Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara


About The Masai Mara

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

The Masai Mara National Reserve and its neighboring conservancies form Kenya’s flagship conservation area and is one of the finest wildlife and safari destinations in Africa. Located in south west Kenya, the Masai Mara National Reserve is renowned for its vast scenic expanse of gently rolling African savannah plains, measuring approximately 1510 square kilometers in area, bordering the notorious Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the south. The Masai Mara’s sprawling wide-open plains provide a sanctuary for its abundant wildlife to freely roam the vast Masai Mara wilderness and beyond.

The legendary Masai Mara is also the site of the iconic Great Migration in Africa – also known as the Gnu Migration, Serengeti Migration and Masai Mara Migration. The annual Great Migration is one of the chief reasons why so many travelers venture to Kenya, Tanzania, and the Masai Mara for a Migration safari. The iconic Masai Mara Great Migration includes millions of wildebeest, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, and smaller numbers of Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, and impala venture across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, moving from the Masai Mara National Reserve to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Proclaimed one of the greatest wildlife spectacles and remarkable natural wonders in the world – Witnessing and experiencing the Masai Mara Great Migration should undoubtedly be on everyone’s African safari travel bucket-list.

Besides its spectacular wildlife spectacles and seasonal highlights, the Masai Mara National Reserve is not only deemed one of the most prestigious and unique wildlife conservation havens in Africa, famed for its remarkable natural diversity of wildlife and birdlife, it is one of the most prominent and premier Kenyan safari locations in East Africa, offering visitors and game and nature enthusiasts alike an authentic, one-of-a-kind, and unforgettable African safari experience.

Voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and famously declared a top, not-to-be-missed, bucket-list worthy African safari and wildlife destination, its no surprise avid travelers, keen adventurers and explorers, globe trotters, and eager wildlife and nature enthusiasts travel from around the globe to experience all of the Masai Mara’s wilderness wonders and safari adventures first-hand.

Masai Mara Overview

Best time to go

June – October (General wildlife viewing) | September – October (Great Wildebeest Migration)

Best Weather

June – October (Days are sunny, but not too hot | Little to no rainfall)

Worst Weather

March & April (Peak of the Masai Mara’s Wet season)

High Season

June – October | December – March (Parks get very crowded except in some remote areas)

Low Season

April & May (Some roads might be in bad condition & rain can often interfere with your trip)


1,510km² / 583mi²


1,435-2,143m / 4,708-7,031ft


South West Kenya | East Africa

Dry Season

June to October

Famous for

Great Wildebeest Migration | African Big 5 | Vast diversity of wildlife & birdlife

Wet Season

November to May

When To Go To The Masai Mara

Best Time To Go To Kenya

The Masai Mara is a top-rated year-round African safari destination, boasting superb game viewing, wildlife encounters, and safari experiences 365 days of the year, Irrespective of its diverse geography and variable climate.

Despite being one of the most sought-after, must-visit, year-round destinations in Africa, the Masai Mara has two distinct seasons:

  • Dry Season (Winter): June to October
  • Wet Season (Summer): November to May

Regarded by many as one of the best and most renowned safari destinations, boasting vast, unspoiled, and diverse landscapes, stunning surrounding scenery, a thriving vegetation, and one of the most remarkable and distinct wildlife and birdlife populations, not to mention the extraordinary Masai Mara Great Migration, visiting the pristine Masai Mara any time of the year promises to be an exceptional and exciting experience all-around. However, each season offers visitors an entirely different and vastly unique experience as it pertains to wildlife and birdlife sightings, overall climate, park conditions, surrounding scenery, seasonal highlights, and wildlife spectacles.

As most people (both local and international) travel to Kenya and the Masai Mara to witness its incredible diversity of wildlife and experience the bucket-list worthy wildlife spectacle and extraordinary natural phenomenon first-hand – The Masai Mara Great Wildebeest Migration – the Masai Mara’s dry season (from June – October) is considered the best time to visit the Masai Mara and its surrounding reserves.

