Known simply as “The Mara” to locals, Maasai Mara National Park is a large reserve located in south western Kenya. The area was named after the Maasai people who were the traditional inhabitants of the land.
The reserve was established in 1948 as a wildlife sanctuary that covered 520 square kilometers (200 square miles). Today, the reserve covers an area of 1,510 square kilometers (583 square miles) and is bordered by the Serengeti Park of Tanzania to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west and Maasai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Unlike other national parks in Kenya, Maasai Mara is not administered by the Kenya Wildlife Service but rather by local authorities and the Maasai people.
Maasai Mara is not the largest conservation area in Kenya but it is certainly the most famous. This is due to the annual Great Migration which is one of the most impressive natural events in the world. Each July approximately 1,300,000 wildebeest, 500,000 Thomson’s gazelles, 200,000 zebras, 97,000 topi and 18,000 elands migrate north from the Serengeti plains to the Maasai Mara in search of fresh pasture. These animals then return to the Serengeti in October.
Whether witnessing the Great Migration or experiencing the traditional semi-nomadic pastoralist lifestyles of neighbouring Maasai tribes, the reserve is a must see on any visit to Kenya.