Are you planning a Kenya safari holidays? Check out this Masai Mara safari review including stunning wildlife photography and detailed description of every day of safari and much more. As you maybe know Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kenya. The reserve is located in the Great Rift Valley, mostly on open grassland with beautiful scenery. The Masai Mara is regarded as one of the best wildlife viewing areas in the country. There have been almost 100 species of animals and over 400 birds species recorded on the reserve.
When I was making my independent travel plan to Kenya for the first time, there were a few things for me to deal with: high prices for safaris, getting the best value for money and questioning the reliability of an unknown local tour operator. It’ s always about taking risks in cases like that so I checked the Internet for reviews and recommendations of the tour operators trying to find the best match for myself. So after my research for Masai Mara safari, my choice was East Africa Shuttles and Safaris company 3 days Masai Mara budget camping tour offer. I made a reservation on their website and got a confirmation email quite quickly. It was kind of a low risk deal for me because they did not ask for any kind of advance payment. I paid everything in person at the beginning of the tour. Communication with the tour operator in Kenya was through WhatsApp, so no additional expense for that either. Here is my review of my tour in June:
I was picked up from my hotel at 8 am. I was the first passenger and it took some time to collect the others from their hotels. We were 7 people all together plus the driver in a mini tour van with a popup roof. The first stop was a viewpoint of the Great Rift Valley. The Rift Valley is a geographic stretch extending 6000km across the Middle East and Africa from Jordan to Mozambique.After a few more hours we had a picnic lunch at Narok town.It was followed by the last part of our drive with an unpleasant finding that for the last two hours you had to drive next to the new road building route so actually without a road at all, very bumpy and tiring. Our way was going past Naboisho conservancy so we could do some game viewing en route. We arrived at Lenchada tourist camp at 15.30. The camp is located outside the park but next to it. Accommodation is tents but covered by a real roof. No keys for tents, just zippers. Masai people guard them. Each tent features a mosquito net and an en-suite bathroom equipped with a safari shower, a hand wash basin and a flush toilet. No WiFi.Chargers are available in the dining room only and for a short time in the evenings and mornings.After checking in and having some tea, we left for a game drive 16.30. You need your passport to enter the park. Surprisingly enough, it was raining but we saw quite a lot of animals anyway. The highlight of this game drive was seeing the fast and slender cheetah.
After watching a colorful sunset in Mara we returned to the Lenchada camp for dinner and overnight.Dinner was served as a buffet with a salad, a side dish, and the main course. It was tasty and of good quality. The night was quite cold and I needed two blankets to keep myself warm. On the plus side, I did not notice any mosquitos.
Next day was a full safari day that started at 6.30 a.m. It included a lot of driving and seeing different animals including wildebeests, lions, elephants, Thompson’s gazelles, Grant’s gazelles and many birds.After a short stop at the air strip where locals sell souvenirs, we visited the border with Tanzania where Serengeti starts on the other side of the border.Then we went to the Mara River and took a ranger to go along it up to the border with Mara triangle. We saw quite a lot of hippos on the other side of the river peacefully resting on the coast and swimming in the water, no crocodiles.After getting back from this short walk we had a packed lunch at the river. It was at the place where you could watch a great wildebeest migration over the Mara River about a month later. On our way back we had on opportunity to see many giraffes and some elephants among the other animals and birds.A highlight of the day was leisurely resting lions under the bush with insect repelling smell. We returned to our camp around 5 pm.
Instead of having one more game drive in Masai Mara in the morning, we opted for a local Masai village tour. As it was quite close to our camp, we went by foot to the village at 7.30 a.m.The traditional Masai village is called a Manyatta and consists of a number of small cow dung made huts with thatched roofs. The huts are placed in a circle with livestock in the middle and a thick thorny fence for protection against the nightly predators. We spent some time in Manyatta learning about their life, culture, and customs. We had an opportunity to see the Masai Jumping Dance. Each young man jumps as high as he can while the others stand in a circle and sing. We also visited Masai house and a small marketplace with an opportunity to buy souvenirs.We left the camp a bit after 9 am, reached a proper road at 11.30 a.m. including some 20 minutes towing time stacked in a big hole full with water in the middle of the road. We had lunch on our way back and arrived in Nairobi at 4.30 p.m.
Tour price of 300 USD included 2 nights’ accommodation at Camp, all park entrance fees, taxes, 3 meals a day, game drives, one liter of mineral water a day while in safari, driver’s allowances.
Not included in the price: Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and beverages in Camp. In my opinion, the game drives are the same for all operators of Masai Mara tours. What makes a difference is an accommodation. If you want better accommodation, you pay more. You can ask the operator for better accommodation for an additional fee. I also used East Africa Shuttles and Safaris taxi transfer from JKIA to my hotel in Nairobi. As my flight arrived in Nairobi at 2 a.m. it was quite a challenge for me. I was very satisfied with their service and the price I paid was 20 USD.
Conclusion: I recommend East Africa Shuttles and Safaris for value for money Masai Mara safari option.
Disclosure: I paid for everything myself.
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What did you think? Have you been to Masai Mara? Or perhaps you’re thinking of visiting there in the near future? Either way, I’d love to hear from you so please add your comments below.
Author: Anita Sāne
About the author
Anita is a part-time traveler, passionate photographer and a mature career woman from Latvia, traveling mostly solo for more than 10 years. She is a skilled travel planner planning and executing her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her also on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Bloglovin.