Frequently Asked Questions
We understand you have questions before going on a safari in the Masai Mara or one of its neighbouring conservancy areas. Just click on a question to drop down the answer; you may also use the quick navigation buttons below to find your question and answer.
Access to Masai Mara & conservancies
How do I get to the Masai Mara?
The most convenient mode of travel, by far, to the Masai Mara is by flying into one of the many airstrips in the area. Visitors may also travel to the Masai Mara by vehicle: either by transfer, self-drive or guided safari (as part of a longer safari holiday). In most cases your journey will start from Nairobi - Kenya's bustling capital city. For more information please see our 'getting to Masai Mara' page.
What are the opening times of Masai Mara National Reserve?
The Masai Mara access gates (Sekenani, Talek, Oloolaimutiek, Musiara, Oloololo) open at 06H00 and close at 18H00. We recommend not to arrive at any of the gates later than 15H00 so that you will arrive at your Masai Mara camp or lodge in time. Kindly note that Sand River gate is currently closed.
What are the entrance fees or park fees for the Masai Mara?
The per person entry fee is US$ 80 per adult per day (24 hrs). Visitors staying at a safari camp or lodge within national reserve boundaries pay US$ 70 per person (per 24 hours). Entry and conservation fees for staying at one of the Masai Mara conservancies differ from the rates charges when staying or visiting the national reserve proper. Roughly, these fees range between US$ 80 and US$ 120 per person per day. We always include entry and conservation fees (both for the national reserve and conservanices) in your total in our bookings. Reduced rates are applicable for children.
How long does it take to fly to the Masai Mara?
Most Masai Mara safaris start from Wilson Airport (WIL) in Nairobi. A flight from Nairobi to one of the Masai Mara airstrips takes between 1 hour and 2 hours and 30 minutes, depending on the airstrip location. Keep in mind that departure times and routings may vary depending on traveller requirements and local weather conditions. These flights usually service several airstrips, therefore it is possible that multiple stops are made en route to your destination (with a maximum of three landings). Read all about flights to Masai Mara.
I would like to drive. Where should I access the Masai Mara?
Masai Mara National Reserve has multiple entry gates, the most important ones being: Sekenani Gate, Talek Gate, Oloolaimutiek Gate, Musiara Gate and Oloololo Gate. Your entry gate depends on the Masai Mara safari camp you will be staying. Sand River gate is currently closed.
How do I get from the Masai Mara to Serengeti National Park?
Travelling between the Masai Mara and Serengeti National Park is complicated because of the indefinite closure of the Bologonya border crossing. As a result, we do not recommend travelling via land (road transfer or self-driving) from the Mara to the Serengeti or vice versa (via Isebania or Namanga border posts). Flying is the most convenient option, but none of the Mara airstrips offer border facilities, making it time-consuming. Two flight routes are available: one involves a road transfer between Migori (Kenya) and Tarime (Tanzania) airstrips for immigration clearance, with a minimum of two passengers per flight, and operates during high season only. We recommend the second option, involving a flight from the Mara to Nairobi Wilson (WIL) and then connecting to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). This option incurs less hassle, as no overland transfer is required between airstrips and allows an overnight stay in Nairobi before continuing to Tanzania.
About Masai Mara National Reserve & conservancies
What is the size of the Masai Mara?
Masai Mara National Reserve measures 1,510 square kilometers, which is about 583 square miles. However, the national reserve is not fenced and therefore shares an open border with Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and several conservancy areas adjecent to Masai Mara National Reserve proper. The total area size of the Mara- Serengeti ecosystem is approximately 30,000 (!) square kilometers or 12,000 square miles (the size of Belgium).
When was the Masai Mara established?
Masai Mara National Reserve was established in 1961, but initially not as a national reserve (but rather as a wildlife sanctuary, and later as a game reserve). In the beginning the Masai Mara area covered about 520 square kilometers and was later extended to 1,821 square kilometers. National Reserve status was granted only in 1974, at which time a total land mass of 159 square kilometers was returned to local Maasai communities. Another 162 square kilometers was shaved off in 1976, bringing the size to its current 1,510 square kilometers. The conservancy areas adjacent to the Masai Mara National Reserve proper have all been established at a late stage, most of them in the 2000s.
What is the Masai Mara famous for?
