I recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of amazing days in the Maasai Mara, and the experience exceeded my expectations. I’ll take you through what my weekend getaway and what you need to look out for if you are planning a trip to the Mara sometime soon.
I was lucky enough to have a tour company organize the trip on my behalf. All I had to do was get to the designated points at the right time. One of my main missions during my trip was to see as many animals as possible, especially elephants (my spirit animal).
Day One: Travel Day
I am a sucker for long drives and road trips, but driving to the Mara is not for the faint-hearted. The drive is approximately 6 to 7 hours, depending on your driver and the amount of traffic. The road is smooth for most of the journey from Nairobi, however, from the main road towards the National Reserve is rough and bumpy, almost like an aggressive massage. Once you get to the lodge or camps, it is definitely worth it.
After the long journey, which started at around 7:30 am, I checked into the hotel just in time for lunch. After a two hour break, we set out for the evening game drive at 4 pm. I was lucky enough to spot a herd of elephants and a pride of lions on the first game drive. It set the tone for the rest of the trip, expectant and excited to see what else the Mara had in store.
The game drive lasted 2 hours, as all the cars are required to leave the National Reserve at 6 pm. We headed back to the lodge for dinner and a performance by Maasai warriors from the nearby village.
Day Two: A Day’s Worth of Game Drive
We were scheduled to have a sunrise game drive, but timekeeping is not one of my strengths while on vacation. Instead, we set off at 9 am which worked in our favour. As much as we had missed watching the lionesses hunt, we were able to see a cheetah and her cubs playing with a buffalo, more elephants, a leopard feeding, graceful giraffes and a hyena!
At lunchtime, we got to have a picnic in the reserve under a tree looking out across the park in its vastness. It was breathtaking, to say the least. As the last leg of the game drive, we went to Mara River and the border between the Mara and the Serengeti. As it was not peak season, when the wildebeest migrate, the river was somewhat shallow and gave us a view of the bloats of hippos and the occasional crocodile. Throughout the drive, the driver gave useful and humorous insights about the animals, the reserve, and the Maasai culture.
To end our last day in the Mara, we visited a Maasai village and interacted with the tribesmen and women. The men welcomed us and taught us to jump, and invited us into the homesteads. Personally, I enjoyed dancing with the children and learning how to make a few of the artefacts which they sold to earn money to sustain the community.
Day Three: All Good Things Come to an End
Sadly, I had to get back to reality and head back to Nairobi. Somehow the drive back seemed longer, but it was probably because I was reluctant to leave.
Although I opted to drive, the Mara has a functional airstrip in the reserve which welcomes over 4 chartered flights a day. Additionally, there are various activities such as a hot air balloon ride over the Mara and bush meals which can be organized in advance.