While the entire dry season is regarded as the best time to go to the Masai Mara and witness spectacular up-close game viewing, and unbelievable wildlife spectacles, September and October are deemed the top months to experience the renowned Masai Mara Great Wildebeest Migration in full force together with the highly-acclaimed and equally thrilling Great Migration river crossings – A truly remarkable and unforgettable wildlife spectacle and experience in every way.

This makes the period between mid-August and late October the prime time to visit / plan a trip to Kenya and the sought-after Masai Mara, especially if seeing the remarkable Masai Mara Great Wildebeest Migration in action is at the top of your African travel and wildlife bucket-list.

Dry Season in The Masai Mara

Reasons To Visit The Masai Mara During The Dry Season

Prime time for wildlife sightings as game viewing is at its peak
July to October are the prime months to see the Great Wildebeest Migration
Optimal visibility for wildlife sightings as the vegetation becomes sparse
Wildlife gather around rivers and waterholes making them easier to spot
Clear skies & sunny days with mild-moderate day-time temperatures & minimal rain
September & October are the best months for seeing the Great Migration cross the famous Mara River
Fewer mosquitos due to the low rainfall | Risk of malaria is at its lowest
Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

Wet Season in The Masai Mara

Reasons To Visit The Masai Mara During The Wet Season

Lush greenery, blossoming flowers & beautiful surrounding scenery due to the high rainfall
The Masai Mara is filled with new-born wildlife
Bird watching is at its best as migratory birds are present
Prime time for predator activity & sightings due to the abundance of new-born wildlife
Despite game viewing being at its prime during the dry season, plenty of resident wildlife can be spotted in the Masai Mara during the wet season, ensuring great sightings
The Masai Mara is much quieter during its wet season, resulting in smaller crowds, fewer onlookers & less vehicles roaming around, allowing for optimal crowd-free wildlife and birdlife sightings and safari experiences
Incredible photography opportunities due to the beautiful, lush surrounding scenery and landscapes
The skies are clear of dust | Besides the heavy rainfall during March, April, and November (which causes the roads to be in a bad condition, often interfering with your planned activities), the rest of the wet season generally consists of short showers in the afternoon, causing little to no disruption to your Masai Mara wildlife and safari experience and adventures
Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

Weather & Climate

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

Dry Season

Winter: June – October

  • Average day-time temperatures: +/- 25°C/77°F – 27°C/81°F (or higher in extreme conditions) | Temperatures tend to increase / reach its climax in October
  • Average early morning / evening temperatures: +/- 12°C/54°F
  • Clear skies and sunny days with mild – moderate day-time temperatures
  • Enjoyable time to be in the Masai Mara, paired with lovely weather and great all-around day-time temperatures that rarely gets too hot
  • While rain is possible, the Masai Mara’s dry season is generally dry with little to no rainfall
  • Due to the low rainfall and dry conditions, permanent water sources become a place for animals to gather – This not only makes them easier to spot, but ensures great wildlife sightings and encounters
  • Early mornings and evenings in the Masai Mara can be particularly chilly / cold. It is highly advisable to pack warm clothing, especially if you’re planning to go on early morning and evening safaris and game drives
  • October is regarded as the hottest month of the Masai Mara’s dry season. However, these temperatures instantly decrease with the arrival of the rain, marking the start of the wet season

