Keekorok Lodge is a luxury safari 5 star lodge whose charm lies in the liberal use of local building materials. Sand stone, cedar wood and other indigenous materials are used in all rooms and public areas. In front of the safari lodge there is a 300m elevated walkway that meanders through a small riverine forest to a small bar at one end, this overlooks a dam where resident hippo and other game are regularly seen. There are no fences around Keekorok Hotel and it is not uncommon to see elephant and buffalo on the perimeter of the grounds or even strolling in. Though there are watchmen on the constant look out! Keekorok meaning abundance in the local Maasai language was constructed in 1962 on a choice 80-acre site inside Masai Mara National Reserve surrounded by an area of permanent springs and lush grassland, habitually teeming with wildlife, much favoured by the local community and hunters in the by-gone days. Over 700 square miles of lush, sun-drenched plains encircle Keekorok Lodge, the oldest hotel in Masai Mara Game Reserve in southwest Kenya. The Keekorok Lodge was opened in 1962 and is ideally situated in the direct path of the spectacular wildebeest migration that occurs every year from July to October. Guests can experience unparalleled Masai Mara safari adventures, and morning and evening game drives are a must for anyone visiting the reserve. As your plane lands at the Keekorok airstrip, you will find yourself in the heart of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. You will be picked up in your own 4x4 vehicle at the airstrip and, after passing a family of elephants or a herd of zebras on the short drive to the lodge, Keekorok Airstrip, Maasai Mara is bang in the centre of Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya and is comprised of a dirt runway sometimes over run with wild elephants and zebras, has the bumpiest landing, has a waiting area and no control tower or room. Well, its an airstrip, But to land in the middle of a game park full of elephants, to have coffee at one of the most luxurious lodges in Masai Mara, to see the King of the Masai Mara in such large numbers, to watch crocodiles in the Mara river, zebras and wildebeest – is always amazing. Keekorok Lodge Masai Mara will welcome you with open arms. The flight to Keekorok airstrip in Masai Mara is just under an hour and soars over some stunning scenes of unspoilt wilderness that go on for miles, and if you've seen the movie Out Of Africa and think you'll be prepared for the landscape and animals in the flesh, then think again, you don’t even need to go outside your room to see in the 'big five' - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, it is reassuring to find that 'the wild' still exists in some shape or form, where lions still hunt for food and over a million wildebeest make the migration into the Masai Mara in the summer months, seeing a pride of lions, with eight cubs in tow, pad non chantly past or a herd of elephants rally around a one-month old calf makes it difficult contemplating going to a zoo ever again. Another of the highlights of the experience is definitely eating out in the bush under the vast skies of the Masai Mara'. Drinking a glass of champagne sprinkled with gold shavings and eating a cooked breakfast at dawn felt rather over the top, but it is worth doing at least once on your trip, after a day of bouncing around in the back of your jeep, another treat is to enjoy a 'sundowner' when the shimmering red disc disappears behind a landscape of lone flat-topped acacia trees and waist-high grass. With the largest gift store in the game park, spacious grounds, countless activities, a sparkling pool, fantastic food and beverage options, and a rich history as the oldest lodge in Masai Mara, Keekorok lodge offers unforgettable experience in the Masai Mara. Kekorok Lodge accommodation comprises of 87 Standard rooms, 10 Chalets, 1 Executive Suite and 1 Presidential Suite. These include stone-built bungalows with private verandas, single-storey blocks and shaded tents, all with en-suite bathrooms with constant hot water. Most rooms overlook the reserve and others look into a large garden. Every habitation has been tastefully refurbished using matching wall colorings, fabrics and linen. The quality of Keekorok safari lodge dining options is unsurpassed, and you will be able to savour the chef’s delicious creations for each meal during your stay at Keekorok Lodge. Enjoy a sumptuous breakfast spread with juicy tropical fruit, local meat, fresh eggs, and much more. Lunches are plentiful with delicious salads, warm entrees with meat and non-meat options, and, of course, a wonderfully rich dessert bar. You will have a difficult choice at dinner between the tender roasted meats, the fresh pasta bar cooked in front of you, and the many other mouth-watering options. All meals are served buffet-style to satisfy any appetite. Should you get hungry between meals, you’re welcome to experience the Discovery Bar. A strong coffee or a local Kenyan beer can quench any thirst from a long day on a Masai Mara safari. Complimentary tea and coffee is even offered on the terrace throughout the day. The spa at Keekorok Lodge is a wonderful opportunity to relax in peace during your Masai Mara safaris adventures. Secluded and serene, the spa is a place for true relaxation and peace. Our wedding service does everything from the flowers and the bubbly to the celebrant and photos with the local tribe’s people. Kikorok lodge offers state-of-the-art meeting and conference facilities with a choice of open-air and indoor meeting spaces. We have lush green lawns which can host up to 300 delegates and an in-house meeting room can host up to 40 delegates.
Within the vast grasslands of the Maasai Mara lies the picturesque Keekorok Lodge, an oasis for travelers of every kind. Built from local materials including sandstone and cedar wood, Keekorok Lodge was the first lodge to be built in the Masai Mara and is in a prime position in the direct path of the annual migration. Stone built bungalows offer simple accommodation with en-suite bathrooms and private balconies surrounded by lush gardens. The Keekorok hotel has an elevated walkway through the trees, perfect for watching the resident hippo in the watering hole and other game which often walk around this un-fenced lodge. Our Keekorok fly-in safari gives you the luxury of flying straight into the Masai Mara without the five star price tag. Savor delectable meals at Masai Mara Keekorok Lodge’s restaurant and bar, where chef-created menus incorporate tropical fruits, locally sourced meats, and plentiful desserts. A diverse selection of foods is available to suit every palate, and should you want something in between meals, you can reach for a Kenyan beer or local coffee. Hippo Bar is a perfect place to socialize and relax, all while watching the giant hippopotamuses in their own environment. An authentic bush dinner experience is also a must-do at Keekorok Lodge, where you can dine out on the Elephant Deck and feel one with your environment. When it comes to the real adventure, Keekorok Lodge has the best of the best. Keekorok offers a multitude of accommodation options for you. Spread out across the grounds, you can choose from the chalets, the cabins, and more. There are 89 double rooms, 8 superior rooms and 4 suites. Accommodation comprises stone built bungalows with private balconies all with en suite bathrooms. Most rooms overlook the Reserve and others look into a large garden. Every habitation has been tastefully refurbished during 2006 using matching wall colourings, fabrics and linen. You can even book the Government House with its private helicopter-landing pad. You’ll also find the famous Kissinger room at number 41: many a famous person has stayed in this room throughout Keekorok’s history. 41’s guest list includes such well-known names as Pope John Paul II in 1985; the Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl, in 1987; and the president of Nigeria, General Babangida; not to mention the room’s namesake, Henry Kissinger, in 1976. The lodge was even opened by President Jomo Kenyatta in 1963! The Keekorok lodge standard rooms are charming cabins line the stone walkway at Keekorok, and your standard room is both comfortable and convenient. You will be warmly welcomed to your Keekorok room with a comfortable bed, authentic artwork, and local decorations. The rooms are flexible, and the Keekorok staff can easily add a bed for an additional occupant or turn a queen room into one with two twin beds according to your needs. The graceful chalets, located on the southeast corner of Keekorok’s grounds, provide a get-away from the hustle and bustle of the safari lodge with your own private retreat. Looking out on the sweeping Keekorok grounds, your chalet contains a comfortable bed, authentic artwork, and local decorations. The chalets even have double doors for those who have a wheelchair or need alternative access. Keekorok Hotel Masai Mara superior room is the famous Room 41, and you will quickly discover just why this room has been so popular throughout the years. Located on the edge of Keekorok’s grounds, the room will offer you unsurpassed views of the Masai Mara—and what better way to soak in the game park than while relaxing on your private porch? Room 41 also contains a comfortable bed, authentic artwork, and local decorations to complete your exclusive Kenyan experience. This beautiful and ultra-exclusive space provides the ultimate experience at Keekorok. The Kenyan-style Government House or Presidential suite offers you a private kitchen, lounge and dining area, and three bedrooms all with ensuite bathrooms. Truly call this place your own as you relax into your Kenyan palace. Should you need it, a private helicopter pad is just outside your front door. The golden touch to the Government House is an uninterrupted view of the Masai Mara that is yours to enjoy: soak up the morning with your steaming mug of Kenyan tea or gaze at the sun as it sets over the Mara plains.
