Explore the Splendor of Masai Mara Nairobi: Your Ultimate Safari Guide

Masai Mara nairobi - cheetah

How do you turn a Nairobi stopover into a breathtaking safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya? Our guide cuts straight to the chase, giving you essential travel tips, expected journey times, and a glimpse of the natural marvels en route. With a focus on practical advice without padding, you’re in the right place to arrange the leap from Kenya’s capital city hustle to the tranquil Masai Mara Nairobi plains.

How to Book Our Maasai Mara National Reserve Packages

If you are looking for the best Masai Mara National Reserve safari, then you have come to the right place. We are among the leading tour operators in Kenya that will show you Maasai Mara better than anyone else.

Our safari adventure to Maasai Mara Game Reserve starts in Kenya’s capital Nairobi and also ends in Nairobi. For booking, inquiries, or questions about our Maasai Mara National Reserve safaris, please contact us at james@ajkenyasafaris.com  or safarioffers@ajkenyasafaris.com or WhatsApp/Call +254-748-258-880.

Our Most Booked Masai Mara National Reserve Packages and Other Tours

Our Popular Packages See the Detailed Itinerary Safari Price/Quote
6-Day Amboseli, L. Naivasha, & Masai Mara Safari View the Itinerary From USD  1950
6-Day Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, and Masai Mara Safari View the Itinerary  From USD 1665
6-Day Hell’s Gate, Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru, & Masai Mara Safari View the Itinerary From USD 1745
6-Day Hell’s Gate, L. Nakuru, & Masai Mara Safari View the Itinerary  From USD 2050
6-Day Nairobi & Masai Mara Family Safari View the Itinerary  From USD 2500
6-Day Nairobi, L. Nakuru, & Masai Mara Safari View the Itinerary From USD 2870
7-Day Amboseli, Hell’s Gate, L Naivasha, & Masai Mara Safari View the Itinerary  From USD  1945
7-Day Amboseli, L. Nakuru, & Masai Mara Safari View the Itinerary  From USD 1800
7-Day Amboseli, Naivasha, Hell’s Gate, and Masai Mara Safari View the Itinerary  From USD 2395
8-Day Masai Mara, L. Nakuru, & Diani Safari View the Itinerary  From USD 1778
8-Day Honeymoon Safari in Kenya View the Itinerary  From USD 2309
9-Day Helicopter Tour Safari in Kenya View the Itinerary  From USD 9068
10-Day Classic Safari in Kenya View the Itinerary  From USD 3990
10-Day Kenya Wildlife Safari View the Itinerary From USD  3890
12-Day Safari in Kenya View the Itinerary  From USD 4050
18-Day Safari in Kenya View the Itinerary  From USD 7800
3-Day African Safari in Kenya View the Itinerary  From USD 1600
3-Day Masai Mara Budget Safari View the Itinerary From USD 1705

Key Takeaways

  • Travel to Masai Mara from Nairobi can be done by flight, road trip, or guided tours; each offering a unique experience with flight being the fastest. Road trips provide scenic views and cultural engagement, and guided tours deliver a comprehensive safari package.
  • The Masai Mara National Reserve is an outstanding safari destination with optimal wildlife viewing from July to October during the dry season and the Great Wildebeest Migration. Visitors are encouraged to plan a 3 to 4-day itinerary for a full experience, including game viewing, nature walks, and cultural visits.
  • There are various accommodation options in and near the Maasai Mara National Reserve catering to different budgets and preferences. They range from luxury tented camps like Little Governors Camp and Sand River Camp to eco-friendly lodges or hotels and budget campsites like Mtito Safari Camp and Mara Maisha Camp, ensuring every traveler can find a suitable place to stay.

Masai Mara to Nairobi Images

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Journey from Nairobi to Masai Mara

Venturing from the urban city of Nairobi to the natural wilderness of the Masai Mara National Reserve is an adventure in its own right. Whether you’re soaring through the clouds on a chartered flight, winding through scenic routes on a road trip, or experiencing the thrill of a guided safari tour, each journey to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve is packed with anticipation and excitement.