Wet Season

Summer: November – May

  • Average day-time temperatures: +/- 27°C/81°F
  • Average early morning temperatures: +/- 13°C/55°F
  • Days are typically overcast and cloudy
  • Afternoon showers are very common during the Masai Mara’s wet season
  • Daytime temperatures don’t vary much throughout the wet season, hovering around +/- 27°C/81°F
  • Early mornings and evenings in the Masai Mara can be particularly chilly / cold. It is highly advisable to pack warm clothing, especially if you’re planning to go on early morning and evening safaris and game drives
  • A period of unpredictable ‘short rains’ take place between November and December. These ‘short rains’ persist for approximately a month. The rain can oftentimes be rather heavy, however, it mostly occurs during the late afternoon or evening, and seldom has any negative impact on your safari and wildlife experience or adventure. The rains normally break at some point in November
  • During January and February the Masai Mara’s rainfall typically eases between the short and long rains, although showers do still occur during this time. The onset / exact timing of this drier period as well as how long the spell will last is incredibly challenging to predict and is dependent on an array of factors.
  • March, April & May are characterized by ‘long rains.’ April is the wettest month of the Masai Mara’s wet season. While it typically doesn’t shower all day, rainfall is very regular during this period. In addition to the rainy and wet conditions, tracks might become extremely slippery and difficult to navigate

Masai Mara Great Migration

The safari bucket list for Kenya is undoubtedly seeing the annual Great Migration in the legendary Masai Mara National Reserve

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara - Masai Mara Great Migration

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara – Masai Mara Great Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration in Africa – also known as the Gnu Migration, Serengeti Migration and Masai Mara Migration – is one of the last mass terrestrial wildlife movements left on the planet. It’s the chief reason why so many travellers venture to Kenya and Tanzania for a Migration safari, especially around mid-year.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is arguably one of Kenya’s top safari destinations and wildlife hotspots. The famous Masai Mara is most renowned for its annual Great Migration of millions of wildebeest, accompanied by large numbers of zebra, and smaller numbers of Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, and impala across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, moving from the Masai Mara National Reserve to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park from June – October.

Triggered by East Africa’s rains and linked to annual rainfall patterns and the growth of new grass, the Great Migration of millions of wildebeest is a constant, year-round movement of huge, nomadic herds across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, following an age-old route in search of fresh grazing and fresh water sources.

In Tanzania, it can be seen throughout the year, you just need to know where to look. The migrating herds enter Kenya for a much shorter period, roughly from July or August until October. However, recent years have seen major arrivals as early as June, and late stayers in the Maasai Mara region until November or even later.

**Interesting fact: The three groups of migrant grazers have different grass-eating habits: As one group eats the top of the tallest grass, the next group will eat away some of the medium-height grass, until finally it is almost completely eaten, and the herds move on. This means each group sticks to their own kind with only a small overlap in their distributions.

The Great Migration typically starts in the Southern region of the Serengeti National Park. The ‘start’ of the Great Migration coincides with the prime wildebeest calving season, as thousands of wildebeest calves are born within a couple weeks of each other. Due to the rapid rise in the number of new-born wildebeest, there’s an equally significant increase in the number of predators, such as lions, leopards, and hyenas in the area who are constantly on the hunt for new-born wildlife.

After the remarkable calving season in the southern part of Tanzania’s Serengeti near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, just as the drought starts to set in during the month of May and Tanzania’s dry season approaches, the Great Migration continues on their journey through the Serengeti up and around in a clockwise direction towards the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

**Interesting fact: Guided by survival instinct, each wildebeest (as well as zebra and antelope) will cover approximately 800km to 1000km on its individual journey along age-old migration routes during the annual Great Migration.

During the months of May – July splinter herds congregate in the Serengeti’s western corridor as they start their journey north. The herds move northwest towards the Grumeti region of the Serengeti where, dependent on the rain, you will see the millions of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope cross the Grumeti River towards the Northern Serengeti.

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

Masai Mara Great Migration – Grumeti River Crossing

The renowned Great Migration Grumeti River crossing is the first river crossing of the Great Migration. This part of the Migration, similar to the others, is not without its risks and dangers. In fact, the Great Migration river crossings are regarded as the most treacherous events of the entire Great Migration. Despite the sheer volume of wildlife, crossing rivers means facing approximately 3,000 Nile crocodiles, patiently waiting for a kill, as well as the famous Serengeti lion population – by far the largest in Africa – along with other predators right and ready to pounce whenever opportunity strikes. The Great Migration Grumeti River crossing is a remarkable spectacle to behold however, it is not deemed as challenging and dangerous as what the herds of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope will have to endure when crossing the Mara River in Kenya (further north).

