Stretched along the Tanzanian border adjacent to the Serengeti, Masai Mara National Reserve is one of Kenya’s oldest and most beloved safari destinations—an expanse of nearly 600 square miles where the wildebeest migration makes its U-turn every fall. Mara Plains Camp is set within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, a private reserve on the edge of Masai Mara that covers 35,000 wild acres. Guests have easy access not only to Masai Mara, but to 100,000 acres of protected land where the wildlife is plenty and other safari vehicles are few and far between.
Two main rivers slice through the conservancy, attracting wildlife to their waters and to the woodlands that line their banks. The Ntiakitiak River flows through a dramatic gorge and a long escarpment that shelters countless species in the woodlands below.
Masai Mara National Reserve adjoins the Serengeti, and wildlife flows back and forth with no regard for border formalities. Migrating wildebeests splash across the Mara River annually and arrive here in the thousands every fall, with the predators that prey on them following at the edges of the herd.
Kenya is the home of the safari, with good reason: a breathtaking panoply of East Africa’s wildlife exist here, and the Masai Mara and the adjacent conservancies are home to much of it, including some 300 species of birds, the sought-after “big five,” and so much more. The Masai Mara has been one of Africa’s top wildlife destinations for decades, and private reserves like the Olare Motorogi Conservancy are particularly special: the animals are here; the crowds are not.
This is the land of the Maasai, an ancient pastoralist culture known for their warriors, who were once expected to kill a lion to prove its strength and manhood. Recognizable for their red robes and beaded jewelry, the Maasai follow their cattle herds, moving their settlements as they search for water sources and new pastureland. While some Maasai are moving away from pastoralism as they adapt to modern life, most still uphold their society's traditions, which include elaborate initiation rituals for boys and defined roles for men and women of every age within the community.
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