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Mara Safari Club, Masai Mara National Park - Kenya

Mara Safari Club is safari camp owned by Fairmont hotels & Lodges that lies in the Mara North of Masai Mara National Park at the foot of the Aitong Hills in a Private Conservation Area called the Ol - Choro Oiroua ranch which is about 250 Kilometers from Nairobi. Mara Safari Club is bordered on three sides by the Mara River at the foot of the Aitong Hills in the Ol-Choro Oiroua Conservation Area that borders the Masai Mara Game Reserve; the Mara Safari Club offers luxury life under a tent... with five-star luxury safari. At your feet, the hippos. Yes! All tents have their own private river frontage with a viewing deck from where hippo and crocodile are regularly seen. Mara Safari Club Masai Mara tents have four posters, pillow-top beds and a veranda overlooking the hippo and crocodile-filled river, each of the 50 tents at Masai Mara Safari Club is superbly furnished with its own private, three-piece bathroom, including a number of “outdoor showers” in select tents. The larger-sized accommodations in Mara Safari Club Camp also feature expanded decks which allow for private dining, a new service, elephant are known wander past to drink the water and during the migration period large herds of wildebeest are be observed attempting to cross the Mara River. Fairmont Mara Safari Hotel main lodge hosts an indoor restaurant, bar and library with Internet access to keep the relatives up to date with Masai Mara safari adventures. A spacious outside deck overhangs the river and leads to a heated pool, complete with bar and private massage tents. Outdoor dining will be enhanced with the creation of a boma, a structure influenced by traditional homesteads, where guests can enjoy a cultural dinner reflecting not only African cuisine but also rich musical accompaniment. In the evening, Masai dances, cultural and wildlife talks and wildlife shows all contribute to the Masai Mara Safaris Club is experience, If you'd prefer to have a river between yourself and the crocodiles and hippos, then the Fairmont Mara Safari Camp does the trick with an atmosphere that's more plush resort than true bush experience -- may be right for you. Extensively overhauled in 2007 when the luxury-oriented Fairmont hotels group took over, this now feels a lot like a big, smart, thoroughly contemporary hotel in the bush -- even if your walls are canvas and "rooms" are linked by stone pathways rather than passages. Set on 8 hectares (20 acres) of well-tended gardens on one side of the Mara River, there are 50 well-equipped, ultra smart stone-floor tents, which are spacious inside and, despite being irritatingly close together, offer a sense of privacy and exclusivity; for the best views, choose tent 12 or 12A. Each one is identically decorated, with elegant, mass-produced furniture and lots of "African" design details. With colorful rugs on the floor, soft white linens and red suede comforters on large wooden beds, leather-framed mirrors, bead curtains, practical wardrobes with basket-style drawers, and a cupboard disguised as an antique leather trunk, the overall effect is pleasing enough, and you're spoiled with an array of amenities. They're kept secure from most of the wildlife (baboons are exempt) by electric fence, but you'll spot plenty of hippos and crocs in the river right below your private porch The contemporary African theme is even more overt in the public lounge and bar areas -- world music is piped into a vast space with enormous fireplaces, hand-carved Congolese stools, leather sofas, and cowhides spread across the walls. Trading on its swanky good looks and cosseting luxury, this is one place you'll feel safe and comfortable, with newly refurbished interiors, this classy Fairmont Mara Club more than meets Fairmont Hotels & Resorts global reputation for luxury and excellent standards of service. The Fairmont Mara Safari Club Masai Mara is surrounded on three sides by the croc- and hippo-filled Mara River, although you'll be safe and snug in your spacious wood-floored tent, which is set on stilts with its own private balcony. The bedspread of your four-poster mosquito-netted bed is made of the iconic red cloth used for Masai warrior robes, while brightly colored hand-woven rugs, comfortable chairs, and big windows ensure your aprés- Masai Mara safaris comfort. The main lodge is themed old-style safari with deep padded leather and fabric armchairs, beaded lamps, an open fireplace, and an inviting wood-paneled bar. Keep family and friends informed of your big-game safari to Masai Mara adventures with Internet access in the library, or write in your journal on the spacious outside deck that leads to a heated pool, complete with bar and private massage tents. Game is plentiful, food and service excellent. Forego one morning game drive in favor of a hot air balloon safari over the Mara plains followed by a bush champagne breakfast—you'll thank us—or stroll in the footprints of the hippo-trodden path escorted by a Masai warrior. You will find Fairmont Mara Safari Lodge, the epitome of tented luxury. A 'camp' of uncommon quality, the resort is positioned on an oxbow of the Mara River, providing every en suite tent with a view delivered with the warm and gracious service that makes the Fairmont Hotels name famous – ensuring an amazing experience
that you will never forget. Air Kenya Aviation offers daily flights to and from the Mara. Airplanes range from 5 to 25-seaters. Airport tax is payable when buying your tickets. Besides Air Kenya, Aircraft Leasing Services and Eagle Aviation also provide daily scheduled flights to Mara. The Air Kenya Aviation Flight Schedules can be viewed on their website. Please note baggage allowance is 15 kgs, including hand luggage. Airport tax is payable at the time of purchasing the ticket. Mara Safari Club road safaris, By Road:, The Mara region of Kenya is not readily accessible by private car. We recommend that International travelers speak to our knowledgeable Reservations specialists about booking professional ground transfer or, preferably, a flight transfer to the Ngerende airstrip, located only 10 minutes from the Club.

Fairmont Masai Mara Safari Club History

The Fairmont Mara Safari Club is located on the edge of the worlds Seventh New Wonder of the World – In 1989, the owners saw potential for a luxury tented camp in this space and set out a plan to build 40 tents with a rustic main building and facilities that would rival the best camps in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti. The main building would house a dining room, bar and reception area for the comfort of our Guests. Then operated by lonrho hotels, the grounds would feature winding paths through lush flora and boast a swimming pool and observation areas to gather and gaze at the hippos, the crocs and the incredible bird life that inhabits this part of Kenya. The Masai Mara Safari Lodge opened its doors in 1989 as an offshoot of Mount Kenya Safari Club, hence the name Safari Club. The Club stands on 100 acres of land, leased from the late Senior Chief Lerionka Ole Ntutu. A tented sanctuary lying at the foot of the Aitong Hills, the Mara Safari Club is surrounded on three sides by the Mara River, on the edge of the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve. The land the Club sits on was an old hunting camp that had been converted to use for photo tours with the ban on hunting in Kenya in 1976. On the first night there were 12 guests in-house, 10 days before the main building was nowhere near completion and no tents were up due to the horrible weather the previous few months. Mud was everywhere, and only a handful of the drivers knew how to drive on wet muddy clay soil. When the first Guests returned from their first game drive the entire management team lined up to receive them. Five meters short of the reception the vehicle got stuck in the mud as the team tried to free the vehicle; the main water line into the camp was ruptured! The Mara Safari Club Fairmont luxury resort hotel has come a long way since then. After an extensive renovation program, it has become one of the top safari resorts in Masai Mara. There are a total of 50 tents with four posters, pillow-top beds as well as a veranda overlooking the hippo and crocodile-filled river. Each of the 50 tents at Fairmont Mara Safari Club is superbly furnished with its own private, three-piece bathroom, including a number of “outdoor showers” in select tents. The location provides a perfect base for Safaris to Masai Mara, one of the world’s richest wildlife reserves, and home to an astounding array of animals including zebras, cheetahs, wildebeests, gazelles and of course the “Big Five”. Although the camp offers its guests a genuine safari to Masai Mara experience, comfort and luxury have not been overlooked

Mara Safari Club Hotel Accommodation

Mara Safari Club has a total of 50 tents, of which 42 are twin-bedded and 8 double-bedded. Of the 45 standard tents, 5 have sunken baths in the bathrooms and king-size beds. Being located on the oxbow of the Mara River, all tents at the club have river frontage. This allows very peaceful game watching from one's private verandah, as the riverine flora and fauna is full of life and excitement. It is not uncommon to see hippos and crocodiles swimming or walking in the river, monkeys swinging through the trees or any of the larger mammals stopping at the water's edge for a drink. Five of the 50 tents are Premium Tents. The Premium Mara Safari Club Tents comprises of 3 doubles and 2 twins, and 2 have a king-size bed. 3 of the Premium Tents have sunken baths in the bathrooms. There is a platform between the Premium Tents and the Standard Tents, allowing for superb game-viewing and private dining. Please contact Esther of African Safari and adventures for more information on which room suites you, All tents, each erected on a concrete plinth are luxurious ensuite "rooms", spread out along the bend of the Mara River. The tents have been superbly furnished to the highest possible standards with netted four-poster beds and permanent bathrooms. Each zip up tent has a verandah overlooking the river. Each Mara Safari Club tent has complimentary water with glasses, insecticide and air-freshener, electric lamps, dressing table and hand-woven rugs and poster-bed drapes, shower stall, flush toilets in bathroom, washbasin. Each bathroom has Lonrho shampoo, hand and body lotion, shower and bath gel, and freshly laundered towels, solar-heated-hot, and cold running water. The tent windows have mosquito gauze and flaps. Each tent also has a flashlight and an umbrella.

Mara Safari Club Lodge Restaurant

The main lodge at the center of camp hosts an indoor restaurant, bar and library. Outdoor dining will be enhanced with the creation of a boma, a structure influenced by traditional homesteads, where guests can enjoy a cultural dinner reflecting not only African cuisine but also rich musical accompaniment. The Dining Room: Located in the main building, the dining room is hewn out of wood beams and glass, allowing natural light to filter in to the high-ceilinged, spacious room. Evenings are cozy in the softly lit area. The menu is a cosmopolitan combination of European, African and Asian dishes, made from the abundance of fresh Kenyan produce. Both breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, while dinner is Table D’hôte, with a choice of main course. Seating Capacity is 90 people. The Lounge and Main Bar: The lounge is also in the main building. Sectioned off to create 'private' seating areas, the decor has a definitely African flavor, with woven wall hangings, and Masai artifacts. An extended veranda adjoins the lounge to afford superb views of the Mara River. A fire is lit each evening. This area is the venue for the Masai Dancers, slide shows and lectures. Liqueurs, beers, soft drinks, cocktails, wines, spirits, tea and coffee are served here. Seating Capacity is 80 people, (though use of the verandah can increase the numbers). Hours Of Operation: The bar is open from 10:00 a.m to 11:00 p.m. and the lounge is open for afternoon tea, cookies/cakes from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m., and for tea/coffee after lunch and dinner. Room service offers morning tea/coffee/hot-chocolate with wake-up calls. The Pool Bar: Located at the swimming pool, the Pool Bar is a shaded area, with bar stools set around the curved structure. Also just off the bar, weather permitting, buffet lunches are served. A barbecue pit is located close to the bar. Liqueurs, beers, soft drinks, wines, spirits, cocktails, tea and coffee, as well as light snacks and outdoor lunches are served here. Seating capacity is unlimited. Hours Of Operation: The pool bar is open from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and for outdoor buffet lunches (weather permitting) from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Business Center: E-mail, internet browsing, photocopying and general secretarial services are available at reception

Fairmont Mara Safari Club Activities

Surrounded on three sides by the Mara River and on the edge of the world’s Seventh “New” Wonder of the World – the Masai Mara - Fairmont Mara Safari Hotel is the epitome of tented luxury. All tents have their own private viewing deck from where hippo and crocodile are regularly seen. Each room has four-poster beds with pillow-top mattresses and fine linens, 3-piece en-suite facilities with solar-heated, hot-and-cold running water, a refreshment center, in-room safe and wireless telephone that allows you to set up dining on your deck and ensures no request is left unfulfilled. The main lodge houses a warm reception area, retail shop, a library equipped with Internet access, a beautifully decorated lounge area and the lovely dining room. A large deck is cantilevered over the river and seats go quickly here as the joy of watching the hippos play or gazing up at the stars after a day of wonder is unmatched. At the club, the pool, al fresco buffet lunches and nightly activities of Maasai dancing, presentations and discussion on the Mara's ecosystem and Maasai culture, all add up to create a truly unique experience. Guests can choose from a wide range of activities at Fairmont Mara Safari Club, including game drives and balloon safaris (at an extra cost) over the Mara plains capped with a champagne breakfast on the savannah or a stroll in the footprints of the hippo-trodden path escorted by a Maasai Moran. The location provides a perfect base for visiting the Masai Mara, one of the world’s richest wildlife reserves, and home to an astounding array of animals including zebras, cheetahs, wildebeests, gazelles and of course the “Big Five”. Dining at The Mara Safari Club is a safari in itself, made from the abundance of fresh Kenyan produce, themenus are tantalizing to the most discerning of palates. Both breakfast and lunch are often served buffet-style, while dinner is Table D'Hôte, with a choice of main course. Fairmont Mara Safari Club guests can choose from a wide range of activities, including game drives and balloon safaris over the Mara plains capped with a champagne breakfast on the savannah or a stroll in the footprints of the hippo-trodden path escorted by a Masai Moran. The location provides a perfect base for visiting the Masai Mara, one of the world’s richest wildlife reserves, and home to an astounding array of animals including zebras, cheetahs, wildebeests, gazelles and of course the “Big Five”. Fairmont Mara Safari Club is surrounded on three sides by the Mara River and on the edge of the world’s Seventh “New” Wonder of the World – the Masai Mara - Fairmont Mara Safari Club is the epitome of tented luxury.