The restaurant overlooking the well manicured lawns on one side and a spectacular internal rock garden on the other serves a variety of traditional African, Asian and Western food. Guests have the option to dine al fresco on the veranda, on the Elephant Deck overlooking the rolling savannah or in the wilderness in complete privacy. The Discovery Bar featuring a photo gallery of its illustrious clientele serves a fine collection of whiskies and cigars along with exquisite freshly ground Kenyan coffee. The Swimming Pool & Bar serves drinks and refreshments throughout the day. The Hippo Pool Bar is connected to the lodge by a 1 km long wooden walkway which meanders through the Keekorok forest. The bar overlooks a permanent watering hole that is home to over 20 hippos and is visited regularly by elephants and lions. The restaurant serves a variety of traditional African, Asian and Western food.Food in the restaurant is of sound quality, and is buffet style, with adorable cakes together with fresh fruit flown in day-after-day from Nairobi.A short stroll along a wooden platform takes you to the Hippo Bar for the unique experience of observing hippos wallowing in their pool whilst you enjoy a relaxing drink. The bar serves a fine collection of whiskies and cigars along with exquisite freshly ground Kenyan coffee.The lodge has an outdoor swimming pool and “Eseriani Spa” with a range of professional health and beauty treatments providing a good place to unstrain and unwind. Alternatively, follow the path through the trees to the Elephant Deck for a wonderful place to observe the surrounding wildlife and be entertained by the Masai dance. Guests at Keekorok lodge can venture into the Masai Mara for thrilling morning and afternoon game drives in search of some of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife.One can set up a balloon trip with the champagne breakfast floating over the bulk of wildebeest, which is genuinely a memorable experience.
Include Game Drives in a fleet of custom-built four-wheel drive vehicles with roof hatches designed for game viewing in comfort and safety, Bird walks with the resident naturalist, Hot Air Ballooning safaris operated for many years using fully qualified pilots and state of the art imported balloons and baskets( A full English breakfast and sparkling wine or Buck’s Fizz are served adjacent to the landing site prior to a short game drive back to the Lodge), Masai Dancing by a troop of Masai Morans (young men) that entertain guests to a 30 minute display of traditional dancing, Wildlife Film that is shown on video and alternates with evenings of displays of tribal dancing and a Swimming Pool located in an enclosed area shaded by flowering shrubs and is provided with sun beds and a pool side bar that serves drinks and snacks.
This include: Communications – The lodge is connected by telephone,VHF and HF radio and hi speed wireless internet, Bureau de Change – The Lodge will accept or change reasonable amounts of foreign currency, Credit Cards – All leading cards are accepted, Facilities for Children – Special menus and mealtimes are available for children and at night time up to 10.00pm, a listening service is available to detect wakeful children, Electricity – 220–240 voltage electricity is provided on a 24 hours a day basis, Conferencing – 1st class conferencing facilities are available for upto 100 people, Medical facilities – There is a Dispensary manned by a Clinical Officer and subscription to Kenya’s Flying Doctor service can be arranged by prior arrangement, Fuel – Petrol and diesel fuels are available at the Lodge gatehouse, Drivers and Nannies accommodation and meals – Available on site. Game Scouts. These are available by arrangement to accompany guests on game drives, Safety Deposit – Valuables can be deposited at Reception and Security – The complex is patrolled on a 24 hour basis.
Situated deep in the great expanse that is the Maasai Mara National Reserve Kicorok Lodge embodies the heart of Kenya and the African safari experience. This 80-acre property—a Preferred Boutique property, part of the Preferred Hotel Group—originally built in 1962, resides on an ideal plot of land surrounded by permanent springs and rolling grasslands, directly on the path of animal migrations. With a name meaning abundance in the local language, the prevalence of wildlife at Keekorok Lodge is indisputably great, making every moment an opportunity to witness nature’s spectacular show. Just under 100 rooms and suites provide enchanting accommodations to guests, featuring private verandas, en-suite bathrooms, and contemporary linens and furnishings to make you feel welcome. A gleaming swimming pool and sun loungers summon lazy afternoons outdoors, while the lodge’s own Eseriani Spa offers indulgent massages and a full menu of facial and body treatments. With a gracious staff whose priority is ensuring your comfort, Keekorok Lodge will be an exotic experience, yet feel like a home. The main dining hall at the Keekorok Lodge is buffet-style with a variety of dishes to choose from. There is also a custom corner when you can have omelets and crepes for breakfast and other dining options for lunch and dinner. The food was quite good. If you like Indian food, they had lots of good curry dishes at lunch and dinner. There is a bar by the hippo pond and bar in the Keekorok Lodge adjacent to the dining area. The bar, of course, is aptly named for the resident hippopotami population happily lounging in the muddy pond to your left. They are casually accompanied by crocodile families, submerged having formerly sunned on the beach. The landscape itself is, however, overshadowed at the elephant families, meandering along the shore line munching on green grass and intermittently refreshing from the warming sun with sips of cool water, much the same are our friends, the wallowing hippos, often splashing and occasionally snorting. In contrast are the herds of zebra distantly surrounding you, a few of which yammer out their distinct call frequently. It seems they are keeping the kids in line, so to speak. The hippos at kikolok lodge have random bouts of group grunting and sometimes stand up in the small pond, looking like rising land masses, the elephants have sauntered toward the brush now, moving nearer the zebras in there eternal quest for groceries and the storks that were previously avoiding him are spreading their wings to stand and sun along the bank, But just now your company is a smartly dressed bartenders and a small black and white monkeys relaxing in a tree by the door. Intriguingly, the little monkeys have remarkably bright blue testicles, such that they surely cannot be naturally occurring. The best description I can currently offer is robin's egg blue, though I know it sounds unbelievable. These little guys roam the Keko rock lodge, testing guests' door handles for unlocked rooms they can pillage and hissing and slapping the ground if you get to close to them. The lodge has a small coffee shop that serves espresso, instant coffee, tea, and a few snacks. The pool also had a bar and nice seating area. Masai Mara safari park is one of the best slices of wildlife tourism in the world. With the improving tourism industry, the destination has much more to offer. Masai Mara Reserve - best known as the departure and arrival point for the annual migration or Great Migration) of millions of wildebeest and antelopes - is the most popular game park in Kenya. It stretches over 200 sq miles of vast grassy plains lying to the southwest of this spectacular East African country. Several safari operators arrange specialised tours, treks or hikes in this area. Masai Mara lies about 270 kms from Nairobi and takes about six hours by road. Tourists who desire to fly straight into the Masai Mara’lodges via safari strips can use the Wilson Airport in Nairobi –the busiest domestic airport in Kenya. There are scheduled flights, twice daily from Wilson Airport Nairobi, which take about 40 - 45 minutes. Masai Mara can be accessed by road from Narok, a three hour drive from Nairobi. There are regular buses and matatus to Narok from Nairobi and other destinations. Accessing the Mara area is difficult without private transport. Most visitors come to Masai Mara as part of a safari package from Nairobi or in a hired car. There are a number of lodges in Masai Mara for tourists inside the reserve's borders. Masai Mara is perhaps most famous for its lions. All other members of the "Big Five" (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) are found here. Hippopotami are found in large groups in Masai Mara and Talek Rivers. Cheetahs are also to be found, although their numbers are also threatened, chiefly due to tourist disruption of their day-time hunting. The wildebeest Migration is one of the most impressive natural events worldwide, involving a large number of herbivores: some 1, 300, 000 wildebeest, 3, 60, 000 Thomson's gazelle, and 1, 91, 000 zebra. These numerous migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by a block of hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena. Should bear in mind that even though the migration is one of Africa's most remarkable displays, Masai Mara is one of Africa's best wildlife destinations year round. Even if your visit falls outside the peak migration times, it does not mean you have lost out on what Mara is renowned for: an incredibly large wildlife population and diversity that ranges from lions and leopards to grazing Masai cattle. The Masai Mara Reserve is about a third of the size of the Serengeti National Park, which also makes it a more manageable area for game viewing. The best thing to experience in Masai Mara is a balloon safari. For the best overview of the entire Mara reserve there is nothing like a hot air balloon safari from Kickrock, lifting off at sunrise to float up and away across the Mara triangle, heading towards the Serengeri. The charges are about USD 500 per person (depending on the season) and the balloon can accommodate about 16 people at a time. There are other types of safaris in Masai Mara offered like walking safaris, migration safaris, bush and beach safaris, romantic safaris, luxury safaris, overland safaris and family safaris. Apart from experiencing the thrilling holiday, the tourist can enjoy bubble bath in the bush. A Kenya safari would not be complete without a few days on one of Kenya's beaches. You could have the best of both worlds by combining your Masai Mara safari adventure with a few days of lazing on a white beach in Mombasa or Zanzibar. The range of options is almost limitless.
