The Masai Mara is home to cheetah, like this one that's relaxing on a termite mound.

Luxury Safaris in the Masai Mara

I can’t imagine a luxury Kenya safari that doesn’t include the Masai Mara. It has all the drama and excitement you could wish for, plus magical moments of romance. Among other things, it’s the stage on which one of the world’s most amazing wildlife spectacles, the Great Wildebeest Migration, takes place, and what a performance it is!

Each day is an adventure: you can choose to drift over the endless plains at dawn in a hot-air balloon, or marvel at the bravery of the first wildebeest to run the gauntlet of the crocodiles and begin a Mara River crossing. Later, take a guided walking safari through wild, private land untouched by cattle or vehicles, or go on an exciting night drive, when you might chance upon a nocturnal hunt.

Even the accommodation, and taking a bath or a shower, can be thrilling in the Masai Mara. You can indulge your childhood fantasies as you camp out in a luxury treehouse, falling asleep to a hippo lullaby, or have the unique experience of bathing with views over the Mara River.

And let’s not forget the five-star bush meals and sundowners you can experience here, perhaps while a leopard calls nearby. Because in addition to the ample excitement, luxury comes as standard in the remarkable Masai Mara safari lodges – there’s nothing quite like enjoying fine dining by candlelight in remote areas, with your private butler to attend to your every need.

But, like many visitors to Kenya, you’ll probably remember the warmth and character of the people most. They take a real pride in their cultural identity, and readily share their fascinating traditions with visitors to their villages and schools. Your kids will leap at the chance to become warriors for a day, although it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to jump as high as the Maasai dancers.

When to Go

This is the most popular time to visit the Masai Mara, and for good reason. The Great Wildebeest Migration returns from the Serengeti from July to September, and at its peak the plains of the Masai Mara are covered with the animals as far as the eye can see. You’ll also get to witness a Mara River crossing at this time – an awe-inspiring experience. While it can get somewhat crowded, there are many luxury properties in private conservancies that offer greater exclusivity. The weather also plays along now, being dry and cool, perfect for game drives.

As it dries out after the short rains in November, large herds of resident game and predators congregate closer to the Mara River and other water sources during these months. This, combined with thinning vegetation and fewer visitors, makes for exceptional game viewing, comparing favorably with safari experiences across Africa – despite that the Great Wildebeest Migration has moved on by now. To combine exclusivity with the migration, merge a Masai Mara safari now with a visit to the Serengeti, where the migrating herds will be.

The Masai Mara’s long rains, which fall steadily throughout April and May, are followed by short rains in November – generally quick afternoon bursts. While muddy roads can make getting around an adventure, as it’s a quiet time for tourism wildlife experiences are highly exclusive. As the vegetation is in a growth period, the game is easy to see too. All in all visitors get good-value holidays during this time, provided they pack their sense of humour (and their gum boots!).

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