Kenya Safari – The Masai Mara Experience

Written By: The Planet D

The final stop of our Kenya Safari was three glorious days in the Masai Mara. It is here that you will see all the big 5 animals of Africa and you’ll witness some of the most beautiful sunsets on the planet.

Kenya Safari – The Masai Mara

kenya safari masai mara sunset
Spectacular sunsets of Africa

The drive is a long and bumpy road from Nairobi to the Masai Mara and if you have the opportunity to fly there, we recommend you do so. We suffered through a very rocky ride that seemed to last forever. Our guide Makau told us that the road is much better these days as the Chinese are working on fixing up transportation all around the country. Who knows, maybe by next year it will all be smooth sailing.

Keekorok Lodge

kenya safari keeorok lodge
Keekorok Lodge in the Masai Mara

We arrived at Keekorok lodge early enough to have some lunch and take a break before our first sunset safari in the Mara.

Keekorok is the first resort in the Masai Mara and it is located right in the heart of it all. The airport is only a few short km away and back in the day when celebrities went on their own Kenya Safari, this was their place of choice. The likes of Prince Charles, Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher have stayed here.

masai mara safari prince charles
Prince Charles

In its day, it was the place to stay in the Masai Mara. The mara was the first great place in Africa to go on a wildlife safari and dignitaries and celebrities flew to Kenya to catch a glimpse of the big 5.

Today Keekorok attracts package tourists where they serve buffet dinners and Nescafe coffee on the outside terrace at tea time. The entire feel is that it is trying to be a luxury lodge, but it hasn’t quite moved on with the times.

safari kenya paul simon and carrie fisher
Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher safaried here

That’s not to say we didn’t like Keekorok, but I had visions of staying in a tented camp surrounded by wildlife rather than a concrete complex sorely in need of an update. Keekorok isn’t hurting for business though, every package tourist from the emerging Asian market seems to book their tours at this hotel.

The Kenya Safari on Masai Mara

Game Drive – Day 1

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An elephant in safari

It doesn’t really matter where you stay in the Masai Mara because you spend most of your time out on game drives. We spent early morning sunrises and late evening sunsets out on the African Savanna searching for all the wild game we could find in the heart of Kenya.

We hopped into our safari van and spent hours keeping our eyes peeled for wildlife. It’s all out there, you just have to pay attention. These animals are made to blend in with their surroundings and if you blink, you may miss an amazing opportunity.

Cheetah on a Hill

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Cheetah licking its chops

Our first outing on the Masai Mara brought us to a cheetah sleeping on a mound of dirt. It didn’t seem to have a care in the world as the safari vans pulled up beside it. The Masai Mara has strict rules not to go off the path so vehicles can’t get too close to the animals.

Between Dave’s ultra zoom 500 mm lens and the close proximity of this mound of dirt, we managed to capture some pretty amazing shots of this cheetah. “Having the camera right lens is essential”

He looked back at us in a relaxed manner and then continued to ignore us. Another vehicle came along and refused to turn off his engine. I was so angry. That loud engine was really disrupting the cheetah, I can only imagine the anxiety it was causing. The driver told our guide (after I complained) that he had a battery problem and couldn’t turn off his truck so we all suffered, including the cheetah. Within a few minutes, the cheetah had enough and was up and walking away.

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A cheetah running away

We followed it for a bit, but soon we decided to move on as he went further and further from the road.

Lions on Safari

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The Lion King

On our way back to our camp, we ran into another driver who told us that some lions were sleeping close by. We made it just in time to catch a glimpse of them before the sun started to set and we were feeling pretty stoked about the days ahead. We’d only been in the Masai Mara for a few hours and we already saw a cheetah and a pride of lions.

masai mara safari lions
Lions watching us

We couldn’t stay with the lions for too long because we had to get back to camp before the sun completely set as park rangers check tourists in as they return from safari. It’s a dangerous world out there on the Mara and if someone has a breakdown or doesn’t make it back to the lodge by dark the search parties are sent out. You are in big trouble if you return late from your game drive.

Elephants at Sunset

safari elephants
Kenya Safari – elephants at sunset

On our way back to camp, we witnessed the most spectacular sunset we had ever seen. We’ve had the privilege of watching many beautiful sunsets in our life, but nothing compares to an African sunset and this one took our breath away.

As the sky lit up like a burning flame, a herd of elephants walked towards our vehicle. We were directly in their path and as they glided silently through the long grass, I felt my heart well up with emotion. This was the most beautiful moment I had ever experienced in my life.

masai mara safari sunset kenya
The sun sets over the land

The elephants drew closer and the sky exploded into even more vibrant hues of reds, orange and yellow. We had to get back to camp or they’d send out the park rangers, but even our guide Makau couldn’t pull himself away.

