Mara Serena Safari Lodge Masai Mara

Hotel Logo

What to do and see at the Mara Serena Safari Lodge

One of the most fascinating wildlife arenas in the world, the Masaai Mara is unique in that it offers you the chance to:

Meet the Maasai

Visit our nearby Maasai community manyatta (village), meet the community, visit a typical Maasai home, learn about Maasai daily life, enjoy dancing and singing displays and visit the community’s own handicrafts market more.

Take 2 game drives daily – all in our custom-built open-sided six-person safari vehicles (professional guides, refreshments on-board, radio-links for fast location of game)

See all the ‘Big Five’: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino

Spot 95 other species of mammals and 550 species of birds

Take a night game drive (just outside the Reserve) – a unique chance to spot the nocturnal wilderness: 7pm to 9pm.

Have breakfast by the hippo pool

Have ‘sun-downers’ on the savannah

Enjoy a unique ‘exotic Maasai dinner’; campfire, hurricane lamps and Maasai warriors

Go on a balloon safari (an approximate 1 hour flight landing to a champagne-breakfast cooked in the bush)

Take in some professionally-guided nature walks around the lodge.

Learn more about the Mara’s unique birdlife - professional ornithological tours – for amateurs or professionals

Do some swimming or sun-bathing

Sample our Serena ‘Maisha’ Mind, Body and Spirit Services; a massage, facial, manicure or more…

Meeting the Maasai

The Maasai have long remained the ideal mental conceptualisation of the Western European idea of an African ‘noble savage’. Tall, elegant, handsome; walking with a gentle spring of the heel, seemingly proud and indifferent to all but the most necessary external influences.

S. S. Ole Sankan, Maasai elder, Narok

The image of the Maasai warrior striding across the plains in his scarlet cloak, tending his precious cattle or leaping high in the air during his battle dance is one of Kenya’s most striking. Visually stunning, the Maasai warrior with his swathe of scarlet ‘Shuka’, beaded belt, dagger, and intricately plaited hair remains the most enduring icon of Kenyan tourism. There is only one way, however, to fully appreciate the colour and depth of the ancient Maasai culture, and that is to visit a traditional manyatta (the modern-day term for a Maasai village).

Typically centred on a brushwood enclosure into which the community’s cows and goats are herded at night, the manyattas are constructed according to age-old traditions whereby each woman has her own hut, and male society is regulated according to a complicated hierarchy of age-sets, warrior-clans, elders and Laibons (prophet soothsayers). Here, life revolves around a series of celebrations, which mark the passage of time from birth to death, the dispensation of justice, the changing of the seasons and the treasuring of the Maasai’s precious cattle. Unchanged for centuries, it is these vibrantly colourful celebrations that typify the Maasai way of life – one that has, so far, remained resolutely unchanged by the arrival of the technological age.

About the Maasai

Perhaps the best known of Kenya’s tribes, the Nilo-Hamitic Maasai are a nomadic people whose style of life has remained essentially unchanged for centuries. Named after the Maa language that they speak, their daily rhythm of life revolves around the constant quest for water and grazing for their cattle. Thought to have migrated to Kenya from the lower valleys of the Nile, the Maasai are distinguished by their complex character, impeccable manners, impressive presence and almost mystical love of their cattle. The latter is based on the Maasai belief that the sky god, ‘Enkai’, was once at one with the earth. When the earth and the sky were separated, however, Enkai was forced to send all the world’s cattle into the safekeeping of the Maasai where, as far as the Maasai are concerned, they have remained. Brave and ruthless warriors, the Maasai instilled terror into all who came up against them, most especially the early explorers. Take a thousand men’ advised the famous explorer Henry Morton Stanley when speaking of the Maasai, ‘or write your will’. Today, cattle are still the central pivots of Maasai life and  ‘I hope your cattle are well’ is the most common form of Maasai greeting. The milk and blood of their cattle also continue to be the preferred diet of the Maasai people, while the hides serve as mattresses, sandals, mats and clothing. Cattle also act as marriage bonds, while a complex system of cattle-fines maintains the social harmony of the group.

About the cultural visit

The community with which the Mara Serena Safari Lodge has established a relationship is located just a short drive from the Oloololo Gate of the Reserve, and an enjoyable game drive away from the lodge itself. A relatively small and roughly circular settlement, it centers on a brushwood cattle boma (enclosure) and numbers just a few long low mud huts, which cluster around a central grassy area where all community life takes place. Set high on a hill, the village enjoys glorious views across the Mara plains and offers countless photographic opportunities.