Fishing Safari in Lake Victoria, Kenya

Masai Mara - literally means "Mottled" - a reference to the patchy landscape, in Swahili. By the way, Swahili is the same language that gave us the lovely word, ‘hakuna matata’ (No problem!) Masai Mara is arguably the world's most prolific wildlife conservation area. The Masai's are a proud semi-nomadic cattle-rearing people with a fascinating culture, who inhabit these beautiful grasslands of Africa. It is the best destination in Kenya for viewing wildlife. With its rolling grasslands and wide-open savannah - the Masai Mara is the kind of African landscape that you probably see only in the National Geographic or Discovery channels. A 5-hour ride from Nairobi will take you to the Masai town of Narock a major town or trading point for the Masai's. They make beautiful handicrafts ranging from wooden sculptures to lovely paintings. But then the Masai market, which happens every Tuesday in Nairobi, is a better place to purchase any handicrafts, to buy in this twon you better have a local friend to help you bargain. Another 2 hours of pretty rough ride through the trails in grasslands and you have reached Mara Safari hotel Fairmont, the luxury safari lodge is set in the Ol-Choro Oiroua Conservation Area, bordering the Masai Mara Game Reserve, at the foot of the Aitong Hills. Surrounded on three sides by the Mara River, and fencing on the other side, you do feel completely safe from three sides at least; Kenyan conservation rules prevent campsites from putting up fences on the riverside. All tents have their own private river frontage, with basic electricity and all facilities of a luxury safari camp, the main building, with lounge, bar and dining room is cantilevered over the river, There is also a resident naturalist, who made Mara his home and is living here for the last 30 years, the talks he gives late evenings by the campsites are fascinating and very educational, The Mara River is famous for its crossings in October and November when thousands of wilder beasts, zebras cross across to Serengeti in Tanzania in search of greener grasslands and to give birth, you have a 4WD Cruiser at your disposal, making it really easy to go, practically anywhere in the reserve: ravines, waterholes, across streams, the mara park itself is huge - around 1500 sq km area and you have all the big 5 animals there in the park, Africans refer to the lion, leopard, elephant, cheetah and rhino as the Big 5depending on place-to-place in Africa the list varies The best thing about the Fairmont Mara Safari Hotel is your tent -perfectly located at a turning point of the Mara River giving you two views of the river with hippos and crocs in the river, just a few meters away from your tent, separated by few wooden logs, Day Tour from Fairmont Mara Safari Club - Are you one of the fishing enthusiasts? This safari package has been created especially for you and gives you the opportunity to fish in Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake and the world’s second largest freshwater lake. During the one day Fishing Camp Safari you will enjoy a flight from the Masai Mara to the south – western region of Lake Victoria with a full day of undisturbed fishing; catching the large variety of cichlid fish, which by itself is a unique phenomenon. Upon your arrival to the Masai Mara choose from the variety of activities offered at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club which include superb bird watching as well as game drives in open – sided vehicles, where the close up sight of an elephant or lion will remain in your heart forever. Also contact African Safaris and Adventures tour consults for more information, Fishing Safari in Lake Victoria Package Includes; All applicable taxes and service charge, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Flight to Lake Victoria

Mara Safari Club Lodge Masai Cultural Experience

The Masai Mara adventure would not be completed without meeting Kenya’s most unique tribe – the Masai. Visit one of the local Masai Manyatta (village) and experience the traditional way of living. Be surprised by the size of the huts, made from mud and sealed with cow dung. Watch the Masai women create intricate, vivid and multicolored necklaces, bracelets and belts. Discuss the customs with the men and later enjoy a traditional Masai dance performed by the males of the tribe. With four poster, pillow-top beds and a veranda overlooking the hippo and crocodile-filled river, each of the 50 tents at Fairmont Mara Safari Club is superbly furnished with its own private, three-piece bathroom, including a number of “outdoor showers” in select tents. The larger-sized accommodations also feature expanded decks which allow for private dining, a new service, offering one of the most luxurious Masai Mara hotel accommodations, Outdoor dining is enhanced with the creation of a boma, a structure influenced by traditional homesteads, where guests can enjoy a cultural dinner reflecting not only African cuisine but also rich musical accompaniment, Guests can choose from a wide range of activities at Fairmont Mara Safari Camp, including game drives and balloon safaris over the Mara plains capped with a champagne breakfast on the savannah or a stroll in the footprints of the hippo-trodden path escorted by a Masai Moran. The location provides a perfect base for visiting the Masai Mara, one of the world’s richest wildlife reserves, and home to an astounding array of animals including zebras, cheetahs, wildebeests, gazelles and of course the “Big Five”. The luxury Masai Mara accommodation at Fairmont Mara Safari Club offers a traditional safari experience with the comfort and amenities of a luxury resort hotel. There is a total of 50 tents with four poster, pillow-top beds and a veranda overlooking the hippo and crocodile-filled river. Each of the 50 tents at Fairmont Mara Safari Club is superbly furnished with its own private, three-piece bathroom, including a number of “outdoor showers” in select tents. The Fairmont Hotels offers guests premiere luxury hotels in Masai Mara, Kenya. The larger-sized Masai Mara accommodations also feature expanded decks which allow for private dining. Riverfront Deluxe Tents have a four-poster bed, a three-piece ensuite bathroom with hot water and power, as well as an outdoor shower. There is also a deck. Full Day Game Drives: After breakfast, one sets out to explore the Mara Plains, viewing the natural habitat of various species of birds and the abundant wildlife. Lunch boxes are provided for a picnic in the wild. The excursion lasts from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. An extension to this option is a visit to the Masai Cultural Centre - a wonderful experience where one can learn at first hand all about the culture and lifestyle of the famed Masai people. Walking Safaris (2-hour Excursion): Participants on a walking safari become part of the environment. Guided by a knowledgeable naturalist, an armed guide and two Masai warriors in full regalia (to frighten off the lion!). A full safari breakfast/ brunch is served on the river bank with the delightful hippo for company. Guests have to fill out liability forms. Children under 12 are not permitted to join this excursion. Bird Walks: A specialist guides walkers through the camp pointing out various species of birds (70 have been sighted so far). Walks last for approximately one and a half hours. Balloon Safaris: Balloon safaris in Kenya are among the many exciting activities in the Masai Mara. Depart at 5:45 a.m. for a balloon ride over the Mara plains, to float majestically over the teeming herds of wildlife. You will land on the Mara plains and have a sparkling wine breakfast to celebrate this unusual experience. This safari lasts for approximately 1.5 hours. Guests have to fill out liability forms. (Closed from April to June). Fishing Safari (Half-Day Excursion): A 40-minute flight brings one to the second largest fresh water lake in the world and the source of the River Nile - Lake Victoria. Fish for Nile Perch, some of which weigh over 200 lbs, look-out for the myriad of bird-life, or just spend time watching the spectacular scenery from your boat. The rare spotted-necked otter is also to be found here.

Private Candle – Lit Dinner under the African Stars

It's deceptive to call this Masai Mara hotel a Mara tented camp. The walls may be canvas, but inside, you'll find a four-poster bed in soft white linens, ensuite shower, hand-woven rugs and Maasai cloth bedspreads. The lofty-ceilinged main lodge, with expansive terrace, is filled with leather sofas where you can sit around a log fire on chilly evenings before enjoying a fine-dining feast in the restaurant. The tented safari camp is perched above the Mara River - a pod of happy hippos wallowing right outside your tent. The Mara safari day runs like a well-oiled machine. Coffee is delivered with your early wake-up call, followed by hours of thrilling wildlife-spotting: giraffes pose for photos and lions doze in the sun. You can also take a bush walk with Maasai warriors, or splurge on a sunrise balloon flight over the seemingly endless savannah. Enjoy the company of a loved one in a memorable setting. You will be treated to a private candle – lit dinner under the African stars set by the hippo pools of the Mara River, surrounded by candles, bonfire and Masai dancers to make this evening truly unforgettable. The following morning, wake up to an early morning game drive in the Masai Mara world famous reserve. Together with an expert African Safaris and Adventures guide, search for the ‘big five’; enjoy the sight of countless animals, listen to exotic bird life and watch the fascinating contrasts in the landscape. By Air: Air Kenya Aviation offers daily flights to and from the Mara region. Airplanes range from 5 to 25-seaters. Airport tax is payable when buying your tickets. Besides Air Kenya, Aircraft Leasing Services and Eagle Aviation also provide daily scheduled flights to the Mara. Please note baggage allowance is 15 kgs, including hand luggage. Airport tax is payable at the time of purchasing the ticket. The Mara region of Kenya is not readily accessible by private car. We recommend that International travelers speak to our knowledgeable Reservations specialists about booking professional ground transfer or, preferably, a flight transfer to the Ngerende airstrip, located only 10 minutes from the Club. The Mara Safari Club has 20 4 x4 land cruisers on site, each of which can seat 6 people in window seats - six beneath the opening hatches. Besides the driver-guide. These are used for transfers to and from the airstrip, as well as for game drives.

Mara Safari Club Hotel Conferences

The Manyatta Room, also used as a Library and Information Centre, transforms into the perfect Boardroom able to accommodate up to 15 delegates. Situated between the Reception and Lounge, the light airy room is perfect for theatre style conferences, boardroom meetings or small receptions. While delegates are occupied with their conference, spouses and families can enjoy the multitude of activities available from the Club; an outdoor tented facility with permanent flooring provides the perfect venue for conferences and meetings and can be set for up to 100 delegates, complete with audio visual equipment. The Fairmont Masai Mara Safari Club is an absolutely wonderful safari camp not only because the facilities are first class, but because the people are overwhelmingly genuine, honest, kind, and lovely. Beware Leah, the front office manager cries when guests leave and you have to promise to come back again, Every evening, before dinner, one of the local Masai tribes brings their men folk in traditional red dress to the Maasai Safari Club to do a traditional dance in the bar area. It always makes for an interesting and festive start to the evening meal. Every member of the staff just ooooozes genuine hospitality and wants nothing more than to see you enjoying all the Masai Mara Safari Club has to offer. The food is plentiful, delicious, and inventive. The service is gracious, the safaris in Masai Mara are adventurous and complete. The tents are luxurious and very comfortable. The Mara Safari Club grounds are immaculate lush, and inviting. Each day starts pretty much the same with a wake-up call from your personal tent attendant at 6am. He brings your choice of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to the tent and gently calls out for you to wake up. At 630am, you are expected to be at the front of the main Mara Safari Lodge where your Masai Mara safari driver will be waiting for you, the morning drive lasts about 2 hours and is the best drive for seeing the big cats in action. They are often still hunting, eating, playing, or mating in the early morning. Then back to the Mara Safari Club for the breakfast. Every morning there are made-to-order omelet’s, fresh waffles and pancakes, toast, pastries, muffins, baked beans, bacon, sausages, gratinated tomatoes, hash browns, various cereals, fresh cut fruits, cold cuts, cheeses, juices, etc… It’s really a massive spread. From breakfast time until 330pm you are free to do as you please. There is a swimming pool or you can go on a safari walk or as I did, sleep. The tents are on the banks of the Mara river. Literally, directly under each tent is a river swarming with huge crocodiles and massive hippos. No worries. The banks down to the river are quite steep and impenetrable by the crocs or hippos. There is even a sort of “beach” called Hippo Hide where large numbers of hippos congregate throughout the day and night to sun themselves and hang out. I never had a problem sleeping, but my boss was absolutely livid the first night. She could hear the hippos making their grunting noises all night long and it bothered her. Thankfully I had taken a few extra pairs of earplugs from the Austrian flight to Cairo and gave those to her. She was able to sleep peacefully from then on. Lunch is served buffet style outside along the river and near the pool. There was always a nice selection of cold salads and cheeses along with freshly grilled meat and hot sides. Almost always there was a curry of some sort as well as fish. If something didn’t catch your fancy, a quick word to one of the chefs or your waiter was all it took to get something that you preferred. You are assigned the same waiter for all meals. Our waiter was Vincent. He’s been at this property for 14 years and he goes WAY out of his way to make sure you are satisfied. Dinner at Mara Safari Lodge Masai Mara is served two ways: buffet and fixed menu and sometimes serving fixed menu and buffet meals, the food quality is very high regardless if it is buffet or fixed menu, the one thing that is at every lunch and dinner is soups are served, they serve their soups fresh every day, the soups at every meal was absolutely outstanding and very creative. The evening game drives leave at 330pm and last until about 730pm, in the afternoon, you’ll see more of the topis, gazelles, zebras, wildebeests, and hyenas. The big cats, elephants, and giraffes are hiding in the trees to escape the heat. However, as the sun starts to set, it cools off quickly and some of the animals come out to play.

