Guide to Animals in Masai Mara National Reserve

Animals in Masai Mara - safari van

There are many animals in Masai Mara National Reserve. The main animals are the Big Five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and Cape buffaloes.

Other animals that can be seen here include cheetahs, wildebeest, gazelles, zebras, giraffes and hippopotamuses. Also present are several bird species such as ostrich, crowned crane and secretary bird.

How to Book Your Masai Mara Safari with Us

If you want to experience the wild beauty of Masai Mara, then look no further than us. We offer custom-made safaris tailored to your needs and budget. We offer a variety of packages ranging from short day trips to longer multi-day adventures.

Reach us at or to book your balloon safari in Kenya. We are also available through phone/WhatsApp at +254-748-25-8880.

Our Most Booked Masai Mara Safari Tours

Masai Mara Safari Deals/Offers/Tours High Season 1st Nov 2023 – 15th Dec 2023 Festive Season: 16th Dec 2023 – 3rd Jan 2024
3 Days AA Lodges Offer KES 46,784 Per Person KES 60,280 Per Person
3 Days Miti Mingi Eco Camp Safari KES 48,400 Per Person KES 53,400 Per Person
3 Days Orng’atuny Mara King Camp Tour KES 49,400 Per Person KES 58,400 Per Person 
3 Days Sentrim Masai Mara Offer KES 50,800 Per Person KES 63,000 Per Person
3 Days Zebra Plain Mara Deal KES 53,500 Per Person KES 71,100 Per Person
3 Days Mtito Safari Camp Offer KES 55,100 Per Person KES 62,650 Per Person
3 Days Basecamp Masai Mara Package KES 55,950 Per Person KES 64,520 Per Person
3 Days Mara Sopa Lodge Package Tour KES 56,035 Per Person KES 66,050 Per Person
3 Days Mara River Lodge Deal KES 57,400 Per Person KES 68,400 Per Person
3 Days Crocodile Camp Tour KES 58,500 Per Person KES 71,100 Per Person
3 Days Mara Maisha Camp Package KES 59,800 Per Person KES 77,400 Per Person
3 Days Mara Crossing Camp Tour  KES 79,400 Per Person KES 96,400 Per Person

Things Included in the Maasai Mara National Reserve Packages

  • A private tour for 2 adults (contact us to get a quote for a quote tour)
  • Pickup and return to your residence in Nairobi
  • Use of a safari van  – Upgrade to a land cruiser at KES 14000 Per Person
  • Professional safari guide 
  • Masai Mara Park Fee
  • 1 litre of bottled mineral drinking water per person per day
  • Afternoon game drive at Masai Mara on day 1
  • Full-day game drive at Masai Mara with picnic lunch on day 2
  • 2-night accommodation at Masai Mara on full-board basis (Supplement of KES 3000 Per Person Per Night will apply on 24th & 25th Dec & 31st Dec & 1st Jan)
  • High season runs from 1st Nov 2023 to 15th Dec 2023, Festive Season runs from 16th Dec 2023 to 3rd Jan 2024

Photos of Animals Found in Masai Mara Game Reserve


History of the Masai Mara National Reserve

Masai Mara National Reserve carries a wealth of history that dates back to the early sixties. Initially, it was established as a wildlife sanctuary that covered a small area of about 520 square kilometers.

This area was largely within the now-famous Mara Triangle. However, currently, the park covers an area of 1,510 square kilometers having been extended from its initial size to the current in 1974 when it was changed to a national reserve.

The Masai Mara is named after the Mara River and the Maasai community, which generally inhabits within and around the reserve and adjacent conservancies. The community plays an important role in the conservation of the park creating a harmonious co-existence with the wild animals.

Mara is home to a diverse range of animals including the elusive bat-eared fox and the rear leopard. However, knowing the exact number of leopards in the reserve is hard as they are mainly nocturnal and hence hard to spot.

But, don’t be mistaken as it’s only in Mara where you possibly stand a realistic chance of spotting this magnificent wild cat in Africa.