If you take a Kenya Safari Holiday then you will probably visit the Masai Mara Reserve, and if you do, then you should choose Keekorok Lodge as your accommodation.. Keekorok Lodge is situated very close to the border with Tanzania, and is in the perfect place to witness the beginning of the Great Migration in late June/July, when the Wildebeest and Zebra begin their great trek. You will see on the game drives in the Masai Mara lions and cheetahs, hyenas, and the defenseless game they follow, but the real joy of Keekorok Lodge Masai Mara Kenya is the wildebeest and hyena during the migration. Keekorok has a good swimming pool, which is a great place to relax between game drives, a restaurant and a bar, with a viewing deck over the hippo pool, which is full of hippos, and extensive walkways allowing great viewing from the lodge straight onto the game in the park. Apart from the balloon trip, it is a good idea to organise your game drives through Keekorok, so you can be sure of being by yourself and family, and not in a minibus which many of the Kenya Safari operators organised from home seem to be based around. Keekorok is a great and modern Lodge in the middle of the Masai Mara, and as such a necessary stop on any Kenya Safari Tour. In the good old bad old days when Kenya was known as British East Africa, going on wildlife safaris was akin to mounting a minor expedition. In 1907 the Nairobi outfitters Newland & Tarlton recommended taking 30 porters, two askaris (guards), two gun-bearers, a headman, a cook and a tent boy. Provisions should be ordered in advance from the Army & Navy stores in London, with champagne preferable to wine – the latter does not travel well when carried on the head. A century on, the safari is a much leaner, greener and, thankfully, less murderous affair. Back then you could be away for months, with hunting the Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo) a key objective. Today we venture into the bush armed only with binoculars and zoom lenses, making brief forays to purpose-built safari lodges with expert local guides and camp staff offering warm-hearted “Jambo!” greetings. But what will come next? These are impatient, fast-paced times where travelers want to see and do everything instantly – and enjoy superlative travel experiences to boot. Such demands have inspired a new style of fast-track safaris to Masai Mara, designed to maximize time in the bush, with sensational landscapes and thrilling wildlife sightings a given. Successfully pioneered in Kenya by Proffered hotels a Collection of boutique safari camps and lodges, the safari team offers a seven-night fly-around to three of the country’s most captivating national parks and game reserves. This luxurious, all-inclusive journey departs from Nairobi every weekend of the year, and can be booked independently in an instant. Departures are guaranteed even if there are only two clients, and in my view it particularly suits first-time safari-goers, honeymooners, the time-strapped, last-minute escapists and anyone plotting a celebration or multi-generation treat (children of all ages are welcome). Landing at Keekorok airstrip brings a shock – other people! Yet again, we have a complete scenery change, this time to seemingly endless undulating grasslands speckled with butterflies and wildflowers. A northern extension of the Serengeti, the Mara hosts the climax of the year-round migration when 1.5 million wildebeest come charging through.
Sun Africa Hotels
Preferred Hotels is a charismatic collection of exclusive and intimate luxury Lodges and safari camps in the prime wildernesses of Kenya. Sun Africa Hotels is a fast growing hotel chain with properties in Masai Mara. The famous Keekorok Lodge was awarded the Luxury Award 2011. Lake Naivasha Country Club and Lake Baringo Club have announced the opening of Sovereign Suites which is a 20 minutes drive from the city centre on Limuru Road, north of Nairobi metropolis. Sovereign Suites is an aristocratic colonial building on six acres of land with a two acre private fishing dam surrounded by lush tea and flower farms. The opening marks the debut of a new luxury hotel under the Preferred Hotels - Boutique Hotel banner. This new property is well set to cater for the fast growing hotel industry in Kenya. Sun Africa Hotels offers the perfect combination of bush and scenic safari holidays with varied choices and the presence of hotels make it simple for travelers to choose. Our aim is to offer the highest standards of hospitality and service at all of our hotels and lodges located at the best places in Kenya. This allows travelers see the best that Kenya has to offer. Sun Africa Hotels is an expanding chain of some of the finest hotels and lodges in East Africa. It is one of the fastest emerging hotel chains in Kenya. From the best bars, unique game drives and exquisite spa’s to breathtaking balloon safaris, Sun Africa Hotels give you the best mix of holiday experience you’ll ever encounter. Sun Africa Hotels offers high quality service in accommodation and conference room facilities at very competitive rates. You will enjoy the tranquil beauty of our private conservation area and its wildlife. We offer an exciting variety of entertainment from traditional dancing to live bands. Our hotels are set amidst the scenic environments of Kenya that influence guests with a memorable holiday experience they will not forget. We operate and outfit safaris, and our focus is on offering you access to the magic of the bush in a rich variety of ways. All of our clients have exclusive use of their safari vehicle, and on top of that,walking safaris, game drives, photography safari, ballooning… The list goes on. Our objective is to show you there’s more to African safari than driving around ticking big animals off a list… It’s about being open to falling under the spell of this enchanting landscape. The word ‘Keekorok’ comes from the Masai language, meaning ‘abundance….. serene… calm… tranquil’ and there is an element of this that is particular to the bush. Partly it has to do with silence, at night in Mara Keekorok Lodge; you can feel a lion’s roar resonate in your chest cavity because the air is not clogged with distractive sound. Its clarity lets you see straight to the sparkling heavens. It is also to do with distance from the rest of the world – not just a physical distance, but a deliberate distance in the way we decide to live. It’s about choosing to disconnect, in favour of what these spaces have to offer you if you allow them. There is also an indescribable purity to being immersed in a wholly natural setting. Clean air, unspoilt and untamed and animals that are truly wild: it’s an unconditional environment that we are lucky to touch, and yet is untainted by our fingerprints. If you immerse yourself in it, osmosis begins to take effect, and the quietude and the beauty quietly infuse your being. In the company of our tour guides, you are among people innate to the place, who can unveil this way of life to you. They are attuned to its essence and can translate it by showing you to see through their eyes. With a refreshing and reliably authentic character, Sun Africa collection of luxury hotels has changed the way Kenya safari is considered. SunAfrica Hotels are the flagship property of a group of exclusive accommodations that we have