General Information

The Fairmont Mara Safaris Club is a top notch hotel in Mara North Conservancy in the Maasai Mara National Reserve; this Fairmont hotel has become very dear to many for its amazing location, beauty and especially, their great staff and exceptional customer service. We have mentioned previously that our strength lies in our safari guides who are absolutely wonderful with many years experience in game drives in the area, Glamorous and exotic with the heart of the ‘real Africa’ beating throughout, Fairmont Mara Safari Club Masai Mara Kenya is somewhere very special. Situated on the north-west border of the Masai Mara Game Reserve – one of the seven ‘new’ wonders of the world – the tented camp boasts a privileged spot with tents overlooking the Mara River, where you will most likely spot some of the Big Five from the comfort of your private deck, Indigenous trees and abundant gardens surround Masai Mara Fairmont Mara Safari Club, which features a swimming pool, private massage tents and a range of gourmet food options. For an atmosphere that is bathed entirely in luxury and an unparalleled location in which to experience the wonders of the safari holiday, the Fairmont Mara is the place to go. Everything about Fairmont safari club represents the absolute epitome of glamping, with luxurious tents that take in four-poster beds, three-piece bathrooms and polished, ethnic-style frills. The design concept is that of rustic luxe and very much rooted in the African culture, with rich red and tan colours and exotic furnishings, striking and highly original decoration adds another level of comfort and a personal touch, with hand-woven rugs, animal print cushions, distinctive wall hangings and locally carved ornaments, The larger tents have a private verandah and viewing deck, immersing guests in the natural beauty of the surrounds. Within each spacious tent, the bedspread of the four-poster mosquito-netted beds are made of the iconic red cloth used for Maasai warrior robes, while brightly colored hand-woven rugs, comfortable chairs, and big windows ensure aprés-safari comfort. The main lodge is themed old-style safari with deep padded-leather-and-fabric armchairs, beaded lamps, an open fireplace, and an inviting wood-panel bar. Keep family and friends informed of your big-game adventures with Internet access in the library, or write in your journal on the spacious outside deck that leads to a pool, complete with bar and private massage tents “Those who opt for a sunrise safari drive will be gently awoken by a personal butler bringing hot coffee and cookies to nourish you for a day of animal spotting.” In one of the most privileged animal safari -spotting locations on the continent, there are a plethora of activities on offer at Fairmont Mara Safari Club. Those who opt for a sunrise safari drive will be gently awoken by a personal butler bringing hot coffee and homemade cookies to nourish you for a day of spotting some of the finest animals in the world in their natural habitat. If you’ve got a head for heights, a morning hot air balloon safari will do the trick or indulge a specialist interest with guided bird watching safaris or walking safaris or fishing Safari. There’s also plenty to do at the camp itself – take a dip in the pool whilst listening to the sound of the animals in the wild or relax in a safari chair and sample some fine authentic African food and a refreshing cocktail. When the sun goes down, relax by the campfire and admire the star-studded night sky. The most interesting part of the whole safari experience since you don’t really have a hotel room or a key, you have a “tent” and a zipper to open and close your tent. And, in Fairmont hotel Masai Mara the tents are pretty upscale. A lot of resorts or “camps in Masai Mara are real tents or safari camps that pack up and move to the next location, following the animals, which also makes it more dangerous. Here, in the Fairmont Lodge Masai Mara, you have a little bit of both worlds; the tents have plumbing for showers and toilets. No air conditioning or permanent outer wall/roof structure. It’s all tent fabric with mesh for the outside breeze to flow through the tent, so during the day all the “windows” are open for natural light to come in and at night there are closed for privacy. You also have a mosquito net around the bed if you wish to use it just in case. There’s also, electricity for light and power to charge your electronics. But, there is no WiFi or television in the tent, which is ultimately what makes it feel like camping safaris, Consider it like camping safari with a luxury safari commodities, You also must remember to keep your tent zipper closed at all times, If you do not, the bush babies will terrorize your belongings looking for food. (lol) But back to the tent, it is very comfortable and definitely fit the African Safari theme; the tent itself has plenty of space and is situated perfectly under a lot of shade so it was never too hot or too cold, The weather is always just right, you will even hear the soothing sound of nature while you sleep (water flowing, wind blowing and wildlife like birds, monkeys or zebras in the bushes surrounding the safari hotel, the Fairmont Mara Lodge offers more of a luxury experience and is one of the more expensive hotel camps in Masai Mara due to all of the commodities that are offered, but this might not even matter since you can get a good discount or get free nights with credit cards. So, in reality, there aren’t any real cons to staying in these tents, Some of the amenities include complimentary WiFi anywhere in the main building/lobby aside from a business room with a television and a few desktops for use at anytime by anyone, there is beautiful pool right behind the main lobby to refresh after a long, hot game drive. And various “Hippo Corners” to snap a couple pictures of them at anytime throughout the hotel grounds, the entire safaris hotel is guarded and protected by an electric fence so that no real predator may enter the premises; we truly make you feel welcomed and safe at all times, African food is very unique and delicious and Mara safari hotel serves it well, with breakfast and lunch being buffet style and dinner being a 5-course “a la carte” menu, Every night you have different options for what to order, all healthy, some light and absolutely decadent, from the starters down to the desserts, these traditional African plates come out to your table always beautifully decorated and appealing to the pallet, once a week, they have BBQ buffet style dinner with entertainment from a local Masai Village that sings and dances while you eat to change it up a bit, we do, however, have schedules. Breakfast is from 6:30am through 9:00am. Lunch is scheduled from 12:00pm to 2:30pm and Dinner from 7:30pm to 9:00pm; here at the Fairmont Masai Mara Safari like any other Masai Mara camp or Masai Mara hotel packaged accommodation are considered full board or all inclusive if you pay out of pocket, this means breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can also opt to having a romantic bush dinner while watching the amazing sunset on the Masai Mara for an additional cost, the game drives are like nothing else you have experienced, Unless you’ve been here before on game drives, the drivers are experienced and well trained always looking our for animals to ensure you will never be disappointed, on a full day safari the lodge will make sure to bring you a packed lunch and something to drink, Morning drives start at 6:30am and go to about 8:30am or 9:00am if something special is found, the afternoon drives start at 3:30pm and can go to about 7:00pm, giving you enough time to relax a little while and freshen up for dinner. If you and your group decide with the driver to do a full day drive, it will start around 7:30am or 8:00am to about 5:00pm. Fairmont Mara Safari Club Manager assigns a safari driver tour-guide to you and he will be with you for your whole stay, he will take you out, day and night, pick you up from the air strip and drop you off when it’s time to leave, this is great idea from the hotel because this way you feel more comfortable and are more at ease with your driver every day, this aspect makes it more enjoyable for you and the driver, of course, aside from the regular game drives during the day, the hotel also offers night safaris and balloon safaris for an additional cost, there are so many little details about Fairmont Lodge in Mara that makes your stay worthwhile, for example, if you decide to take full advantage of all of the game drives, you can participate in the morning game drive which, as we mentioned, starts at 6:30am. So, you may ask, what about breakfast? Hakuna matata! You will never miss out on breakfast unless you wanted because all of the staff are aware of where you were and will make sure you get your breakfast by staying open a little longer just for you! During dinner they come to your table and kindly ask at what time you would like your wakeup call and what you would like in your tent that early. Coffee? Juice? Tea? Anything you’d like. The staff here is always looking for ways to makes sure they exceed your expectations and go above and beyond to make you feel comfortable, safe and right at home. Every day, you receive the warmest “Jambo!”, “Good Morning! How are you this morning?” and “Karibu!”. You will wake up with them knocking on the steps of your tent and respectfully waking you up with “Jambo, jambo!” And when coming back from every game drive, you are welcomed “home” and given a chilled wet towel refreshingly scented with eucalyptus for you to freshen up if you wish. It’s a remarkable bush hotel which yoi will have the pleasure to experience and we would recommend it to anyone who decides to go on safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve and surrounding conservancy! Telephone exchange, fax services, credit cards accepted, gift shop, hair-dryers and adapters in rooms, laundry/dry cleaning services, clinical officer on site, shoe cleaning services, petrol / diesel and a mechanic for vehicles, room service, safety deposit boxes and secretarial services. Fairmont Mara Safari Club has 20 4x4 vehicles, which are used for transfers to and from the Ngerende Airstrip. Surrounded on three sides by the Mara River, and on the edge of the world’s Seventh “New” Wonder of the World – the Masai Mara – Fairmont Mara Safari Club is the epitome of tented luxury. The main lodge at the center of camp hosts an indoor restaurant, bar and library with Internet access to keep the relatives up to date with safari adventures. A spacious outside deck overhangs the river and leads to a heated pool, complete with bar and private massage tents. With four poster, pillow-top beds and a veranda overlooking the hippo and crocodile-filled river, each of the 50 tents at Fairmont Mara Safari Club is superbly furnished with its own private, three-piece bathroom, including a number of “outdoor showers” in select tents. The larger-sized accommodations also feature expanded decks which allow for private dining, a new service. Outdoor dining will be enhanced with the creation of a boma, a structure influenced by traditional homesteads, where guests can enjoy a cultural dinner reflecting not only African cuisine but also rich musical accompaniment. Guests can choose from a wide range of activities at Fairmont Mara Safari Club resort hotel, including game drives and balloon safaris over the Mara plains capped with a champagne breakfast on the savannah or a stroll in the footprints of the hippo-trodden path escorted by a Masai Moran. The location provides a perfect base for visiting the Masai Mara, one of the world’s richest wildlife reserves, and home to an astounding array of animals including zebras, cheetahs, wildebeests, gazelles and of course the “Big Five”

Fairmont Hotels

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a Canadian-based operator of luxury hotels and resorts. Currently, Fairmont operates properties in 19 countries including Canada, the United States, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Bermuda, People's Republic of China, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Monaco, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom. Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi was branded as Fairmont Norfolk Hotel; the famed hotel in Kenya was joined by its sister Fairmont Mara Safari Camp and Fairmont Zanzibar Hotel, the Fairmont Mount Kenya Club later joined the portfolio in representing the company's East Africa collection. Opened in 1904, Fairmont the Norfolk stands as one of Kenya most fabled gathering places, hosting luminaries from President Theodore Roosevelt and Out of Africa's Isak Dinesen to present day celebrities and royalty. Fairmont The Norfolk is the company's third hotel to open in East Africa, following announcements welcoming Fairmont Masai Mara Safari Camp and Fairmont Zanzibar. Fairmont Mara Safari Club, located on the edge of the Masai Mara, is the epitome of tented luxury. The property offers 50 superbly furnished, sumptuous tents, and a main lodge at the center of camp which hosts an indoor restaurant, bar and library and an outside deck leading to a heated pool, complete with bar and private massage tents. Guests can choose from a wide range of activities, including game drives and balloon safaris over the Mara plains, and the location provides a perfect base for visiting the Masai Mara, one of the world's richest wildlife reserves, and home to an astounding array of animals including the "Big Five"; lions, African Elephants, African Buffalos, leopards and rhinoceros, Mara Safari Club was recently awarded the third place by trip advisor the 100 best hotels in the world, Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards is a poll that is posted on www.TLworldsbest.com December 15th through March 30th where readers can cast their votes for the top hotels, destinations, airlines, cruises, outfitters and transportation. The poll for World’s Best was inaugurated in 1996 and has remained a highly recognized means of evaluating various tourism offerings around the world. The new and improved 2010 World’s Best questionnaire was designed in conjunction with ROI Research, Inc. to provide the most thorough and trusted scores. Participating readers were asked to rate the hotels on six characteristics: rooms/facilities, location, service, restaurants/food, and value. In 1989, the owners saw potential for a luxury tented camp in this space and set out a plan to build 40 tents with a rustic main building and facilities that would rival the best camps in Masai Mara and the Serengeti. The main building would house a dining room, bar and reception area for the comfort of our Guests. The grounds would feature winding paths through lush flora and boast a swimming pool and observation areas to gather and gaze at the hippos, the crocs and the incredible bird life that inhabits this part of Kenya. The Fairmont Masai Mara Safari Club opened its doors in 1989 as an offshoot of Mount Kenya Safari Club, hence the name Safari Club. The Club stands on 100 acres of land, leased from the late Senior Chief Lerionka Ole Ntutu. A tented sanctuary lying at the foot of the Aitong Hills, the Mara Safari Club Fairmont is surrounded on three sides by the Mara River, on the edge of the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve. The land the Club sits on was an old hunting camp that had been converted to use for photo tours with the ban on hunting in Kenya in 1976. On the first night there were 12 guests in-house, 10 days before the main building was no where near completion and no tents were up due to the horrible weather the previous few months. Mud was everywhere, and only a handful of the drivers knew how to drive on wet muddy clay soil. When the first Guests returned from their first game drive the entire management team lined up to receive them. Five meters short of the reception the vehicle got stuck in the mud as the team tried to free the vehicle; the main water line into the camp was ruptured! The Fairmont Mara Safari Club luxury resort hotel has come a long way since then. After an extensive renovation program, it has become one of the top safari resorts in Africa. There are a total of 50 tents with four poster, pillow-top beds as well as a veranda overlooking the hippo and crocodile-filled river. Each of the 50 tents at Fairmont Mara Safari Club is superbly furnished with its own private, three-piece bathroom, including a number of “outdoor showers” in select tents. The location provides a perfect base for visiting the Masai Mara, one of the world’s richest wildlife reserves, and home to an astounding array of animals including zebras, cheetahs, wildebeests, gazelles and of course the “Big Five”.

Masai Mara National Park

Many stories have been written on the Maasai Mara describing how incredible it is. The incredible wildebeest migration as one of the wonders of the world. The Mara’s mysteries are continuously unfolding to present a kind of African dream: watching a roaring lion, photographing a hunting cheetah, spotting the caracal cat and even having a glimpse of the striped hyena. I grew up in Kenya, and have been to the Maasai Mara a million times. I have now returned to work in the Maasai Mara as an adult. Why, one must wonder, do I keep going back to the same place when there are thousands of beautiful destinations across the globe? I will tell you why – because going back to the Maasai Mara is like going to a new place every time. The cycle of the wild, the rebirth of the earth and the resonating energy of millions of souls in this reserve will toss you into a different dimension. The Masai Mara really is the place to see the Big Cats in the wild; home to the BBC’s Big Cat Diary series, the opportunities to observe and photograph Lion, Leopard, Cheetah and so much more are amazing; drawing tourists here year after year, When people ask me the most common question that people tend to ask when you are the owner of a successful Africa safari company, “What is your favorite place you’ve been and why?”, which is a question that cannot be answered with the answer they are seeking, Masai Mara National Park is always part of the answer I give to the person who seeks a simple answer to a complex question. When my mind wanders aimlessly to my backpacking travels, zones out during the day, when memories sneak into my dreams at night, if I could step onto a plane now and go back to one place NOW, it would be Kenya Masai Mara Game Reserve, just to safari… Towards the end of your 4 hour drive from Nairobi, Kenya to Masai Mara Game Reserve the road becomes very bumpy. It is basically a dirt road for the last hour, but a very bumpy dirt road because there are many many holes in the dirt. The entire safari jeep is vibrating while driving; you think the engine is going to fall out. Ha Ha! The Masai Mara Animal Reserve is one of the best in the whole of Africa for safari! The open savannahs make it perfect for viewing the animals up close and personal. You are able to pull up next to lions, cheetahs, elephants, and any other animal you can think of! When I went on safari in the Kruger National Park we had to stay on the roads and paths that were marked and were unable to off road for closer viewing. Although I’m happy I visited the Kruger National Park, I highly recommend and prefer the Masai Mara Game Reserve! This is also a Reserve versus a National Park because it belongs to the red robed, tall, local Masai people. Not only for these reasons is the Masai Mara Game Reserve special, but there is also a spiritual element that makes your soul feel at peace and free while you are here. Some of my best memories were created while here on safari. A few specialties of the Masai Mara are the big skies, hot air ballooning, lion sightings, wildebeest migration, open grassland and savannahs, Rift Valley escarpment, and you can enjoy a personal visit with the Masai Mara locals. The big skies in the Masai Mara are just what you picture when you think of African skies and sunsets. Impeccable colors and beauty all around! The lion sightings are amazing! You are able to pull up right next to a pride of lions and enjoy watching them in their natural habitat. The wildebeest migration happens in early July or sometimes into August, The open savannahs make a perfect backdrop for viewing animals, taking photos, and enjoying the beautiful African sunsets. It also helps with spotting animals from a distance and driving up to get a closer look! A personal visit with the Masai Mara people in their village is a must! They will show you their day to day lives, teach you about their traditions, and tour you through their village. The very first day on Masai Mara safari you see big 5 again! I can assure you that you will be most excited if you sport a leopard, In the Kruger National Park could see a leopard but it isn’t close enough, driving and keeping an eye out for a leopard since they are really hard to spot. They camouflage very well, therefore making them difficult to spot. The leopard is an exquisite animal. Its beauty is magnificent. To catch a leopard in a still moment is a hard feat, as they can run up to speeds of 56mph. If you are lucky enough to catch one at rest, you will never forget it! The first prides of lions you encounter are also an epic experience for you. The Masai Mara National Park is unquestionably one of the great wildlife safari destinations on Earth. So how do you make it even better? Like so many of our wilderness areas, the Mara is under pressure, in part due to its enormous appeal to lovers of the natural world. Efforts are being made to seek ways to protect it and retain the extraordinary spectacle it provides for future generations of safari-goers. And your visit can make a huge difference. Syd Downey arrived in Kenya in January 1925, a nineteen-year-old hungry for safari adventure. He lived in a grass hut, rode a Harley Davidson and earned two dollars a month by hunting. He made his first safari to masai mara in 1929, dropping down the Rift Valley escarpment west of Nairobi and carving a path out to the vast plains beyond. Each day he and his clients would choose an area with a few trees to pitch their tents in, and then remove all trace of their presence when they left. It would take them days to return to Nairobi, their car’s engine boiling furiously under the strain. Syd and his friend Donald Ker would cover over their tracks, so other people couldn’t find the places they went to. ‘Safari’ means ‘journey’ in Kiswahili, but every Masai Mara trip taken with Syd was an adventure. Once he took a route so unsuitable he burst every one of his tires. His glamorous guests were made to stuff the burst tyres with grass, and they bumped along at a snail’s pace. On another occasion, Downey forgot all the food apart from a wheel of cheese. His clients later gave him a silver plaque to commemorate the Great Cheese Safari. But the wheels of change were turning. After the Second World War, Syd was told that if he wanted the animals and the landscape of the Mara to be protected, it would have to be opened up to mass tourism. Before long, his secret Masai Mara tracks had become roads, and his favorite camping safari spot, with its immense panorama over the plains, had become a hotel. Over the following decades the Masai Mara Wildlife Park would draw people from all over the world, attracted by the opportunity to see a wealth of wildlife unlike anywhere else on the planet, to gaze over endless vistas and to feel, if only for a moment, the magic sense of exploration that Downey had experienced years before. The Mara became the centerpiece of Kenya safari tourism product. Palm-fringed white sand beaches and other national parks diversified the offering, but the Mara remained the quintessential safari destination.
Tourism is now Kenya’s second-largest foreign currency earner, accounting for up to twelve per cent of gross domestic product and employing 1.3 per cent of the population. But it has taken a knock in the last two years. Ebola broke out in West Africa, The epidemic struck over 3000 miles away, the distance from London to New York, but hyperbolic and misinformed responses tarnished the whole continent. It became a pan-African problem, and it dealt a heavy blow to hoteliers and tour operators in Masai Mara. The silver lining of the fall-off in tourism, conservation experts say, is that the land in the Mara, which usually receives thousands of vehicles, has had time to recover. “Never in the last thirty years has there been a better time to go to the Mara,” says Kayla Makena a safari guide who has been taking guests on Masai Mara safaris for forty years. Thankfully, tourists are once again returning in their numbers, realizing that Ebola is not a concern in Kenya, and with confidence in the country’s security restored.
President Barack Obama will make his first trip as president of United States of America to Kenya, the country of his father's birth. The White House says Obama will visit for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which brings together business leaders, international organizations and governments. Obama has visited Kenya three times in the past, including once as a U.S. senator, but never as president. Hotels and camps in Maasai Mara National Reserve has started receiving visitors attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit with more others expected after the event. Tourism is one of the sectors expected to benefit greatly from US President Barrack Obama's visit, after the 3 day state visit, president Obama said “I still love going to the Masai Mara National Park and the Serengeti, it’s magical” Lamu Island is also high on my list. My wife Michelle and I went there when we were engaged.” President Obama went on to describe the intimate moments he and his wife shared in Lamu during their engagement, “I remember taking the dhows out to the sea for fishing and then cooking the fish right at the beach… It was remarkable!” President Obama also said he is ready to explore other destinations in East Africa. “I definitely want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I cannot do that now as President as it poses a security threat. The Secret Service would not be too happy if I did,” he joked. President Obama had earlier pledged his support to Kenya saying, “My presence in Kenya should show the world that Kenya is safe. I will be back.’’ He had also promised to bring his wife and daughters on family along in his next safari after he retires from office. “I will be back to Kenya on holiday next time, maybe not in a suit. I will also come with Malia and Sasha. My family loves Kenya,” said the American President. Also world renowned television talk show celebrity Oprah Winfrey is in Tanzania for a week-long tour to Serengeti National Park, in what has been described as the star’s private safari of a lifetime, The Oprah Winfrey Show host and self-made billionaire who also happens to be an actress in the 2013 movie ‘The Butler’ is dying to see Serengeti National Park. Oprah will be sure to witness the annual Wildebeest migration where millions of wild animals including Zebras and Wildebeests battle with crocodiles as they attempt to cross the Mara River reaching into Masai Mara National Park in Kenya. The Masai Mara is a vast area of undulating plains in the southwest of the country. It forms the northernmost part of the 6000 square kilometre Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, which supports more than 95 mammal species and over 550 bird species, making it one of the most appealing safari destinations in Africa. The state-protected area – the Masai Mara Predator Reserve – is, at 1500 square kilometers relatively small, just one quarter of the entire ecosystem. Equally important for the wildlife is the Greater Mara landscape, encompassing the adjacent community lands and the adjoining Loita Plains. Vast herds of wildebeest and plains game follow seasonal migratory patterns in search of grass. Territorial predators lie in wait for their arrival. On every day of the year, the now-familiar drama of shifting predator-prey relations plays out on this land. The Narok County Council, which manages the National Reserve, has attracted criticism in the past for the high number of vehicles, tourist lodges and settlements that are overburdening the ecosystem. In the last fifty years a number of safari lodges have been built inside the Masai Mara reserve, despite an official moratorium on construction. Shanty towns have sprung up on the edge of protected areas. But the creation of conservancies all around the Masai Mara National Reserve, privately owned areas of land set aside for the protection of wildlife – has increased the protected area from a quarter to almost half of the entire ecosystem: a triumph for conservationists. As I write this, approximately one million hungry wildebeest will be on the move north from the short-grass plains of the Serengeti in search of fresh grazing and water. They will be accompanied by zebra and gazelle; and a host of predators will be waiting for them. Between them and the abundant plains is the fast-flowing Mara River, replenished by recent rains. Thousands of animals accumulate on the southern banks of the river, hesitant to cross. The muddy water is teeming with hungry crocodiles, waiting to snap up the hapless beasts. But the pull of the grazing beyond is too great and eventually one goes. Then, in a dramatic frenzy, they all follow. Columns of panicked wildebeest and plains game leap into the river and battle across. It is no surprise that wildlife-lovers travel from across the globe to witness this phenomenal event, which usually takes place around July-September each year (it varies). It is a focal point, but one which should not overshadow the abundant game-viewing available year-round. So how to get the very best out of the Mara? Head to the Masai Mara conservancies, during the last safari to Masai Mara National, the sun was dropping and the sky softening from blue to purple above the golden plains. My guests tourists from Italy and I were quietly watching a young male cheetah. The dome of its small head was barely visible above the sweet red-oat grass. Alonso was beginning to talk me through the cheetah’s hunting tactics when we found ourselves in the path of a convoy of minibuses. A driver had spotted the cheetah, notified a number of others via radio, and they had raced across the reserve to secure their clients another great wildlife sighting. Many people believe there are too many vehicles in the system at peak times. The debate will no doubt be lengthy, but you can avoid inadvertently contributing to this problem by staying on one of the conservancies that fringe the National Reserve. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to visit the core area – most safari companies in Masai Mara conservancies run day-trips into the Masai Mara National Reserve. But it does mean you’ll encounter fewer vehicles and you will have more flexibility to explore. In addition to game drives, walking safaris and also night game drives are permitted on some conservancies, unlike in the National Reserve. Make space: Consider how many others you will be sharing your wilderness with. Jake Grieves-Cook was an early pioneer of the Masai Mara conservancy model and instrumental in determining a metric for how many beds per hectare a conservancy should offer. To do this, he climbed to the top of a hill, and looked out over Ol Kinyei, a 7000-acre estate. “Knowing where the borders are, I asked myself how many vehicles would be reasonable in that 7000-acre area. I basically came to the conclusion that the maximum should be five vehicles,” he said. From there, he did some more basic maths: “Okay, five vehicles, so 1400 acres per vehicle. In one vehicle, you have two tents, so that’s 700 acres per tent.” As a result, today the conservancies offer a more exclusive wildlife viewing experience as visitor numbers are limited by a similar formula in all of them. “This conservancy concept has made a major contribution to conservation of the Mara and has prevented the leased areas from becoming fragmented, fenced and developed into settlements, shambas, residential houses, villages, commercial buildings and shopping centers, which is now the situation in most of the remaining areas around the Mara reserve,” said Grieves-Cook.
The Mara Triangle – the northwestern third of the National Reserve – is also considered better managed than the southern sector of the park. A dedicated non-profit organization was established to manage it in 2000, after local leaders became concerned by the threat to the Triangle from rampant poaching, corruption, insecurity and the disintegration of infrastructure and assets. It now hosts seven lodges and a number of private and public campsites to cater for every budget. Look beyond the migration: Charlie McConnell, who with his wife Mouse has been guiding in the Mara for forty years, suggests that unless you are bound by school holidays you should visit out of season: “It’s the world’s best wildlife spectacle just as much for the other seven months of the year. The Masai Mara is one of the few truly unseasonal safari destinations in Africa. Throughout the year the roads are largely passable and you are guaranteed to see tremendous amounts of game.”
Weather patterns are becoming less predictable in East Africa, which also means that it is increasingly possible to see wildebeest river crossings at other times of the year. The animals follow the rains in search of long grass, but if the rains haven’t come, then they won’t cross the river, says Helen Gibbons of the Masai Mara Conservancies Association.< br /> Reduce the impact: With ever-increasing human populations around the National Reserve, and the resulting pressure on the land, strenuous efforts are being made to encourage tented lodges to be more environmentally conscious. In many lodges solar energy powers lights and hot water showers, and innovative waste disposal mechanisms lighten the human footprint. Eco-tourism ratings have been developed to help responsible tourists to choose which lodges have the highest environmental standards. These are based on sustainable use of resources, their protection of the environment and support of local economies. Seven of the seventeen Gold-rated facilities in the country are in the Masai Mara, according to Ecotourism Kenya’s website, more than in any other park.
Not only do tourists who use these ratings when deciding where to stay reinforce the importance of good environmental practice, they’re also likely to have a better time, says Gibbons. “There are a number of things they’re doing to get that Gold rating. They must have really cared to obtain it. And that’s simply going to make for a better experience.” Engage locally, In downtown Nairobi touts offer three-day Masai Mara tours for as little as US$150. Your Nairobi tour operator will no doubt be entertaining, and will probably make sure you do see the Big Five on his brochure, but by hurtling down from the capital city in a minibus only to return just two days later you will be missing out on a rare opportunity. A safari holiday to Masai Mara is not just about the wildlife. The Maasai people’s semi-nomadic, animal-herding way of life is endangered. Schools, healthcare, the distribution of title deeds for land, access to financial services and new agricultural opportunities are encouraging them to stay in one place. At the same time climate change, population growth and declining soil quality are making it harder for semi-nomadic pastoralists to survive. A lone young man dressed in a red shuka walking behind the family’s goats and cattle is a common sight. But for how much longer? Our driver would entertain me on the uneven roads with anecdotes from his youth as a cattle herder, and how his family struggled against big cats to keep their livestock alive. Technology is helping them to innovate: one nearby Maasai village, he said, is using strings of flashing bicycle lights to keep lions and elephants at bay. Tales of rites of passage also abound. Jackson Looseyia, a guide and presenter of the BBC’s Big Cat Diaries, told me that, as a young man, he once fled from his prescribed task of killing a lion with a spear over whelmed by a combination of fear and respect for the creature. On land neighboring the National Reserve, the Koiyaki Guiding School trains 24 men and women every year to become qualified tour guides, creating a new generation of conservationists. “Education is the best way forward for the Maasai people who are proud of their history and culture but who, again, have to adapt as the world changes and less land is available for people to make a living from cattle,” Jackson Looseyia says. By spending a little extra to stay in a Masai Mara lodge or to travel with a Masai mara tour company that has strong local connections, you are paying for the privilege of experiencing a lifestyle on the verge of extinction. You are also helping to safeguard one of the most important ecosystems in the world. Cherish every moment: Sam Stogdale, a safari guide today, was born almost a century but he shares their passion for the Mara and its wildlife. The way his eyes light up when he talks about it gives him – a tall dirty blond wearing a khaki shirt – a timeless quality. It is easy to imagine Syd looking just the same, enthusing about “his best four days of safari ever.” Stogdale recalls a recent vacation to masai mara. He and his guests stayed at the Elephant Pepper Camp, “The first day, we saw a lioness kill a wildebeest. Then she left it, so we followed her. She went off to summon another lioness, who had cubs. We sat for three hours watching them, with not another vehicle in sight,” he says. “The second day, we saw a leopard in a tree with a kill. Hyenas surrounded the tree. They tried to get up into it and then sat around at the bottom getting the scraps. The third day, we went for a walk and saw a pair of leopards mating. We’d already seen fresh lion tracks. Then three lionesses and four sub-adult cubs emerged from the bush. We just stayed sitting, with the lions watching us and the leopards. “On day four, we went for a game drive inside the Reserve and saw a mother cheetah and four cubs. They came across a herd of Thomson’s gazelle. The mum took off, caught a baby Tommy and brought it back alive to the cubs. The cubs spent the next hour and a half catching it, letting it go, catching it, letting it go. It was a game for them. “The next day, we saw a lion hunting wildebeest, then after it lost that it had a go at a buffalo. In the evening, we watched an amazing sunset over the Mara. You couldn’t script it any better,” he says, after a pause. “Every day the Mara will throw something different at you.” Listening to Stogdale talk about the Mara feels like dropping an anchor for a moment in another world, one that is more visceral and enduring than our own. It is the same world that Syd Downey battled cliff-faces and thorn bushes to experience: a world that we must strive to secure for generations to come. The Mara Conservancies: The renowned conservationist Cynthia Moss has stated that the establishment of conservancies in Kenya has been the single most successful conservation initiative since the creation of national parks in the 1940s. “Conservancies protect land for Kenya’s wildlife and create sanctuaries of safety. In addition, they bring benefits in the form of direct payments and jobs to the people who share the land with wildlife,” she said. The three biggest threats to wildlife are all related to human activity: habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and exploitation of wildlife and natural resources. In Kenya the human population has doubled in less than twenty years, to a figure of over 44 million today. Most of those people are poor. The World Wildlife Fund says: “In a world where so many people live in poverty, it may appear as though protecting nature is a luxury. But it is quite the opposite. For many of the world’s poorest people, it is a lifeline.” This is where the conservancy concept is so important. The land is leased by the safari camp operator on a per-acre basis from the individual landowners whose plots have been put together to form the conservancy, and with an annual increase in the rent the landowners’ income is guaranteed regardless of whether tourist numbers fluctuate. This removes the pressure to overdevelop the facilities and makes the low-density form of tourism less impactful on the environment – and more rewarding for the visitors. The environment wins. The wildlife win. The safari guests win. And the community wins. There is motivation to protect the resource. Here’s our overview of the conservancies in the Greater Mara: • Ol Kinyei The first private conservancy to be set up in the Greater Mara. It has recently been expanded to 6700ha. You’ll find plentiful game here with large groups of elephant, the Loita wildebeest migration passing through between June and November, a resident pride of over twenty lions, as well as leopards, cheetahs and giraffe. Wild dogs and aardwolves have also been sighted. Olare Motorogi Arguably the best place to watch lions. When the 13,000ha conservancy was established in 2006 the cats were in deep trouble. Today its prides are flourishing, with at least fifty individuals roaming the conservancy. A strict limit on vehicle numbers and tourist camps is enforced. Mara North More than 32,000ha, the biggest and most beautiful of all the conservancies in the wildlife dispersal zone, and includes Leopard Gorge and a stretch of the Mara River. Its member camps include some of Africa’s finest. Naboisho At more than 20,000ha, its presence is crucial to the wildlife dispersal zone, and the density of game to be seen here is among the highest in Africa. Like Olare Motorogi and Mara North, it is part of the Koiyaki Lemek Group Ranch and is home to the Koiyaki Guide School, many of whose former pupils are employed as professional safari guides throughout the Mara. Lemek This vast expanse of open plains in the far northwest corner of the wildlife dispersal zone is part of the old-established Koiyaki Lemek Group Ranch. Drive into the surrounding hills for stupendous views. Enonkishu 9700ha of bush country in the northwest corner of the wildlife dispersal zone. It enhances the life of its Maasai landowners through better education, cattle husbandry and conservation awareness. Ol Chorro A private 6900ha wilderness bordering the Mara River. The owners obtain their income from entry fees. Accommodation on the banks of the Mara River or overlooking the Ol Chorro waterhole. Olarro Olarro Lodge has established its own 2800ha conservancy, offering a wilderness with rolling hills, savannah valleys and acacia trees. Ol Derikesi A remote 8000ha in the far southeast of the Mara region, it is home to just one camp. The district is teeming with wildlife (including huge lions), especially since an agreement was negotiated with the Maasai stakeholders to create a strict cattle-free zone around the camp. Long-term view Nearly 100 years ago Charles Cottar started one of the first registered safari companies in East Africa. Together with Syd Downey, his son Mike Cottar took the first vehicle into the Mara. In turn, his grandson Glen pioneered the photographic safari, setting up the first tented camp for this purpose in the Mara in the 1970s. And Glen’s son Calvin has been heavily involved in establishing the conservancy model. “It’s a miracle what has happened on these conservancies,” Calvin told Travel Africa. “We are valuing wildlife by proxy; through leasing land. This is the only way to slow down and stop the alarming rate at which wildlife and its habitat has been removed.”