Chances are great that you have seen imagery of footage shot in the Masai Mara. This could be a wildlife documentary, pictures in National Geographic Magazine, or one of the BBC's special interest series. There is a good reason for this: the Masai Mara is one of the most iconic (and rewarding) safari destinations on the African continent. The landscape is stunning (you probably have an image of rolling hills with golden hued grasses waving in the wind in mind); there is no other place in the world where big cats (some very famous ones indeed) are so prolific; plus the Masai Mara hosts the world's greatest mammal migration on land -the Great Wildebeest Migration- between July and October each year. An estimated number of 1.5 million wildbeest, 300,000 gazelles and 200,000 zebra move from the Serengeti in Tanzania, crossing the Mara River en route, to the Masai Mara in search of greener pastures. The herds support incredible numbers of big cats, including lion, cheetah and leopard. This race for life, in its most beautiful and rugged form, is the reason why so many films have been recorded in the Mara. This is also the reason why some of these cats may be familiar to you: BBC's 'Big Cat Diary', 'Dynasties' and many sequences of the 'Earth' series were recorded here.
What does Masai Mara mean in English?
The name Masai Mara is derived from the Maa language. The word "mara" means "spotted" or "mottled" and is a reference to the Mara's patchy landscape 'dotted' with the occasional tree. Maa is the local Maasai language.
Staying in Masai Mara National Reserve & conservancies
What is the best time to visit the Masai Mara?
First things first: the Masai Mara offers exceptional wildlife viewing year round, so in that sense there wouldn't be a 'best time to visit'. However, things get really phenomenal in the months July to October when the Great Migration, and all the drama that comes with it, can be seen in Masai Mara National Reserve. In this period the Mara becomes rather busy (for a good safari experience some areas are better avoided) and accommodation rates come at a premium. So, if your budget is a consideration (and we understand it is), you may want to opt to travel in shoulder season, or even in low season. The latter is often referred to as 'green season' (March to May), and with good reason: this is also the time of year when substantial rains are part of daily life in the Mara. Most Masai Mara safari camps and lodges offer heavily reduced rates in this period. In case you are an avid birder: green season definitely is your time of year to explore the Masai Mara. So... the best time to travel mostly depends on your personal preferences. Read all about when to travel to the Masai Mara.
What is the weather like in Masai Mara?
The Masai Mare doesn't get as hot as one may expect. Due to an altitude between 1500 and 1900 meters above sea level, you can expect pleasantly warm temperatures during the day and much cooler nights. Between June and August you are most likely to encounter clear skies; September and October are slightly warmer and some rainshowers occur. November and December is the 'light version' of the two rainy seasons that dicate life in the Mara. Rain showers usually do not last for very long in these months. This wetter period is then followed by the (mostly dry) months of January and February, after which the 'heavy' rainy period starts (which lasts until May). April is the wettest month. Read all about weather and climate in Masai Mara.
Does it rain often in the Masai Mara?
The Masai Mara has two annual rainy periods annually. The short rains (or 'light' rainy season) arrives in the Mara in November and cease end of December. One can expect short rain showers in this season. The long(er) and 'heavy' rainy season lasts between March and May, with April being the wettest month. It rarely rains the entire day, but keep in mind that it will rain on most days. Satured green colours will dominate the landscape (hence the name: 'green season'). Bringing some warm (and waterproof) clothing in this period is definitely useful. Read all about weather and climate in Masai Mara.
Wildlife viewing in Masai Mara & conservancies
Which animals will I see in the Masai Mara?
As wildlife roams freely in these lands, specific animal sightings can never be guaranteed (we wish we could!). As a result, we cannot predict with 100% certainty whether you will be seeing lions, cheetahs, leopard or other species that you are so keen to observe. However, you are aware of the Mara's reputation and indeed: the area is world-famous for its bountiful plains with prolific bic cats, the Great Migration- and so many other wonderful species. The Masai Mara boasts all of the Big Five species and your chances of seeing most of these are good (rhino is very rare). The Mara - Serengeti ecosystem is home to more wildlife species and individual animals than any other wilderness reserve on the continent.
Do I need binoculars for a Masai Mara safari?
Yes, we always recommend bringing a pair of binoculars as it makes life in the bush a lot easier and brings faraway creatures (birds especially) a whole lot closer. Some Masai Mara safari camps and lodges offer a pair of binoculars for personal use during your stay (we have indicated this on our accommodation pages), and at some lodges your driver / guide will carry an extra pair in the vehicle, but this is never guaranteed.
