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Discover The Masai Mara Conservancies

Refundable, Rebookable, Authentic Maasai Mara Safari

Refundable, Rebookable, Authentic Safari

Masai Mara Conservancies

While the Masai Mara National Reserve is the focal point of the Greater Mara Ecosystem, in the last decade there have been a number of conservancies that have been established which border the unfenced national reserve. These conservancies are on private land owned by Maasai families that have been set aside for wildlife conservation and tourism. The landowners lease their land to safari companies and lodges, who then pay monthly fees which go back into the community, funding education and other development initiatives. In return the Maasai are still allowed to graze their cattle on the land, but only under strictly controlled conditions. As a result of the establishment of conservancies, Maasai communities have benefited from economic upliftment, while wildlife numbers have increased as land that was once over grazed by cattle is now being rehabilitated as wilderness.

hyena-stalking-wildebeest masai mara safari Credit: Mara Plains Camp

Mara conservancies are the best option for people wanting a low tourist density Masai Mara safari experience, as most of the concessions only have a few camps – and restrict the number of beds on the land – and don’t allow self-driving, so there’s a limit to how many vehicles will be at sightings. The other bonus of staying on a conservancy is being able to do the activities that are not permitted in the national reserve, including bush dinners, night drives, off-road driving and walking safaris, which are an amazing way to experience the wilderness and animals. On walks in the bush, Maasai guides will not only track animals but teach you about the ecosystem, its fascinating animal, bird and insect life, as well as the medicinal and cultural uses of plants.

The conservancies – which cover an area of land almost the same size as the national reserve itself – are concentrated around the northern end of the reserve, but they also lie to the east of the Masai Mara in more remote locations.

By staying at a Maasai-owned conservancy, you not only experience the luxury of exclusive wildlife viewing, but you also contributing to community conservation, improving the lives of local communities, and also helping wildlife numbers to increase.

Mara North Conservancy

On the northwestern edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve, the 74 000-acre Mara North Conservancy is one of the best of the concessions for its abundant wildlife, quintessential savanna landscapes and commitment to community conservation, working to rehabilitated overgrazed land and natural habitats and managing grazing areas. Game viewing is excellent, and particular highlights are big cat sightings and the dramatic herds of the Great Migration. Out of all the conservancies, it has the greatest number of camps – 10 in total – but there’s still a lot of space and privacy, as that means there’s nearly 700 acres per tent.

wildlife masai mara cheetah

Mara Naboisho Conservancy

It’s easy to see why this 50 000-acre conservancy is hailed by many as the top concession in the Masai Mara. To the north of the national reserve, the Mara Naboisho Conservancy has only seven camps (which means 877 acres per tent), so there’s plenty of wilderness without other cars – and the impact on the environment is limited. The concentration of wildlife is high, with abundant big cats and herds of wildebeest, elephant and giraffe. It also ticks all the boxes for successful community conservation: the conservancy was established when more than 500 Maasai land-owning families decided to join up their land (“naboisho” means come together in the local Maa language) in order to allow for wildlife movement – there are no fences between the conservancy and the Maasai Mara – tourism and grazing. In order to allow the land to recover from intensive herding, the Maasai now practice controlled grazing.

Enonkishu Conservancy

At the northern end of the Greater Mara Ecosystem, the 6000-acre Enonkisu Conservancy is focused on improving cattle management so that the ecosystem and wildlife can regenerate and local communities have sustainable income from both grazing and conservation fees. Wildlife to spot include lots of plains game, giraffe, buffalo, elephant and a pride of lion that lives on the edge of the conservancy. Lodging in the conservancy is offered on an estate that has been “rewilded” from intensive cattle farming and in simple bandas at the conservancy training centre.

wildlife masai mara antelope

Ol Kinyei Conservancy

With only two small camps (as well as two mobile camps) on its 18 700 acres of grassy plains and undulating hills, the Maasai-owned Ol Kinyei Conservancy offers privacy and exclusivity – one tent per 1100 acres – as well as superb wildlife viewing, with a resident lion pride and leopards, as well as elephant, buffalo, giraffe and more than 300 bird species. The camps in the conservancy also offer game drives in the neighbouring Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

Olare Motorogi Conservancy

One of the oldest and most successful conservancies, Olare Motorogi (made up of the former Motorogi and Olare-Orok Conservancies) has been a blueprint for other concessions and community conservation in the Masai Mara. It also offers exceptional wildlife viewing (with large numbers of lion and elephant), with one of the highest concentrations of animals and lowest tourist densities in the Mara: there’s a 94-bed limit on the conservancy with just one room per 700 acres on its 33 000 acres of riverine forest, valleys and acacia woodland.