The big herds of wildlife constituting the iconic Great Migration congregate in the Northern Serengeti and the Masai Mara during late July / August – October. Following the rain, the herds cross over to the Masai Mara National Reserve, which includes the acclaimed Mara River Crossing (the 2nd major river crossing along the path of the Great Migration).

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

Masai Mara Great Migration – Mara River Crossing

The Mara River is approximately 400km long, deep, craggy, and extremely treacherous. It is also home to Africa’s largest crocodile population as well as a robust concentration of hippos. As the herds clamor and struggle to cross the Mara River to get to the greenery on the other side, the large Nile crocodiles and territorial hippos await, unfolding in what is without a doubt one of the most gripping and chaotic scenes and wildlife spectacles in the world.

In many ways, the two major river crossings of the Great Migration – Grumeti River crossing in Tanzania and the Mara River crossing in Kenya – represents the climax of a long and grueling journey across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.

These dramatic scenes of huge herds on the move, crossing rivers and vast plains, pursued by predators looking for their next kill, are the stuff real nature documentaries are made of.

With the beginning of the short rains in late October, the Great Migration makes its way back into the Serengeti National Park. By December, the herds trek past Seronera / Central Serengeti to return to their calving grounds once again, completing the year-round cycle / ever-moving circular migration.

There is absolutely no doubt that experiencing the annual Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve Great Migration is a once-in-a-lifetime safari and wildlife experience every avid safari traveler and eager wildlife enthusiast should have at the very top of their bucket list.

General Guideline: When to see the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti National Park & Masai Mara National Reserve

(These guidelines are subject to change as per seasonal rainfall)
Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara - Masai Mara Great Migration

Masai Mara Great Migration

  Approximate time Region
Calving January to March Southern Serengeti
Intense Big Cat Action January to March Southern Serengeti
Rutting January to March Southern Serengeti
Grumeti River Crossings May to July Western Serengeti
Mara River Crossings July to September Northern Serengeti
On the Move October to December Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara

**Important Note: The above guidelines are approximate dates and places. The Wildebeest Migration is a year-round, circular journey and the exact timing of the highly sought-after river crossings cannot always be precisely predicted (there are several uncontrollable variables involved that can have a big impact on both the place and timing of various events, especially the river crossings).

If the Great Migration follows the typical outlined timeline, the two main river crossings – Grumeti River crossing in Tanzania and the Mara River crossing in Kenya – generally take place between May and September.

Wildlife & Birdlife in The Masai Mara

Kenya & the Masai Mara is renowned for its exceptional year-round game-viewing, superb Big 5 encounters & famous Great Wildebeest Migration

The Best Time To See Wildlife in The Masai Mara

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

Kenya’s flagship park, the Masai Mara National Reserve, is one of Africa’s finest wildlife destinations where quintessential safari landscapes of vast acacia-dotted savannas teem with animals.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is known around the world for its prolific African Big 5 sightings, abundance of plains game, remarkable profusion of big cats (lions, leopard, cheetah), and the iconic Great Migration as portrayed by the numerous wildlife documentaries that have been filmed in this extraordinary part of unspoilt Africa. These exceptional and sought-after wildlife highlights make for concentrated wildlife interactions and unique once-in-a-lifetime sightings and encounters.

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

One of the greatest drawing forces and stellar highlights of the Masai Mara is, without a doubt, the world-renowned annual Great Migration, which enters the reserve from July to October. Millions of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle move and migrate between the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya to Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park during this period. Seeing the dramatic jaw-dropping daily scenes of the Great Migration – the massive, noisy herds, the animals making the perilous crossing of the crocodile-infested Mara River and the thrilling big cat hunts – are among the best and most exciting wildlife experiences you can have in Africa. The best places to experience the Masai Mara Great Migration are the banks of the Mara or Talek rivers or the confluence of the two.