Do leopards live in the Masai Mara?
Although very elusive, leopards occur in significant numbers in the Masai Mara. Definitely the most secretive of all big cats, they may be hard to find but are not uncommon. Just look up to the trees or listen to the alarm sounds of other animals (your guide will do most of the work, of course).
How many species of birds are in the Masai Mara?
A mind-boggling number of 470 bird species have been recorded in the Masai Mara. Read all about Masai Mara bird species.
Are there tigers in the Masai Mara?
Tigers do not live in the Masai Mara. If you are looking for tigers we recommend travelling to the Asian continent.
Masai Mara safari lodges & camps
What type of accommodation is available in Masai Mara National Reserve & conservancies?
A multitude of different accommodation options in the form of safari lodges and camps is available in the Masai Mara. These range from mobile tented luxury camp to campsites to ultra chique design loges and anything in between.
Are safari activities included in the rate when booking accommodation in the Masai Mara?
This differs from lodge to lodge. Most Masai Mara safari camps & lodges listed, offer rates inclusive of safari activities: this usually is in the form of interpretative vehicle safaris. Lodges and camps located outside of Masai Mara National Reserve proper, so in the Mara conservancies, may offer a myriad of additional activities (including night drives and bush walks). You will find most accommodation rates on this website are based on an all inclusive basis (which includes safari activities). We always clearly indicate which activities are included on each accommodation page and in our quotations. In case safari actitivities are not included (or can't be included) we indicate this as well.
Are meals and drinks included when booking a stay in the Masai Mara?
Your stay at one of the Masai Mara safari camps and lodges listed on this website are always inclusive of all meals (breakfast and / or brunch, lunch and dinner), regardless of your lodge choice. Most accommodations also include drinks in their rates (with a differentiation between 'local' drinks being included, and 'premium' drinks at an additional cost). The bare minimum is that tea and coffee is always included. We clearly indicate whether drinks are included or not on our webpages and in our quotations.
What time is check and check out in Masai Mara?
The checkiin time at Masai Mara lodges is from 13H00. Check out time is between 10H30 and 11H00 (usually after a morning safari activity and breakfast).
Do all camps in the Masai Mara offer private plunge pools?
No, not all lodges offer private plunge pools with their rooms. The rule of thumb is that the more exclusive safari lodges offer private plunge pools. Kindly note that not all Masai Mara lodges have (communal) swimming pools.
I have heard that Sir Richard Branson's owns a safari lodge in Kenya. Which one is that?
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Limited Edition operates a safari lodge in Olare Motorogi Conservancy and is named Mahali Mzuri.
Planning your stay in the Masai Mara
Is Masai Mara worth visiting?
Yes, the Masai Mara is worth visiting. It is a world-renowned wildlife reserve in southwestern Kenya and is home to a vast array of wildlife, including the "Big Five" (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhinoceros). The Mara is also famous for the annual wildebeest migration, which sees millions of animals making their way through the reserve in search of fresh grazing lands. Visiting the Masai Mara is a unique experience that offers the opportunity to see some of the world's most incredible wildlife up close and personal. The stunning landscapes and natural beauty of the region are a highlight, and the chance to interact with the local Maasai people and learn about their culture adds to the experience. But well, in all honesty: you probably asked to wrong people.
How far in advance should I book my Masai Mara safari?
Safari camps in the Masai Mara operate at high occupancy levels, especially during 'Great Migration' season and other peak periods (e.g. Christmas and Easter. We recommend that you start planning your Masai Mara safari holiday approximately 8 to 12 months in advance. When travelling in peak periods we encourage you to start planning 12 to 18 (!) months in advance. For some popular Masai Mara safari camps - when it concerns high season - it is not uncommon to find them fully booked two years in advance. Also, when travelling with family (children), or in a group, one should start planning as early as possible: due to their modest scale, the lodges have a limited number of suitable rooms.
Is accommodation in Masai Mara suitable for disabled travellers?
A limited number of Masai Mara camps offer wheelchair friendly rooms. Please contact us for more information.
Are there special offers or discounted rates available in the Masai Mara?
Yes! Some Masai Mara camps offer reduced (honeymoon) rates or special offers (such as a 'stay - pay' deal). These specials may be reviewed on this page.