Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara National Park is exactly what you picture when you think of an African safari. It is one of the most famous reserves in Africa and is known for its epic wildlife sightings. Horizons of endless grassy plains and ancient acacia trees are filled with impressive herds of wildebeest and zebra, as well as big cats and enormous, roaming elephants. The reserve's name is derived from the local Maasai people and the Mara River in Kenya, which flows through the land, offering one of the greatest spectacles on earth during the Great Wildebeest Migration across Serengeti. Travel to the Masai Mara National Reserve for an authentic African safari and an enriching cultural experience.

  • Best Time to Go

    June - October

  • Average Safari Cost

    $100 - $600 pp/day. Park fee: $80 (adults), $45 (children)

  • Highlights

    The Great Wildebeest Migration, the Big Five, Maasai guides, excellent bird watching and game viewing, hot air balloon rides and cultural tours.

Why Visit Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara National Reserve is an ideal safari destination. Its open plains are teeming with wildlife to see all year round. See big cats lazing in the sun, massive herds of wildebeest migrating through the land and giant elephants roaming free. The reserve is famous for the Great Migration, where enormous numbers of wildebeest, antelopes and zebra travel through the land to get to the Mara River for water. Visit the reserve from July to September to see this awesome animal spectacle. This is also the best time to see lions, leopards and cheetahs as they prey on the migrating herds.

Travel the reserve with a Maasai guide and learn about the land on a deeper, more cultural level for a truly enriching safari experience. The Maasai people are expert guides and know all the secrets of this beautiful, unspoiled land. The Masai Mara National Reserve is a must see safari destination and lives up to even the highest expectations!

Pros and Cons

  • Great wildlife viewing
  • The wildebeest migration
  • Many accommodation options
  • Wildlife sightings are easy in the open plains
  • Interesting cultural experiences
  • Can get very crowded
  • Roads may become impassable in the rainy season

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Masai Mara National Reserve is during the dry season, from June to October. Wildlife viewing is good all year round, but animals are easiest to see during the dry months when vegetation is thinner and wildlife congregates around water sources. The dry season consists of warm, sunny days with temperatures averaging about 79˚F (26˚C). Night-time temperatures cool down to about 54˚F(12˚C). The best time to see the Wildebeest Migration is from September to October.

The wet season is from November to May. Short rains occur from November to December, followed by a dry period, and then the long rains from March to May. Afternoon rain showers are frequent, but it rarely rains all day long. Days are warm with an average temperature of 81˚F(27˚C), and nights are cool with temperatures lowering to about 55˚F(13˚C). The scenery of the park is more beautiful during these months, as the plants are flowering. This is also the best time to see newborn animals and migratory birds. Heavy rainfall may disrupt activities and travel plans as roads become unstable.

Start your African Adventure

Wildlife and Birds

The Masai Mara National Reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife and offers superb sightings all throughout the year. You can see the Big Five throughout the park, watch as enormous herds of wildebeest and zebra migrate across the land and look out for hippos and crocodiles bathing in the river waters. This is a good place to see the big cats, including impressive black-maned lions, leopards and cheetahs. Travel to the reserve at the right time to see the incredible annual migration of wildebeest, various antelope species and zebra.
List of Animals
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Cheetah
  • Leopard
  • Hippo
  • Buffalo
  • Hyena
  • Giraffe
  • Black Rhino
  • Wildebeest
  • Wild Dog
  • Zebra

Rare Animals

  • Black rhino, wild dog

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Elephant, buffalo, lion, giraffe, hippo, zebra, wildebeest, cheetah, hyena


With over 450 recorded species of bird, the Masai Mara National Reserve is a birdwatchers paradise. From secretary birds and Kori bustards stalking through the plains to bateleurs and eagles circling the skies, there are plenty of birds to look out for.

Endangered Birds:

  • Madagascar pond-heron, Egyptian vulture, hooded vulture, white-backed vulture, Rueppell's griffon, gray crowned-crane, Saker falcon

Near-Endemic birds:

  • Gray-crested Helmetshrike, Red-throated Tit, African Yellow-Warbler, Hildebrandt's Starling, Southern Grosbeak-Canary, Kenya Rufous Sparrow, Swahili Sparrow, Rufous-tailed Weaver, Jackson's Widowbird

Getting There and Safety

While you can drive to the reserve from Nairobi, it is recommended to fly there instead as the dirt road to the reserve is bad. There are domestic flights to Masai Mara National Reserve from Nairobi.

For the flights to Kenya, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you to Kenya and their various ticket prices.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Kenya.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Kenya.


All foreign visitors must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after their visit. Foreign visitors of most nationalities need to apply for a visa, however, single-entry visas may be obtained upon arriving in the country. Kenya's eVisa website can give you more information on whether you should apply for a visa or not.

For more information on visas see our Kenya Safari - Complete Country Guide.


Several vaccinations are recommended when travelling to Kenya. These include: hepatitis A and B, rabies, meningococcal meningitis, typhoid and yellow fever. It’s better to check with your local medical authority which vaccinations are required.

There is a high-risk for malaria in Kenya so anti-malarial drugs are advised as well as insect repellent and wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs at night.

Check your local travel health authority for more information:

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Kenya. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

What to Pack

You will need to pack clothes for both warm and cool weather as it can get quite warm during the day and cold at night. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours. Other essential items are a hat, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, binoculars and camera.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.