Flight Options to Maasai Mara

For those eager to catch a bird’s eye view of Africa’s breathtaking landscapes, a flight to Masai Mara, Mara North Conservancy, Mara Triangle, or Olare Motorogi Conservancy is your best bet. With airlines such as:

  • Hahn Air Systems
  • World Ticket Ltd
  • Safarilink
  • Airkenya

offering daily scheduled flights and private charters, you can reach the reserve in a mere 45 to 60 minutes. Departing from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport or Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, these flights land at various airstrips within the Main Reserve or conservancies, bringing you closer to your safari adventure.

With flexible scheduling and a range of ticket prices, flying to the Maasai Mara is a convenient and time-efficient option to kickstart your Kenya safari journey.

masai mara nairobi
You Can Fly to Masai Mara from Nairobi

Road Trip Adventures

For those with an adventurous spirit and a little extra time, a road trip from Kenya’s capital to the Masai Mara in south west Kenya is the way to go. The journey, which takes approximately 5 to 6 hours, traverses the heart of Kenya, offering tourists a variety of scenic views and opportunities to immerse themselves in local Kenyan life.

Various routes, including the main route through Narok and Sekenani Gate or alternative routes through Lemek and Aitong towns, promise a captivating journey filled with diverse landscapes and wildlife. Depending on your group size and preferences, you can opt for air-conditioned coaches, private vans, 4×4 jeeps, or even open-sided jeeps for your safari road trip and game drive.

The road to the Maasai Mara is fully tarmacked and generally in good condition, offering a comfortable trip. Specific driving times to different Masai Mara gates vary, but expect a journey of approximately 5.5 to 6.5 hours, depending on the gate chosen. Remember to stay vigilant for wildlife, especially when traversing the route to the Oloololo Gate where wild animals are known to roam freely.

nairobi safari masai mara
Lioness at in Kenya

Guided Safari Tours

For those seeking a hassle-free and comprehensive experience, guided safari tours are the perfect choice. These packages encompass:

  • All transfers, including the domestic travels to the Masai Mara
  • Wildlife sightings and game drive
  • Birds watching and nature walks tours
  • Meals
  • Accommodation in most hotels
  • Entry fees and Narok county council charges

In addition to the convenience of one-way travel by road or flight to/from the reserve, guided tours also offer the flexibility to customize your safari itineraries. Be it budget-friendly group safaris or exclusive private tours. With typical packages like the 3-day Maasai Mara safari, you can enjoy:

  • Multiple game viewing in the main reserve or conservancies to give you a chance of spotting the big cats like cheetah, leopard, and lion
  • Meals in hotel or in wilderness as you watch the animal roam freely
  • Transport
  • Safari tent accommodations with swimming pool

All tailored to your preferences and budget.

masai mara resort
Zebras Grazing in the Reserve

Planning Your Nairobi to Masai Mara Itinerary

Planning your itinerary from the capital to the Maasai Mara is an exciting prospect that requires careful consideration. The best time to visit, attractions along the way, and the duration of stay all play a crucial role in shaping your safari experience. Whether you’re keen on witnessing the Great Migration, exploring lesser-known conservation areas like Mara Triangle or Olare Motorogi Conservancy, or immersing yourself in Maasai culture, a well-planned itinerary ensures a fulfilling and memorable safari adventure.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the Maasai Mara is during the dry season from July to October when wildlife viewing is at its peak. This period coincides with the spectacular wildebeest migration, a must-see event where over a million animals traverse the plains in search of greener pastures from Serengeti National Park.

Daytime temperatures average around 77 F (25 C) from June to August, providing a comfortable climate for game watching and explorations. To enhance your safari experience, consider a hot air balloon safari during this time, offering extraordinary views of the great migration and wildlife below.

masai mara nearest airport
Buffalo with Birds

Attractions Along the Way

The journey to the Maasai Mara is as exciting as the destination itself, with several sightseeing destinations along the way. One of the key attractions is the Great Rift Valley ViewPoint, which provides travelers with breathtaking views of the vast valley landscape. Imagine standing on the edge of the escarpment, gazing out over the sprawling valley, its floor dotted with volcanoes and lakes – it’s a sight you won’t forget while in Africa.