ol donyo lodge masai mara Elewana Collection’s ol Donyo Lodge

Olderikesi Conservancy

Along the eastern border of the national reserve close to the Serengeti in Tanzania, the 24 700-acre Olderikesi Conservancy is located in one of the most remote areas in the Masai Mara ecosystem. It’s also one of the most exclusive concessions, as there are only 20 rooms on the entire conservancy – a distribution of one room per 1200 acres. If you’re looking for the solitude in the wilderness, this is your spot. It’s also particularly rich in game and is known for fantastic lion, leopard and cheetah sightings.

Mara Siana Conservancy

Recently established in 2015 by 1200 landowners, the 7898-acre Mara Siana Conservancy lies some distance away from the Masai Mara National Reserve to the east. If you really want to get off the beaten track, this is a good option, as it’s more remote than some of the other conservancies and only has two lodging options. In this secluded valley there’s plenty of wildlife to be spotted, from prides of lions, herds of elephants, cheetah, leopard, buffalo and the occasional black rhino and wild dogs.

Loita Hills

horse back safari rhino tracking

Lying to the northeast of the Masai Mara, the little-visited mountain range of Loita Hills is home to Maasai communities and home to beautiful landscapes of huge plains, thick forests, verdant hills and mountain peaks that loom up to 2150 metres. While this isn’t a conservation area and there’s less wildlife than in the conservancies, there’s still game to be spotted, from buffaloes and bushbucks to colobus monkeys, as well as lots of birds. However, the main reason to visit Loita Hills is to experience traditional Maasai culture and visit community projects and to experience a walking safari with Maasai guides in an area where few other tourists venture. There are a few options for walking safaris: staying at a base camp and doing day walks into the surrounding area, or doing a multi-day trip of up to 12 days, staying at mobile camps with all your equipment and provisions carried by donkeys.

Loita Migration

While everyone has heard of the Great Migration, hardly anyone knows about the Loita Migration. Around May, at the start of the dry season, a smaller movement of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and other antelope make their way from the Loita Plains that lie to the north of the Masai Mara National Reserve southwards into the reserve itself. The animals move through the Mara Naboisho, Olare Motorogi and Ol Kinyei Conservancies, so if you want to experience this mini version of the migration, then book a stay at one of the camps on these concessions.

loita migration kenya safari

Travel Tips

balloon safari kenya landscape

  • The peak Great Migration months of August to October are especially busy in the Masai Mara, so be sure to book far in advance for lodging at conservancy camps, keeping in mind that many camps are small and intimate, so they only offer a few tented rooms and will get booked up quickly.

  • The best and easiest way to access lodges and camps on the conservancies is by flying into conservancies’ airstrips, where the lodge you’ve booked will be waiting to pick you up. You can drive to the conservancies, but you’re not allowed to self-drive in the conservancy.

  • If you stay in a conservancy, you can do game drives in the Masai Mara National Reserve to see the Mara River crossings during the Great Migration months.


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When is the best time to travel to The Masai Mara?

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Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Masai Mara in January

There’s less rain in January than in December, with an average of 15 days of rainfall in the month. If it does rain then it’s usually a short shower in the afternoon. January is one of the warmest months of the year, and day time temperatures can reach 28C, with nights dropping to a minimum of 12C. January is a great month to visit the Masai Mara if you’re a birder: the birdwatching at this time of year is superb and there are many migratory species to spot. It’s also the…

Masai Mara in January

birding kenya vultures

  • There’s less rain in January than in December, with an average of 15 days of rainfall in the month. If it does rain then it’s usually a short shower in the afternoon. January is one of the warmest months of the year, and day time temperatures can reach 28C, with nights dropping to a minimum of 12C.

  • January is a great month to visit the Masai Mara if you’re a birder: the birdwatching at this time of year is superb and there are many migratory species to spot. It’s also the birthing season, so this is the time to go to the Mara if you’d like to see baby animals taking their first steps.

Masai Mara in February

February gets more rain than January, with an average of 17 rainy days a month. Temperature wise, it’s the same as January: average highs of 28C and average night-time lows of 12C. February is a good month to visit the Masai Mara if you want to see lots of baby animals (up to half a million wildebeest are born this month), and you don’t mind afternoon thundershowers. Wildlife viewing is good, and birdwatching is excellent, with many migratory species present in the park.

