Overview – Masai Mara NR

Anthony Ham
By Anthony Ham

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guide to Kenya.

Anthony is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

Anthony is the author of the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya.

The Masai Mara is one of Africa’s most famous parks. The wildlife viewing is superb throughout the year. The grassy plains and regular rainfall supports a huge population of herbivores, in turn attracting many predators. All three big cats are relatively easy to see. The yearly wildebeest migration coming through the park is one of the world’s most amazing wildlife spectacles.

Best Time to Go June to October and September to October
High Season June to October and December to March
Size 1,510km² / 583mi²
Altitude 1,435-2,143m / 4,708-7,031ft

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent wildlife viewing throughout the year
  • Annual wildebeest migration (September and October)
  • Open savannah makes for easy wildlife spotting
  • Wide variety of accommodation for different budgets
  • Hot air balloon safaris
  • The park gets busy, especially during high season
  • Access road is bad so a fly-in is recommended
  • Roads can be in terrible condition, especially after rain

Masai Mara NR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

The Wildebeest Migration

The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is home to the annual wildebeest migration where 2.5 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelles follow the rains in search of new grass. They make their way from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara somewhere around July and August, and usually arrive in September. The crossing of the Mara River along the way is one of the highlights of this spectacular event. They slowly head back into Tanzania around October.


The Masai Mara is one of the best parks in Africa for seeing big cats. Even leopards are generally relaxed, and their behavior can easily be observed. Cheetah are often spotted on the open savannah eyeing off their next meal. Of the other Big Five, elephant and buffalo are plentiful, but black rhino is trickier and can only be found in certain areas.


The Masai Mara’s scenery is dominated by grassland savannah, but pockets of acacia woodland, riparian forest and rocky hills intersperse the plains. The Masai word 'Mara', meaning spotted, refers to these dots in the landscape.

Weather & Climate

Masai Mara has a generally mild climate that doesn’t deviate too much from a comfortable 25°C/77°F in the region’s Dry season (June to October). Variations in temperature are mainly due to changes in altitude in the park, with conditions getting cooler the higher you climb. The Wet season (November to May) comprises a shorter and a longer rainy period that sandwich a brief dry spell.

Best Time to Visit

The interlude between the short and long rains (January and February) and the Dry season proper (June to October) are the times to visit Masai Mara. The roads haven’t yet deteriorated because of rain, and thirsty animals crowd around the local waterways. The last two months of the Dry season are often when the spectacular annual wildebeest migration passes through.

Want to Visit Masai Mara NR?

Masai Mara NR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Cheap, cheerful and ideal for first-timers

Plenty of travel writers and tour operators can be a bit snobby about the Masai Mara. It’s East Africa’s most popular and best-known park, with easy access from Nairobi and a plethora of cheap accommodation options. All this combines to...

Latest User Review
Ryan S.  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Jul 26, 2021

Saw 4 out of the 5 big five here. Had an amazing balloon ride over the Maasai. Incredible time.

Full Review