About the tour
This is about a tour made to the Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve and an amazing farm house of Tigrai-Nick. In this tour were seven adults and two kids. It is my personal account of this amazing exploration. I was so enthusiastic about visiting these areas even long before I came to Kenya. I used to read some about the Maasai, nature and wildlife in the adjacent areas of Kenya and Tanzania. On Wednesday 21 in the evening, Shewit called me on the phone and told me that we were going in two days time, on the coming Friday, and that I should be ready. Spending Thursday night in their home, we made some preparations like charging our gadgets, packing our luggage, etc.
The road trip
On the 23rd of Friday 2021, we left Nairobi through Limuru road at about 9:30 in the morning. We drove through Limuru Road and the high traffic Kamandura-Mai Mahiu-Narok Road, down hill to Mai Mahiu.
Taking a sharp turn at Mai Mahiu and following the same main road, we were welcomed with a big banner at Suswa town. It says “Welcome to Narok County – Home to Maasai Mara, 8th Wonder of the World”.
Suswa is a small urban village which forms a tri-junction of Nakuru, Kajiado and Narok counties. To the south of this town is Mount Suswa, which is a shield volcano in the Great Rift Valley. This mountain hosts Mount Suswa Conservancy. The Conservancy is entirely run by the Masai community that lives inside Mt Suswa. This means that all camping fees go towards preserving, not just the park, but the lifestyle of those who live in it.
Leaving this conservacy to the left, we continued our drive to Ntulele. Maize harvest can be seen ready on both sides of the road, sheep and cattle going to and from on the roadside. There are signs which warn inform drivers about the palces where animals cross the road.
Few kilometers past Ntulele, on the small down slope, were the monkeys on the roadside interacting with tourists. Driving through this road between the agricultural farmlands, vegetations and massai sheeps gives you a sense of immense pleasure.
11:55 we reached at Narok and parked at Oltalet Mall. Had some juices and soft drinks at Chill Spot Coffee House. We’re going to Tigrai-Nick farm house at Mau area. We’re left with 47km after Narok. 10 minutes break, we departed and turned north at Narok following and drove through a green lush lands of the Maasai countryside.
After 30km we reached a small urban village of Kisiriri. In those Enengetia areas of the Maasai, wheat, corn and potato are some of the main agricultural ptoducts.
We reached at Ololkirikirai, a small urban village. About 2km ahead was Tigrai and Nick’s house. We lodged there, they happily welcomed us, ate lunch at their beautiful garden and toured their farmland. They live in a jungle facing the far east end of Mau National Reserve, one of Kenya’s largest national reserves.
Tigrai-Nick Farm House
Amazing heavenly house. At 2,700 masl, its a highland surounded by forest. We chatted with Nick, Tigrai’s husband. We introduced eachother and discused lots of issues. In the middle of our chats he said “education should empower. Its should add opportunity, not limit you.” I liked that point of view.
Their house is solar powered and Nick advised the use of solar power in Tigrai State after peace has been attained. They have an integrated farm and gardening. They’ve small cattle ranch, poultry, holticulture, flower garden and tall trees. I liked their house that I shouldn’t try to further describe it.
The Flowers, Trees and Plants
The night was quite nice, after eating dinner and enjoying fireplace , we slept peacefully in their house.
In the morning, Tigrai prepared breakfast for us. It was a very delicious porrige. After breakfast was served, Nick guided us through their house and showed us parts and elements of the house he built by himself.
Then we packed our luggages and set off for the adventurious expedition ahead.
The road to Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve
Trip starte at 09:45. Drove back to the direction of Narok. On the road, Tigrai briefed me about what we were going to see at Maasai Mara, located adjuscent to Serengetti. Seeing the migration of the wildbeast from Serenghetti to Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve was the core adventure of the tour. Different wildlives like elephant, lion, cheattah, etc. was also an important part of the plan.
She mentioned, “if lucky, we’ll see the 5 brothers, popular cheetah the BBC produced a documentary about 2 years ago. Unlike other wildlives such as the lions and other predators which hunt in groups, the cheetah hunt individually. The five brothers are exceptions which hunt in group.” She pointed referring to the bbc documentary would help.
At 10:29 we stopped at Narok for refueling and then drove to the direction of Bomet on the Kaplong-Narok-Maai Road. A kilometer or two past Ololunga, we took a turn onto our left to Sekenani. 11:00, we passed Bakitabu leaving Maji Moto to the left and Ngoswani 20 minutes later.
These Maasai-Mara lands are similar to parts of the Afar and Western Tigrai areas in Ethiopia in landscape and plantation. The people live on animal rearing (sheep, cattle, goats).
At 11:30 we were at Kishermoruak.
The most common trees I observed on the road around this on the lowland are Desert date, Acia and Kleinia.
The next uraban village was Nkoilale, 10 min drive after Kishermoruak. Everywhere on both sides of the road, you see lodges built simply from local stuff and most probably affordable as well.