Wildebeest Migration

They know they want to. We want them to. The crocodiles want them to. The vultures definitely want them to. Only the hippos would probably rather be left in peace. At the edge of the river, hundreds of wildebeest stand spread out in a triangular formation. Over and over again they come tantalizingly close to crossing the river, get spooked, stop and run back. Their reluctance is understandable. What they are about to do will be suicide for some. On the other side of the bank, vultures feast on the carcasses of those who have gone before them and either drowned in the rapids or been snapped up by crocodiles. When it finally happens it happens quickly, you hear the cheers from tourists in safari jeeps closer to the river before you see them crossing. Despite the strong current, the first wildebeest make it to the other side of the river to safety and bound off into the distance. Dozens more follow, single file. A lurking crocodile snaps at one wildebeest and drags it down the river, but it manages to get away. The croc then grabs a calf, but it too manages to escape. Others aren't so lucky, your heart breaks when we see a wildebeest calf that has crossed the river safely but keeps coming back, obviously looking for its mum who didn't make it, when it is all over there are still hundreds left behind, Mara river is one of the best places in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve to see one of nature's most spectacular and horrific events. Each year about 1.3 million wildebeest and 300,000 zebras make the migration from the Serengeti National Park, just south of the border in Tanzania. While you have to be very lucky to see a crossing, between July to September, the animals that are usually spread across the 15,000sq m Serengeti are squeezed into the 1500sq m Masai Mara. It is like Christmas for lions, cheetahs and leopards, who can struggle to find enough food to eat at other times of the year, head to another part of the river known for river crossings, before you get there we see dozens of vultures circling above the trees and hundreds of wildebeest running in the same direction, When you arrive we are faced with a scene of carnage, the carcasses of about 30 wildebeest are piled up on the other side, below a steep slope, with about 40 vultures feeding and waiting, a zebra, still alive, is standing with a crocodile tugging on its tail, At another part of the river three wildebeest are stuck behind a body, unable to get past, they have consumed a lot of water during the crossing, been trampled on and are feeling weak, the zebra gets pulled on to its side by the croc and lifts its hind legs in the air. After a while it manages to swim away, but the croc follows and grabs its tail again, It stands still for an agonisingly long time while the vultures squawk around it. Eventually, while the croc is distracted, it scrambles up the river bank to freedom; Clapping can be heard from surrounding safari jeeps, but it is wounded and it is likely to be targeted by hyenas, unless it manages to stay in the middle of the herd, After a few false starts, the wildebeest and zebra start to cross again, when they reach the other side they are confronted by a steep bank, which reminds you of the ones Australian soldiers faced at Gallipoli in Turkey, They crawl over each other and the carcasses of those injured in the previous crossing, some swim back. Some get stuck as soon as they get to the other side and give up, exhausted, you urge them to get up and move before the next wave comes so they don't get trampled, some do, some don't, out of the corner of my eye you see a splash one of them has been taken by a crocodile, you watch for hours, skipping lunch back at Elephant Pepper camp to eat packed lunch from the camp and snack on fruit left over from our picnic breakfast, you know you are extremely lucky; some guests stay several days and don't get to see a crossing, It is not the only fortunate encounter you have that day, On the way to the river you spot lions rubbing himself against tall grass marking his territory, one of the lionesses wanders and lies a few metres from your car, She has one brown eye and one blue eye and obviously is blind in one eye, you also come across a leopard and her cub drinking in a creek, Mum wades over the creek and walks by your car, leaving her six-month-old cub on the other side, The cautious cub jumps tentatively from rock to rock, trying to make its way across, It gets to a wide gap in the creek and decides to take a giant leap, but falls short and lands in the water, Chuckles can be heard from surrounding jeeps, She quickly scampers to shore and catches up with mum, The Masai Mara is divided by a network of bush tracks, There are no signs, but the Masai guides know the roads like the back of their hands, On your first game drive in the Masai Mara National park, on the way from the airstrip to camp when you arrive, I see giraffes standing about 10m away, you see a herd of elephants beside a river chomping on grass and flapping their ears to keep cool, ostriches wandering across the horizon, and stop to watch a cheetah lying in the grass about 10m away, He rolls over, yawns and flicks his tail to shoo the flies away, At dusk you spot a family of six hippos in the river, surfacing and submerging, blowing air, As it starts to rain and cools they become more active and surface more, On the way back to camp, you see leopards in a tree eating an antelope it had caught earlier and stored there. Put your dreams into a reality as we take you on a journey into the homeland of the “African Cats”. This is a “true life adventure”. The Maasai Mara is one of the most famous Safari destinations in the world. Loved by Wildlife photographers and filmmakers, for its populations of big cats, Lion, Leopard, and Cheetah, the Mara is an extraordinary destination for Safari loving people. Private conservancies that offer superb and exclusive game viewing opportunities surround the Maasai Mara. Our advice would be to combine the Maasai Mara with private conservancies such as Mara Naibosho, Mara North Conservancy or the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya. The Maasai Mara is a 1,510 km squared reserve stretching to the border of Tanzania. Seven private conservancies of which Mara Niabosho and Mara North (30,000 hectares) are the youngest surround it. The conservancies offer a safe buffer zone for the Maasai Mara reserve and astounding accessible wildlife viewing opportunities. The Mara- Serengeti ecosystem, in Kenya and Tanzania, covers a remarkable 25, 000 km squared. One of the greatest wildlife migrations in the world occurs here. The Migration of zebra and wildebeest cross the Mara River and enter Kenya and the Maasai Mara between July and October, following the smell of rain and greener pastures. Your migration Safari in Masai Masai Mara will be outstanding. Included in your Safari will be the opportunity to view the Mara from the air. Balloon Safaris take you across the plains of the Mara at sunrise. It is an unimaginable experience to rise above the African plains at sunrise and smell the early morning free air as you rise to fly with the eagles. Chosen as the name of one of Kenya Airways’ new 787 Dream liners, the vast plains of the Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site are witness to one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles as well as many of Africa’s most charismatic animals, The tablecloth is laid carefully across the jeep’s bonnet, and from a wicker basket a thermos flask of hot chocolate is placed carefully on top, then the napkins, the hot bacon rolls (on still-warm brown bread) and croissants (with fresh butter and homemade jam). It’s the rainy season and the sky is a bruised mauve, red-yellow, dark brown; the grass a vivid, rude green. It’s almost a struggle to fathom this level of beauty. The West Serengeti, near Grumeti, at dawn, and you are alone (in human terms) and very much surrounded. From the jeep, you can see a group of wildebeest and zebra skittishly darting across the grass plains some 3km away. “There’s probably a lion nearby, which is why they’re panicking. But that also means there won’t be cheetahs, as they avoid lions.” Adele is one of the first female guides in Tanzania, and, at 28, part of a new generation of East Africans committed to conservation and aware of the precious value and threats to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Serengeti. With over 1.5 million hectares, the park has more than three million herbivores and thousands of predators. Wildebeest, gazelle, zebra and buffalo are the animals most commonly found in the region. The Serengeti can be divided into four regions. In the north it is hilly and wooded, in the southeast are short and long grass plains, in the western corridor are extensive woodlands and black clay plains, and in the centre is acacia woodland and savannah. Each vegetation area attracts different types of animals. The central zone – the Seronera – has the highest concentration of lodges, and the most traffic. The more remote wilderness of the western and northern edges of the Serengeti are more expensive to visit. Nothing prepares you for the intensity of the migration. The snorting, flared nostrils, the whites of the eyes of terrified gazelles caught in a throng of wildebeest horns, the weird, lolloping, ungainly gait of the wildebeest in their wriggly lines. The older, vulnerable animals left behind and being plucked off by opportunistic hyenas or slithering crocs. The panic, chaos and noise, the peculiar visceral thud of hooves against parched ground, the way the herd switches direction as if all connected to each other; and, if you’re really lucky, the plunge into the river. The Serengeti systems are influenced by the Indian Ocean Monsoons, and Lake Victoria’s local variations. The ‘short’ rains begin around late October. In late November and December, the herds of the wildebeest migration arrive on the short-grass plains of the Serengeti in the south and east of Seronera, around Ndutu. Scattered across these plains, wildebeest and their more jittery companions the zebra are everywhere – feeding on the fresh, nutritious grasses. But they move fast, so catching the herd needs up-to-date information, “The general macro-level movement of the migration is predictable in that it moves in a pattern according to the rains, but the micro-level movement is less so. Wildebeest wander around in circles, go north and then come back south again, cross and re-cross the rivers and are perpetually cloud chasing, so it can be difficult to know exactly where they will be, particularly in June and November, which are transition months.”
The wildebeest stay on these plains through January, February and March, with most of their calves born in a short window around February. Gradually they spread west across these plains, then around April they start their great migration north. By May most of the Serengeti’s wildebeest are moving north, seeking out fresh grazing and water. Around June the wildebeest pause on the south side of the Grumeti River, which has some channels that block or slow their migration north. The wildebeest then congregate there, in the Western Corridor, in high densities before crossing the river. The wildebeest migration continues moving northwards during July and August, some heading through Grumeti Reserve and Ikorongo, others north through the heart of the Serengeti National Park. September sees the herds spread out across the northern Serengeti, where the Mara River provides the migration with its most serious obstacle. This river pummels down through the northern Serengeti from Kenya’s adjacent Masai Mara Game Reserve. By October the wildebeest herds are heading south, returning to the green shoots that follow the rains on the short-grass plains of the southern Serengeti in November. Then it all begins again…