Apart from the Great Migration, few places boast a higher concentration and diversity of wildlife as well as incredible game viewing right throughout the year than the Masai Mara. Home to the African Big 5 and known for its glorious up-close sightings – with sightings of four of the Big Five (leopard, lion, elephant, and buffalo) practically guaranteed on any trip, despite the black rhino being more elusive and harder to spot (but can often be spotted in the Mara Triangle) – the Masai Mara is the perfect African safari and wildlife destination for both first-time and avid safari-goers.

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

The reserve is particularly famous for its populations of big cats, with one of the highest concentrations of lion in the world, as well as large numbers of leopard and cheetah. In fact, the Masai Mara is regarded as one of the best parks in Africa for big cat sightings. Besides the Big 5 and big cat population, other famous predators that freely roam the Masai Mara include, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, and the bat-eared fox – to mention merely a few.

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

While the Masai Mara is highly renowned for its Great Migration, Big 5, big cats, and astonishing range of predators, its wide-open plains are home to a phenomenal array of antelope (some of which include the topi antelope, eland, reedbuck, impala, and Thomson’s gazelle), as well as warthog, zebra, blue hartebeest, hippo, crocodile, and red hartebeest. However, this is simply scratching the surface of the game and wildlife wonders and encounters you can expect in the Masai Mara. (to mention merely a few); not to mention the Masai giraffe – the largest subspecies of giraffe only found in Kenya and Tanzania – all of which are easily spotted.

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

The Masai Mara conservancies – private concessions which border the reserve and make up a big part of the Greater Mara Ecosystem – are reason alone to visit the great Masai Mara safari area. These conservancies encompass nearly as much land as the Masai Mara National Reserve itself, as well as offers visitors and keen safari-goers the same amazing wildlife density and diversity – including the famous Great Migration herds – unrivalled scenery, astonishing landscapes, and the exclusivity of only a few camps over massive areas – All of which can be enjoyed and experienced without the massive crowds and numerous onlookers as each conservancy adheres to a limited number of visitors per acre and region. This allows for truly magnificent wildlife sightings and captivating crowd-free game viewing at its best.

Though the Masai Mara is an excellent, and equally exciting, year-round wildlife destination, showcasing spectacular game viewing 365 days of the year, different seasons and times of the year offer visitors different natural and wildlife attractions and highlights to look forward to.

The Great Migration months of July to October promise thrilling sights, while the other months of the year have their own charms and attractions. A few of these anticipated wildlife and wilderness highlights include, migratory birds between November and April and a profusion of animals being born during the rainier months of the year / the Masai Mara wet season (November – May).

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

Traveling to the world-renowned Masai Mara during its quieter months / the Masai Mara’s low season also means that you have more of the wilderness to yourself, as the migration period, along with the Christmas / December holidays can get incredibly busy and potentially overcrowded, with plenty of onlookers, crowds, cars, and safari vehicles packed around a sighting.

The Big Five:

  • Lion
  • Buffalo
  • Elephant
  • Leopard
  • Rhino

The Big Nine:

The Big 9 are essentially the Big Five animals above with the addition of the Cheetah, Giraffe, Zebra and Hippopotamus. Masai Mara is one of the few places in Kenya and East Africa where all of the Big Nine wildlife may be spotted on single game drive of 2 to 3 hours.