Further along the route, you’ll encounter the vibrant town of Narok. A bustling center of Maasai culture, Narok offers tourists a chance to shop for necessities, engage with the local community, and learn about the region’s rich culture and traditions. Whether it’s trying local cuisine or purchasing handcrafted Maasai souvenirs, a stop in Narok is a delightful addition to your Masai Mara Kenya journey.

Duration of Stay Recommendations

Choosing the right duration for your Masai Mara safari is crucial to fully appreciate the park’s wildlife and landscapes. A minimum of 4 days and 3 nights is recommended for a thorough exploration, including:

  • Multiple game viewing to ensure that the tourists explore Masai Mara, Mara Triangle, and other attractions in this side of south west Kenya
  • Time for rest in the hotel, camp or lodge
  • Full days dedicated to morning and evening game viewing
  • A visit to a local Maasai village
  • A comfortable pace for relaxation and enjoyment
  • Birds watching in the wilderness

This duration allows for a comprehensive experience of the Masai Mara, including the mara triangle. However, travelers with less time or budget constraints can opt for a shorter stay of 3 days and 2 nights, still allowing for at least two game viewing and a condensed but rewarding experience.

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Antelopes Grazing in the National Park

Accommodation Options Near Masai Mara

Finding the perfect hotel, camp, or lodge near the Masai Mara can enhance your safari experience manifold. Whether you’re looking for the luxury of tented camps, the sustainability of eco-friendly lodges, or the affordability of budget-friendly campsites, the Masai Mara offers a diverse range of hotels. Each accommodation or hotel type caters to different travel styles and budgets, so you can find the perfect lodging that matches your needs and enhances your safari experience.

Luxury Tented Camps

Luxury tented camps in the Masai Mara, including those in Mara North, Mara River, and Talek River offer an exquisite blend of comfort, exclusivity, and thrilling wildlife encounters. Places like Angama Mara, perched on the Oloololo Escarpment, provide sweeping panoramic views of the Mara plains and mara river, creating a scenic and exclusive safari experience. These camps offer a range of high-end amenities, including outdoor pools, spa services, massages, swimming pools, safari tours, lush gardens, and complimentary wi-fi for guests.

With prices starting from US$ 1,650 per person per night, luxury tented camps offer a truly indulgent safari experience. Other luxury hotels to try include Sand River Camp, Little Governors Camp, and others.

masai mara hotels
Angama Mara Luxury Camp

Eco-friendly Lodges

For travelers committed to sustainable tourism, eco-friendly hotels in the Masai Mara offer the perfect blend of comfort and conservation. Lodges like Sanctuary Olonana Safari Lodge and Basecamp Masai Mara emphasize eco-friendly practices while offering traditional tented accommodations. These hotels not only provide a unique safari experience but also actively engage with the local community, fostering an inclusive approach to conservation.

With prices starting from US$ 249 per person per night, these lodges offer an accessible eco-tourism option near the Masai Mara. Most of the luxury and mid-range hotels should be booked in advance for peak season that starts from July as the majority border the wildebeest migration paths.

Budget-Friendly Campsites

Budget-friendly hotels, campsites and homestays in the Masai Mara offer an affordable yet memorable safari experience. Greenwood Safari Camp, for instance, allows guests to pitch their own tents at the border of Talek Gate from just $10 USD. For a more traditional stay, Osim Country Lodge provides budget-friendly lodging roughly 70 kilometers from Masai Mara’s main gates with prices under $20 USD.

Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, these budget-friendly options ensure that everyone can enjoy an unforgettable safari in the Masai Mara without breaking the bank.

masai mara forest
Budget Accommodation - AA Lodges Mara

Wildlife and Safari Experiences in Masai Mara

From the roar of a lion to the swift dash of a cheetah or leopard, the Masai Mara is a wildlife lover’s paradise. The reserve is home to a remarkable variety of wildlife, including the famed ‘Big Five’ and an expanded ‘Big Nine’, which adds cheetah, giraffe, hippo, and zebra to the quintet.

Whether you’re embarking on a Kenya safari, soaring above the plains in a hot air balloon, or exploring the bush on foot during a walking safari, the Masai Mara offers an array of wildlife and safari experiences that are sure to leave you in awe. Additionally, the Serengeti National Park is another destination worth considering for an unforgettable adventure.

