Though I live in Kenya, I always heard very interesting stories about Maasai Mara yet I had never stepped foot in the place. I always thought is it a place for the affluent rich and the hotels there would cost a fortune just to spend a night. On top of that you need to hire a 4 wheel drive to go for a game drive in the Mara since a balloon safari or an aircraft would be a far-fetched dream.
In my heart, I had that feeling that one day I’m going to visit the Mara, though I didn’t know how. It was until last year when I was planning on what to do with my vacation days that I dumped into a site that was having good holiday offers that were in line with my schedule.
I was skeptical at first but I decided to risk it anyway since the booking price was reasonable and would not hurt so much if its turned up to be a fraud. So I went ahead and booked a short vacation holiday which was a 3 days safari to the Maasai Mara.
The 3 Days Offer
This was a three days budget safari to the Maasai Mara by road with two nights stay at the Rhino Safari Camp at the border of Maasai Mara few minutes from the Ololaimutia Gate. The package was full board and accommodation was in a self-contained tent.
- An evening game drive on Day 1
- A full game drive on Day 2 with a picnic in the park during lunch break
- Early morning game drive on Day 3 or a visit to the Maasai village or watch the sunrise up the hills after a short hike.
Well, before I went on to book the vacation I had to first check the itinerary to be sure what was being offered was actually genuine and would make sense for any traveler. My next action was to check out reviews of the place we will be staying on Tripadvisor to know what to expect when I get there.
Well per our itinerary, our safari was to start in Nairobi city at 8.00 am. We were booked in a 7 passenger van(all ladies) trip. We departed by 9.00 am and were advised that our first stop would be at the Great Rift Valley view point which is a beautiful scenery.
Our next pit stop was in Narok town 4 hours later where we were scheduled to have our lunch. We found the lunch ready and had time to enjoy interacting with the people of the area.
What followed was a 2-hour drive through a very rough road to our camp site. This would explain why we were advised to carry some painkillers for the dumpy ride would cause some pain for the fainthearted. This ride I would not recommend for pregnant mothers, babies or someone who just had surgery.
We arrived in our camping site and shown to our respective rooms after a few briefing about the camp and its facilities. We were given time to freshen up and rest from the dumpy ride, we had our evening tea and then went for our first game drive in the evening.
The Masai Mara is quite a place to visit for right from the gate you are welcomed by herds of Impalas, gazelles and wildebeest grazing lazily in the grasslands with no care whether people are watching.
We were able to see herds of buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, grant gazelles, impalas, wildebeest and even the serval cat grazing in various areas of the park. The beauty of the sunset was also captured for we sat in our pop-up roof van and watched the animals graze.
Day 2-Full day game drive
This is what we had been waiting for, a full day adventure in the game reserve interacting with the animals. The day started at 7.00am after our tour guide parked up our lunch into the van which for I explained was to be a picnic in the big animal sanctuary.
The tour guide explained that since the game reserve is known to have all the Big 5 species, to make our day adventurous we were going to go round the whole park looking specifically for these animals. This made us so excited and knew we were not going to leave the game reserve without accomplishing our mission.
The adventure saw us move from one corner of the reserve to the other and per every kilometer we made, there were always different species of animals to see from herds of giraffes, buffaloes, wildebeest, zebras, impalas, gazelles to the ultimate king of the jungle the Lions and their cubs, cheetahs, ostriches, various herds of elephants.
We got more than we could ask for or even think, down to the River Mara where the wildebeest migration happens though it was not happening to that time since it was in October but we could see the track of what went on in the month of August. There were many hippos in the River who were trying to cool down from the scotching sun and were not bothered by the crocodiles that were also basking in the sun in the other side.
Interestingly, there is a pit stop where people are allowed to stop and get off the van to freshen up in the bush, of course through good coordination between the tour guide and the park rangers before continuing with our drive.
When time for lunch came, the tour guide chose the plain flat grasslands that are free of animals are able to keep watch while in good coordination with the game rangers. They also avoid being in one area alone so we stayed close to another tour group in the picnic site.
We then re corrected our thoughts and realized we had not seen two of the Big 5 who are very rare I.e the Leopard and Rhino. So our late afternoon mission was to find this two. Luck was on our side, first came the Leopard who was lying lazily up a tree and looked like she had a heavy meal and was too full to even move.
At last, we saw the Rhino though for a short moment for once he realized we were watching him, he ran away and hide in the thick bushes. That concluded our day and mission was accomplished, though we were deep in the Mara we decided to start our journey back and used a different route which gave us an opportunity to see more herds of animals we had no seen before.
We were finally out of the game reserve at 5.30pm fulfilled by our day’s adventures for the fact that we had seen the Big 5 of the Mara. That was one long fulling day and despite the body aches from the dumpy ride through the rough terrain all day, it was all worth it.
After going through the whole reserve the previous day, we didn’t see the need to go on a third game drive and we choose to go on early morning hike up the hills to watch the sunrise.
This was made possible by a local guide who was so ready to teach us about their culture and how they are able to leave and interact harmoniously with the wild animals. We also got to learn about the various wild plants and their importance to the Maasai people living in the area.
This is one short vacation I would recommend anyone to take. There is so much that the Maasai Mara Game Reserve has to offer and whether you choose a budget trip or a luxury stay you are bound to have a good experience in the park watching the animals in their natural habitat.
You also get to learn a lot about the animals that you didn’t know like;
- The Lion known for the King of the Jungle actually survives better in the grassland than in the jungle hence the large population of lions in the Mara.
- The Maasai people are more afraid of the elephant than the Lion and would rather run away when they come into contact with an elephant but would stand and fight a lion.
Check out some of the safari options you can consider for a great experience from this great packages;