Garden of Eden
After spending some time with the magnificent elephants of Amboseli, we headed for the great migration in Maasai Mara. The region is known for one of the highest concentration of wildlife in the world.
Mara exceeded our expectations on many levels.
The Game Reserve
Maasai Mara, the 1,510 km2 big national game reserve is located in Kenya’s south-west. It is a part of the vast Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. The park is famous for the numerous populations of big cats including lions, leopards and cheetahs.
Best time to visit: From July to October when hundreds of thousands of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles migrate to fresh green pastures from the Serengeti plains.
The great migration is one of the most spectacular natural events in the world. You can feel the power of nature while watching the thrilling wildebeest river crossing. It’s like a TV documentary happening right in front of your eyes.
At Mara, the animals inhabit green hilly savanna landscape. Stunning views reach far beyond the Tanzanian border.
We stayed at the Enkewa Camp. It consists of 5 luxury tents, all equipped with bathroom and a safari shower. After entering, one notices the loving attention to detail like tissue cases made of the tent fabric, bed warmers and original Maasai blankets to keep you warm.
Delicious lunch and dinner are served in the dining tent. It’s a tasty chef’s surprise every day. House wine and beer are included. You can enjoy your drinks by the campfire while watching the Milky Way every evening.
After sunset, Maasai warriors accompany you to your tent and guard the camp during the night, as the campsite is unfenced.
If you need an internet connection, there is WiFi. However, when we visited a buffalo had trampled over the satellite dish a few days before, so the reception was poor. We didn’t mind at all!
The camp runs entirely on solar power. There is light inside the tents. The charging station for phones and cameras is in the lounge tent, which houses books and game boards as well.
Enkewa is located in the southern part of the reserve quite far from the other lodges. That makes the experience very private. Most of the time, we were alone at the spot of action.
The Game Drives
Enkewa offers do-it-as-you-wish-safaris. It means you can do unlimited game drives and search for species you are particularly interested in.
They will prepare bush breakfast, lunch and sundowners. And if you need a break from wildlife watching, they will take you swimming in the Sand River, without crocodiles of course.
Usually, the day starts around 6.15 am with freshly brewed coffee. After that, the game drive begins. At Enkewa they use open Land Cruisers. Small delightful details catch your attention even during the safari. In the car, you’ll find Maasai blankets and bottle warmers on your seat.
Useful tip: Bring some warm clothes. Because of the altitude, mornings are chilly in Mara. Keep your head covered. The Land Cruisers are fully opened. Don’t let the mild temperatures mislead you. The equatorial sun is intense!
The mostly Maasai team is very experienced and knows the area by heart. The drives are accompanied by spotters so you can be sure, you’ll experience spectacular sightings.
In Mara, you can get very close to the animals. We had many incredible sightings, and it’s hard to pick just one.
The park is home to all members of the “Big Five”, and we had a close encounter with all of them.
One day, we saw so many lions, we even stopped counting.
A leopard, on the other hand, was difficult to spot as he spends most of his day hiding in the tree-tops.
But our Maasai spotter did a great job finding one. He was resting in the grass, and we got so near, that we could even see a fighting scar on his shoulder.
We got an intimate look at an elephant baby learning how to use its trunk.
Another day, we spent the whole morning successfully searching for a rhinoceros. Even in the reserve, they have to grind of the horn to protect these magnificent creatures from poachers.
We were surprised, how cute a buffalo calf is.
Mara is not only about the Big Five though. We also saw a pair of exhausted cheetahs right after a hunt, checked out hyenas relaxing in a waterhole and watched vultures fight over a carcass.
For what is more, observing thousands of wildebeest crossing a river at high speed took our breath away.
They needed to move fast because the crocodiles of the Mara River were patiently waiting for their annual feast.
With a thick skin weighting up to 1 ton, the hippos didn’t need to worry about the crocs.
Then there were giraffes, truly the models of the savanna.
And marabous, and storks, and antelopes, and zebras.
We could go on forever.
If there were a perfect place for filling up Noah’s Ark, it would be Masai Mara.
The bush picnics
With unlimited game drives at Enkewa, we didn’t make it to the camp for breakfast 😉 Fortunately, our drivers were prepared. They looked for a nice spot under a shade providing tree, where bush breakfast was served.
On a whole day drive, we enjoyed lunch by the Sand River with an elephant herd passing by very much.
Drinks including a cold Tusker beer were provided.
As evenings approached, we took off for sundowners with wine and snacks to a nearby viewpoint. African savanna-sunsets were striking every time.
In our opinion
We had a magnificent time.
You don’t need to be wildlife enthusiast to fall in love with Mara. The vastness of the savanna and its fauna will take your breath away. The Enkewa team members are very passionate about their work, and that makes them excellent hosts.
Maasai Mara most definitely should belong to top places on your bucket list.
We booked 4 nights in Enkewa Camp directly with the management via email. Our package included road transfer from and to Nairobi, unlimited safari drives, park fees and all-inclusive on beer and house wine.
We were asked to pay half of the price as a deposit in advance and paid the rest upon arrival. Because of the poor internet connection, credit-card payment is not accepted.
The booking went smoothly, and every arrangement (pick-ups, drives, food) was met as promised in our email communication.
Getting to Maasai Mara
You can drive or fly to Mara from Nairobi.
Driving takes around 6 hours depending on road conditions. The last two hours after leaving the town of Narok are very bumpy on a dusty unpaved road. On the other hand, you’ll get a slight idea about life in Kenya outside national parks. Besides with good weather, the views from the road over the Rift Valley are spectacular.
A word of advice: If you choose the road transfer, ask for Leshan’s “yellow beast” for the transfer. It was a comfortable, well-equipped Land Cruiser and our driver was a perfect trip-companion. Also, in case you won’t make lunch, carry some food (biscuits, nuts) with you. Water is usually provided but ask in advance.
If you are not a road-trip enthusiast, you can fly using Safarilink or Air Kenya from Wilson airport.
Probably the best way is to drive to Mara and fly back to Nairobi.