slowly developed away from the crowds that aims to put some adventure into your Kenya safaris, walking with experienced guides we will take you into the heart of the wilderness, contemplate on the traditional! Walk with Warriors of the Masai, Hunt with Bushmen, learn from their long-established wildlife experience in the bush. Walking safaris with our experienced guides you will notice we actively endeavor to conserve a genuine environment. A raw product not manufactured experience, full of plastic fixed alternatives, an unadulterated bush experience with those that know and understand it! Hiking in Africa is often perceived as hard work but in reality it is just trundling along reacting to whatever interesting sightings pass under your nose! A shopping spree littered with interesting finds, dung beetles rolling along on their balls of elephant dung, impala bounding through the bush and diminutive dikdik scooting into the safety of the nearest bush. We love the Masai Mara… Why? The Masai Mara Reserve is Kenya’s natural extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti plains. The Mara River constitutes the life source of the reserve, as well as the stage for dramatic river crossings of millions-strong migratory herds of wildebeest and zebra. Although best known for the spectacular wildebeest migration, Mara teems with an abundance of animals all year round. Outside migration season, October to mid-December and February to June are blissfully empty, boasting the best game-viewing in Africa: proximity, accessibility and sheer variety of game, condensed in a small space. The Masai Mara has been a hit among documentary filmmakers and serious photographers for years – ‘Out of Africa’ and BBC’s ‘Big Cat Diaries’ were both filmed here. Not for nothing has the Reserve been called ‘Hollywood Africa’ – the loveliness of the landscape and the fortuitous accessibility of the animals almost seems too surreal to be true. Exclusive and private, we are one of the founding members and management. Off-road and night-driving, riding and walking are all great ways to explore this zone. What’s remarkable here is Nature’s opulence: the landscape ranges from secret knots of woodland to wide open plains, to caches of rocks and boulders, to flat expanses of vastness, edged by sharp inclines of escarpment. For kids and older people especially, the ease of having everything right on your doorstep means you don’t have to drive all day – an early morning expedition yields plenty. As the sun’s rays extend, tender shoots glisten with jewel-like dew and the mist lifts off the forested areas, unveiling frisky antelope revelling in the day’s freshness. Like portly Cinderella’s, hippo plod back to the mud after a night under the stars, and hyena slope across the savannah to sleep off a night of cackling and whooping. Cruise on a little further, and you might see the big cats the Mara is famous for, basking and golden as the sun gathers strength. The Masai Mara Conservancy was set up to ensure that its Masai landowners profit directly from the tourism that the Conservancy attracts… safari lodges and tented camps pay land rent, employ locally, and bring in tourists paying park fees: all sources of income that forestall the use of land for, say, development or agriculture instead. It also showcases the (monetary) profits of keeping the Mara pristine and wild, without just being about preservation for preservation’s sake. Kecorok Lodge takes it a step up on the exclusivity ladder: perched on the edge of Masai Mara, The intimacy and seclusion of Keekorok hotel Mara is beautifully complemented by the luxury of a slice of wilderness where you won’t see another soul. It’s a hop and a skip away from Nairobi, a cinch to combine with the Kenya coast and Serengeti, a pleasantly comfortable climate, and abundant game teeming on your doorstep. What’s not to love? Our luxury accommodation in Kenya has the feel of a home opened up and happily shared with you, and the philosophy behind it all was to create a comfortable base for Masai Mara holidays and adventure. Comfort denotes the physical, but more than that – it extends to the ambiance. We wanted to create a space where you can relax and settle in… Somewhere to feel at home, in an environment that is the furthest thing from your home. The luxury lodges tend to be a manifestation of the personalities behind them, and ours are no exception. If you’re part of these spaces for long enough, they seep into your pores, and a slow, gentle osmosis attunes your rhythm to the cadence of sunrises and seasons – and this permeates the atmosphere of our peaceful abodes. Accordingly, rooms blend into their surrounds, and are designed to afford the most minimal separation between you and the outside – there’s no cut and dried division where the wilderness ends. To truly immerse somewhere, you should be touched, reached, accessed by it… And much like in nature, our furnishings are simplistic and functional, but unobtrusively beautiful. After a day out in the silence, solitude and indescribable immensity of the bush, the ancestral ritual of coming together to enjoy fire and food caters to our innate appreciation for sharing. We are social animals, and part of what makes things vivid and real to us is this capacity to share: the pleasure of dissecting your day, raking over the delicious details and unwrapping the delights over and again as you enjoy a meal, is what renders the evening perfect for digesting and processing the day. Keekorok life is something unpretentious that unfolds according to the ingredients at hand – simple tasty food, solace from the unending bustle of contemporary life with no sacrifice of all the creature comforts that make it feel like home… The perfect setting for unforgettable adventure and a trove of memories to take away and treasure. Keekorok Hotel Kenya was the first of our hotels and it perfectly captures the essence of its name, it was designed to be a retreat from the bustle of contemporary life, and a chance to experience untamed Africa in traditional tented splendor and the beauty of this location is that only few hotels have access to it – so the feeling of having your own personal piece of Africa is a luxury that we have in spades. Enormous numbers of big cats roam the dreamlike savannah, and the Masai Mara is often said to offer some of the best game-viewing in Africa – not for nothing has it been the stage for numerous BBC Big Cat Diaries and National Geographic documentaries.
Keekorok Lodge Awards
Keekorok Lodge Masai Mara is a Sun Africa Hotel (an East African chain of hotels), which is part of the Preferred Hotel Group boutique hotels. Keekorok Lodge was named World Luxury Hotel Awards winner in 2011. It also was named winner of Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Depending on how you book your Masai Mara trip i.e through a tour operator or directly with us), game drives will be included.
Keekorok Lodge Masai Mara is a Sun Africa Hotel (an East African chain of hotels), which is part of the Preferred Hotel Group boutique hotels. Keekorok Lodge was named World Luxury Hotel Awards winner in 2011. It also was named winner of Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Depending on how you book your Masai Mara trip i.e through a tour operator or directly with us), game drives will be included.
