voices.
Standing in muted contrast to the colourful villagers, you’ll see the browns and grays of the
Maasai’s houses, called bomas. Small structures with thatched roofs, it is the job of the Maasai
women to build these sturdy dwellings.