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3-Day Masai Mara Safari Tours

The Masai Mara National Reserve is a safari destination that is hard to beat. Indeed, if you’ve been dreaming of an African safari, the image you have in mind is probably very close to the Masai Mara. This is quintessential Africa: wide open savannah, with herds of grazers moving along the horizon, stopping in the shade of isolated acacia trees in the heat of the day. You’ll get to see your fair share of predators too. Lion and cheetah are common, but finding a leopard requires a bit more patience. Thinking of booking a 3-day Masai Mara safari? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions that might help your planning.

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6 Questions About 3-Day Masai Mara Safaris


6 Questions About 3-Day Masai Mara Safaris

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

Is 3 days a recommended length of time for a safari in the Masai Mara?

“If your days are limited due to time or budget constraints, a 3-day safari to the Masai Mara is indeed worthwhile. Wildlife viewing in the Masai Mara will probably exceed your expectations, so you can count on seeing a lot, even on a 3-day safari. However, if you’re only visiting the Masai Mara, I would recommend extending your trip by a few days. A 3-day, 2-night safari is quite short, especially as you need to take into account the time to get there and back, and to settle into your lodge or campsite. It takes a few days to really get into the safari rhythm and adding more time will remove the pressure of trying to see all the major animals in a rush. If you are visiting the Masai Mara as part of a longer tour, 3 days should be enough, although you could easily spend longer as well.”


Is it better to fly or go overland to the Masai Mara for a 3-day safari?

“You can either fly or drive from Nairobi to the Masai Mara but flying is a better option, although it is more expensive. The flight takes about 45 minutes, so it is a good way to maximize your time in the reserve. The drive takes about five to six hours, and the last 100km is very bumpy. Still, with an early start in Nairobi, you can make it in time to the reserve for an afternoon drive. Remember though that you might be tired of bumping around on rough roads and you may not feel like more of it. Most fly-in safaris use luxury accommodation, which includes game drives with resident guides who know the area extremely well. A road safari is usually more budget-friendly, so you might want to consider the price difference as well. Although most people on a 3-day Masai Mara safari come from Nairobi, it is also possible to fly there from other reserves or the coast. This can cut out a stay in Nairobi, as well as the congested drive in and out of the city.”


What accommodation can I expect on a 3-day safari in the Masai Mara?

“A large range of accommodation options is available in the Masai Mara, suiting all budgets. Camping is the most budget-friendly option. Specialized operators offer very comfortable camping safaris, and it is perhaps the best way to feel totally immersed in nature for the duration of your trip. If you want to keep the price down, but camping isn’t your thing, consider a budget lodge tour. Although budget accommodation is usually just outside the reserve, it can still make a good base for game drives. There is a large variety of mid-range lodges inside the Mara. Many are larger hotels or smaller simple tented camps. Budget permitting, you can find luxury in the Masai Mara too. The high-end lodges and camps often go hand in hand with a fly-in safari. In this category, you can expect small, exclusive luxury boutique lodges, offering impeccable personal service, fine dining and excellent guiding. There are some rustic options in this category as well, including tented camps with furnishings reminiscent of colonial times.”


Which animals am I likely to see on a 3-day safari in the Masai Mara?

“On a 3-day Masai Mara safari you’ll be able to see most of the iconic safari animals except for rhino. Black rhino is present, but sightings are rare. The open savannah of the Masai Mara offers incredible wildlife viewing. Not only are animal densities very high, the open terrain makes viewing easy. If you come here in late September or October, you might be lucky to witness the annual migration of 2.5 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle as they follow the rains in search of new grass. There is always a lot of wildlife in the Mara though, and big cats are especially easy to spot.”


How much does a 3-day safari in the Masai Mara cost?

“For a 3-day tour in the Masai Mara, expect a starting price of US$300 per person for camping. Mid-range tours start at about US$500 per person, while luxury tours start at about US$800 per person, but prices go much higher than that. Safari packages to the Masai Mara span a wide price range, influenced by several variables. Lodge safaris tend to be a lot pricier than budget-friendly camping safaris. And lodge safaris aren’t all equal. There are different levels of comfort and luxury, all at different prices too. There are many 3-day road safaris on offer. Although a fly-in safari will be pricier than a road safari, it might be preferable when considering the time limitations of 3 days. Whether you book a private safari or join a group tour also affects the cost. If you don’t mind traveling in the low season, you can usually get a good deal. This corresponds with the Wet season, so expect some rain, but the scenery is lusher than in the Dry season, and the birding is at its best. I recommend shopping around and getting a few quotations before booking your safari. ”


How do I avoid the crowds on a 3-day Masai Mara safari?

“The Masai Mara is very popular, but there are ways to avoid the crowds on your 3-day safari. Consider visiting in the low-season months of April to May or November to December. This isn’t the best time for the wildebeest migration, but there is always plenty of wildlife around. April and May are the wettest months, but you will appreciate the lush scenery and abundance of baby animals. Some areas of the Mara are busier than others. The western area of the reserve sees the least tourism traffic. For a really exclusive experience, consider staying in one of the private conservancies outside the Masai Mara proper. The Masai Mara is one of Africa’s most iconic destinations. And for good reason. There are few places that offer the same quality of wildlife viewing in such a typical African savannah setting. Kenya has been marketing African safaris for a long time, so it isn’t surprising that you won’t be the only one considering a safari in the Masai Mara. ”


Masai Mara Reviews

4.6/5 396 Reviews
Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for CNN Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

Big cat country par excellence!

Where else can you be following a lioness and her three cubs towards their luggah hideout and at the same instant see a pair of cheetahs sitting high on their termite hill lookout? The Masai Mara has everything within an incredibly short...

Full Review

Sue Watt  –  
United Kingdom UK

Sue is an award-winning writer who specializes in African travel and conservation. She writes for national newspapers, magazines, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet.

Migration madness in the Mara

As neighbour to Tanzania’s Serengeti, the obvious attraction of the Mara is the chaotic migration of thousands upon thousands of wildebeest and zebra during July/August and then in October as they follow the scent of greener pastures. I...

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Lori Carlisle  –  
Canada CA
Reviewed: Feb 16, 2023

We had some great sightings in Masai Mara - 12 lion, cheetah, leopard as well as lots of birds. We visited in February and were glad that there were not hoards of tourists. Highly recommend a visit.

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James Neils  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Feb 9, 2023

We saw the famed Big Six of Africa, but also, a family of ducks, a hippo alone in a water hole, a leopard trotting across grassland, the famed Mara River with its crocs and hippos and the landscape takes your breath away. We didn't expect...

Full Review

Butch  –  
Netherlands NL
Reviewed: Jan 25, 2023

Masai Mara is a superb safari destination. It's large expanses are home to plenty of wildlife. Driving through it is definitely back-country, with mostly off road trails. There are very few improved "roads" in the reserve, so it has a...

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Lisa van der Hoek  –  
Netherlands NL
Reviewed: Jan 16, 2023

Masai Mara was by far the best park to visit on our trip. The park is rather flat, making it easy to leave paths at times; to see some special animals. Lots of lions, elephants, zebras, antilope etc. A great park where one can truly see so...

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