Originally established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1948, and as a national park in 1974 the Masai Mara (also sometimes spelled Maasai Mara) is the most visited park in Kenya and also one of the most well-known game parks in Africa. The park is approximately 1,510 km² (583 mi²) in size and is located just north of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. In fact, the Serengeti and Masai Mara parks are contiguous parks separated only by a country border.
The Masai Mara has a high concentration of game-viewing for its small size and, unlike the Serengeti, it is possible to drive off-road here to view game. The smaller size also means the Masai Mara tends to be more crowded than its neighbor, particularly during the peak migration times.
The Masai Mara is a well-established reserve with an excellent concentration of wildlife. It has a wide-range of lodging options and offers visitors the opportunity to do driving, walking and even mountain biking safaris. It is recommended for travelers of all levels.
Masai Mara offers excellent game viewing opportunities at any time of year, but it is particularly popular during the months of July through October. It is during these months that the annual herbivore migration passes up through Kenya, up from Tanzania. During these months it is possible to witness one of the greatest spectacles on earth. Over two million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and antelope pass through the Masai Mara on their endless pursuit of lush, green grass. It is interesting to note that most of the female wildebeest passing through the Masai Mara will be pregnant. The calving season for wildebeest is mid-January through February and the gestational period of the wildebeest is 8.5 months.
The Masai Mara is home to the big five: buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino, although the number of black rhinos has significantly decreased in the last 50 years.