Kenya Masai Mara National park is one of the world's most famous and lucrative game reserves. Thousands of khaki-clad tourists bearing large amounts of hard currency visit the Mara each year to savor its unspoiled savanna and a breathtaking array of wildlife. The Masai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s premier wildlife park. It was established in 1961 to protect wildlife from hunters and today has been ranked among the top five tourist travel attractions in the world and offers one of the greatest wildlife safari experiences in Africa. The Masai Mara is the reason many visitors come to Kenya for safaris and its beauty and abundant wildlife won’t disappoint. The Masai Mara wildlife park is in southwestern Kenya on the border of Tanzania. The Mara River runs through the reserve (north to south) hosting plenty of hippos and crocodiles and making the annual migration of over a million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras an extremely dangerous undertaking. Most of the Masai Mara is made up of hilly grassland which is fed by plentiful rain, especially during the wet months between November and June. The areas bordering the Mara River are forested and are home to over several hundred bird species. Masai Mara is located 1,500-2,200 m (4,900-7,100 ft) above sea level, which makes the climate slightly damper and milder than in other similar regions. Highest temperatures in daytime is 30C/85F (warmest in December and January, coldest in June and July), at night the temperature rarely drops below 15C/60F. The rainy season is April-May and November. In these periods some parts of the Mara will get very muddy and practically inaccessible. The dry season occurs from July to October. This is the best time to visit Masai Mara as a lot of herbivores indulge in the plants grown long and lush after the rains – plus, in these months you will stay clear of heavy. The Maasai Mara is characterized by four different kinds of topography: sandy soil and small bushes to the east, the Siria Escarpment forming a spectacular plateau as the western boundary of the reserve, lush grasslands and woodlands around the Mara River and open plains with scattered bushes making up the largest part of the reserve. Vegetation in The Mara consists of open savannah and light patches of bush, woodland. River forests along the Mara River. When visiting the Maasai Mara you are likely to see the famous Big Five: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Especially lions are common here, and have grown relatively accustomed to their two-legged visitors, which makes them easier to spot. The Mara Plains are teeming with wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, impala and Thomson’s gazelle. Also cheetahs, hyenas and jackals are seen regularly in the reserve. In the Mara River large amounts of hippos and crocodiles are enjoying their lives – the crocodiles are especially happy in July and November when thousands of wildebeest migrate across the river causing a sumptuous feast for the hungry crocodiles. Every Safari with Keekorok Lodge guests gets their own Private vehicle and private guide. We provide an experience and the exclusive use of vehicle is paramount. A personal and flexible safari in Masai Mara at your own speed! At Keekorock we are proud of our guiding skills and the individuals’ profound knowledge and local ability. Your guides & spotters are crucial to the success of your day. Organizing your walks, game drives and seeking out the big game which you have come to see, designing your day to suit your own pace. We have gone to great lengths to put together an unbeatable team, who are dedicated to providing a helpful, attentive and knowledgeable service to our guests. Personal service is a byword at Keekorok, with three hundred odd staff serving a small lodge this equates to around three or more staff per guest. The camp welcomes children, but parental supervision is required at all times. The experience at Keekolok Lodge is focused on viewing wildlife, in particular, the big five, Cape buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Elephant and Rhino. Each day will be new and exciting. Meals in Lodge will be interspersed with picnics out in the bush. There are no schedules to be met and you are free to make your own timetable on a daily basis. The 1,512 km² Maasai Mara National Reserve was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1961. This when paired with the inextricably linked our Conservation area of around the same size gives guests access to a huge natural wildlife area. Following the initiation of the Campfire Conservation enterprise and other concerted preservation efforts to save the big cats, the lion and leopard population are very visible and stable. For the keen ornithologist there are four hundred and fifty three recorded bird species in the Mara, fifty-three of which are raptors. The camp situated in the core area of Masai Mara which measures around 1,500 square kilometers, presents the best opportunities for spotting Lion, Leopards, Elephant, Buffalo, Hyenas and a variety of plains game. Interestingly, Lion sightings in Keekorok are among the best in Africa. Elephant Leopard and Lion frequently pass through at night; Impala and Waterbuck are often seen grazing in front of Lodge. Baboons and Vervet monkeys are common residents and Hyena are heard in the late evening. Zebra, Wildebeest, antelopes and gazelles can also be seen roaming the savannah whilst the rivers and waterholes are home to the Hippopotamus and Nile crocodile. Bird life, both resident and migratory, is prolific and over 450 species have been sighted within the park. The best time to view game is in the early morning and late afternoon. The Kick korock lodge operates four-wheel drive, open-top vehicles customized for animal safari viewing. The morning starts with tea or coffee at 5.45am with the vehicles leaving lodge shortly after. Excursions last around three hours and we offer full day gamedrives. Know ledge able driver guides take guests on a range of routes through the area. The morning game drive generally returns at about 10.30am when brunch is served. The afternoon drives leave Keekorok safari lodge at around 4.30pm and generally return soon after dark. Your day is totally flexible and can be arranged with your guide. You may choose to spend the whole day out having packed a delicious picnic lunch, or go for an evening sundowner, followed by a game drive with spotlights picking out eyes, reflecting from active nighttime predators. Birdlife in Maasai Mara are abundant and diverse. Species such as eagles, ostriches, storks and vultures are among the more than 50 different birds of prey. You’ve seen the photos of the great wildebeest migration through Masai Mara, and now you’ve decided that you want to see this incredible sight for yourself. Or maybe you are a wildlife enthusiast who is eager to snap your own photos of Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo) that call Masai Mara home. No matter what the draw Masai Mara has much to offer! You’ve made the decision take a Masai Mara safari to witness in person Africa’s most renowned wildlife reserve, but where do you go from here? You’ve landed in the right place if you are reading this website, so you’re off to a good start. The purpose of this website is to provide information that will better equip you to plan your safari to masai Mara and minimize unwelcome surprises so that you can get the most from your safaris to Masai Mara. It’s easy to overlook some essential details when you’ve been bitten by the travel bug and are daydreaming about the thrills of your forthcoming African adventure. So, let’s get practical and cover some of the basic need-to-know. Whether you choose to rent a private four wheel drive vehicle, brave the Kenyan public transport, or take a local flight to the Masai Mara, there is one inevitable fact – you will encounter rough roads at some point during your stay (and I’m not just speaking figuratively). While Kenya’s infrastructure continues to improve all of the time, there are still extensive stretches of road that are undeveloped. This is particularly true as you venture outside of the main cities into more remote locations. While many choose to view this is as negative, there is actually a silver lining to this reality. The undeveloped road systems in places like Masai Mara deter heavy traffic and help to preserve the exclusivity of the experience for those who visit. Or, another way to look at it, only the adventurous spirit dares to brave the bumpy roads – so you can count yourself as one of them! Bottom line, there are bound to be some bumps along the way. Embrace them…and just think about the bragging rights you’ll have when you go back home and tell your stories. If your primary reason for visiting Masai Mara is to witness the wildebeest migration then you are wise indeed. This is a truly amazing phenomenon of nature to witness and worth every bit of effort to see. However, there are a few realities that you should be aware of so that you can approach your safari in Masai Mara with realistic expectations. First off, the migration (which happens every year from around the months of July through October) is the peak season for tourists in Masai Mara. That means that there are a lot of folks just like you who are there to witness this event. This being the case, you can expect there to be considerably more tourist congestion in the park then during the off-season. You will likely be competing for the best views of the river crossings. This may mean sitting for long periods of time (possibly hours) in your safari vehicle as you wait by the river for the indecisive wildebeest herds to take the plunge and cross. You should also realize that the massive number of wildebeest that migrate to Masai Mara (around 1.5 million) results in many of the other species in the park being crowded out. In other words, be prepared to see A LOT of wildebeest. You likely will not see the same variety of wildlife species at this time of year that you would at other times. For this reason, it is advisable that you plan for a safari circuit during your stay in Kenya, allowing you to visit other wildlife reserves in addition to Masai Mara. This will provide you with more opportunity to see a variety of wildlife on other reserves that you may miss in Masai Mara during the migration. In addition to witnessing one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, a major advantage of visiting Masai Mara during the great migration is the higher probability of seeing a big cat kills. The abundance of food that is available to predators at this time increases your chances of witnessing one of these hunters (lion, leopard, and cheetah) in action! 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 safari camps such as Alex walker camp 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 safari. 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 $500 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 balloon safaris provide you with breathtaking views of Masai Mara in exchange for a more intimate view of the animals. Keekcorok Lodge 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 sometime 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. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is not the largest conservation area in Kenya but it is the most famous one. The Masai Mara and the Serengeti are part of the same eco-system. The official perimeter of the Masai Mara National Reserve is bounded by the Serengeti Park of Tanzania to the south, the Siria escarpment (also called Oloololo escarpment) to the west and Masai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Total surface is 1530km². There is no fence. The eastern border is the Oloololo Escarpment (Siria escarpment) and wildlife tend to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good and tourist disruption is minimal. The Masai Mara is accessible by flight from Nairobi Wilson Airport and from Samburu, Lewa Downs, Nanyuki or Mombasa or Diani. The aircraft will land on one of the small Mara airstrips, and from here you need to transfer by car to Alex Walker Serian Camp. The flight from Nairobi takes about half an hour. Flying to the Masai Mara is the quickest option and best option (especially if you stay in the Mara Triangle which is the eastern part of the Masai Mara) It is more expensive than hiring a vehicle with a professional guide is a good option essentially if there are more than 2 persons travelling. If you choose to go by car from Nairobi the drive will take you five to six hours during the dry season, and up to seven hours in the rainy season. By car you can enter the game reserve through these gates: Sand River, Musiara, Talek, Sekenani or Oloololo Gate which is the farest from Nairobi (there with less vehicles and tourist disruption) Please remember that the roads in the Masai Mara reserve can become flooded or turned into mud puddles in the rainy seasons in April, May and November. We as Masai Mara travel agencies organize safari trips to Maasai Mara. You can book a package tour which allows you to put all transportation to and in the park in our hands. It really can be confusing when you are planning your first safari in Masai Mara. From the outset, you have the choice of either selecting an itinerary which is already developed (look at our 'safari itineraries') or have a bespoke itinerary developed for you. Both of these are possible for us to do for you, and both are good choices depending on the amount of time you have, what you want to see and your budget. A bespoke planned safari is not necessarily more expensive than one of our pre-planned itineraries, and the best place to start your planning is looking at existing tour itineraries or holiday packages that you might like to use as the basis for your safari - and then just tweak a few things. There is always the temptation to include lots of destinations and cram as much into your itinerary as possible. The thinking behind this is that you will see more. While it might be true that you will visit more places, no matter how briefly, you will not necessarily see more. Often by visiting many parks/reserves in a short time, you will spend more time driving between these destinations, than spending time in the parks, or enjoying the accommodation you have chosen. The roads in East Africa are often poorly maintained, potholed and congested with overloaded trucks - therefore travelling the same distance will take much longer than it does at home. Vehicles operating in the tourism sector are speed limited to 80km/h and cannot travel after dark, so travelling long distances (or relatively short distances on bad roads) can be tiresome, and this can be why we can't always agree to your safari Itinerary ideas. If you have a rough idea of what you would like to do, please send these ideas to us, and we can then advise on whether the itinerary looks workable. Most of the safari camps in the Mara are romantically ‘under canvas’ and much more authentically ‘Out-of-Africa’ in their ambience, than many of their counter-parts in South Africa! ….they are stylish, intimate camps with just 9 or 15 ensuite ‘tents’ with flushing loos and showers. Each camp has what is known as a central ‘mess’ tent where guests gather in the evenings for pre-dinner drinks …and then enjoy dinner by candlelight – usually a social affair with other guests (sometimes, the rangers and trackers will join you), and you will discuss the day’s wildlife sightings etc, evenings can linger long into the night around a campfire, especially during the migration!.Game drives tend to be at their best in the early mornings and late afternoons …. At most of the camps (with a few exceptions such as Ngare Serian), you can’t guarantee that you will have own private vehicle and guide (especially during the Migration) …but you will generally only ever go out on a game drive with one other couple ….All camps are offered on an all-inclusive basis (with the exception of any spa / massage treatments, hot air balloon flights (a thought!?) and a few other things which are extra costs, The Maasai Mara is about 280 Km. west from Nairobi City. Whichever method you want to use to travel to Mara 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 breathtaking scenery. As you drive to Maasai Mara you will you will see the suburbs of Nairobi, the Great Rift Valley escarpment 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 Safari Link 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 stops 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 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. Park Fee is USD 80 per adult per night, valid for 24h hrs, USD 45 per child above 3 year below 18 and below 3: free of charge This Park Fee - Entry Fee- will allow you to go on game drive in one the 3 part of the official perimeter of the Masai Mara National Reserve (there are 3 areas or districts: North Conservancy, Keekoroke and Mara Tiangle). The areas are independent and if you pay the park fee for one of them you can not visit another part unless you pay a second park fee. Kindly note that there is a different fee if the lodge or camp you stay in is inside the official perimeter of the Masai Mara National Reserve. For instance for the Mara Triangle the only lodge inside the Mara Triangle, Park Fees are 70 per adult and 40 per child. Conservancy fee may also apply and be charged the conservancies have been created around the Maasai Mara Official perimeter to help protect the Maasai Mara, and to help the Maasai people who live in the area. You can book your tour of the National Reserve with a reliable tour operator like us that will usually bundle the park fee, the accommodation, and the safari car and driver fees to make sure that you can enjoy your adventure and not have to worry about the details, If you book directly your accommodation in the Masai Mara, the camp and lodge usually collect the Park Fees and Conservancy Fee (if any). It will avoid you to carry extra cash. There are so many good things about Masai Mara that it’s hard, if not impossible, to list them all. Now let us talk about the not so good things about the Mara. Lets start by putting a spotlight on one that many people are especially grateful for…the lack of bugs. Due to the high elevation of Masai Mara (1,500 – 2,170 meters) the bug population in this region is minimal. While other regions of Africa are plagued by mosquitoes, tsetse flies, and a variation of other pesky insects, visitors coming to the Mara need not exert a lot of energy fretting over these critters. This also means that Masai Mara is one of the few regions in Kenya where malaria is not a pressing concern. While I’m not saying that mosquitoes don’t exist in Masai Mara, cases of malaria are very rare. This being the case, visitors can rest at ease. Go ahead and let out that sigh of relief! Please note that if you are planning to visit other regions of Kenya it is highly recommended that you consult your physician about malaria prophylactics, as malaria is a concern in other areas of the country. Getting a better grip on the weather in Masai Mara will help you plan for packing, as well as choose what time of year you would like to visit. While weather patterns are not always reliable, here is some general information to keep in mind. The climate of Masai Mara remains temperate throughout the year compared to other regions of Kenya. Temperatures are hottest during the months of December through February, and cool down during the months of June through August. (Remember, Kenya is south of the equator….if you’re visiting from North America or Europe, then your summer and winter seasons are reversed.) Maximum temperatures in Masai Mara average 30C/85F, and temperatures may reach as low as 13C/55F during the cooler months. If you plan your trip during the cooler months you will want to bring layers so that you can comfortably enjoy the cool evening air. If you relish relaxing around a bonfire in the evening than this may be the perfect time of year for you to visit. Daytime temperatures tend to stay warm in the Masai Mara plains, even during the cool season. So, no matter when you choose to visit, you should plan to pack warm weather clothes for your daytime safari drives. It is also important to note that Masai Mara has two rainy seasons. The two wettest times of the year generally are mid-October into November and April through early June. If you visit during these months make sure to pack your rain boots because it can get very muddy. You can also anticipate slick, muddy roads during the rainy seasons. DON’T compromise on your safari vehicle of choice during the wet months – in other words, stay away from safari vans. A four-wheel drive vehicle is a must for navigating these road conditions. Additionally, the seasonal variation in climate will influence your game viewing experience. In terms of wildlife viewing, there is not an ideal time to visit Masai Mara. However, each season has its perks that are worth considering when planning your trip. The wet months are the greenest and teeming with grazing animals. The color and life of Masai Mara is invigorating after the rains. Because the grass grows so long it can be difficult to spot some of the animals, so you’ll have to keep an extra keen eye out for the elusive leopard and flawlessly camouflaged lion. If you choose to go during the dryer seasons the short grass will make it much easier to spot game. You will also not have to fight the muddy roads or endure the frequent afternoon and evening showers that are the hallmark of the rainy seasons. Both the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya are world renowned wildlife safari destinations, both regions offer a brilliant safari experience. If you only have the time to visit one region then which one should you choose? The question of whether to migration safari in the Serengeti versus the Masai Mara migration can easily be answered if you are interested in seeing the great wildebeest migration, particularly from November to end of June. The reason is that the great migration herds tend to be in the Serengeti during this time and so if your objective is to see the Migration, then a Tanzania safari including a safari to Serengeti is what you should undertake if travelling from November to late June. The Masai Mara though, still has excellent all year round game viewing and it is also less expensive than visiting the Serengeti and so if cost is an issue and seeing the migration is not then the Masai Mara is well worth a tour. The other factor to bear in mind is exclusivity. The Serengeti is far bigger than the Masai Mara and so it is easier to enjoy more exclusive safaris experience in the Serengeti than it is in the Masai Mara. That being said, the central regions of the Serengeti can get very busy and so selecting your camps carefully is the key to getting an exclusive safari. In Tanzania it can also work out more cost effective to have your own private guide and vehicle for the duration of your Tanzania Safari. This is due the close proximity of the northern parks such as Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. Another factor that makes the Serengeti a more exclusive safari destination. Choosing between these 2 magnificent wildlife regions does get more complicated if you are looking to travel from mid-July until October with the hope of seeing the great herds cross the Mara River. The Masai Mara has some exceptional tented camps that are in the perfect locations for seeing the migratory herds. Most of the herds also tend to cross over into the Masai Mara and so from mid-August to the end of September the Masai Mara is probably the place to be. Wildebeest however, are crazy animals and a lot of the herds tend to cross back and forth over the crocodile infested Mara River and so seeing the migration is still excellent from the Serengeti during this time. The Serengeti has also got a number of well positioned permanent camps and a vast array of semi mobile tented camps, which offer a terrific game viewing experience of the migratory herds and resident wildlife. Both the Masai Mara and the Serengeti offer an exceptional Africa safari and both regions should be visited where possible. The Serengeti is preferable for those that want more exclusivity and particularly if travel is from November to June and seeing the migration is of paramount importance. The Masai Mara certainly does deliver throughout the year with great resident wildlife and from August to October seeing the great herds spread out on the Mara Plains is a phenomenal site to witness.