Game Drives and Big Cat Sightings

Game viewing in the Masai Mara offer a thrilling opportunity to encounter a wide range of wildlife, including the Big Five, Big Nine, and Big Cats:

  • Lions
  • Elephants
  • Rhinos
  • Leopards
  • Buffalos
  • Cheetahs
  • Giraffes
  • Zebras
  • Hippos

The game reserve is known for its significant lion population, with extensive territories that vary from 30 to 400 square kilometers per individual male lion. These drives offer an unrivaled opportunity to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat and were the home for the big cat diary due to their large population.

In addition to lions, the Masai Mara is also an excellent location to observe cheetahs, the fastest land animals. Often seen hunting in groups, these incredible creatures can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in mere seconds. Watching a cheetah sprint across the open savannah is truly a sight to behold, and one that you’ll treasure long after your safari ends.

Game drives at Masai Mara
Game Drive Inside Masai Mara

Hot Air Balloon Safaris

For a truly unique perspective, consider experiencing the Masai Mara from the sky with a hot air balloon safari. As you float above the plains, rivers, and forests of the reserve, you’ll gain a panoramic view of the stunning landscape and its inhabitants. Conducted in the early morning hours, these balloon safaris offer breathtaking views of the sunrise and the wildlife as the day begins.

The hot air balloons fly over areas of the Masai Mara that are restricted to safari vehicles, allowing passengers to see parts of the reserve that are otherwise inaccessible. After the flight, guests are often treated to a bush breakfast and a champagne toast to celebrate the experience. Booking a hot air balloon safari typically involves arranging the experience through specialized tour operators who offer these flights as part of a safari package.

Walking Safaris and Cultural Visits

Walking safaris offer a unique way to intimately experience the reserve by exploring it on foot. Led by experienced Maasai guides, these safaris bring the flora, fauna, and smaller wildlife details into focus, making for a rich sensory journey through the bush. These guided walks typically take place either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat, with durations ranging from a short 45-minute walk to extended treks covering 9 to 15 kilometers.

In addition to walking safaris, cultural visits to Maasai villages offer a deeper understanding of the region. These visits not only enrich the safari experience by offering interactions with the Maasai people but also enable visitors to learn about their customs, traditional homes, and lifestyle. Whether it’s witnessing demonstrations of Maasai warrior skills or purchasing handcrafted souvenirs, these cultural visits offer a unique insight into the rich Maasai heritage.

Maasai village tour
A Tour of a Maasai Village

Conservation Efforts and Community Impact

Conservation efforts and community impact are at the heart of the Masai Mara experience. Some key aspects of preserving the unique ecosystem and cultural heritage of the Masai Mara include:

  • Sustainable tourism
  • Wildlife protection
  • Community-based conservancies
  • Adherence to park rules and regulations

By understanding and respecting these efforts, visitors not only contribute to the conservation of this extraordinary reserve but also enrich their own national parks safari experience.

Protecting the Mara’s Wildlife

Efforts to protect the wildlife of Masai Mara in Kenya are a key aspect of conservation in the area. The Mara Elephant Project (MEP), employing over 100 Kenyans primarily from local Maasai communities, is dedicated to elephant protection and anti-poaching in the Mara ecosystem. Through a combination of on-the-ground patrols, intelligence operations, and partnerships with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the MEP combats poaching and habitat destruction, thereby playing a crucial role in the preservation of the Masai Mara’s rich biodiversity.

masai mara best hotels
Find the Big Five - Leopard

Community-Based Conservancies

Community-based conservancies and eco-lodges play a significant role in promoting sustainable tourism in the Masai Mara. One such example is the Mara North Conservancy, which not only offers unique safari experiences but also actively engages with the local community, fostering an inclusive approach to conservation.

By focusing on sustainability and empowering local communities, these conservancies and eco-lodges help to ensure a balanced and sustainable relationship between tourism and conservation.

Sustainable Tourism Practices

Sustainable tourism practices are an integral part of conservation efforts in the Masai Mara. Establishments like the Kicheche Mara Camp set a benchmark for eco-friendly lodging with their adherence to strict environmental policies such as using solar lighting and executing responsible waste management.