Why Do Animals Migrate?

What the animals are in essence doing is following the rains in search of lush new grass. Taking advantage of the strongly seasonal conditions, the wildebeest are spending the wet season on the plains in the south-east, and the dry season in the woodlands of the north-west. The animals themselves, however, play a role in shaping their environment to their needs just by the sheer weight of their numbers. The 800 km pilgrimage is an ongoing cycle of movement and dispersal that is not continually in forward motion. The wildebeest need to drink daily and their movement is very much dominated by the accessibility of water and they seem to have a sixth sense in following the storms. This epic journey has no real beginning or end. The life of a wildebeest is an endless pilgrimage, a constant search for food and water and it doesn't come without its perils, each year over 250,000 wildebeest will die as a result of injury, exhaustion or predation. When to catch it is easy to determine… being able to catch it is quite another story altogether, with many tourists often complaining of missing the passage of wildebeest in a spot where they were assured they would be able to catch some of the action. This is precisely the aim of this post; to help you find the best way to follow the route, giving you the most chances of witnessing this jaw-dropping event, while staying in the best mobile accommodation that can get you close to the creatures in most environmentally responsible way without forgoing basic comforts. The cycle of life probably reminds you of Elton's John's famous soundtrack for The Lion King, the Cycle of Life (if you watch Disney films, you'll know) and the African savannah is where it all comes to life with the annual wildebeest migration being the finest example of this. Truth be told, the fact that that the wildebeest are in endless search for food means that the actual migration is an endless circle with no start and no end. All throughout the year, this species keep moving onwards in the relentless search for greener lands, food and water, following the rain patterns over the Serengeti and finally arriving to the Maasai Mara. But one thing you must know, despite what the popular belief might be, is that the Animal migration is not always a continuously moving forward motion, not all the time and not in every sense. Sometimes they go backwards and to the sides, they graze for long periods of time, they split up, join forces again, walk in a line, spread out or crowd around together. There's no real predictability or certainty as to where they will be and how they will move forward, they are based on instinct and weather patterns, which can change every year, so this means setting out a margin of error is essential. That said, it's not that difficult to actually catch them and where you start will actually depend on what you want to see most, because if you really wanted to follow the entire route you'll have to spend a year between Tanzania and Kenya, and as appealing as that sounds, most of us can't afford to be jobless for that long. Your starting point will also depend on what time of year you travel, and there are definitely better times to do so than others, despite what many eco-lodges might claim. Your chances of spotting some of the migratory action are best and most spectacular between January through March and then again from July through October. I must apologise in advance for the constant references to Disney's Lion King, but everything about the wildebeest migration takes me back there, I can't help it, sorry.
The best place to start your wildebeest migration route is the Serengeti National Park, where the wildebeest are actually based the majority of the time (three months of the year camping out, feeding and reproducing) and where, if they could choose, they would forever stay and never leave – but food is a necessity and when it runs out they must march on to find more. They are stationed here from the months of January through to March, getting nourishment from the fertile short grass valleys and birthing their young. Between January and March as many as 400,000 wildebeest are estimated to be born and thanks to this you might also be able to witness a few predators that take the opportunity of abundant and static prey that's virtually unmovable to hunt and feed. The concentration of herds around the verdant Ndutu and Saleiplains is a sight that will take your breath away and one that also attracts a good number of cheetah, lions and hyena, so spotting those will surely be another plus. During this season your best bet of accommodation are mobile camps as there are no permanent luxury camps or eco lodges in this area. One of the best is detailed below. The Serengeti Halisi Park is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best, eco-friendly mobile camps that follow the "Great Migration". It may not be big on luxury but who needs it when you're getting the most proximity to wildlife imaginable with zebras known to frequently visit the safari camps during this time of year. This mobile camp will really take you to the heart of the action and sightings of lions, visible right from the campsite are not rare, in fact just the lake views you'll be enjoying from your tent will be simply stunning. You cannot get a closer Serengeti safari experience than at this fantastic camp where at night you'll be hearing the animal’s roar, howl and cry – a truly awesome experience no doubt! Your ecological footprint will be minimal thanks to the use solar-powered facilities and while the accommodation is basic you won't be lacking in comfort. The tents are all mosquito-proofed, they provide double beds and you can have a warm bush shower whenever you want. What truly shines here is the friendly staff that is eager to accommodate to your every need, they'll guide you to your tent at night, prepare your bush shower whenever you request it with a warm smile on their face and serve truly delicious meals that cater to every diner (vegetarian options included). At night you can enjoy campfires and gaze at the starlit sky, perhaps even remembering (if you're a Disney fan like me) the famous scene where Simba finds his deceased father Mufasa as a brightly shining constellation in the night sky, taking shape to comfort him in times of trouble and self doubt. During the day without having to move from your campsite you can observe as many awe-inspiring creatures approach your tent, from giraffes, to zebras and even elephants sometimes. As the hungry and thirsty herds deplete food and water sources in the Grumeti River area (more about catching amazing river crossings further below) and the Western Corridor by the end of June, they start to move forward towards the northern Serengeti, arriving there sometime in July, the zebra first during early July and the massive troops of wildebeest some time later, towards the end of the month. The timings, however, can never be 100 per cent accurate, as this largely depends on weather patterns that are susceptible to change every year. In a dry year, for example, you could find the first wildebeest arriving to the Mara River by early July, while in a wet year their arrival will most likely be delayed until mid-August, and in the case that conditions are exceptionally good, where there is plenty of water and food, herds will spread out from Seronera to the Mara River, so plenty of ground to cover for spotting them but this also means, smaller, more isolated groups that may be harder to find. But in general terms, even when accounting for seasonal yearly variations, the wildebeest are found to typically reside in the Northern Serengeti and Maasai Mara from late July to mid-October, and with the dry season well under way you will most likely find the herds congregating near water sources, especially at the most reliable of permanent water sources in the region, the Mara River (also filled with hungry crocs, so not one for the weak at heart). In Kenya's Maasai Mara you won't need to skimp on luxuries camps while supporting the local environment because this region is home to stunning private reserves and luxury wildlife camps, such as the Mara Safari Club. A few paragraphs above, in the previous section we were talking about how during July herds of wildebeest congregated near the Mara River, the most permanent reliable water source in this eco-system, but it is one thing to find them lazily grazing around the river, drinking or feeding, and quite another to catch a river crossing in full action. A gasp-drawing wildlife show like no other, you'll feel as though you're in the midst of a National Geographic documentary! If you really want to catch the herds in frantic motion (much harder but nevertheless rewarding) than you have to head towards the two rivers where it all happens. When it comes to timing, if you really fancy witnessing a river crossing, your best bet is being in the Mara River between late August through late September. This is when your chances will be maximized. However if you're on camping safari in one of the beautiful camps near the Grumeti River the best time to catch sightings of wildebeest roaming this area is during the month of June. This is when the herds head towards the river and where many hippos and large hungry crocodiles await their arrival. Of course you must bear in mind that river crossings and re-crossings can occur anytime before and after this period. Also, the rivers are long and the areas covered by the wildebeest are vast and far apart sometimes so finding a group of crossers is not always guaranteed. The crossings are also often rapid, elusive experiences, so you really have to be looking out for them throughout your stay. You also may not be aware (as many travelers aren't) that the Mara River is surrounded by Tanzania on both sides, which means only 20 per cent of it actually belongs to Kenya and as the Maasai Mara area is littered with accommodation and luxury lodges, to catch the best sightings, my suggestion would be to stay in one of the 11 safari lodges and camps in Serengeti North. More specifically the ones detailed below, which are both superbly located right next to river crossings. There's a price tag for everything they say but you can't put a price on and preserving the environment you've so come to admire (and wish stays untouched for as much centuries as possible) and this is precisely why it's of utmost importance to choose safari lodgings that look after the local ecosystem. This is especially true for Africa, where most of the continent has managed to remain virtually untouched thanks to the many eco-conscious efforts in place. But to ensure the viewing pleasure of generations to come it should definitely remain this way and we should all do our bit in helping if we can. Not too long ago, talked on the best eco-friendly safari camps in Kenya. Taking on some of my own advice I researched to create this post on finding the most sustainable places to stay when following the Great Migration. The ones listed here are by no means the only ones, and the list is ever-growing with more and more travellers worrying about their carbon footprint and more eco-lodges springing up, but at least in this post I give you an idea of some of the best and what you can generally expect in this type of "wild" eco-friendly accommodation in the midst of nowhere.

How to Cross from the Mara to the Serengeti by Road?

