Located in the west of Kenya is the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Reserve is sometimes mistaken for a National Park but instead it’s a National Reserve one which belongs to the Maasai people and is managed by the local country councils. The National Reserve is one of the best known and famous reserves in the African continent. The National Reserve is flocked by thousands of tourists each year all in search of beautiful birdlife species and diverse wildlife within the reserve.
The reserve is well known for its predators these include cheetah, lions and the 1.5 million wildebeest. These magnificent creators migrate through the Mara and across the crocodile flooded Mara River. The main focus of the Mara is the Mara Triangle which falls on the North-Western part of the Maasai Mara. The Mara Triangle features one lodge with well maintained weather roads. Poaching seldom takes place due to the rangers who patrol regularly, this makes game viewing perfect.
The Reserve has a strict control with the number of vehicles allowed especially around animal sightings. This also offers a more authentic game viewing and game drive experience. The Reserve is a historical place with pottery and arrowheads dating back 2000 all of which were discovered in the Reserve. The Masai have lived in the area since dating back to the 17th century other inhabitants includes a diversified wildlife. The Reserve was established in 1961 and covers 1,510 sq km.
The Maasai Mara is home to the Big Five but the area is also home to a large herd of lions. The Mara Plains is full of Thomson’s gazelle, giraffe, impala, zebra and wildebeest. Other animals include hyenas, cheetahs and jackals. The Mara River is dominated by large numbers of crocodiles and hippos. The Maasai Mara is also well known for its abundant and diverse birdlife. Visitors can try a hot air balloon safari in the early hours of the morning seeing the sun rising above the wildlife and gorgeous landscape is breathtaking. The best time to visit the Maasai Mara is during the dry season which occurs from July to October.
The world’s tallest mammal is the giraffe. A giraffe’s legs are a towering 6 feet (1.8 metres) this alone makes it taller than a number of humans. With their long legs giraffes can run at a speed of 56 kilometres (35 miles) an hour over a short distance. Over a long distance they travel 16 kilometres (10 miles) an hour. Most of the time giraffes roam around the grasslands in small groups. Details
If you’re serious about seeing the wildlife in Africa, then a self-drive safari is the best option. Some people choose to go with a guided safari, a driver who knows the area and knows what they’re doing. Some travellers choose to own their experience and do their own thing, live for the moment.
There’s nothing wrong with both options what works for others might not work for you. However there are some important facts to keep in mind when going on a self-driven safari.
- Car: most people opt for a big 4×4 Land Rover but that doesn’t mean you can’t go on your safari without one. A smaller 4×4 Toyota or Subaru is perfect. You need to find out where you’re going because with some areas you don’t need a 4×4, but this depends on your personal preference.
- Tent: with a self drive safari you’re bound to spend at least one night in the wild. There are a number of camps at specific areas the last thing you want is to camp all by yourself in the wilderness!
- Torch or Flashlight: you need to bring one or two of each. The African wilderness gets really dark plus you need proper lights in your tent.
- Food: we all get hungry so having some snacks is a great idea. A number of camps sites have restaurants but make sure you stock up on your own food.
- Binoculars and camera: you really can’t enjoy a safari without either of these items. Make sure you have batteries for your camera.
- Map or GPS: a number of national parks in Africa are not properly signed. The last thing you want is to drive around in circles; hence a good map is needed. A GPS is also a given.
image courtesy of albatros-africa.com
When it comes to safaris one should be aware and adhere to rules and regulations. Two aspects make safaris special, bush walks and game drives. This gives you the opportunity to observe wildlife in its habitat. In some cases it’s quite a rare sight, at the same time there are guidelines which should be followed when observing wildlife.
• Bush vegetation is vulnerable. Off-road driving leads to erosion which leads to the infringement of unwanted plat species. You should only observe animals without disturbing them. Also avoid raising your voice on game drives as this can frighten the animals.
• Night drives offers a chance to see animals during their natural activity but excessive spotlights disrupts the night animals. Also it leads to temporary blindness and in some cases disorientation. Avoid cornering wild animals; it’s dangerous because one can never assume how a wild animal is going to react.
• What most photographers do is to try and get the animals attention because their looking for the money shot. This is done by throwing objects or pounding the vehicle which isn’t safe at all. This tends to scare the animals. Other things that should be avoided is clapping your hands or removing natural material from wildlife reserves. Always ask if you can do so otherwise avoid it completely.
• Your guide/driver has extensive knowledge about the surrounding areas, listen to them. Do not push for them to drive closer to the animals. Always respect and obey their judgement the last thing you want is an unwanted injury which could have been avoided.
• Avoid littering as this can choke or poison animals such as birds. Also avoid smoking in dry African bushes. Avoid sleeping outside unless it’s safe to do so.
I seldom go to the travel agencies any more. Sometimes it feels as if they’re trying to push certain places and products onto my itinerary because they’ll get more commission and they don’t really take my needs into consideration. So I was more than delighted to find this amazing website that provided me with the most ideal holiday solutions.
Where is it?
Go to www.andbeyondafrica.com and not only will you find a website that points you in the direction of some of the most luxurious, spectacular and incredible experiences that Africa has to offer, but a trip through the website is an African safari all on its own.
What is it?
It is like having your very own digital travel agent in the palm of your hand (or on your lap – however you choose to browse). It is a highly interactive experience that asks some leading questions to get you through a 5-step process – from not knowing where you should go in Africa, to packing your bags immediately and getting ready to embrace the continent. Not only is it a highly successful online business, but it’s stake in sustaining Africa’s biodiversity is made through financial contributions as well as hands-on involvement in research and conservation projects.
How does it work?
When the landing page opens, there are stunning photographs of various destinations in Africa. At the bottom left of the page is box with a question: Planning your first trip to Africa? Click on that. The interactive fun begins with the fridge door motif, where you’ll be asked five simple questions that will narrow down the search for your perfect African safari.
After answering the questions, you’ll be provided with a few suggestions for where to go and what to do – it’s a fantastic way to discover Africa based on your general travel preferences.
Give it a try!
Visuals courtesy of: africasky.ie, opulentafrica.com and travelinggreener.com