Upon arrival, the guests are greeted by a pair of Maasai morans (warriors), whose role it is to introduce the visitors to the community. First the guests are invited to meet some of the elders, who offer a demonstration on how the Maasai traditionally kindle fire, next they are invited to enter a traditional hut and learn how daily life is lived. Later a display of singing and dancing is offered by the Maasai women, and finally a magnificent display of warriorhood and competitive leaping is staged by the warriors.

A joyous occasion

Throughout the visit, questions are welcomed as to the Maasai way of life. Photographs are also encouraged and typically the visit is regarded as a joyous occasion marked by much laughter. At the end of the visit, which lasts around an hour, the guests are invited to visit a simple handicrafts market laid out on the grass by the Maasai ladies and this provides a unique opportunity for the purchase of some utterly authentic and beautiful examples of their traditional Maasai beadwork.

A mutually rewarding experience

As well as providing a unique opportunity for cultural exchange, the visits provide a valuable contribution to the finances of community life. The proceeds from the visits, which are passed directly to the community, have so far financed the construction of a water tower, the establishment of a health centre and the education of the children of the community. The ladies, meanwhile, use the money they earn from their handicrafts to establish self-help groups and micro-finance institutions.

Special events

Maasai life revolves around celebration and the members of our local Maasai community are happy to share these celebrations with their guests. Traditional naming ceremonies can be offered, during which guests receive their official Maasai name, weddings and blessings can also be arranged – either within the community or at the lodge. Typically these will feature a singing and dancing display by the Maasai ladies, the bestowal of traditional beaded talismans, and a picturesque blessing by the village elders.

Cost per person $70

Balloon Safari

Up up and away over the Mara

One of the most magically memorable of the Mara experiences, a balloon safari allows you to drift in silence above the splendour of the plains, dip down to visit the hippo pools of the Mara River, enjoy a bird's eye view of the wildlife theatre enacted below and descend to a scenic champagne breakfast cooked on the balloon's burners, and served on the savannah plains. Awakened by an early-morning cup of tea (around 5.30 am) you will be driven to the balloon take-off point, where you will meet your fully-qualified balloon pilot.

Taking off from a site just below the lodge, your arrival will be timed to allow you to see the vast globe of the rainbow-coloured balloon slowly filling with hot air and, as dawn breaks, watch as it slowly rises into the air. When all is ready, you will be helped into the stout wicker basket (a typical balloon carries around 8-16 passengers and is equipped with seats and safety belts), the sandbags will be cast off, and the balloon will rise into the cool of the morning air. Driven by the wind, and guided by jets of hot air from the gas-burners (which allow it to rise or fall according to the pilot's direction), the balloon will fly for a period of around 45 minutes (trailed by a team of ground vehicles). Then, as the morning sun rises, it will descend to a gentle controlled-landing on the plains. Celebrating your flight with a glass of chilled champagne, you will receive your ‘flight certificate' from your balloon pilot, before sitting down to a full English breakfast, cooked on the burners of the balloon. Breakfast over, you can then enjoy a leisurely game-drive back to the lodge.

Cost: $470.00 US per person inclusive of game drives, breakfast, sparkling wine and balloon certificate

Night and day game game drives

The game-drive experience

Close encounters in the wild

The Mara is unique. During the season, visitors can enjoy a ringside seat for one of the world’s most stunning wilderness events: the annual migration of over one million wildebeest and their attendant wildlife cast. Throughout the year, the Mara also offers regular sightings of all the members of the ‘Big Five’, many of which can be viewed at fascinatingly close quarters. Our custom-built six-person safari vehicles offer comfort, panoramic viewing, dedicated safari guides, refreshments on-board and radio-links for fast location of game. Traditionally, game-drives take place early morning (you are woken with tea and arrive back in time for breakfast) or late afternoon. They can also be timed to coincide with sundowners in the bush. We also offer additional game drives and full-day game drives.

