The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is without a doubt one of Africa’s most famous game reserves. Known for its large population of big five, it is also the sight of the annual Great Migration where thousands of Zebra, Gazelle and Wildebeast all make the harrowing trek to and from the Serengeti. With so many visitors each year, more and more game lodges are offering eco-friendly ways of not only getting close to some of your favourite wildlife, but also giving back to local Maasai communities. Here are some eco-friendly activities you won’t want to miss.
Get up close and personal with some amazing animals on a Maasai guided game walk. The Maasai people are a semi-nomadic tribe that have inhabited this area for more than 400 years and who live in harmony amongst big game. So, who better to give visitors an authentic bush experience than a Maasai guide? Walk through a diverse array of grasses and enjoy the smells and sounds of the bush. On your walk, you’ll be headed right into big game territory with the chance of encountering all kinds of animals from Impala to Giraffes without the disturbance and environmental impact of a loud game truck.
If a game walk is a little too wild for you, consider a hot air balloon safari. Start in the early morning just as the first pink rays of light are seen in the sky. Silently float above the savannah and watch the bush wake up. See heards of elephants, spot a rare black rhino or catch buffalo having an early morning drink at the watering hole. What many visitors to the region don’t realize is that the roads built for game vehicles destroy some of the natural habitat of these amazing animals. As well, with the frequency of their use, some of the tinier creatures like the Dung Beetle are verging on extinction. A hot air balloon safari is the perfect way to see more big game without the ecological footprint.
Round out your bush experience with a visit to a traditional Maasai village. Called a Manyatta the village consists of small huts with thatched roofs surrounding a pen of livestock. Here you will get to be a part of the everyday life of the Maasai. Head out to a busy market day and watch as women bargain for goods and catch up on news from other villages. Support the local community and buy exquisite handcrafted items you won’t find in any gift shop in the world. Or, visit a local school where Maasai children walk with their books and pencils through the bush to learn writing and math.
No matter what kind of adventure you’re after you can find it in the Maasai Mara. When it’s time to return home, you can leave the bush knowing you helped play a part in protecting this amazing ecosystem for future generations to enjoy.