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
Itineraries including Mara Conservancies
Whatever you want your luxury tour or safari itinerary to include, we’ll create something fully bespoke for you… and only you.
Lodges and camps in the Mara Conservancies
Here are some of our travel designers' favourite options
Angama Safari CampAngama Safari Camp, a light-footprint sole-use tented camp accommodating up to eight guests in four en-suite tents, is located deep in the Maasai Mara. This unique camp captures the romance and adventure of the Golden Age of safaris, but with a lightness of spirit. Enjoy the comforts of 21st century camping, but with the thrill of having nothing but canvas between you, the Mara and year-round abundant wildlife right on your doorstep. The tents have been designed to maximise light and views across the plains. With a dedicated safari vehicle, guide and Safari Camp team, each day’s programme is entirely up to you.
Mara Plains CampJust north of the Maasai Mara Reserve, in the 30,000 acre private Olare Motorogi Conservancy, this Relais & Châteaux camp offers you outstanding game experiences without the restrictions that the reserve itself imposes on other lodges. Each guest’s stay helps to contribute to various conservation and community projects. This conservancy adds a huge plus factor due to the privacy and minimal vehicle traffic within it. You can easily access the Maasai Mara Reserve, but the game in the conservation area is just as excellent. Leopard are regularly spotted passing through the camp and lions can often be heard in the distance. Stroll along walkways that wind their way through the forest between the tented suites that are built on high stilts offering you stunning views onto the Ntiakitiak Riverr or across the Mara plains. Each suite has deep canvas canopied ceilings, rough-hewn wood floors and accents of East Africa’s rich safari history. Expect thick Lamu wood doors, deep purples, and brass accents. The raised library looks down onto hippos wallowing in the river, while the wine cellar is the perfect place to unwind and sample a selection of excellent South African and French wines. You can also choose to enjoy a private dining experience here. A highlight of the camp is the family suite, the Mara Plains Jahazi Suite, which is an exclusive-use, two-bedroom tented villa with its own team of dedicated staff. The game drive vehicles are all completely open which helps you get some phenomenal photographs. In addition to the game, you mustn’t forget that you also have a community nearby that you can visit and witness a genuine working village. A truly marvellous experience.
Angama MaraTowering high on the Rift Valley’s Oloololo Escarpment with direct and private access to the Mara Triangle, this lodge’s name was inspired by the Swahili word for ‘suspended in mid-air’. It’s not only its location that makes it stand out, but also its commitment to education, health and conservation in the region. Each of the 30 luxury tented suites echo the traditional Maasai culture with splashes of red and tartan print throughout, coupled with minimalist design, so as not to disrupt the dramatic, 180° panoramic views. Soak up your surroundings with provided binoculars from the comfort of your own room, equipped with 10 metre wide, floor-to-ceiling glass windows or on the private wooden decks that hang above the Mara below. The Pavilion, which sits between the two campsites, is the perfect place to unwind after a day on safari. Catch the sun setting over the reserve with a drink at the cosy pit fire. Other luxury amenities include a fitness centre, swimming pool and art studio where you can meet local Maasai women, and watch their talented craft-making. Angama Mara also includes Angama Safari Camp which operates seasonally, between July and the end of September. This luxury tented camp accommodates eight guests in four stunning ensuite tents (doubles or twins). The exclusive, private camp is positioned in a small forest, south west of the Mara Triangle and with views looking onto the plains and the heart of the mega herds of the Great Migration.