Masai Mara in February

calving season wildbeest migration

  • February gets more rain than January, with an average of 17 rainy days a month. Temperature wise, it’s the same as January: average highs of 28C and average night-time lows of 12C.

  • February is a good month to visit the Masai Mara if you want to see lots of baby animals (up to half a million wildebeest are born this month), and you don’t mind afternoon thundershowers. Wildlife viewing is good, and birdwatching is excellent, with many migratory species present in the park.

Masai Mara in March

March is a rainy month. Nearly every day of the month will have afternoon thundershowers and there may be continuous rain. High rainfall in March means that roads get very muddy and can be challenging to drive on, and some camps close down until May. The park sees fewer visitors this month, while the landscapes are lush and green. A highlight in March is spotting migratory birds.

Masai Mara in March

green season safari masai mara

  • March is a rainy month. Nearly every day of the month will have afternoon thundershowers and there may be continuous rain.

  • High rainfall in March means that roads get very muddy and can be challenging to drive on, and some camps close down until May. The park sees fewer visitors this month, while the landscapes are lush and green. A highlight in March is spotting migratory birds.

Masai Mara in April

Credit: Mara Expedition Camp April is the wettest month of the year, with an average of 23 days of rain. It’s slightly cooler than March but still warm with average maximum highs of 26C. Because it’s so wet, the roads can be tricky and some lodges close down, making April one of the least ideal months to visit the Masai Mara. On the plus side, it is the low season so you can get discounts on lodging and there are far fewer other tourists so the park is much quieter. It’s also…

Masai Mara in April

kenya safari game drive masai mara Credit: Mara Expedition Camp

  • April is the wettest month of the year, with an average of 23 days of rain. It’s slightly cooler than March but still warm with average maximum highs of 26C.

  • Because it’s so wet, the roads can be tricky and some lodges close down, making April one of the least ideal months to visit the Masai Mara. On the plus side, it is the low season so you can get discounts on lodging and there are far fewer other tourists so the park is much quieter. It’s also the last month to spot migratory bird species.

Masai Mara in May

There’s slightly less rain in May than in April, but it’s still one of the wettest months of the year. May marks the start of several slightly cooler months (with average daytime highs are 25C), lasting until September. May isn’t an ideal time to visit the Masai Mara because of the amount of rainfall making wildlife viewing and driving around the park more challenging. Some lodges and camps are also closed because of the rain. One plus of visiting at this time of year is…

Masai Mara in May

kenya safari thunder clouds

  • There’s slightly less rain in May than in April, but it’s still one of the wettest months of the year. May marks the start of several slightly cooler months (with average daytime highs are 25C), lasting until September.

  • May isn’t an ideal time to visit the Masai Mara because of the amount of rainfall making wildlife viewing and driving around the park more challenging. Some lodges and camps are also closed because of the rain. One plus of visiting at this time of year is discounted rates for package tours and lodging and far fewer visitors to share sightings with.

Masai Mara in June

After the rainy season months of March to May, June is much drier – down from 20 days of rain to an average of 12 days of rain during the month. June marks the start of the busy season in the Masai Mara – the weather is dry, and the days are cooler than at other times of the year, and the wildlife viewing is excellent, although the majority of the herds of the Great Migration have not yet arrived.

Masai Mara in June

masai mara game drive elephant

  • After the rainy season months of March to May, June is much drier – down from 20 days of rain to an average of 12 days of rain during the month.

  • June marks the start of the busy season in the Masai Mara – the weather is dry, and the days are cooler than at other times of the year, and the wildlife viewing is excellent, although the majority of the herds of the Great Migration have not yet arrived.

Masai Mara in July

Along with August, July is the coolest month of the year, and night times can dip below 10C so bring along warm clothes and lots of layers for early morning game drives. Day time temperatures are pleasantly warm. July is also the driest month of the year, with an average of only 11 days of rain. In July the herds start moving into the Masai Mara from the Serengeti at the start of the Great Migration so it’s an ideal month to travel to the park if you want to witness the thrilling…

Masai Mara in July

mara river crossing wildebeest migration

  • Along with August, July is the coolest month of the year, and night times can dip below 10C so bring along warm clothes and lots of layers for early morning game drives. Day time temperatures are pleasantly warm. July is also the driest month of the year, with an average of only 11 days of rain.

