The Masai Mara is an independent nature reserve located in the Great Rift Valley, and is one of the most famous and wildlife-rich in Africa. The animals are free to roam both inside and outside the park, with some developing a synergetic relationship with the Masai people, as they travel around or through the local towns and villages.
This reserve is the ideal location to embark on a dedicated wildlife tour, with an immense variety of animals to observe throughout the surrounding landscape. There are numerous types of terrain, which enables a host of species to live harmoniously together and enjoy the beauty and bounty of the reserve.
Animals: The Big Five
Among the many animals that call the Masai Mara home are what have become known as the â€˜Big Fiveâ€™.
Elephants: As the worldâ€™s largest land animals, these majestic beasts are astonishing to encounter up close. The females are often found standing in groups, whereas the adult males (bulls) tend to be more solitary. Recently there has been a significant increase in the number of elephants in the Masai Mara.
Lions: Males and females are easily distinguishable, as males are significantly bigger and have large bushy manes. There can be between three and 20 lions in a pride, although generally they travel in groups of around twelve. In the Masai Mara, the lions are accustomed to the presence of humans and are not threatened by wildlife tour vehicles as they pass by.
Buffalo: Often found in large herds, buffalo spend most of their time grazing on the plains. Though seemingly serene when eating, this animal is very territorial and protective of others in the group â€“ particularly the calves.
Rhino: Encountering black and white rhinos is becoming increasingly rare as they are endangered, but the Masai Mara is home to a small number of these magnificent beasts. Both species have two horns, which are using during fighting and mating.
Leopard: The best time to spot these elusive big cats is either in the early hours of the morning or late at night. In daylight, the Leopards will be camouflaged in the surrounding undergrowth and are most likely to be alone.
In addition to the Big Five, many other African animals make this spectacular landscape their home. These include the Blue Wildebeest, Burchellâ€™s Zebra and Thompsonâ€™s Gazelle, while around the shores of Lake Naivasha there are Black-and-White Colobus Monkeys and hippos.
See Them All on a Dedicated Wildlife Tour
For a chance to enjoy the huge array of species that live in this region, a wildlife tour with a specialist nature company offers the most fulfilling experience. The best tours are organised in small groups, making them both wonderfully intimate and informative. An experienced naturalist guide will share their expert knowledge, answering any questions and making sure the group are observing the wildlife in the best possible locations.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in rare and endangered animals. Being passionate about her subject, Marissa chooses the expert-led wildlife tour itineraries organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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