Where is best for your Masai Mara Safari; the actual Masai Mara National Reserve or to safari in one of the private concessions bordering the Masai Mara Reserve.
A Kenya Safari would not be complete without visiting the world famous Masai Mara. The Masai Mara is made up of the Masai Mara National Reserve and surrounding wildlife concession areas. The Mara Reserve is run by Kenya Wildlife Services whereas the concession areas are privately run.
The main advantage of being on safari in the actual Mara Reserve is the location of the camps. This is particularly relevant during the Migration from July to October as the herds enter the reserve first and the spectacular river crossings occur in the Masai Mara Reserve. The Masai Mara Reserve is also famous for its endless plains dotted with acacia trees. Ideally located camps within the Masai Mara National Reserve therefore allow their clients the opportunity to often be first in the early morning at the key river crossing points in the hope of seeing the great migratory herds crossing the Mara River. Also the hot air balloon flights are done mostly from in the National reserve with the Governors operated Balloon Safari being the best and as these Balloon flights are done at dawn it is an advantage being at a camp in the reserve and closer to where this takes place, that is if a balloon safari is something that is of interest.
The down side of being in the Masai Mara National Reserve is that there are very strict regulations regarding driving at night, as well as walking and going off road.
In the private conservancies that border the Masai Mara National Reserve these additional activities such as safari bush walks, night drives and off road driving are permitted and these definitely do add value to any luxury safari experience. The downside of the private conservancies can be cattle from local masai villages however, the conservancies are getting better at working with the Masai to manage this. The other downside is that you usually have to head out on a full day game drive to see the great migration herds crossing the rivers as these areas tend to be quite far from the camps in the various private concession areas.
The terrain in some of the concessions areas differs quite remarkably from the Masai Mara National Reserve and with both destinations offering outstanding wildlife viewing and a different safari experience, it is highly recommended to try and incorporate a stay in both the Masai Mara National Reserve as well as in the private concession areas.
For more information on a safari to Kenya…
By Stuart Parker