In Summary
  • Every year, without fail, over one million wildebeest migrate from Serengeti, in Tanzania, to the 200 square miles of open plains and woodlands that make up the Mara in search for pasture.
  • It’s an attraction that brings millions of tourists to Kenya annually and as of now, lodges in the game reserve are reporting booming business.

Wearing a green shirt with a tourist hat emblazoned with the words Kenya and wild animals on it, President Uhuru Kenyatta stood in a Serena tourist vehicle and marveled at the beauty of the Maasai Mara.

Flanked by various leaders, the President spent a cold Saturday morning viewing the game in a park that has been designated as one of the wonders of the world. His visit was timely, as the great migration is ongoing.

“I think it’s important for people to visit this park because it gives you a chance, an opportunity to see the majesty of our creation. What the world has to offer. It’s an event that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. The only place you see this wondrous migration of these animals crossing over from the Serengeti in search of water and grazing land is here in Maasai Mara,” said the president in an interview during his visit.

Every year, without fail, over one million wildebeest migrate from Serengeti, in Tanzania, to the 200 square miles of open plains and woodlands that make up the Mara in search for pasture. The journey across the crocodile-infested Mara River is an amazing spectacle and takes place from July to October.

Being the high season, prices are high and though there is demand for beds, one willing to visit can still get accommodation. Various tour operators have packages, both on road or flying. Some of these can be found on the official Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) website, Magical Kenya.

It’s an attraction that brings millions of tourists to Kenya annually and as of now, lodges in the game reserve are reporting booming business.

Other than the park itself, there is the option of staying in one of the surrounding conservancies. Outside the main reserve are about five conservancies that offer low tourism densities and rich game viewing. These include Enonkishu, Mara Naibosho, Mara North, Ol Kinyei and Olare Motorogi among others.

Illegal structures

These conservancies are also home to some of the most exclusive, high-end, eco-friendly lodges.

Unlike the conservancies, the reserve is faced with major conservation and infrastructure issues. Increased poaching as well as unplanned developments is seen as a major risk as well as the haphazard development inside the reserve, in a bid to tap into the demand for beds.

Over the weekend, Phylis Kandie, Cabinet Secretary for East African Community and Tourism ordered the building of illegal structures to stop.

“The government will not sit back and watch the prestige of the world famous Maasai Mara get eroded,” she said.

The Narok County government has revoked at least 20 licenses which had been granted for the establishment of new developments in the game reserve.

The road to the Mara from Narok has also been a nightmare, for years. It was a bumpy ride for tourists going to the park band was awarded to a contractor who never completed the work which is, however, currently going on. Before visiting the reserve, ensure you get a ticket at either the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) office in Nairobi or in Narok town.

pmaina@ke.nationmedia.com