You cannot get a more quintessential African safari experience than a visit to the world-renowned Masai Mara; a huge expanse of tawny, sun-burnt grasslands, dotted with umbrella-like acacia trees, birds of every colour taking flight and heaving herds of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles ambling gracefully to the water’s edge. The Masai Mara is undoubtedly the “Jewel in the Crown of East Africa”; just the sheer magnitude of birds and wildlife on display is outstanding.
Here we have put together 8 magnificent experiences that you MUST have when you come to the Masai Mara.
- Witness the Great Migration
Rated as one of the world’s most spectacular natural events, the Great Migration. The annual trek of over a million wildebeest, zebra and gazelles migrating clockwise around the Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem, taking in two different countries and making time for birthing, courting and mating on the way. This mass exodus is not only noted as a wonder of the world, but is always a fantastic opportunity to see nature at its best. At a distance the plains appear to be infested with lines of black ants. A closer view reveals it to be wildebeests. The sound of their grunting fills the air and the display is almost unbelievable. Along the way you can witness the dramas unfold as predators lurk in the bushes, crocodiles wait hungrily in the murky waters as prey scamper for safety. This has since been dubbed ‘survival of the fittest’.
- Hot Air Balloon –
A game drive through the Masai Mara is most certainly a highlight, but no Masai Mara safari is truly complete without taking your safari experience to the skies. Gently drifting over the vast plains of the Masai Mara in a hot air balloon is the perfect way to tie up your safari. It is possibly one of the most romantic and evocative wildlife experiences one could have. As you start to ascend, beautiful features appear before your very eyes. The sun rising above the horizon and across the plains, the rolling hills and the meandering rivers. And best of all… the finest vantage sport for game viewing. Having a 360 aerial view allows you to see big game, and also gives you a completely different perspective of the landscape and mesmerizing ecosystem.
While floating above you can see why the Masai Mara got its name. The local people (Maasai) named the land “Mara” which means “spotted” in Maa, like the coat of a cheetah, the savannah is randomly dotted with hundreds of widely spaced trees.
After a spellbinding hour you descend and are welcomed with a sumptuous champagne bush breakfast. How better way to start your day?
- Walking Safari
In most people’s minds the concept of an ‘African Safari’ probably evokes the idea of game viewing by vehicle, and indeed this is likely to remain the most popular activity undertaken. But going on ‘Safari’ doesn’t have to mean driving around. Discovering the bush on foot allows you to fully immerse yourself in a profound way with the wildlife and the environment. You will be down at the same level as the wildlife, sharing its environment, and experiencing the scents and sounds of wild Africa. Being on foot allows you to learn about the flora and fauna which are often overlooked of missed while crossing the plains in a vehicle. One of the most fascinating aspects of a walking safari is learning about how the locals use various plants for traditional medicines, insect repellent, poison and even toothbrushes!
Finally there is very little to beat the way that adrenaline courses through your body when you spot your first animal on foot, be it big or small. It truly is an unparalleled experience and a memory that will last you a lifetime.
- Fly camping
For those who try it; it is often a highlight of their safari. But fly camping is not for the fainthearted or luxury addict – but if you think you want a challenge and a real African adventure, you might enjoy it… but you will most likely end up loving it! Fly camping is an adventurous, private and totally exceptional experience. Simply speaking, fly camping takes the name from sleeping in the African bush under lightweight tents, before the luxury era of ‘glamping’, and to be honest…sometimes it is nice to get back to basics.
Essentially, fly camping is associated with our walking safaris, where you will spend the day walking through the untamed wildness with our professional guide and ranger, and spend the night in your private fly camp. Adventure under canvas has the unparalleled advantage of being able to move with the wildlife as they move from one area to another. By constantly being on the move, it allows you to maximise your ultimate safari experience. As you journey deeper through the African bush, the wilder it feels and only the finest line is drawn between you and wild.
- Horseback Safari
Riding up close to elephants, lions and buffalo, or galloping with wildebeest and zebra, are truly life changing experiences. If you are a rider, there is simply no better way to see the Masai Mara than from the back of a well-schooled and fit horse. Horseback holidays are the ultimate, unique and exciting adventure safaris in Africa. Journeying through the open plains offers an exhilarating experience to see abundant wildlife and habitats that are off the beaten track. On horseback, you can make your way down narrow gorges to discover lush valleys filled with wildlife, or gallop alongside herds of wildebeest during the migration.
- Meet the Maasai
Ever noticed that there are two different ways to spell “Masai”? The question you might find yourself asking is which one is it, The Masai Mara or the Maasai Mara? The correct answer is Masai Mara. The “Maasai” are the captivating Maa-speaking, semi-nomadic people of Kenya and regions across East Africa.
No journey to the Masai Mara would ever be complete without an authentic cultural experience. Incorporating a cultural tour enables you to learn about their fascinating traditions and beliefs, and also experience and potentially partake in various cultural activities.
- African Sundowner
For those who are new to the concept of an African sundowner, you are in for a treat! After a day filled with exciting activities and wildlife viewing, there is no better way to round off your day than by finding the perfect spot to sit, with a refreshing gin and tonic (or your drink of choice) in hand, and start to watch the crimson sun dip below the horizon and hear the majestic sounds of the night jars starting to sing. The end to another perfect day in paradise.
- Experience night game drives
If the wilderness is magical by day, by night it’s a nocturnal spectacle on a magnificent scale. It is definitely an essential activity in order to have a full safari experience. This experience is unique to the conservancies, as night game drives are not permitted inside the Masai Mara National Reserve. The moment the sun goes down the land becomes another world altogether, a Martian landscape under the silver moonlight. Shadows of all shapes and sizes emerge from the rivers and bushes, silently gliding past the clearings and then fading back into the darkness. The silent night is often punctuated by snorts from buffalos, loud roars from lions, and whoop-whooping from the hyenas. The nighttime belongs to the hunters, the lions and the leopards. It is also the only time where you can catch a glimpse of elusive nocturnal animals such as bush babies, aardvarks, porcupines, genets and civets. Best of all, your 4x4 vehicle will be equipped with a powerful hand-held lamp that will sweep the ground, bushes and trees for creeping shadows and gleaming eyes.
Origins Safaris – Authentic African Experiences Since 1963