About the Animals Found in the Masai Mara

The animals that you will spot in the Masai Mara National Reserve are varied and abundant. They include:

  • Lions: The park is home to many prides of lions that you can spot during the day basking in the sun and hunting at night.
  • Leopards: Leopards are mainly found in Mara, lurking around during the day and actively hunting their prey at night.
  • Elephants: You can find elephants roaming around the Masai Mara in herds of up to ten or more individuals.
  • Zebras: Zebras are a common sight in the plains, often grazing and running around in groups.
  • Giraffes: The Masai Mara is a great place for seeing giraffes, especially during the dry season when they come down to get water.
  • Wildebeest: Wildebeest are found in herds of hundreds or even thousands at times.
  • Hippopotamuses: These mainly stay near the Mara and Talek Rivers, coming out to graze during the night.
  • Rhino: Though rhinos are not very common, they can be seen in the dense bush of Masai Mara.
  • Buffalo: Buffalo are seen in small herds near the water bodies.
  • Warthogs: These animals can be spotted all over the park, either alone or in small groups.
  • Cheetahs: The cheetah population is on the rise and you can spot them hunting during the day or even playing with their cubs.
  • Birds: The Masai Mara is also a great place for bird watching with several different species such as ostrich, crowned crane and secretary bird.
Animals in Masai Mara - hot air balloon
A Hot Air Balloon Over Animals in the Masai Mara

The Big Five Animals in Kenya's Masai Mara

Kenya is a treasure trove of abundant and diverse wildlife. The top five animals that are most iconic and sought-after in Kenya are:

The African Elephant

The largest land mammal on Earth, the African Elephant, can be spotted in several Kenyan parks, including the Amboseli National Park, which is famous for its large elephant herds.

The African Lion

Known as the ‘King of the Jungle’, lions are a symbol of Kenya and can be seen in many reserves, including the Masai Mara, which is home to several pride of this wonderful animal.

The Leopard

The elusive and beautiful leopard can also be spotted in Kenya’s game parks. The best place to spot these cats is the Masai Mara, where they often lurk around during the day and actively hunt at night.

The African Buffalo/Cape Buffalo

One of Africa’s ‘Big Five’, the African Buffalo, can be found in large herds in many of Kenya’s national parks, such as Tsavo and Aberdare.

The Rhinoceros

Kenya is home to both Black and White Rhinos. The Nakuru National Park is a sanctuary for these majestic beasts, offering visitors a chance to see them up close.

These animals are not just the top five in terms of popularity but also represent the diversity and unique wildlife experiences that Kenya offers to its visitors.

The Big Cat in Kenya's Masai Mara

The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the best places in Africa for a chance to see some of the most iconic animals. But, it’s not just about lions and leopards that make Masai Mara special.

It’s also home to cheetahs and caracals, two other big cats you can encounter while on safari in this park.

Cheetahs are known for their amazing speed and agility, while caracals have large ears and a long tail that complements their beauty. Both of these animals can be encountered on game drives in the park’s savannah grasslands.

Although they are both shy creatures, if you’re lucky enough to come across them, it will be an experience that you’ll never forget.

The Big Nine Animal in Kenya

The Masai Mara is a sanctuary for a multitude of wildlife species, but it’s especially known for its “Big Nine.” These animals are a must-see for any visitor and include the African Elephant, Rhinoceros, Cape Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard – collectively known as the “Big Five.”

The list extends to include four other incredible species: the Cheetah, Hippopotamus, Crocodile, and Giraffe. These nine animals are renowned for their size, strength, and the unique spectacle they provide in their natural habitat.

Seeing all of them during a single visit to Masai Mara would indeed be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How to Spot Big Cats in the Masai Mara

Many visitors come from far and wide to witness the thrill of tracking big cats in the wild, especially leopards. To make your search a bit easier there are some tips you can use to spot leopards in the Masai Mara.

