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The tour begins at 7:30am in the morning of Day 1 at your Nairobi hotel. Please be on time to meet your driver/guide at the front entrance of the hotel. A brief departure meeting will be held in the hotel reception area about general and specific aspects of the trip before setting off to the Masai Mara. Travel from Nairobi, through the Great Rift Valley on to Kenya's premier wildlife reserve. In the afternoon we will arrive in the area, and get settled at our safari lodge, our base for our time here. Then we head out for a late afternoon game viewing drive, with excellent chances of seeing the "Big 5" - lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino. The varied wildlife and natural environment come together to provide a spectacular safari experience. The Masai Mara (also spelled Maasai Mara) is a game reserve in south-western Kenya, which is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Named for the Masai tribes people, who are the traditional inhabitants of the area, and the Mara River, which divides it, the reserve is famous for its exceptional population of game and the annual Great Migration of the wildebeest every September and October. The Great Migration is one of the most impressive natural spectacles in the world, involving an immensity of herbivores: some 1,300,000 wildebeest, 360,000 Thomson's gazelle, and 191,000 zebra. With an area of 1510 sq km, the Masai Mara is not the largest game park or reserve in Kenya, but it is probably the most famous. The entire area of the park is nestled within the enormous Great Rift Valley that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to Mozambique. The terrain of the reserve is primarily open grassland, with clusters of the distinctive acacia tree in the south-east region. The western border is the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment of the Rift Valley, and wildlife tends to be most concentrated here, as the swampy ground means that access to water is always good and tourist disruption is minimal. The easternmost border is 224 km from Nairobi. The Masai Mara is perhaps most famous for its lions, though the other members of the "Big 5" are as well found. Hippo are found in large groups in the Masai Mara and Talek Rivers, and many cheetah, zebra, impala, gazelles, hartebeest, warthog, ostrich, topi and the Masai giraffe, among other mammals, all consider the “Mara” their home territory. As well, the large Roan antelope and the nocturnal bat-eared fox, rarely present elsewhere in Kenya, can be seen within the reserve borders. Like in the Serengeti in Tanzania, the wildebeest are the dominant inhabitant of the Masai Mara, and their numbers are estimated in the millions. Around July of each year these ungainly animals migrate in a vast ensemble north from the Serengeti plains in search of fresh pasture, and return to the south around October. These numerous migrants are followed along their annual, circular route by an entourage of hungry predators, most notably lions and hyena.
We set off early this morning in order to witness the animal kingdom at its most active hour. Continue your safari in search for the park's large populations of wildebeest, buffalo, lion, elephants, and giraffes. Marvel at gazelles, impala and ostrich from wonderful vistas along the Esoit Oloololo Escarpment. Before returning to your lodge, you may stop at a Masai village to learn about, and interact with, the local Masai people. You will also have a chance today or tomorrow to try the optional balloon safari, a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Breathe in the fresh morning air as you enjoy the African sun as it rises over the savannah of the "Mara". Visit a watering hole while on a morning game drive, a perfect time and place for wildlife photography. Return to Nairobi in the afternoon, where your safari concludes.