How to get to Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the important things to consider as you plan your Masai Mara National Reserve safari. Masai Mara National Reserve also as The Mara is one of the best wildlife reserves in the world, the reserve is a sanctuary for an abundance of incredible including the iconic Big Five and the remarkable Great Wildebeest Migration.
Masai Mara National Reserve is located in the South-west of Kenya spanning an area of 1,500 square meters, the reserve forms the northernmost part of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem joining with the Serengeti National Park across the border in Tanzania.
Most of the Masai Mara safaris and adventures start off with a flight to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), the main International Airport in Kenya located in Nairobi. From here, it is the choice of the tourist to either use road transport or a domestic/charter flight to get to Masai Mara National Reserve for a Kenya wildlife safari.
From Nairobi City – The capital of Kenya, it is a road distance of about 225 kilometers (140 miles) to the Masai Mara’s nearest entry point, however the distance differs depending on the entry gate you use to access the reserve.
Road trip from Nairobi City to Masai Mara National Reserve takes approximately 6 hours, the main entry gates in the reserve are on the Narok side of the reserve such as Sekenani gate, Talek Gate and Oloolaimutia gates. This journey of 6 hours includes a couple of brief stops in Narok and at the rift valley view point.
Entry gates on the western side of the reserve include Musiara gate and Oloololo gate, accessing the reserve using the gates takes about more 30 minutes longer using a different route which turns west onto the B3 highway towards Bomet, just after passing the Narok Town. For the last 75 kilometers to the reserve, road conditions are poor in some places being on bumpy gravel road.
Flying to Masai Mara National Reserve is a more convenient option as it is only about 1 hour flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to numerous airstrips serving the reserve such as Keekorok Airstrip, Siana Airstrip, Serena Airstrip, Musiara Airstrip, Kichwa Tembo Airstrip, Ol Kiombo Airstrip, Ngerende Airstrip, Ol Seki airstrip and Olare Orok Airstrip.
Traveling by Road from Nairobi to Masai Mara
Road is the most common mode of transport from Nairobi to Masai Mara National Reserve, the road is currently tarred all the way from Nairobi to Masai Mara’s Sekenani Gate. The distance varies from 225 kilometers (140 miles) to 275 kilometers (170 miles) depending on which gate /entry point used to access the reserve.
The journey takes approximately 5.5 hours for the most entry gates situated in the eastern or Narok side of the reserve such as Sekenani gate, Talek gate and Ololaimutia gate. And about 6 to 6.5 hours for Musiara (Narok Country side but on the Western Side) and the Oloololo gate (closer to the Maasai Mara Conservancy and Mara Triangle). This includes a couple of brief stops enroute for a fuel stop and washroom break in Narok Town.
Route: The A104 highway heading out from Nairobi City and onto the B3 just before the Limuru junction is used, if you are leaving from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Use the Southern Bypass to connect to A104 at Kikuyu town to cut out the city traffic.
Once at Narok town, you now take the C12 road to Sekenani, Talek and Ololaimutia gates or the C13 to Musiara and Olololo gates as well as Rianta town.
The latter road is rougher which is why it is best to use a 4×4 vehicles.
Approximate Drive Times to Masai Mara
|Nairobi to Masai Mara||Sekenani Gate||5.5 – 6 hrs|
|Nairobi to Masai Mara||Oloolaimutia Gate||6 hrs|
|Nairobi to Masai Mara||Talek Gate||5.5 – 6 hrs|
|Nairobi to Masai Mara||Oloololo Gate||6.5 hrs|
|Nairobi to Masai Mara||Musiara Gate||6.5 hrs|
Road Conditions to Masai Mara
The road conditions to Masai Mara National Reserve are an often-asked question by travelers to the reserve, most of the route is actually a tarred road starting with highway A104, B3 and finally C12, except for the last section of approximately 1 hour.
The tarmac portion of the tarmac road is however in sub standard condition in certain places with a few stretches of potholes, the last unpaved portion can be bumpy and dusty which simply adds to the adventure of getting to the African wilderness.
Safari Vehicles Used to Get to Masai Mara
On a typical Masai Mara Safari, there are two types of vehicles commonly used that is the safari tour minibuses and the 4×4 safari jeeps typically the Toyota Landcruiser. All these vehicles have built in, pop-up game viewing roof hatches which are opened once on a game drive in the reserve, UHF Radio Calls and Cooler boxes.
The Safari Tour Minibuses/tour vans cost much less than the four-wheel drive safari jeeps. Some of the tour vans come with 4×4 capability, albeit with the lack of ground clearance or off-road ability that comes with a Land cruiser.
Both these types of vehicles have a maximum of 7 passengers with 6 people being ideal and 8 passengers being the limit and an extra seat is fitted into the vehicle.
Flights to Masai Mara
There are several local airlines flying from Nairobi to various airstrips in Maasai Mara National Reserve, several airlines off twice daily return flight to the reserve with a one-way flight taking approximately 1 hour. The planes usually turns around back to Nairobi after dropping off or collecting passengers from a number of airstrips in Masai Mara National Reserve.
Domestic/charter flights take off from Wilson Airport.
AirKenya and Safarilink are the main airlines offering domestic flights from Nairobi to Masai Mara.
- Morning Flight: Depart Nairobi 10am – Arrive Masai Mara 11am
- Return Morning Flight: Depart Masai Mara 11am – Arrive Nairobi 12pm
- Afternoon Flight: Depart Nairobi 3pm – Arrive Masai Mara 4pm
- Return Afternoon Flight: Depart Masai Mara 4pm – Arrive Nairobi 5pm
Airstrips to Masai Mara
Masai Mara National Reserve is served by a dozen of airstrips situated in the surrounding game ranches and conservancies, these airstrips are found in different parts of the reserve so as to serve lodges and camps which are in close proximity.
List of Airstrips in Masai Mara National Reserve
- Keekorok Airstrip
- Siana Airstrip
- Serena Airstrip
- Musiara Airstrip
- Kichwa Tembo Airstrip
- Ol Kiombo Airstrip
- Ngerende Airstrip
- Ol Seki airstrip
- Olare Orok Airstrip
- Angama Airstrip