The Wildebeest Migration, is one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World” and also known as The World Cup of Wildlife. If there is a safari you should go on, this has it be it. The Maasai Mara and the Serengeti National Park together form what no other reserve in Africa can! It is incredible, it is magic, it is indescribable and it is WOW! Nowhere in the world is there a movement of animals as immense as the wildebeest migration, over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya during July through to October. The migration has to cross the Mara River in the Maasai Mara where crocodiles will prey on them. This is one of the highlights as the animals try and cross the Mara River alive. In the Maasai Mara they will be hunted, stalked, and run down by the larger carnivores. The Maasai Mara also has one of the largest densities of lion in the world and is no wonder this is the home of the BBC wildlife channels Big Cat Diary. The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is wild Africa on a scale that’s hard to envision, distilled into a never-ending expanse of boundless savannah. The Mara forms the Kenyan part; the Serengeti lies across the border in Tanzania, with the region’s limits defined by the year-round odyssey of 1.3 million migrating wildebeest chasing the rains in search of grass and water. Each year around the same time the ‘Great Wildebeest Migration’ begins in the Ngorongoro area of the southern Serengeti of Tanzania. A natural phenomenon determined by the availability of grazing. It is January to March when the calving season begins. A time when there is plenty of rain ripened grass available for the 500,000 zebra that precede 1.8 million wildebeest and the following 100,000 plains game. In January to February preceding the long rainy season when wildebeest spend their time grazing and giving birth to approximately 400,000 calves within a 3-4 week period, which starts abruptly and is remarkably synchronized. Few calves are born ahead of time, the few that are as much as 6 months out of phase, hardly any will survive. (Estes 1992) The main reason for this being that very young calves are more noticeable to predators when mixed with older darker colored calves from earlier in the previous year, and so is easier prey. The calving grounds of the eastern Serengeti happen to be outside the hunting territories of most of the predators, such as hyena, cheetah, hunting dogs and lions although some losses to these predators can occur. Wildebeest cows do not seek isolation during calving or afterwards. In migratory populations the cows will congregate in there hundreds on the calving grounds. Wildebeest society is much more structured at this time. Groupings of pregnant cows, cows that have calved, groups of yearlings recently separated from their mothers and bachelor herds, which are usually excluded by the territorial bulls from the calving grounds. Expectant cows gather and drop their calves before midday (very few are born after midday). Labor lasts 10 minutes to one hour and may be interrupted at any time, should the cow be disturbed. When the calves head and trunk emerge, gravity will complete the process as long as the cow is standing. Giving birth usually occurs whilst the cow is lying on her side and can have visible contractions. Once the calf is born the mother will lick her new-born and within around 10 minutes the calf will be on its feet, seeking its mothers udder. The mother may move away at this point which will encourage the calf to follow closely. Mothers and calves then group into nursery herds. Mix-ups and lost young can be a problem at first in large groups, as the instinct to follow means the calf will approach anything that moves, including predators. It is important for the mother to stay with her calf for the first day or two, for the calf to be imprinted on her. The imprint process starts with the first successful suckling. Initially each mother will recognize her own calf by scent and sound they will actively reject all others. This means, the calves that become separated from their mothers, are doomed to starvation or predation. Late March, April and May is when the herds begin to sweep west and north towards the long grass plains and woodlands of the Serengeti’s western corridor. Here the herd divides when some swing further west than others who head northwest. They will meet up again in the Masai Mara of Kenya. The long rains have started and the southern grass plains they leave behind are depleted of all food, so the herds must press on. By the end of May the rains peter out and the rutting season begins, a time when males are in prime condition. Wildebeest bulls become territorial at 4/5 years old (Estes 1969), when during the rut they will undergo dramatic behavioral changes, becoming the noisiest and most active of all African antelopes. Territories, mostly small can be fought, won and lost but usually only held for a matter of hours while the migrating herd is passing. Territories of sedentary populations are much larger and usually are held for longer. The rut will occur when the animals are in prime condition so as to ensure an adult conception rate of more than 95%. If female yearlings are well nourished, first conception may occur at 16 months, but more usually they only conceive one year later, gestation being from 8 to 8.5 months. Competition to gather and hold as many females as possible is great; on average one bull will hold in the region of 16 females as long as they are within his territory. During this peak of male activity the bulls will neither eat nor rest as they indulge in constant fights with neighboring males. June to July is a transitional period between the rains and the dry season. As they concentrate on the few remaining green patches of savannah, these huge herds reform and push further north towards the Mara River. This final push north results in a massing along the banks of the swollen River, producing one of the world’s truly most spectacular sights. Over several months the herds will mill around crossing from one bank to the other the grass always greener on the other side. Heavy lake basin storms fall locally nurturing new growth of nitrogen rich grasses. A dramatic time as herds approach the rivers. Swarming along the banks to determine the optimum crossing points a majority of the herds cross safely. But often the river is deep and fast flowing, with steep banks either side. Many of the weaker animals are not able to cope with the strong river currents and are dispatched by the numerous crocodile. These Nile crocodiles are some of the largest in Africa, measuring up to 15 feet in length. When so many animals are massed at rivers and waterholes, stampedes are common, causing cows and calves to inevitably become separated. It is common for a calf to cross and re-cross the river 2/3 times during the frantic search for its mother. Between July and October the wildebeest reside in the Northern Serengeti and the Masai Mara. The mass of over 2 million animals cover the savannah and grasslands as far as the eye can see. Predation by leopard, lion and hyena at this time is great simply due to numbers. October to November is when the short rains begin to fall in the south and east Serengeti, so the herds start to leave the Mara area. Through November and December they head slowly back to the southern Serengeti’s plains. By the time they arrive at Lake Ndutu it will be Late December early January and the cycle is complete. Arrival at the calving grounds marks the end of this, and the start of the next year’s migration. In all 3-500,000 wildebeest die during this 800 kilometre round journey, the sick, the lame, old and very young, but the next calving will produce around as many new calves who must take their chances along with the adults on the following ‘Great Migration’. (Being a natural event the timings of this migration may vary from year to year). The Mara comprises only a quarter of the total ecosystem, but in terms of concentrated, easy-to-view animals, its hallowed ground—the greatest wildlife real estate on earth. The Serengeti, on the other hand, delivers lesser concentrations of game but wilderness on a more epic scale. Logistics are well oiled in both regions, with charter planes that hop about with ease. Then there’s that climate: The equator may be only some hundred miles away from the Kenya-Tanzania border, but the Mara-Serengeti’s savannahs, with their billowing grasses and flat-topped acacia trees, sit at elevations of 6,000 