I had heard so much about the Maasai Mara that I could wait for an opportunity to visit. I wondered what would captivate me the most, would it be the landscape and scenery, the large number and variety of game or maybe the phenomenal Maasai people who lend their name to this conservancy. Because the wait was for long, I guess the desire also decreased, this was further caused by an earlier opportunity of interacting with the Maasai in Tanzania in the Ngorongoro crater and en route to Serengeti national park. By the time I visited the Maasai Mara conservancy it was more for curiosity’s sake than an earlier desire which had captured my heart. This is not to say that I did not want to visit it or that I had no expectations but they were watered down a little.
We drove from Lake Naivasha to the Mara triangle to our beautiful lodge in a great location – the Mara Serena safari lodge. First things first, where possible please do not travel by road to the Mara – it was the worst road experience ever, this bumpy ride on a road with stones and everything else was not pleasant at all. I recommend anything else but this drive, however where you have no choice you can take it and maybe fly out of the Mara. After enduring this bad road experience a paradise of sorts awaited us. The location of our lodge was everything one needs when on a safari. Great views and hospitality from the staff at the lodge crowned with good meals. It is relatively big so not for someone who needs privacy.
The game drives in the Mara were highlight with our passionate guide who knew all the spots to go searching for the game. Most of the people on the safari were looking for the King of the Jungle and we were happy to sight them but from a far off. We later continued on our safari and eventually found some lionesses that were much closer. We then drove to the river in hope of finding some wildebeest crossing but we unfortunately did not find any. I must say the game drive was rewarding for most people. We did not see the leopard and cheetah which would have excited me but I know that seeing wild animals in their natural habitat is a privilege.
After the morning game drive we had a bush breakfast by the Mara river organized by the Serena staff- what a highlight this was. The staff welcomed us with Champagne as we looked to continue exploring the Mara. The Mara Serena Safari lodge also organized a fantastic sun downer that was unfortunately short because of threats of the rain. I think both the bush breakfast and sun downer were great experiences that topped it for me on this trip.
The real highlight of the trip was a visit to a Maasai homestead just outside the Mara triangle. There was argument that the experience is not authentic and it was staged but who cares – if you expect to find untainted cultural experiences then get back into the stone age. I enjoyed the dances and music plus stories of how they co-exist with wildlife. It was interesting to watch them make fire with no matches just like the Batwa usually demonstrate in southwestern Uganda. I must say for me this was the highlight even after knowing that it is probably staged. For a tour to the Maasai Mara, I recommend a minimum of 3 nights with extended time on game drive perhaps carry a packed lunch to get a maximum experience. I can always visit again but my thirst for the Mara was quenched at least for a while.