3 Day Maasai Mara Safari Guide
Safari is a Swahili word which means a tour, it is now world famous as a tour to see the wild animals in their natural habitat.
Kenya is a world famous place for safari and there are so many places and options, it is a bit hard to decided but most people know about one place more than any other; Maasai Mara. 3 day Maasai Mara safari is the best way to explore the best, Kenya has to offer.
The Mara National park is home to Maasai people who have lived with these wild animals for centuries. Tales of their bravery are legendary.
Fun Fact: Maasai men are good at tracking lions because they have learnt to share the meat the lions hunt, from them.
Safari from the booking to the end require some work though, even if you can throw all the money, if you just turn up, it won’t be easy. To enjoy it properly without breaking bank, I have shared some common details and practical tips in my Kenya Safari Guide. Don’t forget to read it before booking your experience.
Check out my Kenya Guide for complete information to come fully prepared for this trip.
3 Days In Maasai Mara
Day 1 – Nairobi To Maasai Mara
It was the day of our safari, my very first one and I was super excited. I was joined by a friend from London which turned out to be a great idea because it was more economical and fun.
We woke up at 6am, got ready, grabbed a quick bite and headed to downtown to meet our safari guide. The streets were still quiet and it didn’t take us long to get there. The tour operator introduced us to our driver Thomas and we got comfortable. Soon we were on the way.
It was a group tour and we picked up another 4 people; two lovely local couples who were really fun to be with. We’ve had really good time with them.
The 4×4 jeep while great inside Mara is quite slow on the road. It took us 6 hours to get to the lodge we were staying at. We made two stops on the way.
The Great Rift Valley Viewpoint
We stopped for a few minutes to stretch our legs and take photos. It is a great place to see the entire valley stretch in front of you. Another indication of what’s to come.
The second stop was at a petrol station again to stretch our legs. Soon after we left the tarmac road behind and the dusty road began eventually giving way to even more horrendous bumpy road.
It took us 6 hours but we got there, tired but happy. Quickly got food and an hours rest. The lodge was quite nice with big beautiful windows.
Evening Game Drive
The evening game drive started around 4 and we headed out to the vastness of Maasai Mara.
It is incredible how big the place is but we had only 2 hours before the sunset so didn’t venture far. We didn’t need to. The first spot was a hyena followed by a lion, an elephant and then 2 lionesses.
The lionesses were the absolute best as they got very close to the jeep, so close, we could hear them breathing and then crossed the road to go to their cubs.
We all held our breaths, a beautiful moment!
Some more driving around and we saw an eagle, some other birds including Egyptian brown geese and another poor species called Secretary bird. Apparently it looks like it is wearing a skirt hence the sexist name. It was funny though.
The cherry on the top was the two cheetahs we saw up close. It was my first time seeing cheetahs and what magnificent aniamls they are, I was mesmerised by them so up close.
It was getting dark and we headed back with the sun setting over this beautiful reserve. The clouds made it a bit more dramatic. By the time we got back and grabbed some dinner, it started to rain. The scent of wet earth was mesmerising but we were really tired after ratting around in the jeep for almost an entire day and had an early start next day as well. It was a bit of a surprise to see the Maasai dance through the dining hall, very entertaining and poised. The sounds they make, the oranaments they wear and their faces, you cannot look anywhere else.
By 9:30pm we were fast asleep in the utter quiet of our room. Day 1 or of our 3 day Maasai Mara safari was magical already!
Day 2 – Full Day Game Drive
It was one of the best days of my life!
Despite waking up at 6am in cold, the excitement was already high. Some breakfast later we were in the jeep and headed out. It did turn out to be our day because we just entered the park and spotted a rare animal; a wild dog.
They are usually nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. The little guy was so close to us as well on the road, it was hard to believe they are so vicious and dangerous.
Next up we saw a pride of lions and a couple of cheetahs, a leopard and some hippos. The leopard was the very well hidden and we managed to see his head only.
The hippo was a really weird one since it was far from the river and it was getting hot, it ran away quickly though.
Every time Thomas’s radio crackled, it as a signal about some animal and we got excited.
Driving around we got to see 4 male lions chilling under a tree who woke up to see so many curious faces staring at them and taking countless photos. They lazily yawned and went back to sleep.
Next up were elephants, my favourite animals. they are just so beautiful, cuddly and adorable. I loved every second staying close to them.
The highlight of the day was seeing the 5 cheetahs. They positioned themselves close to a Topi. They slowly moved through the grass. We were all spellbound, held our breaths and got ready to see them hunt. The Topi was too clever though and the cheetahs eventually gave up, came close to our jeep and decided to go to sleep instead. It is very rare of see them hunting as a pack but just seeing 5 of these beautiful beasts was an incredible moment.
It was almost 12 pm and the day got hotter, we headed for a spot on a small hill to see the vastness of Mara.
Fun Fact: Maasai Mara is a huge reserve with area covering more than 1500 square kilometres. When the border with Tanznia takes over, the same reserve is called Serengeti which covers more than 30,000 square km of land.