feet, making for low humidity and blissful temperatures—hot by day, cool by night. The issue, therefore, is not if one should go on safari in the Mara-Serengeti but which lodge one should book. I have spent four decades traveling to and from Africa, covering its eco-politics and conservation dramas for newspapers and magazines. To even begin to address the question, I considered the three main reasons why people come: to witness the world’s greatest wildlife migration, to see their first lion and to experience the immense East African landscape. My recommendations are gleaned from years spent in the Mara-Serengeti, where new lodges are always popping up among the classics I continue to hold in high regard. Catching the wildebeest at the right moment is a delicate task. To see the migration in the Mara, visit July through October, when the herds cluster in Kenya. In the Serengeti, the window is November through July; however, because of the sheer size of the Serengeti, one needs to check which part is playing host to the herds. The sure hit is January through March—calving time in the south. And the Serengeti’s Ndutu Lodge; Ngorongoro Conservation Area; surrounded by the short grass plains where wildebeest have their calves, is ideally located. For dramatic river crossings, head to the Mara River, which runs from the Mara highlands across the border into the Serengeti, from July through October. The relatively new 12-room Lamai Serengeti Serengeti National Park; has a sensational location atop a vast granite kopje. During the day, there are unbeatable views of the plains below, and at night you feel like you’re sleeping in a giant’s rock garden. Also in the Serengeti’s far northwest is the Singita Mara River Tented Camp - Serengeti National Park; a new offshoot of Luke Bailes’s Singita Grumeti camps, whose major appeal is also location: It is the only permanent camp in the 150-square-mile Lamai Triangle. Each tent’s open-air bathtub overlooks a dramatic U-bend in the Mara River, filled with crocodiles, hippos, elephants. Serengeti under Canvas; Serengeti National Park has the mobile advantage: Its nine tents (the camp is shared with other clients) are moved to wherever the migration happens to be within Serengeti National Park. Make no mistake: Portability does not equal hardship; the camp has hot bucket showers, flush toilets and even an electric-lit chandelier in each spacious tent. The Mara alternative is a true private mobile experience, set and struck every few days per a client’s itinerary, run by Peter Sylvester at Royal African Safaris. Those traveling with a young family will enjoy Sala’s Camp - Masai Mara National Reserve, run by Mikey and Tanya Carr-Hartley, third-generation Kenyans. It is usually among the first camps in the Mara to witness the arrival of the wildebeest and has a prime spot on the Sand River with views of the Serengeti on the other side. The largest of Sala’s seven en-suite tents is designed to accommodate a family of four, Although the Serengeti, from Ndutu all the way north to the Lamai Triangle, echoes with the rumble of lions, the Mara remains the predator capital because its open grasslands make for easy spotting and its lions are so used to posing for visitors that vehicles can approach within a few yards. Our favorite is the Musiara Marsh pride, one of whose males starred in African Cats (Disney called him Kali). His sons still hang out near Governors’ Camp in the Mara. The popular stopover is relatively large, with 37 tents, and therefore not the most exclusive place to stay within the Mara Reserve. But there’s a smart way around this: Little Governors’ Camp; Masai Mara National Reserve, a short boat ride across the Mara River, is much quieter, with 17 tents set around a watering hole that elephants frequent throughout the day. The other big attraction is the hour-long balloon safari that lifts off at dawn to provide an eagle’s-eye view of the reserve. Rekero, Masai Mara National Reserve; is where old Mara hands go back time and again—it was built in 1987 overlooking a key wildebeest crossing on the Talek River. It has remained the benchmark for intimate bush camps, blissfully comfortable without sacrificing its African soul. Jackson Looseyia, one of Africa’s best guides, is a director, and his guiding team has inherited all his bush-wise skills. Around Rekero, the roar of lions is never far away. This is also true in the private wildlife conservancies adjoining the nationally protected Mara Reserve, where the big cats are making a dramatic recovery. One of the best examples is the 50,000-acre Mara Naboisho Conservancy, where the density of game—including at least 70 lions—is among the highest anywhere on the continent. Base camp Explorer’s aptly named Eagle View; Mara Naboisho Conservancy is the newest camp in this area, with impeccable ecotourism credentials. The guides know all the Naboisho lions—including the formidable Ennisikeria pride males that rule the territory. It was the Masai who called it Serengeti—the place where the land runs on forever. The word perfectly describes its short grass plains dotted with lonely acacias. But the Serengeti also has riverine forests, open savannahs in its western corridor and beautiful, broken country full of winding korongos (seasonal watercourses) in the Kuka Hills. Adding drama to the skyline are kopjes: solitary outcrops of weathered granite that big cats love to use as watchtowers. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the landscape is best, but Singita’s Sasakwa Lodge Singita Grumeti Reserves, built on a high escarpment overlooking the plains, is certainly a top contender. There are some exquisite expanses of landscape in the Mara as well; especially the places where one can get away from the glut of safari vehicles. Best among these hidden corners is the Mara Triangle, between the Mara River and the Oloololo Escarpment, where the savannah is stippled with the parasol silhouettes of desert date trees, and private wildlife conservancies merge seamlessly with the reserve’s northeastern border. Here, the place to stay is Mara Plains Camp Olare Motorogi Conservancy; Reopened last July after a complete makeover, it’s a seven-tent camp modeled after the same company’s Zarafa camp in Botswana, in a setting where riverine forest meets open savannah in deepest lion country. Running a close second for best location in the Mara is Kicheche Mara Olare Motorogi Conservancy;. Tucked into a secret valley in the 74,000-acre Mara North Conservancy, this is a truly idyllic spot, with eight spacious tents under the yellow-bark acacia trees. Like all the Kicheche camps, it is highly regarded by wildlife photographers for its views. Another Mara North favorite is Serian; Mara North Conservancy; run by Alex Walker, a fourth-generation West African and son of a Kenyan hunter. It has six canvas tents on raised decks beside the Mara River. But it’s Cottar’s Safari camp, operated by Calvin and Louise Cottar that is the star of the whole ecosystem. It lies at the easternmost end of the Mara on a private 6,000-acre conservancy facing the Serengeti’s Kuka Hills. It’s hard to think of a more perfect campsite, chosen by Calvin’s great-grandfather Charles, who came out from Oklahoma in 1909 to become the country’s first professional hunter. The canvas bathtubs, silverware, cut-crystal glassware and wind-up gramophone all contribute to the spirit of the place, along with 11 tents furnished in original 1920s safari antiques and four-poster beds. There’s also now Cottar’s Private House a five-bedroom villa that comes with a staff of eight, including a private chef, guide and game spotter. Over a ten-day vacation, it is common to hop between camps (the Serengeti has fewer lodges spread out over greater territory)—taking light-aircraft charters that can fly direct between private airstrips. It’s worth it, especially if it means catching the migration in the Serengeti. However, mixing the two areas does involve clearing international border customs at Nairobi (the principal hub for East African safaris) and Kilimanjaro, Tanzania’s international airport near the town of Arusha. Recently, a new route opened up for light aircraft between Migori, on the Kenyan side, and Tarime, in Tanzania. First-timers may find it somewhat daunting, as both airports are located outside the parks, and the whole journey takes about five hours, involving tedious road transfers and a customs checkpoint. We recommend enlisting an agent; almost everyone from our “A Guide to the Safari Guides” services the region.