Maasai Mara Game Reserve:

This spectacular expanse of open grassland covers 320 sq km in the south-west corner of Kenya. It receives ample water from the tree-lined Mara River, a tributary of the Talek River. The western border of the park features the Oloolo Escarpment as well as the highest concentration of game. This area is often difficult to traverse as the swampy ground often becomes impassable after heavy rains. Because of its accessibility from Nairobi, the eastern edge of the park is most popular with tourists and minibuses.

The highlight of the Mara is undoubtedly the great migration of wildebeest which move north from the Serengeti in July and August in search of lush grass. They return south in October before the rainy season. Watching millions of these animals move together in mass is truly a humbling experience for human visitors. Other animals are commonly spotted in the park including the big cats: lions, cheetahs, and leopards. Lions are often found in large prides and it's not uncommon to see them hunting. Elephant, buffalo, zebra, and hippo roam in large herds while the topi, impala, and Coke's hartebeest are also abundant.

The official designation of the Maasai Mara is as a park reserve, and it therefore does not have national park status. The primary difference is that a park reserve allows people to graze their animals and shoot game if they are attacked. National parks set aside the entire area for wildlife and the natural environment with no allowances for pastorial grazing. The Maasai Mara region is the traditional land of the Maasai people who often find themselves in competition with the wildlife and tourists for scarce resources. When the game reserve was established in the early 1960s, much the their native land was put off limits and pressure for land became intense. Constant conflict with land authorities led to settlement programs which have met with only limited success. As a nomadic, pastorial-oriented people, Maasai traditions scorn the concept of agriculture and land ownership. The tension continues as traditional ways clash with the 20th century.

Accommodations vary greatly in the Maasai Mara region and include all levels of convenience from tented camps to luxury lodges. Most establishments organize game drives in the early morning and late afternoon when the wildlife is most active. Like all wild areas in Kenya, the Mara can be deceptively dangerous. It is advised that tourists not travel off the beaten path alone, nor is it wise to travel in anything other than a four-wheel drive vehicle as the terrain is often difficult.

Some 20 million years ago, the earth's crust weakened and tore itself apart creating a jagged rift, thousands of kilometers long, across the African continent. The land on either side erupted creating great volcanic mountains, while the valley floor gradually sank into a low flat plain. This geologic phenomena, dubbed the Great Rift Valley by the Scottish explorer John Walter Gregory, divides Kenya neatly down the length of the country essentially separating east from west. Today's Rift Valley is characterized by uninhabitable desert and fertile farmland, flat arid plains and steep escarpments.

In some places this natural divide is up to 100 km (60 miles) wide, while it reaches its narrowest point just north of Nairobi at 45 km wide. The valley floor is at its lowest near Lake Turkana where there is virtually no distinction between the Great Rift and the surrounding desert. As it heads south, however, the valley walls form sheer cliffs rising to 1,900 km (6,232 ft) at Lake Naivasha. After Naivasha, the valley descends again to 580 meters (1,902 feet) at the Tanzanian border.

Subterranean movement is common today as the Rift Valley is home to thirty active and semi-active volcanoes and countless hot springs along its length. This string of alkaline lakes and boiling springs northwest of Nairobi includes Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Elementaita, Lake Naivasha, and Lake Magadi in the south. These lakes are unique because their water is highly concentrated sodium carbonate. This situation is caused by the high alkalinity from the surrounding volcanic rocks coupled with poor drainage outlets due to the steep sides of the valley. The high evaporation of the surface lake water results in sodium carbonate which, in turn, creates an ideal breeding ground for algae. Several species of fish, tilapia in particular, thrive in this environment. As a result, millions of birds flock to these soda lakes to feast on the abundant food supply of algae and fish. Each of the lakes in the Rift Valley string have a slightly different water composition ranging from freshwater to extremely alkaline, highly saline to brackish.

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The success of your vacation depends on the symphony of the booking agents, the sales team and the driver guides with you in the field. Coordination and teamwork is therefore very essential for the success of your safari vacation in Tanzanian. Untamed personnel are continuously trained in team building and outdoor schools.

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