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Masai Mara Fly-in Safaris

Imagine escaping the hustle and bustle of Nairobi in Kenya, to get on a light aircraft and disembark 45 minutes later on a dirt airstrip in the Masai Mara National Reserve. You might see giraffes galloping along the runway as the plane touches the ground, or maybe you’ll hear an elephant trumpeting in response to the plane’s noise. Your guide will welcome you with a smile and hand you a cold drink for the short drive to camp. You’ll probably make a little detour to see a few animals before check-in. A fly-in safari to the Masai Mara brings you straight into the open savannah inhabited by a crazy variety of animals. Lion, cheetah, elephant, hippo and buffalo. No doubt, you’ll see all of those and much more on your holiday of a lifetime.

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1-20 of 77 fly-in safaris to Masai Mara National Reserve

6 Questions About Masai Mara Fly-in Safaris


6 Questions About Masai Mara Fly-in Safaris

Answered by Ariadne van Zandbergen

What are the pros and cons of a Masai Mara fly-in safari?

“Although you might want to consider your carbon footprint, there aren’t really any other serious negatives to consider when flying to the Masai Mara. A fly-in safari is generally pricier than a road safari, but if you can afford it, it’s a lovely way to travel. On a Masai Mara fly-in safari, you’ll fly directly from Nairobi, Mombasa or one of the other main safari parks to one of nine airstrips in the reserve. The flight takes less than one hour and on arrival you’ll be met by your guide and transferred to your lodge in an open-sided safari vehicle. Chances are you’ll see some wildlife on the way. Your guide will look after you and several other guests for the duration of your stay at the lodge. This means that you’ll be sharing a game-drive vehicle even if you are on a private tour. Your guide is resident at the lodge and knows the area inside out. A road safari to the Masai Mara works differently. The drive to the reserve takes about five to six hours, and the last part is very bumpy and dusty. This can be uncomfortable (especially for delicate travelers) and time-consuming (especially on short trips). However, the drive gives you an opportunity to see a bit of rural Kenya away from the tourist centers. There will be a few photo opportunities en route, including a magnificent view over the Great Rift Valley. Your driver-guide will take care of you for the duration of your trip and all game drives will be in the pop-up-roof 4x4 in which you left the city. ”


Are flights to the Masai Mara safe and reliable?

“In our opinion, flights to the Masai Mara are very safe and generally reliable too. Several established airlines run scheduled daily flights from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to the Masai Mara. Guests travel to and from one of the nine airstrips closest to the lodge they are staying at. Depending on bookings, there might be several hops to pick up or drop off guests. So timing changes on a daily basis, but the lodges are kept informed and your transport to and from the airstrip will be adjusted accordingly. Safety is a priority for the airlines, which have been running bush flights for many years.”


Can I take photos from the air on a fly-in safari to the Masai Mara?

“Flights to the Masai Mara are basically tourist flights and are treated as such, so taking photos is usually encouraged. The formalities are generally very relaxed and the pilots like to point out highlights along the way. You’ll have a great opportunity to get an aerial perspective of Kenya’s southeastern savannah landscapes. Far away from any urban centers are villages scattered on the empty plains. The concentric shapes of the Maasai bomas (traditional buildings) are a recurrent pattern best seen from above, and you might be able to catch glimpses of the impressive Great Rift Valley escarpment too. As you approach the reserve you might see some wildlife on the open plains below; perhaps some elephants or a herd of buffalo. Make sure to keep your camera handy when embarking the plane. Shooting through the glass window is obviously not ideal, but you can minimize the glare by keeping your lens as close to the window as possible.”


What is the cost of a Masai Mara fly-in tour?

“As the price of a fly-in safari depends mostly on the level of accommodation, there is a big range in prices. A 3-day Masai Mara fly-in safari costs between US$1,200 per person and US$2,000 per person. An 8-day Kenya fly-in safari, including several days in the Masai Mara, costs between US$6,000 per person and US$12,000 per person. The price of a fly-in safari to the Masai Mara is generally higher than the price for a road safari. Not only is there the added cost of the flights, fly-in packages tend to use small luxury accommodation aiming at the high end of the market. These intimate lodges and tented camps usually offer exclusivity and service that guarantee a very special experience.”


Will I get airsick on a fly-in holiday to the Masai Mara?

“While most people don’t experience any discomfort on a flight to the Masai Mara, there is always a small chance you’ll suffer from airsickness. Of course, not all flights are the same – depending on the weather, the journey can be smooth or there might be turbulence. As the flight is quite short (between 45 minutes and one hour) most people won’t get very ill, but if you do at least you know it won’t be for too long. There are several things you can do to avoid motion sickness. Although it is counter-intuitive, it is best not to fly on an empty stomach. Ideally you should eat a light meal an hour or so before your take-off. If you know you are prone to airsickness, you should try to get a window seat. Reading or watching a screen are the worst for inducing motion sickness – rather enjoy the views outside. Last but not least, there are always antinausea pills. Don’t wait until you feel ill to take them, but rather take them 30 minutes before your flight.”


What type of accommodation can I expect on Masai Mara fly-in packages?

“While there is a full range of accommodation available in the Masai Mara, most fly-in packages use the top-end lodges and camps. These are usually set in special locations inside the reserve; perhaps offering an impressive view from a cliff-top position or on a watercourse. Styles differ but these luxury camps are usually very small (six to 12 rooms or standing tents) and it is the exclusivity that sets them apart from bigger mid-range establishments. They often lack the mod cons that one might expect from this class of accommodation; instead they aim to be ecofriendly. Many don’t have air-con, TV or even wifi in the rooms. The atmosphere is deliberately rustic and understated. Whatever the décor or facilities, they all offer excellent service, fine dining and expert guiding. While most fly-in tours are top end, there are some affordable options too. Some mid-range lodges might be located just outside the reserve. And although less impressive than the luxury establishments, they offer a very suitable base for spending time in one of Africa’s most iconic reserves.”


Masai Mara Reviews

4.6/5 398 Reviews
Emma Gregg  –  
United Kingdom UK

Emma is an award-winning travel writer for Rough Guides, National Geographic Traveller, Travel Africa magazine and The Independent.

Quintessential Kenyan safari destination, whatever the season

Grasslands dotted with graceful acacias, hundreds of big cats and enough natural drama to keep wildlife documentary film-makers busy year after year – the Masai Mara has it all. It also has some highly alluring and charismatic places to...

Full Review

Brian Jackman  –  
United Kingdom UK

Brian is an award winning travel writer, author of safari books and regular contributor to magazines such as BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa.

Big Cat Heaven

No wonder Disney chose to film ‘African Cats’ in the Mara. This is Kenya’s finest big game reserve, 5,000ft above sea level and home to all kinds of animals, from 6-tonne elephants to tiny dik-diks. Cheetahs patrol its open grasslands...

Full Review

Venkat Ramani  –  
India IN
Reviewed: Mar 23, 2023

Undoubtedly the best and must-visit place to be to see all types of wildlife at close quarters. Visiting Masai Village is a must. The price paid to visit the village is utilized for the village itself.

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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...

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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...

Full Review