After years of dreaming, I finally made my way to one of Kenya’s most breathtaking natural wonders – the Masai Mara. This dream began back in 2021 but with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, I couldn’t make it. However, I was determined to make the trip happen in 2023. Through careful research, I found an affordable tour company that offered excellent accommodations, and my excitement to explore this iconic destination only grew.
My journey started in April, and I was eagerly waiting for the day to arrive in Nairobi. Our driver/guide picked us up from town, and we made a few stops, including Naivasha, where we had a great opportunity to see the Great Rift Valley. The scenic views from the viewing point, which also had many tourists coming to take photo opportunities, were awe-inspiring. Our journey proceeded for another 2 and half hours, passing through Narok town with many farms and factories, and we made another stop-over for coffee and snacks before proceeding to Mara, where we arrived about an hour and a half later.
We checked into our hotel/lodge, the Mara Sopa Lodge, which is located just outside the park and close to the Masai Mara entrance gate. After resting from the journey, our tour guide picked us for the evening game drive. We found many tourists waiting to enter the park since it was a busy season during the Easter holidays. I was astonished by the stunning views of the savannah landscapes, which reminded me of my trip to Kidepo, which also had quite similar views.
Our guide was tipped off on a sighting for lions, and we drove towards them. I had never seen a pride of lions in my life, and the first time being in Mara made it special, and I’d vote it as my best safari destination so far. We also spotted elephants, baboons, zebras, and some amazing giraffes, including the rare Masai Giraffe. Our evening game drive ended with some sunset views across the park, and we had to be taken back to our Lodge.
We stayed at the mid-range facility, Mara Sopa Lodge, and I was happy to find internet here and some ‘warm showers’ – quite rare for some lodges. We retired early but had to prepare for the next day, with opportunities to catch the rising sun.
The second day was more exciting than I expected. We began our trip at about 7:30 am in the morning, and the Lodge packed our lunch boxes for the day since we weren’t going to come back early. We spent our entire morning checking out the far ends of the park and by mid-day, we had reached the Mara-Serengeti border, which is in Tanzania, and the Mara River with lots of crocodiles and hippos.
The Mara River is a famous place for the wildebeest migration, which usually happens mid-year around July and August. We missed the chance to see this great migration, but hopefully, we will come back to Masai Mara on another adventure. Our afternoon and the rest of the day was rewarding with more sightings of elephants, kobs, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, birds, and much more.
Later, we returned to our Lodge for the night, and they had arranged a cultural experience for the guests in the hotel lobby. It was quite exciting to actually see the Masai culture, but I was more eager to go visit one of the villages, which would be on the next day.
During day three of our safari trip, we had the opportunity to visit a Masai Mara village located near our lodge and the park. We were greeted by a leader who arranged for his colleagues to perform a traditional dance for a small fee. We were then welcomed into their homesteads and houses to experience their culture. We learned how to make fire using a stick and dry grass, which was very exciting. To support their community, we purchased local souvenir items, such as crafts, necklaces, and bracelets. After the cultural experience, we drove for approximately five hours through the park and stopped for lunch before heading back to Nairobi.
My journey to Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya was truly an adventure of a lifetime. I am hopeful that I will be back here soon to visit again, but all this was because of the good research on the affordable tour companies, with good accommodation options. If planning to visit Masai Mara for the first time, you can opt to come here during the busy seasons for the opportunity to see the great wildebeest migration in the mid-year months.