  • Cheetah
  • Giraffe
  • Hippo
  • Zebra
  • Buffalo
  • Leopard
  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Rhino

Mammals List:

Masai Mara is also home to a large number of other animals apart from the Big Five or Big Nine. This is a list of some of the other diverse wildlife you will find in Masai Mara Game Reserve:

  • Aardvark
  • Aardwolf
  • African Hare
  • Antelope
  • Banded Mongoose
  • Bat Eared Fox
  • Bushbaby
  • Bushbuck
  • Common Eland
  • Copper Tailed Monkey
  • Code’s Hartebeest
  • Crested Porcupine
  • Dwarf Mongoose
  • Grant’s Gazelle
  • Honey Badger
  • Impala
  • Kirk’s Dik Dik
  • Kilpspringer
  • Olive Baboons
  • Oribi
  • Side Striped Jackal
  • Pangolin
  • Slender Mongoose
  • Spotted Hyena
  • Spring Hare
  • Straw Coloured Fruit Bat
  • Thomson’s Gazelle
  • Topi Antelope
  • Vervet Monkey
  • Warthogs
  • Waterbuck
  • Wildebeest

Birdlife in The Masai Mara

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

Boasting more than 500 recorded bird species, the Masai Mara is a great place to spot several of Kenya’s resident and rare and remarkable endemic and near-endemic bird species. These bird species are especially renowned and sought-after as they can only be found in Kenya and marginally beyond.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is particularly rich in raptors, with 57 species present in the reserve. Bateleurs can often be seen soaring above the grassy Masai Mara plains as well as predator kills. This makes predator kill sites a great place to find and spot up to six species of vultures on their scavenging mission.

North African and European migrant bird species are present from November to April, making it a great time to visit / plan a trip to the Masai Mara, especially if you’re a head-over-heels bird lover at heart.

Notable birds in the Masai Mara include:

  • Kori bustard (Common)
  • Rufous-bellied heron (Locally common)
  • Secretary bird (Common)
  • Sooty chat (Common)
  • Usambiro barbet (Locally common, endemic to Mara-Serengeti)

Birding Specials for avid birders & Endemic & Near-Endemic birds in the Masai Mara:

**(E) endemic = only lives in Kenya
**(NE) near-endemic = also lives in neighboring countries

·       Abdim’s stork

·       African finfoot

·       African wood owl

·       Ayres’s hawk eagle

·       Cinnamon-breasted bunting

·       Denham’s bustard

·       Giant kingfisher

·       Grey-crested helmet-shrike (NE)

·       Grey penduline tit

·       Hildebrandt’s starling

·       Jackson’s widowbird

·       Lazy cisticola

·       Ostrich

·       Purple grenadier

·       Red-throated tit

·       Ross’s turaco

·       Rosy-throated longclaw

·       Rufous-bellied heron

·       Rufous-throated wryneck

·       Saddle-billed stork

·       Schalow’s turaco

·       Secretary bird

·       Silverbird

·       Southern ground hornbill

·       Swahili sparrow

·       Tabora cisticola

·       Temminck’s courser

·       Trilling cisticola

·       Usambiro barbet (NE)

·       White-bellied go-away bird

·       Woolly-necked stork

·       Yellow-mantled widowbird

·       Yellow-throated sandgrouse

Best Time for Bird Watching in the Masai Mara

Best Time To Go To Kenya

Lilac-breasted roller in the Masai Mara National Reserve

While birdlife in the Masai Mara is great year-round, the absolute best time for bird watching is during the Masai Mara’s prime birding season which takes place from November to April (Masai Mara’s wet season) when the migratory birds arrive from Europe and north Africa. In addition to spectacular sightings of a vast, vibrant, and diverse array of birdlife, several of Masai Mara’s bird species are nesting during this time, making it much easier to spot various bird species in their breeding plumage.

Traveling To The Masai Mara

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

There are two main ways to get to Masai Mara, by air (via international air travel, domestic air travel, and shuttle / private charter flights), or by road.


The Masai Mara National Reserve is located in south west Kenya. Traveling to Kenya and the Masai Mara by air / flying to the Masai Mara is undoubtedly the easiest and most convenient means of traveling for both locals and tourists alike.

