Visiting the Masai Mara v. the Mara Conservancies

By Asilia Africa | 16 April 2021

Visiting the Mara is one of the highlights of any safari to Kenya. Today we wanted to address the number one question we get asked the most: What is the difference between the Masai Mara National Reserve and the Mara Conservancies, and which option is best for my safari holiday?

The Masai Mara National Reserve was created in 1961 and from the outset became a firm safari favourite. The combination of the thundering annual visit of the Great Migration with a side order of exhilarating river crossings and the year-long presence of all members of the Big 5 against the iconic backdrop of pristine savannah is a safari enthusiasts dream. Due to its popularity, the visitor numbers rose steadily over the years, which created an opportunity for the surrounding areas to develop a more sustainable, balanced vision for tourism for the 21st century.

The first Mara Conservancy was established in 2005 and now is a collection of 15 separate conservancies that surround the Reserve. This land is owned by the Maasai, who lease concessions to tourism partners which, pandemic notwithstanding, offers the local community consistent income while conserving the land and wildlife. The conservancies are privately managed and as such, have stricter control on visitor numbers creating exclusivity, while retaining the freedom to offer a wider range of guest activities that are not available in the main reserve.

The main differences between the two areas are highlighted in the table below ensuring the area you choose dovetails perfectly with your ideal holiday. However, many guests will make the most of travelling to this remarkable region by creating a twin-centre safari. Read through our Mara Uncovered Sample Itinerary to get a flavour of the experiences you will have combining the best of both worlds.  Or, for an active safari experience, consider the Asilia Adventure Traverse the Mara Conservancies on Foot.

Within the conservancies of the Greater Masai Mara region Asilia has three camps: Mara Bush Houses, Encounter Mara and Naboisho. For a taste of life in camp at Naboisho, watch below:

Rekero Camp lies within the Masai Mara National Reserve.  Watch below for a deeper understanding of the long heritage of Rekero:


To understand more about the Greater Masai Mara Region at different times of year, please look at our Greater Masai Mara Seasonality Chart, or submit an enquiry to begin planning your perfect safari.

We are always here to help. Rest assured, wherever you choose to stay — in the Masai Mara National Reserve or in one of the Mara Conservancies — you are sure to have a spectacular safari experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

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