The next stop before lunch was the Mara River which flows through the reserve. It truly is the river of death and danger. A huge herd of hippos were avoiding the heat of day by sitting through the flowing muddy brown water. A few crocodiles were also resting on the shore soaking up sun and pretending not to see any animals around. A crane casually stood on the riverside waiting for any fish. Quite a lively environment it was but we were all hungry.
On the other side of river is the Mara Triangle which is reserved for Serena and some other exclusive camps but despite all the exclusivity, it is no different to the rest of reserve.
Thomas drove us to a lovely spot under a tree and gave us blankets to sit on and our packed lunches. It was very serene and we ate quietly enjoying the impalas and gazelles grazing nearby.
It is very hard to describe the effect this place and its lack of human population has. The mighty hills and their grassy slops carry elephants like little toys but you soon realise how lethal this place can be if you let your guard down.
All fresh and cheery, we headed to our next stop after lunch.
Kenya Tanzania Border
The border is literally a sign post with no actual boundary. There are petrolng rangers who enforce the border but it was more of a fun stop than anything else. Also a good chance to have some fun, take some photos and be happy about crossing international borders without passports.
None of us realised but it was roughly 3 pm and we had to head back for another exciting visit for the day.
On the way back we spotted more animals; ostriches, warthogs, zebras, vultures, a Tony eagle, a jackal and a herd of elephants. This day was turning out to be more amazing than we ever imagined.
Just when we were about to leave we spotted some giraffes as well, always a good bonus.
By 5 pm and a nice slow drive through the reserve we arrived at a Maasai village.
Maasai tribes are scattered throughout Kenya and the north of Tanzania. They do charge a small fee to arrange the visit which helps the entire community. We had arranged the visit in advance which was extra 1000 KES (literally peanuts).
A few of the Maasai men met us at the border, greeted us with a dance and invited to join us. I was too shy to join but my groupmates did. They were very sweet and welcoming and made us feel right at home.
Fun Fact: Maasai boys leave home at the age of 12 after circumcision to spend a few years in the wild, they learn to make fire and survive in the forest with nothing around but nature and small weapons. They do this in groups. On their return they kill a lion to show their bravery and become men.
The dance was fun, we got divided into twos and the first demonstration was making fire using sticks. Needless to say it didn’t take them long and no matter how hard we tried it ended up woth tired hands only. It was hard.
The village has a central area which is used as a communal space and they move the village around every 7 years due to termites eating their homes. In line with their traditions, they still live in mud huts. We eventually got invited to the house of our host. It was very small with a small fire burning in the middle and a small girl washing dishes. There was very little room to move but it was cozy. The front of the house had a small room for the calves, cute but full of dung.
Fun Fact: Maasai are polygamous and a man can have multiple wives depending on two thigs; the cows he has and how high he can jump. One of the guys in the group did almost fly on top of his tall height, we were told he had 10 wives.
The one thing that did make me feel bad was the desperation I saw in their eyes to sell us some stuff. The blankets, decorated staffs, anklets, bracelets etc. It was very clear they were barely surviving despite opening themselves to the world.
We were exhausted by this point, the drive back was quiet. The day was amazing and yet really exhausting. Turns out, sitting in a jeep being rattled around and driven all day is really exhausting.
The lodge had some ping pong and snooker which we played until dinner was ready. We ate next to the crackling sound of bonfire and I fell asleep by 9pm, it would be an early start next day, even earlier than today.
Day 3 – The Mara Sunrise & Return To Nairobi
It was our last day, the night before had been nice and warm and waking up at 5am in the dark didn’t seem so bad. We all got ready and headed out to the grandiose with animals already up and running around. Some zebras and impalas were lazily grazing with other relaxing on the dewy grass.
After half an hour drive we arrived at a spot and stopped to see the sunrise over Mara. The sky changed light and suddenly out of nowhere the round orange ball of light appeared. It took only 10 minutes for the whole sunrise.
Fun Fact: Being so close to equator, the sunrise and sunsets here are very fast with almost equal timed days and nights.
An elephant roared to wake us all up from our trance and we headed out for a short game drive. May be because it was our last day or we were all tired and hungry, we didn’t spot much apart from the usual roadside animals and arrived at the lodge to a nice warm breakfast.
It was time to head back to Nairobi which meant another 6 hours in the jeep. It somehow went faster with a couple of stop on the way and we finally said good bye to our new friends in Nairobi with promises of staying in touch.
I am really happy, I got to enjoy the place in their company but more importantly a chance to see all these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. It really made me realise how much is at stake if we don’t preserve the nature and fix the global warming. These three days brought me incredibly close to these animals and grateful for the chance to witness them.
I had no idea how exhausting safari could be. The early morning waking up every morning and being rattled around in a jeep on rough roads had taken their toll and on the way to Nairobi we stopped in Naivasha to spend some time in a spa. I found the best place in Enashipai Resort Spa. I ended up spending the entire rest of the day there. The oils, the scrub and the haircut, everything was just amazing. I couldn’t recommend it higher.
I hope you enjoyed the safari and the practical tips, if you are planning a trip, feel free to reach out for any questions. If you have been and had a different experience do let me know, I’d love to hear about it.