Finally, we reached at Sekenani at 11:51. Sekenani is approximately 230km from USIU University area, Nairobi, from around which we started our tour. It the reception center for entering the Maasai Mara National Park through this side of the park. At Sekenani, you’ll see the Maasai dressed in their cultural costumes and asking you to buy their beauiful cultural gifts. According to Nick’s briefing, there are several gates where you can be admitted to the Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve. At the gate, you have to show your IDs and pay entrance fee to be admintted.
Passports were collected. I couldn’t find mine. I was really sad that I put Tigrai in trouble of dealing with the reception. I’ve never irritated like this day. I remember to have collected my passport at home, but it wasn’t with me.
Anyway they managed to allow me pass using the online visa I sent to Shewit earlier on Wednesday.
Maasai Mara Wildlife Reserve
Situated in south-west Kenya and is one of Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Reserves, the Maasai Mara (Masai Mara) got it name from two separate words: Maasai and Mara. The word ‘Maasai’ came from the Maasai tribe, nomadic inhabitants of the area and the word ‘Mara’ is their word for ‘spotted’, referring to the ubiquitous flat topped acacia trees, shrubs and bushes that dot the landscape across most of the reserve.
Together with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania it forms Africa’s most diverse, incredible and most spectacular eco-systems and possibly the world’s top safari big game viewing ecosystem.
Maasai Mara National Reserve stretches 1,510 sq km (580 sq miles) and raises 1,500-2,170 meters above sea level. Add the conservancies and the area is at least twice the size. It hosts over 95 species of mammals and over 570 recorded species of birds.
What happens in the national reserve is the World Cup of Wildlife, and together with the Serengeti National Park there is no better place in the world to see what the Maasai Mara and Serengeti National Park provide.
The reserve has a magnificent collection of wildlife and it is quite possible to spot not just the ‘Big Five’ as often mentioned widely, but also infact the ‘Big Nine’, to include the Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Girrafe, Zebra, Cheetah and Hippo. It is quote possible that due to the nature and richness of flora and fauna in the national park, one can see all of the above animals not just in a long hours drive, but also with a little more luck, within an hour of your drive in the reserve.
Inside the park
12:20 we entered the park.
Right after the gate were some wildlives. Warthog, secretary bird, elephant, cheetah, impala, gazelle, giraffe, Ostrich, and many others. As we go further in few minutes there were plenty of Zebras, antelopes, bushbuck, Eland, gazelle, Oribi, spotted hyena, Topi, Vervet Monkey, Waterbuck and some other wildlives.
Arrived at Mara Simba lodge at 13:05.
The lodge is built in the middle of the park on the lush grassland on a shallow riverside of Talek River. It is beautiful, full of varieties of birds and surrounded by different species of wildlives. In addition to nicely built rooms, the lodge has permanently fixed camping rooms. The over all built and structure of the lodge reflects the style and culture of the Maasai people. The lodge by itself is a good spot for different wildlives including hippos, warthogs, monkeys, goose, Impala, crocodile and different of bird species.
After unloading our luggages, had our rooms and took shower, we went for the afternoon safari. Among many of the wildlife we saw a group of lions attracted more attention.
Wildebeest and Zebra were everywhere. We were also able to spot group of elephants and cheetah along with its cubs.
Hoping for a better tomorrow, we concluded our day trip with a beautiful birdwatch on our way back to the lodge.
During dinner time, we discussed about the next day’s plan. We were divided in two based on our interest: those who want to stay at the lodge and have some rest and those who want to do safari. Four of us want to do the Safar starting early in the morning at 6:00.
We were welcomed by group of giraffes right at the gate of the lodge accompanied by a wonderful sunrise. On the other side of the horizon was a soft shining moon. Ostriches were there scattered around the grasslands. Hot air ballooning can be seen afar, on the flatlands. These all combined made a unique morning feeling and an immense pleasure of being.
A huge dazzle of zebras blocked our road.
We were also very lucky to meet three of the five cheetah brothers.
A parade of Elephants were on the grasslands marching slowly here and there, relaxig on the field. The Elephant is the biggest terresterial animal on earth.
We caught a group of Hyenas and vultures eating fresh breakfast on one of the rough roadside. A Jackal was begging for a piece of meat.
Finally, a few meters drive ahead took us to a huge her of Wildebeest and Zebras, grazing together on a flat grassland. Also known as the gnu, the wildebeest is a member of the antelope family. They have a large, box-like head with curving horns. The front end of their body is heavily built, while the hindquarters are slender with spindly legs. They have a gray coat and a black mane as well as a beard that can be black or white.
The Great Wildebeest Migration is the largest animal migration in the world. Every year, more than 2 million animals (wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle) migrate in a clockwise direction across the ecosystems of the Serengeti (Tanzania) and the Masai Mara (Kenya).
We went back to our lodge for breakfast. Life was there, but we had to leave. Driving away from the park, Giraffe and Hornbill
My warm gratitude goes to the beautiful families Merhawit and Shewit who were the reasons for me to go there and Tigrai & Nick, who hosted us, inspired us with their amazing farmhouse, introduced us with their amazing pets, provided us with everything we needed and took us to the Maasai Mara National Reserve with great hospitality. Thanks be to Awet and Semhal as well, whose presence made the tour beautiful and memorable.