  • In July the herds start moving into the Masai Mara from the Serengeti at the start of the Great Migration so it’s an ideal month to travel to the park if you want to witness the thrilling spectacle. The lack of rain at this time of year also means that the bush is thinning, making it easier to see animals. The downside of travelling in July is that it’s one of the busiest months of the year: prices go up and sightings can be very crowded.

Masai Mara in August

Credit: Mara River Kati Kati August is one of the driest months of the year, and has the same cooler temperatures of July: average lows at night of 11C and highs during the day of 25C. August is very popular time for people to visit the park to witness the daily dramas of the Great Migration. As the dry season progresses, it becomes easier to see animals in the thinning bush. In terms of wildlife viewing, it’s hard to beat. Along with September, it’s the busiest and most…

Masai Mara in August

landscape masai mara Credit: Mara River Kati Kati

  • August is one of the driest months of the year, and has the same cooler temperatures of July: average lows at night of 11C and highs during the day of 25C.

  • August is very popular time for people to visit the park to witness the daily dramas of the Great Migration. As the dry season progresses, it becomes easier to see animals in the thinning bush. In terms of wildlife viewing, it’s hard to beat. Along with September, it’s the busiest and most expensive month to visit the reserve.

Masai Mara in September

September is slightly warmer than August, going up to an average daytime high of 27C, however, nights can be as chilly as 12C so bring along warm gear. September remains in the dry period, with little rain to disrupt game viewing. Together with August, September is the most popular month to visit the Masai Mara (expect lots of other tourists and the highest prices of the year), as the spectacle of millions of animals moving in the Great Migration is in full swing.

Masai Mara in September

masai mara safari game drive elephant

  • September is slightly warmer than August, going up to an average daytime high of 27C, however, nights can be as chilly as 12C so bring along warm gear. September remains in the dry period, with little rain to disrupt game viewing.

  • Together with August, September is the most popular month to visit the Masai Mara (expect lots of other tourists and the highest prices of the year), as the spectacle of millions of animals moving in the Great Migration is in full swing.

Masai Mara in October

October is one of the warmest months of the year, but luckily temperatures don’t rise much above an average of 28C during the day. It’s also a relatively dry month with little rainfall. October is a wonderful month to visit the Masai Mara, as the majority of the herds from the migration are in the park, but there are fewer visitors, so viewings aren’t as crowded as August and September.

Masai Mara in October

stalking lion big cat safari masai mara

  • October is one of the warmest months of the year, but luckily temperatures don’t rise much above an average of 28C during the day. It’s also a relatively dry month with little rainfall.

  • October is a wonderful month to visit the Masai Mara, as the majority of the herds from the migration are in the park, but there are fewer visitors, so viewings aren’t as crowded as August and September.

Masai Mara in November

Credit: Ol Seki Hemingways November marks the start of the second rainy season of the year – the so-called “short rains”. With an average of 20 days of rain this month, you’ll likely to see thundershowers on most days of your visit, although they are often only short afternoon rain showers, after which the skies clear up. November is a good time to visit the Masai Mara to catch the end of the migration as the herds start making their way back down to the Serengeti in…

Masai Mara in November

maasai dancers in the mara Credit: Ol Seki Hemingways

  • November marks the start of the second rainy season of the year – the so-called “short rains”. With an average of 20 days of rain this month, you’ll likely to see thundershowers on most days of your visit, although they are often only short afternoon rain showers, after which the skies clear up.

  • November is a good time to visit the Masai Mara to catch the end of the migration as the herds start making their way back down to the Serengeti in Tanzania. It’s a good month for birders too, as migratory bird species begin to arrive in the park. The only downside can be the rain but the thundershowers are usually short bursts of rain in the afternoon and are unlikely to disrupt your game viewing too much.

Masai Mara in December

Credit: Governor’s Il Moran Camp December falls during the “short rains” – the second rainy season of the year – in the Masai Mara, and sees and average of 17 days of rain during the month. While the rain can be heavy, it usually only pours for a short time in the late afternoon and shouldn’t affect your game viewing too much. Longer grass from the rain makes wildlife viewing a little more challenging this month, although December is a fantastic month for birdwatching in…

Masai Mara in December

lion and cubs masai mara big cat safari Credit: Governor’s Il Moran Camp

  • December falls during the “short rains” – the second rainy season of the year – in the Masai Mara, and sees and average of 17 days of rain during the month. While the rain can be heavy, it usually only pours for a short time in the late afternoon and shouldn’t affect your game viewing too much.

