The Mara River of the Masai Mara National Reserve

Mara River - wildebeest at Mara River

The Mara River is a major tributary of the Talek River, and together with its major tributaries forms part of the national boundary between Kenya and Tanzania. The river originates from the Mau Escarpment in Narok County, Kenya and then flows through Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Serengeti National Park before flowing into Lake Victoria.

It defines the Maasai Mara-Serengeti border and has several tributaries such as Enkutoto, Oloololo, Siria, Nyangores and Sand rivers. The Mara River is one of the main attractions of the Masai Mara National Reserve and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, providing the perfect setting for safari tours and other activities.

The river also plays an important role in supporting wildlife populations by providing them with food, water and habitats. It is also a source of livelihood for many local people who depend on fishing and agriculture along the river banks.

How to Book Your Safari with Us

Reach us today at or to book our cheap flights from Nairobi to Mara. We are also available through phone and WhatsApp at +254-748-258-880.

Our Most Booked Masai Mara Safari Packages

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 River Mara and Masai Mara National Reserve


The Mara River at a Glance - Source of River Mara

The Mara River is a major attraction which traverses through Maasai Mara in Kenya and Tanzania. It forms what is called the Mara River Basin, an area that covers 13,504 square kilometers with 35% of the river basin being in Tanzania and 65% in Kenya.

It originates from the Mau Escarpment in Narok County and ends its journey at Lake Victoria. In total, the Mara River flows for about 395 kilometers and leaves behind the Kenyan highlands, the Mara River Basin, and other attractions before becoming part of Lake Victoria.

The Mara River is an important source of life for both wildlife and the people living near it. It supports a wide variety of fish species, birdlife, as well as other wildlife habitats. The river also provides water for irrigation to local farmers and its major tribute is the Talek River.

The Talek River, the second largest river flowing in the Masai Mara, and the Mara River divide the national reserve into three sectors. The Mara may be split into different parts, but the three ones by the river are:

Musiara Sector – This is the north-western sector of the reserve which is located between the Mara River and the Talek River.

The Mara Triangle – This is the south-western sector of the reserve which occupies 6% of the total area of Masai Mara National Reserve and between the Mara River and the Oloololo Escarpment.

Sekenani Sector – This is the eastern sector of Masai Mara National Reserve and it lies between the Talek River and the Oloololo Escarpment.

How to Get to the Mara River

Getting to the Mara River involves a short drive from Nairobi or other nearby towns. You will need to take a 4X4 vehicle, as the roads are mostly rough when you reach the reserve and require an off-road safari vehicle.

The most popular route is via Narok town, which is about 200km away from Nairobi and takes around 3 hours. From Narok, you can take the road to Maasai Mara which will pass through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Kenya.

Once at the park, you get access to the Mara River by taking any of the several trails that run through the national reserve.

You can also reach the Mara River from Tanzania by crossing over at Isebania or Talek Gate. The drive from Tanzania to the park takes about 2 hours and you can use your own car, hire a taxi or take a bus.

Mara River - safari van
You Can Get to Mara River Using the Safari Vehicle

Wildlife at the Mara River

This river flows through the plains of the Serengeti National Park and Maasai Mara National Reserve and is known for its many species of wildlife. Some of the wildlife and birds you can find near the area around the river include crocodiles, hippos, baboons, elephants, lions, buffaloes, zebras, giraffes and many more.

In addition to the above, the area around the Mara River is also rich with birdlife and is an ideal destination for birdwatchers throughout the year. The river banks are home to a variety of birds such as herons, kingfishers, eagles, storks, lapwings and ostriches.

When to Visit the Mara River

You can visit all the rivers at the Maasai Mara throughout the year, but the best time to visit is during the migration between July and October. During this period, millions of Wildebeest and other animals come to cross the river in search of greener pastures.

Other great time to visit the river is during the dry season which runs from December to March. During this time, the game viewing experience is amazing as most of the wildlife gathered around waterholes and rivers for drinking and bathing.

The Great Migration in the Mara and in Tanzania

One of the most popular events that takes place inside and at the shores of Mara River is the Great Wildebeest Migration. The migration sees thousands of animals cross the river from Tanzania to Kenya in search of greener pastures.

This incredible event starts in the Serengeti National Park and ends at Maasai Mara National Reserve with over a million animals crossing the river during this period. It is also one of the biggest attractions in both countries, bringing together tourists and locals alike to witness this amazing event.

The migration usually takes place in the months of July to October and is an event that should not be missed if you are looking for a unique experience. Plan your safari with the best tour operator within these months to have a chance of seeing the river crossing.

Where to Stay Around the Mara River

The Mara River is surrounded by a number of luxury lodges and camps, all offering amazing views of the river and the wildlife that come to drink from it.

It is possible to find accommodation options for every budget, ranging from affordable rooms at Maasai Mara National Reserve to luxury tented camps and lodges near the banks of the river. Some of the most popular lodges around Mara River include Rekero Camp, Mara Intrepids Luxury Camp, and Basecamp Explorer Masai Mara.

These accommodation options provide great opportunities for visitors to witness the beauty of the river and its wildlife from their doorstep.

Mara river - crocodiles
Crocodiles - Mara river

FAQs of the Mara River and Masai Mara

The next section looks to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the Mara River and Maasai Mara National Reserve.

1. How long is The Mara River basin?

The Mara River Basin is approximately 13,504 square kilometers in area. The main river is approximately 395 kilometers long.

2. Is Maasai Mara a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve?

Maasai Mara National Reserve Serengeti have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere reserve. That is why it is important to preserve the area and its wildlife.

3. Where is Mara River Camp located?

It is located on the north west side of the Mara River, within Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. It offers great views of the river and its wildlife.

4. Why is the Mara River important?

It is the only habitat for the Nile crocodiles and source of water for the wildlife that live in Maasai Mara National Reserve. For travelers who have a short time to stay in Mara, you can easily catch a glimpse of a black rhino by the river. The river is also a major tributary of the Talek River and provides water for irrigation to local farmers.

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