So last time we talked about the Kenyan roads and the migration. Now let’s see what are the main activities in the Mara.
Of course game drives are the main attraction in Masai Mara. But let’s talk about some of the other activities one can do when visiting Masai Mara. Depending on where you will be staying during your visit, some lodges such as Mara West offer walking safaris to their guests during the day (make sure to check about this when you book your accommodation). This is an opportunity for you to experience the beauty of Masaai Mara’s flora and fauna by foot. You can expect to see grazing animals (such as zebra, giraffe, gazelle, etc.) on your tour, in addition to the native plant species. A wildlife guide will accompany you to provide information about the species you encounter and guide you in a safe manner. This is a wonderful way to connect with the nature around you and have a more intimate experience with the Masai Mara wildlife. Plus, it also allows you to get out of the safari vehicle and stretch your legs while still enjoying the magnificence of Masai Mara.
If you are not averse to heights, you may consider doing a hot air balloon safari over the Masai Mara Game Reserve. While this is not a cheap option (costing around $465 per adult), it is a chance to take in the beauty of the Mara from a different vantage point. Be prepared for an early morning though, as the balloons are launched around 6am. Depending on the wind conditions, your balloon will sour over the Mara for a distance of about 15 to 25 kilometers. Included in the price of this excursion is a champagne breakfast that is served in the open plains after you have landed. Be mindful that a balloon safari will provide you with breathtaking views of Masai Mara in exchange for a more intimate view of the animals.
Some camps offer the option of night game drives to their guests (another thing you should check about before you book your accommodation). While this can be a unique and memorable opportunity to witness the nightlife of Masa Mara, it is important for you to be aware that night drives are only offered in the conservancies that lie on the outskirts of Masai Mara National Reserve and not in the park itself (park hours are from sun up to sun down, and no one is allowed admittance into the park after these hours). Wildlife does roam beyond the boundaries of the park. However, guests are more likely to see the grazing animals or small tree critters in these areas and not very likely to see any of the big predators. So, if you’re one of the many folks out there who are keen to see a lion kill and think that a night game drive may be just such an opportunity, I would advise you not to hold your breath. The chances are slim. However, if your expectations aren’t quite so high, then a night drive can be a neat opportunity to experience another facet of life in Masai Mara.
In the midst of soaking up the spectacular views and witnessing the Masai Mara wildlife interacting in their natural habitat, don’t forget to connect with the Maasai community and experience their ancient indigenous culture firsthand. The Maasai people are a critical thread to the tapestry of Masai Mara. Their cultural beliefs and practices have played an important role in preserving this wildlife sanctuary. The Maasai are generally quite friendly and willing to share about their culture and customs. Make sure you carve out some time during your stay at Masai Mara to visit a traditional Maasai boma (homestead) and mingle with the local people. Known for their elaborate and colorful garb and their incredible jumping abilities, you won’t want to miss them perform their traditional songs and dances. You’ll feel as though you have stepped into a National Geographic photograph.