The Maasai Mara is about 280 Km. west from Nairobi City. There are two ways to get to the Maasai Mara. You can choose to drive or to fly to the Mara. Driving will take you about 5-6 hours while flying takes about 40-45 minutes. Both driving and flying to Maasai Mara has both advantages and disadvantages. Whichever method you want to use will be determined by your comfort. Here are a few things that you need to know before you decide which mode of transport you want.
Driving is much more preferred if you have a lot of time to spare for your trip and if you are curious to see Kenya’s countryside and especially if it’s your very first visit to Kenya. The drive from Nairobi to Narok will take you about 2-2.5 hours, the road is and offers a breathtaking scenery. As you drive to Maasai Mara you will you will see the suburbs of Nairobi, the Great Rift Valleyescarpment and the escarpment’s view point at Mai Mahiu where you will be able to look down the escarpment. You can also get to buy Kenyan souvenirs at this area.
In Narok there are hotels for food, toilets and you can grab some snacks as you stretch your legs. The road from Narok to Ololoolo Gate is quite rough and the drive will take you about 2-3.5 hours depending on the vehicle you are travelling in. It is however advisable to use a 4×4 vehicle, this will make your ride smoother. A drive through this road allows you to see the Maasai manyattas (traditional huts), their farms and sometime you will even see the wild animals grazing.
On the other hand if you are short of time, want a comfortable ride and your main interest is to see the wild animals only then a flight will be a good choice. There are a few companies that fly to the Maasai Mara such as SafariLink and Air Kenya. Flights take off from Wilson airport to an airstrip nearest your camp in the Mara. Flying in a light aircraft is an experience in itself. You will have an awesome time seeing an aerial view of the country. The aircrafts fly fairly low and you will be able to see several remote villages.
Sometimes the flight may have to stop a few times on the way due to other passengers landing at one of the 6 airstrips in the Mara. Not so bad since you get to have a free trip to different parts of the Maasai Mara. For those who fly into the airstrips inside the Maasai Mara Park and Conservancy such as Serena or Kichwa Tembo airstrips, they get to have a free game drive on their way to where they will be staying.
Game drives in the Maasai Mara and its private conservancies however are conducted in open-sided 4x4s or mini-buses/vans with pop-up roofs regardless of the mode of transport used to get to the Mara.