Yes, a tiny border post at Isebania does offer the possibility to cross by land. However, it is not an easy journey on either side, and will often require an overnight in Mwanza, Tanzania if you are traveling from the Serengeti. It’s an additional bumpy 5-6 hour drive from most of tented camps in the Mara, to Isebania. Once there, you would cross the border on foot and meet with your Tanzania guide/driver on the other side. From the Tanzanian side, it’s usually another 5-6 hour drive to get to camp as well. This is by no means a time-saver, or even necessarily a money saver. It is possible to hire a charter plane to take you close to Isebania on both the Tanzania and Kenya sides, to avoid the long drives, but it still requires some airport – border post transfers, and the same walk through at the border post. Border posts such as Isebania also frequently experience delays as trucks are making their way through and need to be inspected and so on. So as a tour operator, we are never quite sure about the timing for our clients, which makes it somewhat complicated to arrange guides and drivers to pick you up at either end, and take you to your next camp. As we are dealing with two different countries, safari vehicles are registered to operate in their country alone – hence the need to switch companies/drivers on each side of the border. As we prefer to minimize any chance of “losing our clients” as they make their way on foot, you can imagine why we might also suggest simply flying from Nairobi to Arusha to simplify the whole journey. If you are visiting Amboseli National Park in Kenya, in combination with a northern Tanzania safari, then the one border that is quite efficient is at Namanga. Namanga is more accessible than Isebania, the roads are better on either side of the border as well, which helps reduce delays. You still have to cross the border on foot to meet your Kenyan or Tanzanian driver, but it is easier to coordinate. It takes just two hours or so from the border to get to Amboseli in Kenya, or 2 hours to get to Arusha from the border in Tanzania.

Flying from Serengeti to the Mara via Nairobi/Arusha

given the above scenario, it becomes clear that while geographically it makes us sigh to have to force our clients to backtrack through either Arusha or Nairobi to cross a border, it’s really the best option out there. And luckily, it is no less expensive to do so, and flights are also reliable, frequent and connect very well. You can enjoy an early game drive in the Mara, and be in the Ngornogoro or Serengeti by the afternoon for a sundowner. The airports are also more efficient at handling visas and immigration procedures than the land borders. We do recommend our clients get their Kenya and Tanzanian visas in advance, especially if they are flying on Safarlink and arriving at Wilson airport in Nairobi. It makes for a more efficient immigration experience and you run a lower risk of delays and possibly missing your onward flight to the Mara.

Masai Mara Safari Information

The Maasai Mara is one of the most renowned Kenya safari destinations and for good reason. Its plains are home to huge concentrations of game and every year, from July to October, over two million wildebeest flood the plains providing one of nature’s most extraordinary sights. The Masai Mara camps here are usually tented and traditional in style, for an authentic safari to Masai Mara experience with a focus on guiding. Every year, from July to October, an immense migration of wild animals crosses the Mara River. This migration has exceptional population of millions of zebras, Thomson's gazelles and wildebeests from the Serengeti to Masai Mara. This happens because season changes (it is the 23.45-degree tilt of the earth's rotational axis that causes us to have rainy seasons and dry seasons). When seasons change so do the vegetation and the animals have to migrate in search of green pasture. The terrain of the Mara is mainly open grassland with acacia tree, and small seasonal rivers that combine to form the Mara River. River Mara drains into Lake Victoria (named after Queen Alexandrina Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and who happens to be the longest reigned female monarch in history). Lake Victoria gives birth to river Nile which has fed the Egyptian since Ancient Egypt which coalesced around 3150 BC. Other than the endless sounds of approaching animals of Mara, primal rumbling of thundering hooves and low grunts, what else makes this migration so spectacular? Masai Mara Tented Camp safari is by far the best choice to explore the wildlife on a Safaris in Kenya. There is nothing to compare with being in a luxury or budget tented camp safari to Masai Mara in a beautiful setting with the sights and sounds of nature close by. You might want to come to Kenya to see the wildlife and the beautiful African landscapes, while being close to the rhythm of nature, and the luxurious Masai Mara tented safari camps provides the perfect way to do that! Our budget or luxury tented camps safaris offer single or twin-bedded luxury camp accommodation in spacious, insect proof Meru style tents, with bush-bucket shower/toilet en-suite, Bathrooms are permanently attached to the tents and also insect proof. Experienced tented camp staffs are available all day to see to your every need and ensure your comforts at all times, guests are not expected to participate in any tented camp duties, allowing for complete relaxation. January 1, 2009 a new conservancy in the Maasai Mara Ecosystem was formed, formerly known as the Koyaiki Lemek Conservation Area. The Mara North Conservancy (MNC) is a not-for- profit company. The conservancy is a partnership between eleven member camps and over 800 Maasai landowners to professionally manage and protect the north-western border of the Maasai Mara ecosystem, which represents the heart of the most important wildlife habitat in the world. MNC consists of approximately 30,000 hectares, effectively increasing the size of the Maasai Mara National Reserve by 21%. This area is the key dispersal zone for the annual “Great Migration” and supports an extensive variety of additional species, the most recognizable include lion, cheetah, leopard, buffalo, hyena, elephant, crocodile, wild dog,giraffe, hippopotamus, and over 450 bird species. The +30,000 Ha conservation areas, lying on the northern boundary of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, is rich with wildlife and includes sites such as the world famous “Leopard Gorge.” This land formerly belonged to two Group Ranches and was subdivided into individual, private titles in 2002. Uncoordinated land-use decisions are severely impacting the ecosystem and its wildlife. Mass tourism, human population growth, lack of planning, poor infrastructure, growing numbers of livestock, introduction of agriculture, and charcoaling are just some of the issues facing the area. These issues are being addressed through innovative solutions created by the founding member camps and the Maasai landowners. To form the conservancy MNC leased land from individual Maasai landowners. This income is fixed and does not fluctuate based on the number of visitors. The idea of guaranteeing a fixed amount marks the first time that these Maasai landowners have received direct, predictable and transparent income from wildlife, allowing community members to plan for the future. Together, MNC and the Maasai are implementing sound land management policies, including managed grazing, holistic management practices, low volume and low impact tourism, and community land-use plans. Professional wildlife management is equally as important as securing the land. Brian Heath, Seiya Ltd. has been appointed as Mara North Conservancy wildlife and land area manger. Mr. Heath is a well known, international conservationist and has worked for more than 40 years within the conservation community. Mr. Heath and Seiya also manage the Mara Conservancy in Transmara, a neighboring conservancy. This allows holistic management of a much larger ecosystem. The aim is to create a best practice, world-class conservancy with long-term commitments to the environment, wildlife, and local communities. Mara North Conservancy’s mission goals are: In Mara North guests are able to enjoy early morning game drives, afternoon game drives, full day game drives and thrilling night drives. Game drives are conducted in custom built 4×4s for the ultimate wildlife experience. Game walks with armed guides are arranged for those who wish to experience the magnitude of the Mara savannah on foot. Bush breakfasts, lunches or dinners are arranged in beautiful and carefully selected areas. (Night drives, walking safaris and bush dinners are not allowed in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.)

Mara Safari Club Safaris and Conservation

As an iconic landscape species elephants are important to the survival of the Mara. They play a key role in the ecosystem and, through tourism, in the local economy. Their great size, sociality, intelligence and charisma make them important Ambassadors for other threatened species. Yet, the Mara elephants are currently threatened by habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and ivory poaching. Many elephants are killed each year and an even greater number are wounded by spears, arrows and snares. By engaging people in the monitoring and protection of elephants, we hope to engender enthusiasm for the collective custodianship necessary to protect elephants and the ecosystem. The data collected will include group size, location and composition and will determine the habitat use and migration routes used by individual elephants. These data will help wildlife managers protect elephants and to determine the corridors vital to their survival. Elephant Partners will make these and other baseline data available to the public. Furthermore, the project will help focus attention on the newly formed conservancies and bolster their important work; the future of elephants and other landscape species depends upon their commercial success.

Mara North Conservancy

The Maasai Mara – an hour’s flight from Nairobi, the traffic-riddled Kenyan capital – has long attracted khaki-clad nature lovers, ever since the early-1960s when it was declared a wildlife sanctuary. But change is coming to the great plains of eastern Africa.
Those seeking a more intimate safari in Masai Mara experience – one without a dozen jeeps parked around a dozing lion – are looking further afield to special conservancies that border the unfenced reserve. In a scheme that will change local lives – and revolutionise the safari experience – Maasai cattle farmers have torn down the fences that once threatened wildlife migratory routes, creating the Mara North conservancy, January 1, 2009 a new conservancy in the Maasai Mara Ecosystem was formed, formerly known as the Koyaiki Lemek Conservation Area. The Fairmont Mara Safari Lodge isn’t your average hotel. Located in Masai Mara, Kenya, it’s more of a campground style-resort than anything else. Each of the club’s 50 tents has a private bathroom, some of which even include a shower. Contrary to what you may be thinking, the Fairmont Mara Safari Club Masai Mara, with a bar and cozy indoor restaurant, will actually provide one of the most luxurious safari experiences you’ll ever have. The Mara North Conservancy (MNC) is a not-for- profit company. The conservancy is a partnership between eleven member camps and over 800 Maasai landowners to professionally manage and protect the north-western border of the Maasai Mara ecosystem, which represents the heart of the most important wildlife habitat in the world. MNC consists of approximately 30,000 hectares, effectively increasing the size of the Maasai Mara National Reserve by 21%. This area is the key dispersal zone for the annual “Great Migration” and supports an extensive variety of additional species; the most recognizable include lion, cheetah, leopard, buffalo, hyena, elephant, crocodile, wild dog, giraffe, hippopotamus, and over 450 bird species. The +30,000 Ha conservation area, lying on the northern boundary of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, is rich with wildlife and includes sites such as the world famous “Leopard Gorge.” This land formerly belonged to two Group Ranches and was subdivided into individual, private titles in 2002. Uncoordinated land-use decisions are severely impacting the ecosystem and its wildlife. Mass tourism, human population growth, lack of planning, poor infrastructure, growing numbers of livestock, introduction of agriculture, and charcoaling are just some of the issues facing the area. These issues are being addressed through innovative solutions created by the founding member camps and the Maasai landowners. To form the conservancy MNC leased land from individual Maasai landowners. This income is fixed and does not fluctuate based on the number of visitors. The idea of guaranteeing a fixed amount marks the first time that these Maasai landowners have received direct, predictable and transparent income from wildlife, allowing community members to plan for the future. Together, MNC and the Maasai are implementing sound land management policies, including managed grazing, holistic management practices, low volume and low impact tourism, and community land-use plans. Professional wildlife management is equally as important as securing the land. Brian Heath, Seiya Ltd. has been appointed as Mara North Conservancy wildlife and land area manger. Mr. Heath is a well known, international conservationist and has worked for more than 40 years within the conservation community. Mr. Heath and Seiya also manage the Mara Conservancy in Trans Mara, a neighboring conservancy. This allows holistic management of a much larger ecosystem. In Mara North guests are able to enjoy early morning game drives, afternoon game drives, full day game drives and thrilling night drives. Game drives are conducted in custom built 4×4s for the ultimate wildlife experience. Game walks with armed guides are arranged for those who wish to experience the magnitude of the Mara savannah on foot. Bush breakfasts, lunches or dinners are arranged in beautiful and carefully selected areas. (Night drives, walking safaris and bush dinners are not allowed in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.) Cultural visits and balloon trips can be arranged through the various member camps.All guests visiting the Mara North Conservancy camps are kindly asked to pay a Mara North Conservancy fee. Conservancy fees support Maasai landowner’s lease payments and professional land management. Mara North Conservancy is a not-for-profit.