The first and foremost tip is to plan your visit during the dry season when there is a large population of cats and open grasslands that make it easier for a leopard to hunt or sunbathe on a tree branch, making them easier to spot.

You can also keep an eye out for their natural prey – warthogs, rock hyraxes, dik-diks, and guinea fowl – which can help you locate the leopards. The best time of day to spot these cats in the mara is during the early morning or late afternoon when they are active and more likely to be out in the open.

Finally, it helps to go with an experienced guide who knows the area to provide you with tips and tricks for spotting these elusive cats and a good camera to capture the cats whenever you see one.

Animals in Masai Mara - big five
The Big Five Animals in the Masai Mara Kenya

Where Stay During Your Masai Mara Wildlife Safari

There are a variety of lodges and camps that are well spread within the vast reserve. Here are some of the main camps and lodges in Mara that you will enjoy spending your time in.

1. Mara Intrepid Camp

This is a classic choice among the camps within the park. The camp consists of luxury tents that face the Talek River, where you get a great opportunity to watch hippos and crocodiles.

2. Fig Tree Camp

This is another favorite camp for tourists due to its location. The camp gives the visitors a stunning view of the famous River Mara, where one gets an excellent view of Nile Crocodiles and hippos.

Here, you will also spend the night with the soothing tunes of different birds that live within the riverine vegetation.

3. Mara Serena Safari Lodge

For anyone looking for a lodge offering top-tier comfort facilities in Africa, then this is the one. Located along the Mara River at a convenient place where the great migration takes place, the camp is a dream for every visitor of Mara.

4. Enkorok Mara Camp

This is an ideal place if you are looking for a budget-friendly camp that will still provide you will luxury and comfort. The camp is located in the Koiyaki area within the Lemek Conservancy.

5. Basecamp Explorer Masai Mara

The camp offers an eco-friendly environment with a blend of luxury for anyone looking for a unique and intimate wild experience. The camp is also strategically located enabling the visitors to have an optimal wildlife viewing.

The Great Migration of Animals in Masai Mara & the Serengeti National Park

Have you ever heard or witnessed Mara’s greatest attraction, the wildebeest migration? It is one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife events, bringing together more than two million animals in search of greener pastures.

Visitors from different regions of the world throng to Maasai Mara National Reserve every year to witness this natural phenomenon. The great migration takes place between the months of July and October, when millions of wildebeest cross River Mara from the Serengeti plains to the Maasai Mara in search of better grazing lands.

This epic journey attracts thousands of tourists due to the ensuing battles that take place as they cross the river, where many risk death as they come face to face with crocodiles waiting for them in the Mara River.

This migration has been declared one of the eight wonders of the world due to the sheer size and scale of animals involved. Wildebeest are usually accompanied by other animals including zebras and gazelles and the fact that the migration seems to follow a certain timetable every year.

During this migration, the mara game reserve becomes busier with other animals, especially the predators as they roam in the nearby bushes trying also to have their fair share of the spoils in this spectacle. The running battles of cats chasing after their prey make visiting Maasai Mara National Reserve at this time a thrilling and exciting experience.

Animals in Masai Mara - migration
Wildebeest Migration in Masai Mara National Reserve

Other Tourist Attractions in Masai Mara

In addition to wildebeest migration and other incredible wildlife, there are many other tourist attractions that are found in Masai Mara. Here is a highlight of some of them:

Maasai Village

The Maasai are one of the most culturally prominent communities found in Kenya. They live mainly in Narok and Kajiado, although some can be found in other towns in Kenya sporadically.

They are the custodian of the Maasai Mara National Reserve as they are found within and around the reserve. A visit to any of the villages spread around the park, will give you a first-hand experience of the Maasai culture as you also participate in their attractive traditional dances wearing their vibrant attires.

When at the village, you will also have a perfect opportunity to carry some of the artifacts produced beautifully by the use of hands making the visit memorable.

