Maasai Mara National Reserve Safari

Maasai Mara National Reserve is located in SW Kenya and it is comprised of the northern tip of the Mara Serengeti Ecosystem. Therefore, the Maasai Mara reserve is contiguous with the much larger Serengeti National Park that lies south of the border in Tanzania. Additionally, Maasai Mara forms a small 1500 sq kilometer section of this greater 25,000 sq kilometer ecosystem.

However, due to the abundance of wildlife in the reserve, Maasai Mara creates some of the best game viewing in the world. Indeed, Maasai Mara safari is a world class experience year round. We had an excellent guide and we the first on the scene for some thrilling wildlife viewing. Follow along below, see the photos and learn how you can have the same safari experience.

Maasai Mara Safari Guide
Here is our fantastic Maasai Mara safari guide and our transportation which also folds out to serve as a viewing platform.

After our arrival at the Maasai Mara Sopa Lodge we set out immediately to get in a late afternoon game drive. We were in luck because we would soon learn that our guide was one of the best in Kenya.

Maasai Mara Safari – Day One

We soon encountered this giraffe trio who were fighting among themselves. After dishing out a few blows they took a short break to pose for a photo.

fighting giraffes
These giraffes were fighting, they bend their necks and strike each other with their two horns.
three giraffes maasai mara
That’s better, now please smile for the camera.

Lions at Maasai Mara

While we enjoyed observing these amusing giraffes, I noticed our guide had taken a keen interest in something on the horizon. After confirming his intuition with the binoculars, we moved in for a closer look. As we approached, he explained that he had seen lion cubs standing on a termite mound. Naturally, as we moved closer their shapes began to take form.

The lion cubs seemed keenly interested in something off in the far distance. I could not see or hear anything, so I was a bit perplexed by what was going on. Then the lion cubs began to quickly trot off towards whatever it was that they were observing.

Our guide began following the cubs……

5 lion cubs
The guide spotted the lion cubs far off in the distance and we approached them.
lion cubs
We then followed them as they seemed very focused on where they were going.

Tracking Lions to the Kill

Some questions that were in my mind included: What were these cubs doing away from the rest of the pride? What were they looking for? When would we find the adult lions? As we were pursuing the lion cubs, our guide told us the details.

  1. The cubs are usually left alone while the adults are out hunting game
  2. The cubs were in fact leading us back to the adult lions
  3. Although inaudible to human hearing, the cubs could hear from a couple kilometers off in the distance that the pride had made a kill
  4. The cubs were in fact leading us to the kill!

Then sure enough, we drove right up to a fresh kill that the pride had made. Fortunately, we were the first ones on the scene until some other safari vehicles showed up (our guide tipped off his associates with the radio).

The cubs quickly jumped in the fray to try and swallow a few bites. The target of the kill was suspected by our guide to be a baby African buffalo and unfortunately there was not much to go around.

lion kill maasai mara
One of the cubs gets in between two adult lioness. This looked pretty hazardous.
lion kill
The lions were quickly devouring the remains of the African buffalo.
fighting lions
The pride members were relentless in obtaining their share.
The lion cubs seemed pretty content to be reunited with mom.

Maasai Mara Safari Day 2

Day one had concluded with a bang. Therefore, day two would have a tough act to follow. Indeed, finding a fresh lion kill such as the one we were able to observe is not always so easy.

Nonetheless, day 2 started out very well. Our guide got clued into the location of some cheetahs that were hanging out on the savanna. Fortunately, they were still there when we arrived and we got some great photos.

Cheetahs Maasai Mara
We traveled to a distant location in the Maasai Mara savanna to view 2 very photogenic cheetahs.
2 resting cheetahs
The cheetahs were resting in the grass watching the horizon.
cheetahs maasai mara savanna kenya

Pride of Lions Day 2

On the 2nd day we had an encounter with a new pride of lions. However, this pride of lions was in a much different condition than the large pride we discovered on Day 1.

lion pride maasai mara kenya

Our guide explained that this pride was not as healthy as the pride we observed on day one. It was likely they had been blocked out of the best hunting grounds by a stronger pride.

  1. This pride did not have many cubs indicating that the pride was not able to feed very often
  2. The single cub we were able to observe with this pride was in very poor condition, it appeared to be malnourished.

A single cub that was part of this pride can be observed in the center of the picture. Additionally, it is lying down in between the two lionesses with its head resting against the shoulder of the one lioness. Indeed, we were able to observe that lion cub was not very healthy and it appeared very thin.

weak lion cub
The lone malnourished malnourished cub was a sure sign these lions were not feeding well.

The Mara River

After observing the lions, we ventured off towards the Mara River. The Mara River is world famous for being the best location in the world to observe the great migration of wildebeest. Unfortunately, the wildebeest do not enjoy it so much because they must try and cross the river while being attacked by giant African crocodiles. Indeed, the giant crocodiles were there waiting.

giant crocodile mara river
This giant crocodile is patiently waiting on the river bank.
hippos mara river
We found some hippos nearby.
This other group of hippos was behaving rather aggressively.

Male Lions Maasai Mara

As we were scouting around the banks of the Mara river, suddenly our guide swerved of the trail and began directly driving into the brush. This made us a bit nervous….

However, what are guide has spotted was some branches that was out of place indicating something large had walked through it.

Male Lion Maasai Mara
Adult male lions sleep for 20 hours per day.

Our guide’s intuition was correct and we found an adult male lion sound asleep. Additionally, this lion did not so much as open an eyelid even though our vehicle was idled about 2 meters from its head.

It was now late afternoon and it was time to start heading back to the lodge. On the way we spotted a group of elephants which made for some good photos. However, we would be seeing many, many elephants in the near future at Amboseli National Park.

elephants maasai mara
We spotted a small herd of elephants on the Maasai Mara savanna.
solitary elephant

Maasai Mara Sopa Lodge

Our accommodation at Maasai Mara was the Sopa Lodge. The facilities were very welcoming because the rooms were done up with traditional African colors and furnishings. Additionally, they had large fireplaces in the lounge and restaurant. Also, the staff was very professional and overall our experience at this Sopa Lodge was very satisfactory.

Additional sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_Mara
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serengeti#Great_migration
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mara_River