Masai Mara What You Should Know

Well you won't get the tigers and bears, but you will get lions... So you want to put on the khakis, pick up the camera and live through the greatest wildlife experience in the world? Welcome to the safari life! Spotting big game in Masai Mara national Park will be one of your best travel adventures. Once you spot your first lion or elephant, your life will change. You'll be surrounded by wide-open landscapes, dangerous animals and the continent's intriguing history. So how can you make your first safari in Masai Mara memorable, enjoyable and easy? You just have to follow a few rules. And don't get too worried if you don't see the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino) in one day. Once you leave Africa, you'll always want to go back. This is Africa remember. When you travel to Masai Mara things can always go wrong - quickly! Just because you have paid for a safari tour doesn't mean the animals are getting a cut of the profit, and they are WILD animals. No matter where you go in Masai Mara there are rules and regulations you must follow when in the bush. Rules designed to keep you and the animals alive. Let us assure you, most rangers will watch you get eaten before they kill one of their beloved animals. Do yourself a favour before even considering a holiday to Masai Mara buy a good camera and some extra batteries. Masai Mara Africa is a photographer's dream - there's a reason why National Geographic has made an industry out of bringing you images from its sun-drenched plains, treacherous rivers and unforgiving jungles. Safaris in Masai Mara can be some of your most memorable experiences. Lions, rhinos, elephants, giraffes. You don't want to get substandard snaps or miss that shot because your battery has died. But in saying that, don't let your whole trip be seen through the viewfinder of your new Nikon D7000. Many travelers trek to Africa in search of the “big five”: buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant and rhino. The chance to get close to these animals in their natural habitats is an once-in-a-lifetime experience, and your African safari expedition is anything but a trip to the zoo, which is why we’ve prepared this African Safari Planner. If you’re planning a safari (or just dreaming about it), be as prepared as possible. Get some good guidebooks, talk to friends who’ve been to Africa and research, research, research. We’ve outlined some important safari basics in our African Safari Planner, from choosing a destination to getting vaccinated, to help you start planning a successful African adventure. Since safaris are often once-in-a-lifetime adventures, it’s crucial to get it right the first time. For the most part, safaris are a costly kind of vacation. But as with any other type of travel, you can tailor your safari to suit your personal budget. The length of your safari will affect its cost — although you may want to cut your trip short to save cash, the longer you stay, the less you will probably pay on a per-night basis. If you’re looking for luxury digs on your Masai Mara safari (or even just hot water and a comfy bed), prepare to pay more. Budget-minded adventurers should seek self-drive or overland safaris as opposed to all-inclusive safari package, but be prepared to camp in tents or navigate a 4×4 through the Kenya bush. If you’re traveling alone, you will probably have to pay a single supplement, as most package pricing is based on double occupancy. A luxury safari offered by a well-known tour operator typically costs thousands of dollars per person, per week, with all-inclusive prices covering tours, food, drinks and excursions. Fully catered luxury packages offer travelers the comforts of home in wild Africa. Accommodations range from air-conditioned suites to stylish tents (you’ll feel almost like you’re camping — aside from the hot running water, rich linens and first-rate service). Ultra-luxurious safari lodges can cost more than $2,000 a night, Disappointment is a word some people come away with when they get back from Masai Mara trip. If you want to see every animal within an hour, it's much cheaper to buy a ticket to the zoo. Good game parks don't have fences, they are sweeping plains where animals roam free. If you decide to go to Masai Mara National Park there are no fences. Man and beast live side by side. But this does mean seeing a lion, elephant, hyena, leopard and cheetah is not always possible. Safari guides will always have suggestions where to look for the animals. Lions love the shade and leopards love the trees, so don't expect them to just walk into the middle of the road. Africa is a living environment, you are just a guest - the myths about a wide playground full of animals are all true. And always remember Masai Mara vacations don’t mean animal-spotting, it literally means journey - so take in your surroundings. The environment is just as important as the creatures that fill it. One of the true great experiences of being on a Masai Mara safari is sleeping under the stars. Most tourists go straight to the luxury lodges, the outdated hotels - but they miss out on the real experience. Pitching a tent with an organized travel company is amazing for those who want to feel the African ground. Falling asleep to the bark of a lion, the footsteps of a nearby hyena or the grunt of a hippo can be awe-inspiring. But don't be fooled, along with the joys there are dangers. Your guides will run you through each little rule. Zip up your tent, don't walk about at night, and don't take food to your tent. And you might think these rules are a little bit over-the-top, just wait until you see the footprints around your tent the next morning. You'll understand why they are in place. But hey, that's what we are after - the chance to sleep in the wild. Just a quick note about Africa's favourite pest - the baboon. These fellows will be at most tourist places in Masai Mara - they know travelers bring food and aren't usually up for a fight. Secure all your food and belongings. Wind up windows in cars and trucks and don't take food into your tent or room. Baboons and their other monkey buddies are crafty and usually smarter than us, so if you want to see your new camera plus a sandwich disappear, then just leave them out. They will be stolen. And the last thing you want to do is get into a fight against the animals - baboons have giant teeth and will leave quite the scar. Better to just let them have it, but assert yourself so they don't try it again. So follow the rules. Africa is Africa - by that I mean things can go wrong and they usually will. Being in the wild will bring you in contact with all sorts of nasty infections. Malaria, sleeping sickness and dysentery are just a few of the lovely diseases you can pick up. So make sure you are covered, don't make a once-in-a-lifetime Masai Mara vacation turn into two weeks of regret because you didn't cover yourself properly. If you can't afford insurance, you can't afford to travel. Game packages, where you fly from camp to camp and join the lodge vehicles for game drives, often seem more affordable because you are sharing vehicle costs with other guests. However, the flights between the camps can negate the savings. Depending on your group size, it can be cheaper to hire your own safari vehicle (with an optional driver/guide) and drive from tented camp to tented camp. Your driver, vehicle and fuel costs remain consistent and can be divided by the number of people in your group. This could save you up to $1000 per person over a week. Once again, these are the kinds of things we can help with. Every destination has busy peak season rates, which can be as much as double the low season rates. Sometimes there are also shoulder seasons, priced between the two. If your travel dates are flexible, we can advise you on how to benefit from shoulder and low season rates in Masai Mara. It's important to be aware that the prices shown on our website – and on other travel sites – are based on low season rates. So if the price you're quoted is higher than the prices you see online, it's because you're probably requesting travel dates that fall outside of low season. Obviously, the time you spend on safari also has an impact. Reducing the length of your safari will certainly reduce what it costs! So, first things first, here are some basic rules.
• Keep your voices down - animals scare easily and you wouldn't want to miss a pride of lion because you are chatting too loudly.
• Always stay in the van, truck or 4WD – Masai Mara is not a zoo and its animals will eat you. There have been too many terrible cases of people getting out to try and grab the perfect photo; Especially Indians It always ends badly.
• Never turn your back - this is more for the brave souls who undertake a walking safari (one of the great joys of Africa). The only thing that turns and runs in Africa is prey, so lions will chase you.
• Listen to your guide - not every situation can be safe for you. If your guide advises you to move on or back away, then do so.
Go with a trusted guide - someone who knows the terrain, the best areas and the movement of the animals.
• Don't expect to see everything in one safari - You can spend months in the African bush and still see new animals each time you go over.
• Pick your time of year, if you have limited time, go when the grass is short, the animals are around and viewing is expected. But in saying that, animals don't have the same timetable as us.
• Keep your eyes out - people sometimes wait for the animal to come to them. They aren't paid performers, so search yourself. After a few trips, your eyes will become sharp and you spot game everywhere.
• And finally, listen!! You aren't the only ones on the lookout for the animals. Smaller, less aggressive creatures are also watching their backs. Bird calls, animal noises and strange silence can all mean a lion is lurking nearby.

Planning a Safari to National Park Kenya

anyone who has responded to the call of the wild and booked a Masai Mara safari holiday will identify with the raw emotion and euphoria the experience provokes. The sight of such formidable creatures in their wilderness environment somehow sparks a connection with the primeval recesses of human nature. In short, you feel rather small - and edible. Occasionally it is sobering to be reminded that you are not always top of the food chain, wandering into the few areas of the planet where animals, not man, are king. If watching David Attenborough's The Hunt on BBC has inspired your children, why not consider taking them on a Masai Mara family safari this year? Although Africa has its fair share of challenges when it comes to travel, it also has several destinations that are ideal for family holidays, Whatever age your children, health is likely to be the main issue when considering whether or not to go on safari in Masai Mara. Think hard before taking very young children to sub-Saharan Africa where malaria is endemic. There are exceptions – Masai Mara National Park is malaria-free. One of the most rewarding aspects of a family safari to Masai Mara is engaging your children with the real world, leaving Wi-Fi far behind, and watching their eyes light up as local safaris guides teach them how to identify animals by delving into their droppings or deciphering tracks around a waterhole. Our Family-friendly safari lodge offers an incredible array of activities for children; we have recently introduced a safari school programme inspired by the owner's children who are three to fourteen years. Activities include beading necklaces and bracelets, fishing for catfish and setting up overnight wildlife camera traps. Also in this safari from Mara Safari Club features a warrior academy where children aged five and above can learn how to track animals, throw a Maasai spear and live like a Masai warrior. Africa has a sort of bewitching charm all of its own. It's a very difficult thing to define. Anybody who has experienced it will be able to say that is the truth.' Of course, family safaris are not confined to Africa - India and Nepal can also put on a show when it comes to their own natural charms but nothing can rival the African continent for the scale of its wildlife in terms of size and number. For sheer biomass there's nowhere to compare on the planet for large mammals than east Africa, but do Masai Mara holiday safaris which evoke images of pot-shotting aristocratic hunters in spotless khaki uniforms always have an equally lofty price tag to match? 'They do not always need to be expensive, like the Daily Mail, often have safaris packages in their back pages, Yes it can be extremely expensive and yes, it is one of those experiences that you pay for what you get. A lot of money may give you more exclusivity but there are cheaper alternatives, Planning a safari can leave you wallowing in logistics like a hippo in mud. Will you opt for the big skies and big game of the Masai Mara, Perhaps you’re looking for something more refined – a few days at a chic bush lodge with fine wines and silver service – or is roughing it with a tent and some fire sticks more your thing? Then there are the seasons to consider, what to take, the costs, modes of transport, package trip versus tailor-made safaris and whether you really need to pack one of those khaki waistcoats (the ones that have pockets for everything from maps to Mars bars and an unspecified number of ferrets). Still keen, I hope? After all, compared to a century ago, planning a safari to Masai Mara has become a breeze. In 1892 Lord Randolph Churchill advanced into the bush with 30 staff and seven wagons laden with 20 tons of supplies, including two-dozen rifles and a piano. Small wonder he never made his mark as a great hunter. Thankfully safaris holidays to Masai Mara are now more subtle affairs with the emphasis on blending with nature, rather than blasting it with a ten-bore shot gun. Armed with just your senses – and possibly a camera – you’ll return home intoxicated with vivid sights, sounds and smells. No doubt you’ll have heard the bewitching ‘whoop’ of a hyena and shied away from the smouldering gaze of a lioness. The names of myriad birds will be fresh in your mind, while the pepper-sweet tang of the African bush will linger in your nose for days. Having said all that, let’s not forget the dust, the pre-dawn wake-up calls and those buttock-numbing game drives, when all you see is the retreating posterior of a lone warthog. Masai Mara holidays Safaris are not for everyone but, then again, those who have ‘gone bush’ in Africa invariably come back for more. Not convinced? Turn the page for a quick-fix cure in our ‘safari cynic clinic’. And if you’re already converted, turn two pages and start planning. Admittedly, the zebra-striped minibuses in certain East African game reserves do have a bit of an image problem, but they still provide an excellent and affordable means by which to experience popular wildlife hotspots such as Kenya’s Masai Mara. The fact is, though, that there are plenty of alternatives when it comes to getting around on Masai Mara trip safari, Open 4WD vehicles (excellent for photography) are widespread, One of the best modes of transport when it comes to Mara safari, however, is your own feet. Nothing beats the sense of freedom or ‘oneness with nature’ of a walking safari. Kenya safaris bring together people who have a passion for Africa and its wildlife, and you’ll invariably find that the day’s highlights (whether it’s a lion grappling with a wildebeest or a weaverbird patiently plaiting its nest) provide animated talking points over group dinners. Good guides and camp managers are also skilled at keeping the social side of things running smoothly. And let’s face it, we’re not talking about Scout trips where you’re piled into one tent and forced to sing embarrassing songs around a campfire. Most Masai Mara safari camps and safaris lodges have excellent facilities with plenty of space for those moments when you want to be alone. Not when you consider the logistics of maintaining a camp or lodge in an area of remote wilderness. Some camps are seasonal and have to be dismantled and reassembled each year. Then there are the high standards of accommodation, food and guiding, the high staff-to-guest ratio, inclusive activities and – for top-end camps – the inevitable price of exclusivity. It’s not necessarily that you’re hopeless at taking pictures – you might just need to appreciate the limitations of your equipment and the time restraints you have on a typical fortnight’s safari. Most of those dramatic, close-up shots of African wildlife you see are the result of hours spent in the bush, a pinch of luck and some serious telephoto lenses of at least 300mm in focal length. Either upgrade your equipment and spend longer on safari (ideally in a single location to become familiar with the wildlife) or choose the cheaper option of shooting less demanding but often overlooked subjects such as landscapes and camp life. A safari to Kenya is an ideal choice for a honeymoon, particularly if you splash out on one of the more exclusive camps or lodges. The honeymoon suite at Mara Safari Club for example, has a huge sunken bath overlooking the Mara where you can sip champagne and watch the sunset. As for the early mornings you can always catch up on sleep by combining a safari with a week in the Mombasa. Exploring Kenya's Masai Mara can satisfy that quest for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure within all of us, catering to our childhood dreams of seeing African wildlife up close and experiencing the magic of an unknown culture. "If you are an adventurer at heart, love good food, want to experience a culture that will change your life, and love animals, you must visit Masai Mara, When this guide was published, Masai Mara National Reserve fees were $80 per person (ages 12 and older) or $40 per child per day. Always ask whether these fees are included in accommodation package and, if so, ensure that you have evidence of having prepaid these fees with you when you travel into and around the park. Fees for over nighting in the conservancies are often higher but may include access to the main Reserve -- often if you stay in one of the conservancies, you'll have little need to enter the crowded National Reserve at all. If you're traveling with a tour operator, your park fees may have been added to your account in advance; alternatively, you'll need to pay in cash either on arrival or when you pass through one of the entry gates. Note: Discussions are afoot to potentially divide the Mara into zones, with cheaper admission to areas that will be set aside for budget and package tourists and higher levies for more exclusive zones where visitor numbers will be more strictly controlled.