THE MASAI MARA

The Masai Mara Game Reserve

The Masai Mara is known as one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves, situated in southwest Kenya. It is named in honour of the Masai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara,” which is Maa (Masai language) for “spotted,” an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is famous for the abundance of big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah – the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Masai people. With an area of more than 1.500 km2, stretching over large open grasslands and acacia forests, the Masai Mara offers the opportunity to view some of the worlds most ancient and most threatened creatures. Over 95 species of mammals and 570 species of birds can be seen in this magnificent national reserve.

Geographically the Masai Mara Ecosystem is part of the great Lake Victoria It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Masai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Rainfall in the ecosystem increases markedly along a southeast–northwest gradient, varies in space and time, and is markedly bimodal. The Sand, Talek River and Mara River are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hillslopes and hilltops.

The Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara is known as one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves, situated in southwest Kenya and is part of the northern section of the Serengeti National Park. It is named in honour of the Masai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara,” which is Maa (Masai language) for “spotted,” an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area.

Established in 1974, the Masai Mara National Reserve is managed by the Narok County Government. Surrounding plots, bordering the eastern and northern boundaries of the reserve, were given back to the Masai people in the 1980s and 1990s and title deeds were issued to individual Masai landowners. Protecting these privately owned wildlife areas relies entirely on the Masai landowners and the local tourism sector.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is famous for the abundance of big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah – the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Masai people. With an area of more than 1.500 km2, stretching over large open grasslands and acacia forests, the Masai Mara offers the opportunity to view some of the worlds most ancient and most threatened creatures. Over 95 species of mammals and 570 species of birds can be seen in this magnificent national reserve.

Geographically the Masai Mara Ecosystem is part of the great Lake Victoria It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Masai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Rainfall in the ecosystem increases markedly along a southeast–northwest gradient, varies in space and time, and is markedly bimodal. The Sand, Talek River and Mara River are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hillslopes and hilltops.

The Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara is known as one of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves, situated in southwest Kenya and is part of the northern section of the Serengeti National Park. It is named in honour of the Masai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara,” which is Maa (Masai language) for “spotted,” an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savanna, and cloud shadows that mark the area.

Established in 1974, the Masai Mara National Reserve is managed by the Narok County Government. Surrounding plots, bordering the eastern and northern boundaries of the reserve, were given back to the Masai people in the 1980s and 1990s and title deeds were issued to individual Masai landowners. Protecting these privately owned wildlife areas relies entirely on the Masai landowners and the local tourism sector.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is famous for the abundance of big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah – the Great Wildebeest Migration and the Masai people. With an area of more than 1.500 km2, stretching over large open grasslands and acacia forests, the Masai Mara offers the opportunity to view some of the worlds most ancient and most threatened creatures. Over 95 species of mammals and 570 species of birds can be seen in this magnificent national reserve.

Geographically the Masai Mara Ecosystem is part of the great Lake Victoria It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Masai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Rainfall in the ecosystem increases markedly along a southeast–northwest gradient, varies in space and time, and is markedly bimodal. The Sand, Talek River and Mara River are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hillslopes and hilltops.

The Siana Conservancy

The exclusive Siana Conservancy is a fully formed wildlife conservancy, located on the boundaries of and with immediate access to the Masai Mara National Reserve, and aims to preserve the surrounding wildlife and the culture of the Masai in an area of 35.000 acres. Spirit of the Masai Mara works successfully – together with other lodges – with the Masai landowners of the Nkoilale community and assists them to get true individual titles in return for the area to be leased back at viable commercial rates for wildlife conservation. The Siana conservancy offers a unique privatised high quality wildlife viewing area with no minibuses.

This form of environmental management ensures a sustainable income for the local community based on their land titles whilst optimizing the area for the surrounding wildlife. A delicate balance has to be struck between the needs of pastoral cattle herders and the diverse wildlife. This is no small undertaking and involved the creation of ranger units, infrastructure, fee systems and a management body.

Together with two other lodges we have been able to secure funding from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to support us in improving the infrastructure of the area as well as employing rangers and a conservancy manager.

Since the Siana Conservancy operations commenced in June 2016, the influx of wildlife has been tremendous. The conservation area is popular with elephants, the largest migration of wildebeest for 23 years has been witnessed on our door steps and four different prides of lions are establishing their territory within the conservancy – just to name a few.

While it is vital for Spirit of the Masai Mara to protect its surrounding nature and wildlife, it is equally important to support the Masai community and to secure their involvement in the protection of the flora and fauna. Our Community Conservancy Rangers have grown up in the local area and are undergoing continuous training to enhance their wildlife conservation skills as well as using GPS technology to monitor the wildlife.

