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The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most spectacular and most popular game reserves in Kenya. Rich in game, the rolling grasslands and acacia savannah have frequently been captured on film, with "Out of Africa" being the most famous.

The reserve borders Tanzania and the two countries share the vast Serengeti plains, with wildlife free to roam between Kenya and Tanzania in search of food. The concentration of game in the Mara during the mass migration is mind blowing, and this is one of the few areas where you are likely to see all of the big five - buffalo, elephant, rhino, lion and leopard.

In fact lion are ridiculously common and, as they have grown accustomed to cars, you are quite likely to see them feeding on a kill during your visit. Other animals include cheetah, zebra, spotted hyena, black backed jackal, hippo, giraffe, eland and of course wildebeest.

The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is famous for the annual migration of over one million wildebeest and thousands of zebra. The incredible spectacle of them crossing the Mara river into Kenya happens in late July or August. Thousands of animals die in this dramatic crossing and predators and crocodiles have a field day. In October the animals return again.

The history of this area can be traced back at least 2,000 years, when Neolithic man discarded pottery and arrow heads in the Lemek valley slightly north of the reserve. The Maasai herdsmen have occupied the area since the 17th century, living in harmony with the wildlife as pastoralists and not hunters. These proud warrior people are still here today and the men often perform an amazing dance in the lodges. The Masai Mara does not have national park status, but instead is a reserve where the Maasai can live and graze their animals.

There is a wide range of safari lodges and tented camps in the Mara, and to get there you can join an organised safari or make your own arrangements. By vehicle it takes six hours from Nairobi or by air just half an hour from Nairobi Wilson Airport.

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