Have you ever experienced the extraordinary migration of wildebeest in Masai Mara, the 8th Wonder of the World, first hand? Then, you have no idea what you are missing!
Our first time in Kenya, we wanted a safari that would leave us craving for me. We had read enough reviews; now was the time to get our own experience.
We chose the Masai mara Migration safari because many reviews had recommended it (we also recommend it to you). Our first assignment was to get a reliable tour company in Kenya that would facilitate the travel.
Our search for a reliable tour company
Out of the ten travel companies we contacted, AJ Kenya Safaris was the first to answer our email. They sent us numerous itineraries to choose from depending on what we wanted – how many days we wanted to be at the Mara, the kind of accommodation we wanted, extra activities we would like included, etc.
Even though they were prompt, we did not give them a chance immediately; we opted to wait at least for a week and hear from other safari companies. Unfortunately, by the end of the week, about five companies had not answered our email, and those who had, their rates did not seem to match the service they were selling.
That made it easier to settle for Aj Kenya Safaris, and I must say the planning process was fast, efficient, and easy because their communication was always well detailed with ample information.
The Masai Mara Great Migration occurs every year from Mid-June to October, and it’s not a single wildebeest crossing; instead, it is an endless event that lasts several months.
The animals constantly move between the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. The migrating animals cover a distance of over 3000 kilometers.
The Kenyan Mara River crossing happens between Mid-June to October. The herd stays in the Masai Mara until early November, when it migrates back to Tanzania, and the cycle continues every year.
The Mara is one of the most visited destinations in the Kenyan Wildlife market, with all-day game drives in the beautiful rolling grasslands in search of the Big Five.
Day 1: Pick up from our hotel and the journey to the Mara
We arrived in the country at least two days before our trip to have some time to rest from the long flight and see the city.
On the morning of our trip, our guide, Peter, picked us up early morning at 6 am from our hotel. He was a warm and kind-hearted man who wore a smile at all times.
We had found him waiting at the airport when we arrived and he was on time to pick us from our hotel. He helped us load our luggage in the Landcruiser 4×4 jeep that was spotlessly clean. He also briefed us on our safari even though we had received a detailed itinerary before we flew in.
We were looking forward to the long journey because we wanted to see the life around Kenia. Our drive was smooth, driving past the city life as people getting ready for a busy day ahead.
We were thrilled to see the sunrise kissing our faces – this was a sign a good day awaited us. Our cameras began rolling as we took pictures of the city life and the rising sun, but it was just the tip of the iceberg.
Our first stop was at the Great Rift valley Viewpoint for a much-needed toilet break and a view of the Rift Valley floor. This place is breathtaking and has a serene feel with a beautiful view – no wonder the name viewpoint.
Peter explained a few important things about the Rift Valley that we had no clue about ( our history lessons were updated). We took several photos with the Great Rift Valley as our backdrop before continuing with our long drive.
We arrived in Narok around noon and stopped for a bite. We also needed to get some personal items before we head out to the Mara. Peter had told us this was the last town where civilization ends, so this was an opportunity to get anything we needed for the next few days.
The drive past Narok was a genuine gesture; we were in the wild. A camp here, a lodge surrounded by a good amount of wild; we arrived at our camp in time for lunch and check-in.
We could not keep calm; we were ready to see what the Mara had in store for us. Our evening game drive at 3 pm was beautiful. Zebras, the vast African elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, giraffes towering over us and calmly grazing were some of the animals that welcomed us to this vast park.
Dinner and overnight were at the camp. Just because these camps are in the middle of the wild doesn’t mean they are low quality.
There are all types of camps and lodges in the Mara – we had booked a mid-luxury campsite referred by the AJ Kenya Safaris, and it was divine. It had beautiful clean, spacious rooms, hot showers with clean water, clean bathrooms, solar-powered electricity sufficient even to charge our gadgets and cool our beer. I mean, what else would a person ask for!
Day 2: A full day game drive including the Mara River migration
Our second day was going to be ecstatic! We had a full-day game drive waiting and hoped the migration would favor us. We left the camp after an early sumptuous breakfast at 6.30 am. We were hoping to catch the predators as they returned to rest from their overnight hunting.
And sure enough, the lion and his family greeted us a few minutes down the drive. They were just finishing on a meal, and their mouths were covered with blood. The little cubs were enjoying small bites, and you could see they were enjoying. The hyenas were scrambling for a leftover meal in the thicket. The more we drove in the wild, the more animals we saw.
