• Nairobi


    Most visitors to Kenya simply fly in and out of capital Nairobi – which is a huge mistake...
  • Masai Mara National Reserve

    Masai Mara National Reserve

    The big beast of Kenya safari
    The king of Kenya safari, the sweeping grass plains of the Mara (as it’s usually referred to) are home to the densest concentration of large mammals on the planet...
  • Nairobi


    Most visitors to Kenya simply fly in and out of capital Nairobi – which is a huge mistake...

A fly-in Kenyan safari will normally begin in capital Nairobi. Instead of heading straight out of the city, take some time to explore its vibrant cultural scene, through its museums, artworks and music bars. Whether you travel independently or with a safari company, you’ll fly to the Masai Mara National Park to begin your wildlife adventure. Here, you can see all of the Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo – as well as visiting a Masai village and learning more about local traditions. Your safari experience should also allow you to take a bushwalk to spot giraffe and kudu, or take a night safari to see a different side of the Mara. Take a flight back to Nairobi to depart.

Key information

Destinations Masai Mara National Reserve, Nairobi
Activity Safari, Luxury, Nature & Wildlife
Physical Level Easy
Season Season January - December

This itinerary costs between $1,321 and $2,441 per person with our Kenya specialist.

Book this trip with Governors' Camp Collection
Start here

Suggested itinerary

Big five safaris in the Masai Mara

Big five safaris in the Masai Mara

Day 1–3 in Masai Mara National Reserve

The king of Kenya safari, the sweeping grass plains of the Mara (as it’s usually referred to) are home to the densest concentration of large mammals on the planet. This is the place to see large prides of black-manned lions, bellowing elephants, grumpy buffalo and a pick ‘n’ mix box of antelope and gazelles. And that’s before we even touch on the smaller creatures and huge array of birds.

But, above and beyond all else, the Mara is renowned for the spectacular wildebeest migration. From about June to early-October each year, around two million wildebeest and other herbivores leave Tanzania’s Serengeti and splash across the crocodile infested waters of the Mara River in search of fresh, rain-fed grass in the Masai Mara. It’s a spectacular phenomenon and a classic safari experience.

In high seasons (July-September and the Christmas period) there can be hundreds of safari vehicles in the park at any one time, and park rules about approaching animals and sticking to the roads are sometimes ignored by less scrupulous guides (this is a particular problem with super-low budget safaris operating out of Nairobi). I once interviewed a biologist who told me she’d seen about 70 vehicles crowding around one cheetah!

But the Mara is a big place. If you stay in the more remote corners and move your focus away from chasing the big cats and elephants, you can still find tranquillity even in high season.

The other way to avoid the crowds is by visiting in mid-season. Personally I love June when everything is fresh and green after the rains, the wildebeest are starting to arrive but not the tourists, and temperatures are cool and pleasant. There can also be some spectacular thunderstorms at this time. And if the focus of your interest is birdwatching, then the rainy seasons of November and April-May are excellent.

My biggest Mara tip: look beyond the reserve itself. Nowadays the Mara is almost completely surrounded by a series of community-run wildlife conservancies. Offering almost complete exclusivity, if you can afford the often high prices then these are by far the best areas to stay. These conservancies have vastly expanded the amount of land under some kind of protection and they’ve brought real benefits to both wildlife and local communities as well as one of the worlds finest safari experiences for visitors. I can highly recommend Mara North, Naboisho, Nashulai Maasai Conservancy and Ol Dereski, though you’ll likely have an amazing time in any of them.

Don't miss

See the famed Mara River crossing

See the famed Mara River crossing

Head to the Kenyan side of the Mara River between July and August to witness the great migration’s premier spectacle – the crossing of the Mara River. All it takes is one wildebeest taking the plunge to spark a frenzy – but beware of the lurking crocodiles.

See dawn over the Masai Mara in a hot air balloon

See dawn over the Masai Mara in a hot air balloon

Take to the skies over the Masai Mara in a hot air balloon and you’ll see the sun rising over the plains, the Mara River glistening and animals on the move.

Where to stay


Governors’ Camp

Created in 1972, this luxury tented camp is nestled in the forest along the winding banks of the Mara River, its waters teeming with bird-life, hippo and crocodile, in the heart of Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve.

Governors’ Camp was the first permanent tented camp in the Masai Mara and it occupies the best wildlife viewing location in the National Park. The location of the camp was considered so good that during colonial times it was reserved for the colonial Governors of Kenya, hence the name Governors’ Camp. Today the camp enjoys the same prime location and is perfect for couples, families and friends wanting to experience the best of what a safari in the Masai Mara has to offer.


Little Governors’ Camp

Located on the edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve, each of the 17 luxury en-suite tents have wooden decks with large verandahs for guests to enjoy the constant game activity that takes place around the large watering hole in front of camp.

Breakfast and lunch are served in the open air, and the resident family of warthogs frequently wander amongst the tables. Since all Governors’ properties are unfenced, animals are frequent visitors to camp — guests may need to make way for elephants which sometimes visit the camp at lunchtime! In the evening, a warming log fire burns in front of the bar tent, and dinner is served in the nearby dining tent.


Il Moran Camp

The camp for those who want that extra bit of luxury — Governors’ Il Moran is small, peaceful and intimate, with added touches that place this camp at the top of the safari accommodation range. Widely regarded as the premiere camp in the Masai Mara, with the best game viewing right on your doorstep.

Hidden under ancient trees deep in the forest, are just ten tents which line the winding banks of the Mara River. Dark chunky wooden tables contrast with oversized blue couches and a central, colourfully beaded chandelier, while tribal portraits and African artefacts are dotted around. Meals are served on the raised wooden decking of the main mess and dining tent which offers a birds-eye view of the snorting hippos below. The main feature is a sunken fire pit which is lit in the evenings — the perfect spot to sit back with a cocktail of your choice.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators may cost between $1,321 and $2,441pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

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