Moreover, visitors to the Masai Mara are required to adhere to specific environmental regulations such as the prohibition of littering and the non-removal of natural specimens, ensuring the preservation of the Masai Mara’s ecosystem.

Cattles Grazing at Masai Mara
Grazing at Maasai Mara in Kenya

Essential Travel Tips for Masai Mara Visitors

Before embarking on your safari adventure, it’s essential to arm yourself with some key travel tips. From packing the right gear to observing health and safety precautions, to navigating park rules and regulations, being well-prepared can enhance your Masai Mara experience and ensure a smooth and memorable safari.

What to Pack

When packing for your Masai Mara safari, remember to bring binoculars for better wildlife viewing from a distance without disturbing the animals. As restroom facilities in the park during game drives are limited, it’s also advisable to be prepared for this aspect of your safari.

Health and Safety Precautions

Health and safety are paramount during your Masai Mara safari. Apart from the usual travel and health insurance, it’s recommended to:

  • Get vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Meningitis, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever
  • Ensure you have an up-to-date Tdap, MMR, and Polio immunization
  • Bring anti-diarrheal medication and Ciprofloxacin in case of gastrointestinal issues

Remember, a yellow card as proof of Yellow Fever vaccination may be required upon entry, even for travelers coming from countries without a Yellow Fever risk.

Navigating Park Regulations

Navigating park rules and regulations is essential for a smooth and enjoyable safari experience. The Masai Mara reserve maintains strict opening and closing times – 6:00 am and 7:00 pm daily – which must be observed by all visitors. Adherence to the park’s rules, such as speed limits, noise restrictions, and respect for animal crossings, is vital to protecting wildlife and enhancing the safari experience.

Failure to comply with these rules may result in serious consequences, such as on-the-spot fines or being banned from the reserve.

Maasai mara park fee
Rules and Regulation of Maasai Mara

Summary & Frequently Asked Questions

A safari to the Masai Mara is a journey like no other. From the moment you embark on your trip from Nairobi, whether by flight, road, or guided tour, you step into a world teeming with wildlife, vibrant cultures, and breathtaking landscapes.

With a diverse range of accommodation options, a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities, and a commitment to conservation, the Masai Mara offers an unforgettable experience that’s as exhilarating as it is enlightening. So why wait? Start planning your Masai Mara safari today and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!

1. How do I get from Nairobi to Maasai Mara?

To get from Nairobi to Maasai Mara, you can choose between traveling by road or by air. The road is more affordable but slower, while flying is quicker but more expensive. Consider your preference, budget, and time to decide the best option for your trip.

2. How long is Masai Mara from Nairobi?

Masai Mara Game Reserve is approximately 310 kilometers from Nairobi, and the journey by road takes around five hours without stops.

3. Why is Maasai Mara so famous?

Maasai Mara in Kenya is famous all over Africa and the world because it is one of the best wildlife destinations in Kenya and Africa, serving as a premier conservation area where wild animals and their ecosystem are highly protected. It is also popular for the wildebeest migration that sees thousands of wildebeest get to Masai Mara for Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

Masai Mara is also popular for its bird population as well as great hotels and camps. You can opt to chill in a luxury hotel for days and get to see wildlife without leaving the hotel’s area.

4. When is the best time to visit the Masai Mara?

The best time to visit the Masai Mara is during the dry season from June to October. This is when wildlife viewing is at its peak and the Wildebeest Great Migration occurs as the wildebeest migrate from Serengeti in Tanzania to Kenya. This period offers the best opportunity to see a wide variety of animals in their natural habitat. You should book your safari in advance since hotels get fully-booked fast during this time of the year.

5. What is the ‘Big Nine’ in Masai Mara?

The ‘Big Nine’ in Masai Mara includes lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, buffalos, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, and hippos, offering a diverse and captivating wildlife experience.

6. Can I combine a Maasai Mara safari with Serengeti in Tanzania?

The two countries are in East Africa and offer the best for wildlife safaris in the world. Tourists combine Masai Mara and Serengeti when they visit Africa mainly to see the wildebeest migration. They also get to see the big five and other wildlife.