The jungle has a beauty that stands out – the birds chirping, the animals grazing peacefully, the sun rising, and the tour vehicles driving all over is a sight to behold. Everyone had come for the same purpose, to enjoy some therapy away from the crazy life we live.
We finally found a spot at the Mara River and packed in anticipation, waiting for the thousands of wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras to cross as we enjoyed our picnic lunch. We could see the Mara Crocodiles beneath the water surface getting ready to feast. Hundreds of Tour vans with tourists lined up the area, all of us waiting to document a historic Mara Migration.
Suddenly and without warning, a whole herd of the wildebeests jumped into the rushing Mara waters scrambling to cross to the other side. With the same speed, the crocodiles went into action, catching the weak ones, the babies, or those caught up in the stampede. But thousands made it safe to the other side. This is a view I will never forget!
Immediately these grazers land on the Kenyan side, they begin grazing on the green beautiful grasslands waiting for them. They do this as they move on to the deeper parts of the wild as if to make room for the next group coming up behind them. So there was always some action to document, and we never knew how fast time flew.
We returned to the camp late evening for a well-deserved rest with our hearts full from the action.
Day 3: Hot Air Balloon and more game drives
Our day three begun with a hot air balloon ride. We wanted to see the beauty of the park from all dimensions. You have no idea what it feels like to be up there – the park is astounding. All life’s stress runs out when you behold the beauty of the rising sun. You wonder why life is so challenging, yet beauty is found in the most simple things.
After the exciting balloon ride and filling breakfast, we were ready for a second full-day game drive; we still had not seen the deep parts of the Mara and the animals within that area. Several leopards resting on top of a tree was a signature photo among other animals we documented.
After a picnic lunch under a tree watching the grazers enjoying the green grass, we headed out to the Mara River, hoping for some action. Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to have a repeat of yesterday’s actions, but we could enjoy watching the crocodiles resting and waiting for another feast.
Day 4: The Maasai Village visit and back to the city
Our last day was full of mixed emotions. We were happy we had seen it all, but we were sad to be leaving this therapeutic life.
After breakfast, we checked out and enjoyed a game drive on our way to the Masai Village.
The Masai Village was simply beautiful. The once pastoralist community now knows how to welcome guests and teach you a few things about themselves. They still herd their many cows and goats that provide part of their food. Finally, we met the people who have given this park a name – the Masai people.
These people have a rich cultural heritage, one of the few communities in Africa that have fully managed to conserve their culture in a significant way. In addition, this community is famous for its co-existence with the animals without any conflict.
The colorful beadwork is what women make each day, and they are worth the time. They are beautiful and outstanding. The men have a signature dance that they invited us to join in and taste this rich culture. We bought some artifacts to take back home and left the village a happy lot.
Our trip back to civilization was relaxing. We reminisced on all the memories we had created in such a short time but will last forever. We wished our home was Africa because we would make the wild our friend. But we had to return to our beautiful country, many miles away.
Though we leave, our hearts remain in Kenya – the Mara is where we belong every day of our lives.
If you have been planning to visit Kenya, wait no more, the Masai Mara Migration 2021 awaits you, and you don’t want to miss this!
A few things to note from this trip:
This whole trip cost us $1,400 per person sharing in a mid-luxury camp. This cost included
- Airport pick-up and dropping in a luxurious, 4×4 land cruiser
- Services of a professional safari guide and experienced driver
- All Meals on a Full-Board basis at the Mara Camp
- All the game drives with packed picnic lunch for full day game drives
- Maasai Village visits on day 4
- Park fees and taxes
- Transport in 4×4 land cruiser
- Bottled water during game drives in Masai Mara National Park.
- Optional Local beer and cold water
- Local Fruits and soft drinks of your choice during game drives
This cost did not include
- Hot Air Balloon Safari – $450 per person
- Bush Dinner – $100 per person
- International flights to and from the country
- Travel insurance
- Tips and gifts
- Wines and alcoholic drinks at the Masai Mara camp
- Extra activities
AJ Kenya Safaris were honest and precise with all the details shared. We were not caught off-guard with costs we need to sort during our visit. Everything had been planned and sorted before our visit.
Our guide, Peter, was one of the best people assigned to us. He was graceful even when we asked too many questions. In addition, he was well informed about the park and the natural world in general.
Kenya is home to 54 National parks; we just started, 53 more to see and experience.
We look forward to our return!