Hot Air Balloon Safari

Another exciting experience you will get from the Masai Mara is an early morning ride on one of the numerous hot air balloon services offered in Masai Mara. Get a unique view of the roaming wildlife and the breathtaking Mara landscape in an unforgettable journey above the skies of Mara

Visit to Mara River

The famous Mara River is another tourist attraction in Masai Mara. A visit here will accord you a great chance to spot some of the unique species of animals in the world such as bat-eared fox and the African Leopard.

The itself is a home to Nile Crocodiles and the huge Mara Hippos. The riverine vegetation also plays host to other different animals and species of birds.

The Unique Landscape

Vast plains teamed up with acacia trees and rolling hills make the Masai Mara landscape a sight to behold. The meandering rivers of Mara and Talek cutting across tall elephant grass with zebras and gazelles grazing is one of the experiences found in the Mara only.

Various escarpments like Siria Escarpment will give you a perfect place to watch the mara wildlife including the big five.

Game Drives as Well as Walking Safaris

Masai Mara National Reserve has the perfect terrain for both game drives and walking safaris. The wide open plains with minimal grass make it easy to spot wildlife while the rocky ridges give you an opportunity to explore on foot.

Moreover, the presence of friendly guides will make your trip a memorable one as they will tell you all the exciting stories about the Mara.

Taking photos during game drive
Game Drives in Masai Mara During a Game Drives

Weather and Climate in Masai Mara

The weather in Masai Mara is mainly hot and dry just like many savannah regions in Kenya. However, showers can be in the afternoon generally during the rainy seasons in the months of April- May, known as the long rains season, and October-November, known as the short rains season.

In other months of the year, you can expect to be met with high temperatures ranging between 24-33 degrees Celsius. The peak season for tourism occurs during this dry season as this time is when many animals are breeding and can be found in open fields grazing. It’s also during this time the population of cats is the largest as their prey is readily available.

It’s also during the dry season when the movement of wildebeests -also known as the great migration- from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara takes place. The migration is one of the most thrilling and captivating events that happen in Mara every year.

The Maasai Mara Vegetation

The vegetation in the Maasai Mara is mainly the African grassland dotted with shrubs and acacia trees that come in handy for animals, especially the big five when the sun heats up.

Along the rivers crisscrossing the reserve you will also find riverine vegetation that also forms part of the overall vegetation that is found in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.

During the rainy season, the vegetation is usually green but it towns brownish in the dry season making game drives and safaris an exciting affair as you try to spot the big five camouflaged in the vast grassland in the Masai Mara.

Best Time to Visit Masai Mara Game Reserve

The best time to visit Masai Mara is during the wildebeest migration, which typically happens between July and October. During this period, you can witness the spectacular sight of over a million wildebeest, zebras, and antelopes crossing the Mara River, making it one of the most unique wildlife experiences in the world.

However, the predator density, especially the dense population of leopards, remains high throughout the year, making any time a good time for wildlife enthusiasts. The dry months, from late June to October, are also considered ideal for game viewing as wildlife tends to congregate around water sources, making them easier to spot.

Moreover, the weather is pleasant during these months, adding to the comfort of your safari experience.

How to Participate in Conservation Measures

There are various conservation organizations you will get in Masai Mara that will guide you on how you can become a volunteer if you are interested in an experience in terms of supporting preservation and conservancy activities in the reserve

If you have a chance to get involved in the Masai Mara conservancy measures, you will be part of the many volunteers spread all over the world who help to protect the unique Mara wildlife and their habitats.

This can be an opportunity to also learn more about the rich biodiversity of the Masai Mara in a way that will be more impactful to the Masai Mara and the whole of the Serengeti-Masai ecosystem.

The Masai Mara has been working and maintaining a good balance between the humans and the animals, something you will not get to witness anywhere else in such a beautiful manner.

By volunteering in Mara you will also be able to come into contact with the local communities as well as understand their traditional way of life.