  • Longer grass from the rain makes wildlife viewing a little more challenging this month, although December is a fantastic month for birdwatching in the Masai Mara as the migratory species can be spotted. The birthing season which is called “Toto Time” starts this month, so if you fancy seeing baby animals being born and taking their first steps then plan on visiting the park between December and February. It’s less busy in early December than during the peak months of June to October, but it gets very busy in the park during the Christmas holidays.

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Tours in The Maasai Mara

These recommended tours for The Maasai Mara can be tailor-made to match your budget.

Our Destination Expert

Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard

Meet the Team

Alice Lombard

Alice is Discover Africa’s Sales & Product Manager, responsible for managing the Discover Africa Sales Consultants as well as all the products and itineraries that we promote.

About Alice

What does Alice love about African travel?

The people, the culture, the diverse scenery, the wildlife and of course the food & wine.

What African countries have you travelled to?

Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls), Botswana (Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Chobe), Namibia (Southern), Zanzibar, Kenya (Mombasa and Malindi), Mauritius and South Africa.

What is Alice’s favourite place in Africa?

Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington

Meet the Team

Megan Warrington

Megan is an Africa Concierge Expert at Discover Africa, she is responsible for compiling travel programs for people in search of their dream safari in Africa.

About Megan

What does Megan love about African travel?

There is always a new adventure around the next corner.

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and Tanzania.

What is Megan’s favourite place in Africa?

Namibia

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard

Meet the Team

Alice Lombard

Alice is Discover Africa’s Sales & Product Manager, responsible for managing the Discover Africa Sales Consultants as well as all the products and itineraries that we promote.

About Alice

What does Alice love about African travel?

The people, the culture, the diverse scenery, the wildlife and of course the food & wine.

What African countries have you travelled to?

Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls), Botswana (Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Chobe), Namibia (Southern), Zanzibar, Kenya (Mombasa and Malindi), Mauritius and South Africa.

What is Alice’s favourite place in Africa?

Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen

Meet the Team

Matthys van Aswegen

Matthys is Discover Africa’s Senior Travel Consultant, with over 13 years experience in the travel industry and a keen eye for photography.

About Matthys

What does Matthys love about African travel?

Diversity and abundance of landscapes, cultures, wildlife, beaches, food and everything you can think of.

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mauritius and Tanzania.

What is Matthys’s favourite place in Africa?

Cape Town

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Adelle Bell Adelle Bell Adelle Bell Adelle Bell Adelle Bell Adelle Bell

Meet the Team

Adelle Bell

Adelle is Discover Africa’s Senior Travel Consultant and has been in the travel industry for the past 10 years. She is a FIT specialist and has extensive experience in planning and executing dream itineraries in luxury travel.

About Adelle

What does Adelle love about African travel?

You have not lived if you have not experienced an African Safari - the early morning safari drives with the African sun rising in the distance, the smell of morning freshness, coffee in the Bush. You have got to experience a morning in Africa!

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa (Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands and Phinda Game Reserve), Botswana and Mozambique.

What is Adelle’s favourite place in Africa?

Kruger National Park

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden Antoinette Van Heerden

Meet the Team

Antoinette Van Heerden

Antionette is a Travel Consultant at Discover Africa, with 5 + years experience in the travel and tourism industry. She specializes in luxury safari packages.

About Antoinette

What does Antoinette love about African travel?

Adventure combined leisure travel makes for the best trip!

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

What is Antoinette’s favourite place in Africa?

South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Well planned safari and good service

Billy

11 Dec 2014

Super helpful, great recommendations, very prompt on organizing and responding to questions

Felix

12 Feb 2022

Adelle was amazing, arranging our last-minute holiday and making it simply superb!

Anna

21 Feb 2022

Amazing safari in Sabi sands game reserve

Flyingbee

06 May 2019

Amazing attention to details

Mary Kay Mason

16 Jul 2019

Four amazing nights in Botswana and Zimbabwe

Praveen Govindan

22 Jun 2019

Great tour suggestions, well thought out and perfectly executed...

Michael

11 Jun 2016

Outstanding customer service from my trip facilitator Alice Lombard

Dr. Darrin Porcher

20 Sep 2021

Trip of a lifetime to Serengeti and Masai Mara

Patti Legg

17 Sep 2015

Trip of a lifetime to Serengeti and Masai Mara

Patti Legg

17 Sep 2015

Planned and executed well to the last detail

Kathleen

20 Aug 2018

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