Kenya has two major International Airports:

  • Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO)
  • Mombasa’s Moi International Airport (MBA)

The central point of arrival and Kenya’s main airport is Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). Located approximately 15km/9mi southeast of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is a hub for East Africa and most scheduled international flights will land there.

In addition to being East Africa’s major flight hub, this top Kenyan International Airport is the main gateway to the Masai Mara National Reserve (largely owed to the hassle-free ease of catching a domestic flight to the Masai Mara), Amboseli National Park, Mombasa, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, Rwanda, the Seychelles, and Kenya’s vast array of national parks, reserves, and coastal destinations.

From Nairobi, there are several local carriers that will connect / transport you to your desired location / destination in the great Masai Mara. Once you’ve arrived at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, you have the option of flying (by means of a domestic flight) or driving to the Masai Mara National Reserve – Its entirely up to you!

It is also possible to reach the iconic Masai Mara from Mombasa by taking a non-stop flight to Nairobi.

Kenya’s second international Airport is Mombasa’s Moi International Airport (MBA), located approximately 9km/6mi west of Mombasa. Mombasa’s Moi International Airport receives some international scheduled flights and is the main point of arrival for charter flights from Europe. The Moi International Airport is also the primary point of arrival for domestic flights.

There are also several direct inbound and outbound flights from Mombasa to the Kichwa Airstrip near Masai Mara. An air safari is a unique and thrilling way to experience all the wilderness wonders and unspoiled landscapes of Africa and the Masai Mara National Reserve from above. You’ll get to fly over Lake Amboseli, the Great Rift Valley and enjoy views of the Soda Lakes Natron in Tanzania and Magadi in Kenya – All of which makes for a truly unforgettable Masai Mara travel adventure!

Both of Kenya’s major International Airports – Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) and Mombasa’s Moi International Airport (MBA) – are managed by the Kenya Airports Authority.

Domestic / Regional Airports & Flights

Located about 90 minutes by road from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Wilson Airport is Kenya’s top Regional Airport. It is the hub for almost all of Kenya’s internal flights and serves several fly-in safari locations.

Most flights, if not all flights, from Nairobi to various airstrips in Masai Mara take off from Wilson airport in Nairobi (as opposed to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport).

There are several airlines / flights flying from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to various airstrips in the Masai Mara, with many of these airlines offering twice daily return flights to the reserve. A one-way flight from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport to various airstrips in the Masai Mara takes approximately 1 hour. The same plane then usually turns around, and flies back to Nairobi after dropping off or collecting passengers from the numerous Masai Mara airstrips.

Airstrips In The Masai Mara

There are close to a dozen airstrips located in the Masai Mara National Reserve and its surrounding game reserves, ranches, and conservancies. These airstrips are spread out across the national reserve in order to properly serve the various Masai Mara National Reserve regions, surrounding lodges, and camps. The airstrip you fly into will depend on where you are staying during your Masai Mara safari trip.

The number and varying locations of the airstrips are essential as they aid in significantly reducing the overall transfer time from the airstrip to the specific lodge, camp, reserve, or hotel.

Here are some of the most common airstrips in & around the Masai Mara:

Keekorok Airstrip

Siana Airstrip

Serena Airstrip

Musiara Airstrip

Kichwa Tembo Airstrip

Buffalo Airstrip

Ol Kiombo Airstrip

Ngerende Airstrip

Ol Seki airstrip

Olare Orok Airstrip

Angama Airstrip

Cottars Airstrip


A majority of travelers fly into Nairobi and opt to travel to the Masai Mara by road. If you’re eager to experience and explore the Kenyan countryside, driving is definitely the way to go. The drive from Nairobi to Narok is around two-and-a-half hours and boasts spectacular views and stunning surrounding scenery all-around. Onwards from that, as you continue your journey, you’ll see the remarkable Great Rift Valley escarpment – a truly extraordinary sight. Besides these incredible views and attractions, you’ll encounter many more exceptional gems, beautiful landscapes, amazing sights, and captivating scenery en-route to the Masai Mara.

The travel distance from Nairobi to the Masai Mara National Reserve is approximately 280km, though this may differ considerably depending on where in the Masai Mara you are staying as well as which entry gate you plan to access.

The road trip from Nairobi to the famous Masai Mara reserve takes about 6 hours. However, it is important to note that this time frame only applies if you are traveling to one of the Masai Mara’s nearer entry gates on the eastern or Narok side of the reserve such as the Sekenani, Talek and Oloolaimutia entry gates.

The entry gates located on the western side of the reserve, such as the Musiara and Oloololo entry gates, takes approximately 30 minutes longer to reach than those on the eastern side of the reserve. In addition to the extra 30-minute travel time, a different route will also be used which turns west onto the B3 highway towards Bomet, just after passing Narok town.

**Route: Travel along the A104 highway heading out from Nairobi city and onto the B3 highway just before the Limuru junction. If you are leaving from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, make use of the Southern Bypass to connect to the A104 highway at Kikuyu town to cut out the city’s built-up traffic. Once you reach Narok town, take the C12 road to the Sekenani, Talek and Ololaimutia gates (entry gates on the eastern or Narok side of the reserve). To get to the entry gates located on the western side of the reserve – the Musiara and Oloololo gates as well as Rianta town – take the C13 road.

Be careful when traveling / driving on the C13 road as it is notoriously bad and is known for its extremely poor road conditions in most places, with the last 75 kms to the reserve being on a rough, bumpy, and treacherous gravel road.

It is highly advised that you make use of / travel in a 4×4 vehicle when taking on the dreaded and jarring C13 to the Masai Mara National Reserve.

It is also possible to drive from Lake Nakuru National Park. The distance between Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara National Reserve is approximately 235km/150mi and the driving time is roughly six hours.

Guided Safaris / Drive-in Safaris

If you’re eager to start your Kenyan and Masai Mara wilderness safari adventure sooner rather than later – AKA as soon as you touch down in Nairobi – and do so in the most exhilarating and authentic way possible, you can opt / request to be driven to your chosen Masai Mara destination, lodge, or luxury camp in a 4X4 safari / game drive vehicle.

Depending on your destination and where you’re staying in the great Masai Mara, you may have the option and opportunity to make this 4X4 safari game-drive vehicle your private and primary means of transport throughout your stay.

Things To Do In The Masai Mara

Best Time To Go To The Masai Mara

  • Morning & Afternoon Game Drives in the Masai Mara
  • Exciting night safaris / game drives
  • Go on the ultimate bird watching expedition
  • Witness & experience the wonders of the Masai Mara Great Wildebeest Migration first-hand
  • Enjoy a Nature Walk / Guided Walking Safari and immerse yourself in the Masai Mara wilderness and everything it has to offer
  • Embark on a Horseback Safari and explore the Masai Mara in an entirely different way
  • Tick an exhilarating adventure off your bucket-list by going on a Hot Air Balloon Safari in the iconic Masai Mara
  • Sit back, relax, and indulge in sensational sundowners and/or a bush breakfast, lunch or dinner paired with a magnificent view over the vast Masai Mara Savannah plains
  • Go on the ultimate camping adventure in the famous Masai Mara National Reserve
  • Fully immerse yourself in a unique and authentic Masai Mara cultural encounter and experience
  • Venture outside of your comfort zone and stay in one of the private Conservancies or ranches
  • Experience the magnificence of the iconic Mara River and its profound wildlife spectacles
  • Photograph lions in ‘Big Cat Diary’ territory

Top Attractions In The Masai Mara National Reserve

  • Mara River
  • Mara Triangle
  • Ol Kinyei Conservancy
  • Olare Orok Conservancy
  • Mara North Conservancy
  • Musiara Swamp
  • Nashulai Maasai Conservancy
  • Eluai Plain
  • Olypunyata Swamp
  • Rhino Ridge
  • Topi Plains

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