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Going For The First Time: The Serengeti VS. The Masai Mara

First Time The Serengeti VS The Masai Mara Going For

Going For The First Time: The Serengeti VS. The Masai Mara


Everyone knows the one thing Africa is popular for is its wildlife. Throughout the continent, there are parks and reserves galore. Among them, the Serengeti National Park and the Masai Mara are some of the most celebrated places for experiencing the diverse wildlife of Africa in all its glory. Both are wildly popular but if you plan a first-time tour in Africa, which park should you choose? 

The Serengeti National Park is on Tanzania’s northern safari circuit and the Masai Mara is on the southwest of Kenya. The reserves share an unfenced border which allows the animals to roam as they wish. Both places are famous for the Great Migration, which consists of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelle looking for a place where they can stay, and you can enjoy their epic journey if you visit them at the right time. So, if you’re scratching your head about where to go first, we hope we can help you decide.


The Landscape:

Both Serengeti and the Masai Mara are part of the same ecosystem. However, there are differences in the landscape that offer different landscapes and experiences.


Savannahs And More: The Serengeti

The ‘Serengeti’ name comes from the Maasai word ‘siringet’, meaning ‘the place where the land runs on forever’. The name is given because the reserve covers an area of 14,750 square kilometers. This park is popular for its vast savannahs and in the plains, you will see short, long, and grasses of medium length in the plains. The plains with short grass are the most plain and this is where the herds in migrations spend the wet season. In the dry season, you will find them in the intermediate grass plain, or the plain where the length of the grass is medium. You will find a lot of wildlife in the intermediate grass plains. Finally, the long-grass plains are the most remote and rugged. In addition to this, the herds face many dangers there. The woodlands in the hilly north, the wet marshes attract so many reptiles and birds, and the high rocky foundations serve as vantage points for prey and predators.


The Wildlife And Scenery Of Masai Mara

The Masai Mara has an area of 1,510 square kilometers and has been named after the Maasai people. The grasslands are characteristic of termite mounds, riverine forests, acacia trees, and rocky outcrops that you can see occasionally. This is one of the top places for witnessing the Great Migration, where animals cross the Mara River in search of a place to stay. The Ngama Falls is part of the landscape of the Masai Mara and is frequented by rhinos. There are predators like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and herbivores like buffalo, elephants, and more. You can take in the park from Oloololo Escarpment which is a great place for views.



The Best Time to go

Both the Serengeti and the Masai Mara are good to visit between October-December.


The Serengeti

The time between June and September and between December and March is the best time to visit the flagship park in Tanzania. The herds can be seen crossing the Grumeti River in June and July and apart from the herds, you can see hippos and crocodiles there too. Crossing the Mara River, however, is the most difficult part of their journey. This part takes place in late August or early September. Herds start to prepare for the calving season in December, the peak of which is around February with a whooping 8,000 taking birth each day. And obviously, you will find predators lurking around to prey on the helpless offspring. The battle for survival is brutal.


The Masai Mara

The Masai Mara in neighbouring Kenya has its best game-viewing months from June to October. The wildebeest migration season is from September to October when the herds cross the Mara River to arrive on the plains of the Masai Mara. They graze here till November.

first time stay at Serengeti

The Cost And Accommodation:

Both reserves require prior and proper financial planning before you set out. Here we attempt to highlight the cost of exploring these places.


The Masai Mara

Masai Mara safaris used to be cheaper but that is not the case anymore lately. Yes, the prices have increased, but that does not mean that all is lost. One of the reasons for the prices to be lower in the Masai Mara is that most of the lodges and camps are in the eastern part of the reserve so it sees a lot of footfall, especially between June and October. To avoid the crowds you would have to visit another area of the reserve and pay more. If you visit in the low season, that is from November to December, you can get cheaper safari deals but you may end up missing the wildebeest migration. If you want to stay by the Mara River, you will have to book in advance. Furthermore, a Masai Mara safari can be completed in 3 days and 2 nights.

The Serengeti

In the Serengeti, the number of budget lodges is fewer and the accommodations are inside the park. Therefore, you cannot take day safaris to save is not an option. This is mainly because the national park is too big and there are no cheap places to stay nearby. That being said, there are some budget-friendly camps around the park too, and a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater is also included in most of them. The camps are located strategically so that people can follow the Great Migration as it is happening. As a result, we suggest you make bookings a year in advance, at least. It may take up to 4 to 5 nights to finish a safari in the Serengeti.


The Serengeti has over 500 bird species and the Masai Mara has over 450 of them. The wet season that lasts from November to April is ideal for birdwatching in both national parks. During this period, the resident bird population nests and migrant species come from North Africa and Europe. Both places are not bad if you like birdwatching. Apart from the Serengeti being home to a higher number of species, there is nothing that sets it apart from the other or vice versa.


The Weather:

There is not much difference between the temperatures of the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, but there are. Let us take a look.


The Serengeti

The temperature in the Serengeti is moderate, usually with the highest average temperature being 27 degrees Celsius, and the lowest average temperature being 15 degrees Celsius. It, however, tends to drop after the sun sets so we recommend you carry some jackets and cardigans to keep the cold at bay. July is the season of rain but they do not last long, just for a few hours. You can get started with your day’s itinerary as soon as the rain stops.

The Masai Mara

As the Serengeti and Masai Mara are pretty much neighbours, the temperature in the latter is also relatively moderate. The average highest temperature is 26 degrees Celsius and the lowest average is 12 degrees Celsius. This is the only real difference between the two reserves. Do not, however, make the mistake of not bringing warm clothes to protect yourselves from the rays of the sun during the way and the cold after sunset.


Both the Serengeti and the Masai Mara are great travel choices to satisfy the wildlife lover in you. Both of them have arrangements for tent camping and luxury lounges. Choosing one over the other does not mean that you are missing out on anything. You can witness the Great Migrations from either reserve. If you want to save while traveling, then Masai Mara is the place for you, and if you want exclusivity, as well as more bird species, then Serengeti is the place to be. The Serengeti is closer to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Lake Manyara National Park, suggesting that you can take down potentially three targets with one throw.

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