The elephants continued to walk towards us and the entire herd passed within a few metres of our truck. They seemed to be in a trance, walking deliberately yet relaxed. They moved as if gliding over water. It was silent, it was magical, it was Africa.

For a safari in Kenya visit Wilderness Zones Safaris owned and operated by our guide James Makau

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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34 thoughts on “Kenya Safari – The Masai Mara Experience”

  1. I miss being out in the wilderness guiding safari after seeing your amazing images from safari in Kenya. Its therapeutic. Hopefully soon we will get to start traveling again.
    Karanja

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  2. Masai Mara offers the best sunset. I love your experiences, they are very enticing and well described. Thank you Dave and Deb for sharing this incredible experiences.

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  3. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. These Kenya safari photos say it all. Masai Mara is still the place to visit while on a Kenya Safari. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Beautiful pictures!
    I have been to the Maasai Mara myself last month and it was absolutely amazing!! It is so incredible seeing all those animals in their natural habitat.

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  5. Amazing photos! Planning on a visit out there myself next year.

    What I find highly DISTURBING though, is you mention that the CHINESE are paving roads?!! These are the culprits behind mass slaughter of elephants, not to mention other African species that have been pushed to the brink of extinction. I can only assume that their presence in Africa, be it under the guise of “construction”, is absolutely NOT a good thing.

    The more roads “they” pave, the more destruction of African wildlife will follow. Give me a bumpy ride any time of the day.

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  6. debndave, your are relay lucky to have experienced this amazing scenery. A picture is worth a thousand words as they say, all the sunset and cheetah shots are exceptional, and reflect an outstanding Kenya safari holiday. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. and why does Mara always give people that…indescribable feeling even for return travelers. Who can talk about the magic behind this?

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  8. I actually loved kenya.3nights at sopa lodges was just magnificent.my kids enjoyed the company of our designated driver guide from mystique safaris which trades as wild wild mara(brand).I’m looking foward to travel there this season.The sunset is just expensive and to sum it up we managed to spot the big cats.truly an unforgettable experience.We love kenya for real.

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  9. This really captures it all. Every time I visit the Mara (Masai mara) it is as if for the first time. As you say, my heart always well up in emotions. You feel in touch with nature and earth. Everything else seems insignificant. Thanks for sharing and ‘Karibuni Kenya’…Welcome to Kenya

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    • I am so glad that we could capture it the way you remember. It is an emotional experience to see the Mara and the animals of it. one of the most beautiful places on earth.

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  10. Ok African Safari is now ALSO on my list of places to go. Since I’ve started reading travel blogs my list is getting longer and longer! But I love warmth, and animals, and the outdoors so something like this seems perfect!

    Beautiful photos.

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    • I know exactly how you feel. Since we started traveling, our list of places to see is getting longer and longer. The more we see, the more we realize how much we still have yet to experience. I think every time we go on a trip, we add two or three more destinations to the places we must go in the future. I hope you get to go on an African Safari one day soon. it is amazing.

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      • Yeah! I was actually considering doing one of those “volunteer” safaris where you pay $1000 for the week and then you work/ride peoples horses and go on the elephant walks. That just seems expensive for a stay though. I think I’m going to compare. Have you ever been on a horse one? I LOVE horses so that’s how I schedule most of my adventures.

      • Hi Cat, we were actually just on a horse safari in South Africa. It was only a day tour, but what an amazing experience to have zebras run around us.

    • Thank you! We were so lucky to see that cheetah. We never saw another one again after that first day. it goes to show, that safaris are unpredictable. What you see one day, will be gone the next.

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  11. Spectacular! It really does look as if you were right up close to the animals – glad you managed to get a shot of the cheetah before he was spooked off.

    Though I can’t imagine a more amazing moment than elephants at sunset! I hope I get to experience something like that in my life. Wow.

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    • Thanks! Yes, the elephants at sunset was spectacular. They moved so effortlessly. It felt as if we were in the middle of an epic movie. I think my jaw was dropped the entire time. The colours of the sky, the herd of elephants, the long grass… It was a perfect moment.

      Reply
  12. Truly spectacular sunset, Deb and Dave. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    I’ve long been an animal lover ever since I was a child and my dad worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. I was always so excited when we fostered an abandoned baby or nursed an injured one back to health. Going to Africa on safari is my dream.

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  13. I am this is pretty much the most amazing trip EVER! Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!! That sunset pic, that elephant pic, that cheetah pic…AMAZING!

    Reply