Migration at Masai Mara
The Wildebeest Migration River Crossing

FAQs About Animals in Masai Mara and Kenya

We will look at some of the most commonly asked questions about animals in Masai Mara and Kenya.

1. How many animals are in Maasai Mara?

There are over 95 species of mammals, amphibians, and reptiles as well as up to 500 species of birds found in the Masai Mara. The Masai mara is home to both resident and migratory animals.

It’s hard to get the exact numbers of wild animals in the reserve but there is a large population of grazers with approximately 200,000 zebras, 350,000 gazelles, and over a million wildebeests.

The Reserve is home to a significant number of cats, although it’s even harder to estimate their population in the Mara due to their elusive nature and nocturnal lifestyles.

2. How Many Lions are in Masai Mara?

The Masai Mara National Reserve is renowned as a sanctuary for lions, with a significant population residing in its expansive savannahs. While it is challenging to determine the exact number in the park due to the large size of the reserve and the lions’ territorial nature, it is estimated that the reserve is home to approximately 800 lions.

These lions are organized into different prides, each occupying distinct territories within the reserve. The opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat truly enriches the Masai Mara safari experience.

3. Are there crocodiles in Masai Mara?

The Masai Mara reserve is famous for its large population of Nile crocodiles, which are among the biggest in Africa. These formidable predators are often seen sunbathing along the riverbanks or lurking beneath the water surface in the Mara and Talek rivers.

The crocodile population in Masai Mara gets particular attention during the annual wildebeest migration. Witnessing these powerful creatures in their natural habitat adds an extra level of excitement to your Masai Mara safari, providing unforgettable memories and fantastic photo opportunities.

4. How to best enjoy the wildlife in Masai Mara?

The best way to appreciate and observe the unique wildlife of Masai Mara is by taking a hot air balloon safari. Early morning rides offer spectacular views from high above, giving you a glimpse into the lives of wildlife below.

From your bird’s eye view, you can spot giraffes and elephants roaming in the savannahs, hippos bathing in the rivers, and predators stalking their prey.

On the ground, you can enjoy an intimate experience with wildlife on nature walks or game drives. Experienced guides will take you to the best spots for animal sightings.

5. What animals live in the Mara River?

The Mara River, cutting through the heart of the Maasai Mara, is a lifeline for many animal species. Its most well-known residents are the enormous Nile Crocodiles, famed for their size and predatory nature, particularly during the Great Migration crossings.

In addition to crocodiles, the river is home to several species of hippos who spend the majority of their day submerged in the river’s waters, keeping their bodies cool under the African sun.

Among the bird species, Goliath Herons, African Fish Eagles, Malachite Kingfishers, and Saddle-billed Storks are often spotted hunting for fish.

The riverbank is one of the places where you are able to watch a variety of mammals, including elephants, buffalos, and antelopes, who come to drink water.

6. Which is the largest animal in Masai Mara?

One of the largest animals that you can spot during your Masai Mara safari is the African Elephant. These giants are the largest land mammals on earth and weigh up to 6 tones!

The Maasai Mara reserve is home to a significant population of Elephants which range in size from a few hundred to thousands. They move in groups known as herds, searching for food and water.

Plan your trip to Kenya

Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Clients During game drives in Masai Mara National Park

Governors Camp Kenya - Packages, Cost and More.

Visa For Kenya - How to Apply, Entry Requirements and Entry Info

Kenya Safaris from Mombasa - Packages, Cost and Travel Guide

Top African Safari Luxury Packages - Best Destinations and Cost

Masai Mara National Park - Game Drives in Masai Mara

Safari Africa Holiday: Where to Go & What to See.

Africa Safari Honeymoon - Best Destinations, Packages and Cost

Our clients before an early morning game safari in Maasai Mara Kenya

Best Safaris in Africa - Top Destinations, Packages, Cost & More

Holidays to Africa: The Best Africa Holidays 2023 - 2024

Safaris of Africa - How To Plan the Best African Safaris

10 Best Safaris Destinations - Packages, Cost and Travel Guide