Possibly the most famous of the reserves and arguably the greatest wildlife destination in Africa the Maasai Mara has become synonymous with the safari and is currently being featured in the BBC's new series Planet Earth Live. Nature doesn't recognise borders and the 650 square miles of the Masai Mara Reserve effectively continue the northern sweep of neighbouring Tanzania's Serengeti plains, thus forming one huge ecosystem.
The Mara lands are famous for the annual Wildebeest migration which occurs from June to October when the Mara becomes host to an almost unimaginable half a million wildebeest seeking the grasses raised by the Spring rains of April and May. Having exhausted the grazing in the northern Serengeti the wildebeest head north en masse. This is an awesome sight in the true meaning of the word which, when coupled with the sound of thousands upon thousands of hooves pounding the earth, makes it an unforgettable spectacle.
The Wildebeest are not the only tenants of the land. The Mara is also the home to among others, zebra, elephants, and to the big cats; cheetahs, lions and leopards. Hyena, jackal, buffalo, eland, topi, impala, gazelle, warthog add to this huge diversity of wildlife.
This 18,700 acre tranche of land belongs to a Maasai community who set aside the land for the purposes of wildlife conservation. Ol Kinyei Conservancy is home to only one permanent camp, the Porini Mara Camp which accommodates a maximum of only 12 guests at any given time – making this not only an exclusive experience but one that respects the principles of eco-tourism. Located within the Serengeti-Mara eco-system, Ol Kinyei is renowned for its unspoilt and breathtaking scenery with diverse terrain offering on one hand open savannah plains and rolling hills on the other. The land, with its abundance of water sources in the form of springs, streams and rivers, coupled with spectacular views across the Mara plains, is home to a wide variety of animal species. There is a resident lion pride of over 20 animals and several leopards also have their territories within the conservancy and are often sighted by guests from Porini Mara Camp on evening or early morning drives. Cheetahs are frequently seen and it is not rare to come across large numbers of giraffe as well as Cape buffalo and elephants. The wildebeest migration also passes through Ol Kinyei when herds from the eastern plains of Loita join the migration to the Mara Reserve. The local Maasai make first class guides and are on hand to share their experience on what to see and do.
The Olare Motorogi Conservancy (comprised of the former Olare Orok Conservancy and Motorogi Conservancy) is 33000 acres of outstanding natural beauty and ecological importance. The conservancy directly borders the Maasai Mara National Reserve and it contains the lower valleys of the Olare Orok and Ntiakitiak rivers, riverine forest, the Ntiakitiak Gorge and a 12km escarpment below which are large areas of acacia woodland.
The conservancy ensures a true wilderness experience with one of the lowest tourist densities in the Mara region. The only safari vehicles on the land are the few 4x4s related to the handful of small camps within this vast area and there is a rich and diverse wildlife population with good numbers of predators and herbivores. The area is teeming with wildebeest during the migration season and there are several prides of lions and many elephants. Endangered species such as rhino and wild dog are also evident.
Olare Motorogi has pioneered the concept of community conservancies in the Maasai Mara and due to its success in helping protect the future of the area other similar projects are being implemented in the region. The conservancy has been built upon a partnership with the Maasai community where the Maasai landowners set aside the area to return to its natural state, creating a strategic buffer zone between land for human use and additional protected areas for wildlife. In return the Maasai receive reliable monthly payments for the lease of the land and gain employment in relation to tourism. Thus, the conservancy enables local communities to live in harmony with the wildlife whilst also benefitting from a source of income from conservation.
Mara Naboisho Conservancy
The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a 50,000 acre wildlife conservation area in Kenya’s Greater Mara Region. It borders the Masai Mara National Reserve to the south west, the Olare Orok Conservancy to the west and the Ol Kinyei Conservancy to the east.
Naboisho, which means "coming together" in the Maasai's Maa language, is a community venture to conserve the land and wildlife. In conjunction with input from seasoned conservationists, experienced socio-ecologists and tourism investors, the conservancy was created with the objective of combining conservation of nature and cultural heritage with controlled tourism and the enhancement of livelihoods for the local communities.
The Mara Naboisho Conservancy is now the second largest conservancy in the region and has a higher density of wildlife than the adjacent Masai Mara National Park.
With roughly 100 lions living in the vicinity, Mara Naboisho has one of the highest lion densities in the world. The largest pride in the Greater Mara Region - comprising 20 lions - has made the conservancy its home. The conservancy also boasts impressive herds of elephant, giraffe, wildebeest and zebra as well as Kenya's rare wild dog. In addition to the abundance of resident game, the Mara Naboisho Conservancy also serves as a migration corridor for several hundred thousand animals between the Masai Mara National Reserve and the Loita Plains to the east.
Olare Motorogi Conservancy:
Mara North Conservancy: