For those seeking a more exclusive safari experience, the conservancies bordering the Maasai Mara National Park offer exceptional game viewing and far fewer visitors.
Even though Kenya has official borders marking the boundaries of its national parks and reserves, with few fences in place, animals tend to come and go as they please. Much of Kenya’s wildlife lives outside these boundaries on land that belongs to the local Maasai. With people and animals living in such close proximity, a solution was required to ensure both could live in harmony with one another.
An agreement between the Maasai landowners and safari camp operators has seen much of the land to the north and the east of the Maasai Mara converted into wildlife conservancies. Land is leased from the Maasai and the income generated by tourism fed back into the local communities. A limited number of camps are permitted in the conservancies, helping to create a low-impact, more sustainable form of tourism. It also means guests enjoy a much more intimate and exclusive safari experience with far fewer vehicles than in the neighbouring national park.
While staying in the conservancies, it is still possible to go into the Maasai Mara – a particular draw during the Great Migration when the park witnesses the dramatic river crossings where herds of wildebeest crash through the Mara River. However, it is not possible for the vehicles that flock to the national park to enter the conservanices, ensuring numbers remain low.
As the conservancies are located on privately owned land, there are a number of exclusive and unique experiences on offer. Camps can organise guided bush walks and night drives, both of which are not permitted in the national park. You’ll also enjoy a much deeper connection to the Maasai people, whose land you are sharing.
When to go
Game viewing is excellent all year round, but July to October sees the Great Migration.
What to do
- 4x4 game drives
- Balloon rides
- Bush walks
- Night drives