Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page which contains a collection of the answers to the most common questions people ask about Maasai Mara, the National Reserve, The Conservancies, The People and the Great Ecosystem. If your answer is not among those below, do not hesitate to send us an email using the form on our contacts page.
Have you ever wondered what the word ‘Mara’ actually means? What makes Mara glorious and an iconic destination? Or, what is the difference between a communal wildlife conservancy and the Masai Mara National Reserve? Well, you will wonder no more as we have compiled a list of ‘frequently-asked questions’ relating to Maasai Mara. Please find answers to each of the questions below. Enjoy reading and asking about Masai Mara, an eco-system that offers a non-stop stunning experience!
The word Mara means ‘spotted’, which refers to both the landscape, which is patched with groves of acacia and thorn bushes, and the colours of the various animals dotted around its vast, open grasslands.
The Maasai are a tribe of people who live in parts of Kenya and Tanzania and are known as tall and fierce warriors. They can be recognized by the special red cloth they wear which is called a Shuka. Maasai people live a nomadic life, which means they move from place to place with their animals.
Maasai Mara is situated in south-west Kenya and is one of Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Reserves. Together with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania it forms Africa’s most diverse, incredible and most spectacular eco-systems and possibly the world’s top safari big game viewing eco-system.
Presently, about 70 per cent of wildlife in the Mara ecosystem is living on community conservancies. The Maasai Mara plains are full of Wildebeest, Zebra, Impala, Topi, Giraffe, and Thomson’s gazelle. Also regularly seen are Leopards, Lions, Hyenas, Cheetah, Jackal, Wild dogs, and bat-eared foxes. Mara holds approx. 25% of Kenya’s wildlife, with Kenya being the second most mammal bio-diverse country in Africa (after DRC). Maasai Mara has one of the highest densities of herbivores in the world, estimated at nearly 240/Km2 with a biomass of just under 30 tonnes / km2. It is home to 95 mammal species and 550 species of birds – the region is categorized as an Important Bird Area. Mara has one of the highest lion populations in Africa and 1/3 of Kenya’s lion population – with just under 17 lions over one year of age per 100km2.
Communal conservancies are self-governing, democratic entities, run by their members, with fixed boundaries that are agreed with adjacent conservancies, communities or land owners. Conservancies are owned by individual Maasai landowners and are managed by private companies, financed by investors in the tourist industry. The Masai Mara National Reserve, on the contrary, is owned and managed by a local government authority called the Narok County Government. In the case of private conservancies, the income coming from tourism goes directly to the landowners, in the case of the National Reserve it goes to the Narok County government. The main difference, though, is that conservancies allow only a limited number of properties/lodges and vehicles to use them, while this limitation does not exist in the National Reserve. Furthermore, conservancies allow walking and night driving, even if strictly regulated while the National Reserve does not. To read more about The Benefits of Mara Conservancies, click here.
Currently, there are 14 established conservancies covering an area of 147,000 hectares. Three more are under formation. The conservancies bring together over 6,000 landowners making conservancies a key area supporting wildlife. The Greater Mara is made up of 668,500 hectares.
Mara is one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the African continent. The resident population of wild animals and birds remains spectacular whole year round. However, from July to October-November, when the famous ‘Great Migration’ reaches the Masai Mara ecosystem from the Serengeti, the number of animals is really exceptional. There are two rainy seasons: the ‘long rains’ of mid-April-May and the ‘short rains’of November. A safari, during, these wet weeks, is still an incredibly interesting experience: the Masai Mara endless plains are exceptionally green and beautiful, wildlife is abundant and the sky has unusual colours.
Between July to October-November, the world famous ‘Great Migration’ reaches the Maasai Mara ecosystem from the Serengeti when over 2 million animals mainly Zebra and Wildebeest trailed by predators, head north and cross the Mara River in huge herds to search for water and fresh grass. The ‘Great Migration’ is the greatest natural show on earth and you’ll experience once-in-a-lifetime memories if you can visit the Mara during this period. Moreover, the plains in the conservancies host thousands upon thousands of Wildebeest and Zebra, offering a truly spectacular sight.
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A cultural landscape where communities and partners secure wildlife and sustainable livelihoods for a better future.
To conserve the greater Maasai Mara ecosystem, through a network of protected areas, for the prosperity of all – biodiversity and wildlife, the local population, and recreation and tourism for the nation of Kenya.