Guests are invited to discuss any aspect of the conservancy with the management of Spirit of the Masai Mara.

 

The Wildebeest Migration

An incredible spectacle is the Great Wildebeest Migration, also referred to as one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World”. From July to October, over two million zebras and wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti National Park to the greener pastures of the Masai Mara. The most spectacular event in the annual migration is the crossing of the Mara River.

Spirit of the Masai Mara offers you the opportunity to join us  and witness this truly breathtaking event.

ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT

A professional ecosystem management requires a holistic approach to conserve the biological diversity of an ecosystem, restore natural resources while at the same time meeting socioeconomic, political and cultural needs of the current and future generations. Spirit of the Masai Mara – in cooperation with other tourism partners – commits itself to form a management system that will benefit all parties involved: the Masai community, the wildlife in the Siana Conservancy and the Masai Mara National Reserve and the local tourism partners.

The delicate balance of the natural and human environments can only be maintained by empowering the local community, establishing controlled grazing and zoning areas for livestock, enforcing anti-poaching and restoring the natural habitat. The fees being paid to the Siana conservancy contribute to the creation of ranger units that ensure adherence to anti-poaching rules and regulations as well as standards set out by the Siana conservancy.

Waste Water Management

Together with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water Initiative (MaMaSe), Spirit of the Masai Mara has piloted the construction of a waste water management system to purify the water used at the lodge. We are one of only two lodges in the Masai Mara to use this water purification system in order to reduce our environmental impact.

Constructed wetlands are systems that mimic the wastewater treatment processes that take place in natural wetlands.  They provide up to 90% treatment of wastewater and are easy to maintain. There are different types of CWs based on the hydrological flow pattern. The recommended type of wetland in the basin is the horizontal subsurface flow (HSSF) system where the water flows in the pore spaces of sand/gravel. Once the water has gone through the system, it can be recycled for secondary purposes such as irrigation or can be fed into a water hole for animals.   

Waste Reduction

We are passionate about reducing our environmental impact and have taken various steps to manage the waste produced at the lodge. Plastic bottles are taken from the lodge to a women’s group where they are turned into beads used to make traditional Masai jewellery.

We also have our own composting system that is then used as a fertilizer for our organic vegetable garden. Any waste that cannot be used at the lodge is transported to Nairobi for recycling.

ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT

A professional ecosystem management requires a holistic approach to conserve the biological diversity of an ecosystem, restore natural resources while at the same time meeting socioeconomic, political and cultural needs of the current and future generations. Spirit of the Masai Mara – in cooperation with other tourism partners – commits itself to form a management system that will benefit all parties involved: the Masai community, the wildlife in the Siana Conservancy and the Masai Mara National Reserve and the local tourism partners.

The delicate balance of the natural and human environments can only be maintained by empowering the local community, establishing controlled grazing and zoning areas for livestock, enforcing anti-poaching and restoring the natural habitat. The fees being paid to the Siana conservancy contribute to the creation of ranger units that ensure adherence to anti-poaching rules and regulations as well as standards set out by the Siana conservancy.

Waste Water Management

Together with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water Initiative (MaMaSe), Spirit of the Masai Mara has piloted the construction of a waste water management system to purify the water used at the lodge. We are one of only two lodges in the Masai Mara to use this water purification system in order to reduce our environmental impact.

Constructed wetlands are systems that mimic the wastewater treatment processes that take place in natural wetlands.  They provide up to 90% treatment of wastewater and are easy to maintain. There are different types of CWs based on the hydrological flow pattern. The recommended type of wetland in the basin is the horizontal subsurface flow (HSSF) system where the water flows in the pore spaces of sand/gravel. Once the water has gone through the system, it can be recycled for secondary purposes such as irrigation or can be fed into a water hole for animals.   

Waste Reduction

We are passionate about reducing our environmental impact and have taken various steps to manage the waste produced at the lodge. Plastic bottles are taken from the lodge to a women’s group where they are turned into beads used to make traditional Masai jewellery.

We also have our own composting system that is then used as a fertilizer for our organic vegetable garden. Any waste that cannot be used at the lodge is transported to Nairobi for recycling.

SEASONS

Probably the most important element of the environment to its inhabitants is the weather and the cycle of four seasons per year. The seasons are reasonably defined: the ‘short dry season’ is typically December to February/March; the ‘long rains’ fall over a six week period from March through April and into May; and the ‘long dry season’ is from June to September, with the two-week ‘short rains’ falling any time from October into November. There are however, no guarantees about these dates.