Cost: per additional game drive $93 per person. Cost for full-day game drive per person $815 

The night game drive experience

A glimpse in to the nocturnal theatre of the wild

A uniquely specialised activity, which is not permitted within the boundaries of the national parks and reserves, a night game drive is the ultimate safari luxury. Leaving the lodge at 7pm, you will be provided with warm ‘shukas’ (Maasai wraps); you will then set off to discover the creatures of the night. This is the exclusive domain of hunters such as lions and leopards, and the only time when you may catch a glimpse of such elusive nocturnal creatures as aardvarks, cape hares and bush babies. Your vehicle will also be equipped with a powerful hand-held lamp, which can be used to sweep the bush for likely sightings; night-viewing binoculars are also provided. Children above 7 years old are welcome.

Walks and special interest

Kenya, an ornithologist’s paradise

With over 1, 070 species of birds, Kenya has the second-highest country bird list in Africa, while the Masai Mara boasts 550 recorded species. Ranging from giant herons to tiny sunbirds, the diversity of Kenyan birdlife is startling in its colour and vibrancy. For the amateur and serious ornithologist alike, we offer a range of half or full day outings which can be custom-tailored to the interests of your ornithological party. The services of our naturalist and up-to-date bird checklists are included, and picnics, bush lunches, camp suppers and sundowners can be scheduled to suit your needs.

The guided nature walk

Go for a walk…and get to know Africa

To really appreciate the wonders of the Kenyan bush, you have to leave the safari vehicle behind; and take a walk. Slow in pace, wide-ranging in scenery and led by one of our trained safari guides, the Mara nature walk takes within the grounds of the lodge and is designed to offer gentle exercise and a fascinating insight into the world of African trees, flowers, insects, reptiles, birds and animals.

Dine in the wild

Breakfast by the hippo pool

The real ‘Out of Africa'

For the ultimate Mara experience leave the lodge after an early morning cup of tea and enjoy an exhilarating game drive in the crisp morning air. This is one of the best times for game-viewing and the ideal time to catch the plains game on the move, the matriarchal elephant herds, the lion prides and all the other wildlife in which the Mara abounds. Arriving on the banks of the world-famous Mara River you will be met by a traditionally clad Maasai warrior who will lead you along the river where countless hippos wallow. Reaching a clearing you will be offered a glass of chilled sparkling wine or fresh juice before being shown to your table, which is located in a shady grove immediately alongside the hippo pool. Beneath the trees you will find a full display of fruit, patisserie and cereals, and a line of chefs ready to cook eggs, bacon, sausages and chicken to your specification. Breakfast is a leisurely experience and only when you are ready will the Maasai warrior guide you back along the riverbank to your vehicle. You can then experience another game drive on your way back to the lodge – or choose to extend your game drive – the choice is yours.

Note: all our wilderness dining sites are provided with full security and bathroom facilities

Cost: $40 per person

Lunch in the wilderness

Lunch in the wilderness or a picnic on the safari trail

Such is the density, variety and sheer magnificence of the wildlife viewing in the Masai Mara that once embarked upon the game drive experience you may not wish to waste precious time in the wilderness by travelling back to the lodge for lunch - especially if you are on the trail of the Mara’s lengendary lions or have just discovered one of the Mara’s famous elephant herds - so why not let us provide you with a picnic lunch (at no additional cost). Alternatively we can have our team set up a fully catered lunch for you – at a surprise location.

Note: all our wilderness dining sites are provided with full security and bathroom facilities

Cost: $30 per person exclusive of alcoholic drinks.

 

Traditional Safari Sundowners

Safari Sundowners

An experience never forgotten and not to be missed

 

The ‘sun-downer' is an essential part of safari life and dates back to the time of the great game hunting safaris of the 1920's when cocktails were always served as the sun began its descent. Today, though the hunting days are gone, the tradition of the sundowner endures – with good reason.

 

On the equator, the sun begins its descent at roughly the same time all the year round – between five and six pm so your sundowner experience will begin with a gentle evening game drive – ideally timed to catch the wildlife as it emerges into the cool of the evening.

 

We offer a selection of sundowner sites – one is located on Lookout Hill with magnificent panoramic views, another is on the banks of the famous Mara River and the third is in a secluded clearing. All are equipped with a blazing campfire, safari bar, hot canapé-counter, seating, safari lanterns, Masai warriors and bathroom facilities.

Arriving at your chosen sundowner site as the light turns to gold (ideal for photography), you can sip your drink and enjoy our inspirational selection of ‘bitings’ (canapés) as the sun slowly drops below the horizon, typically leaving the sky streaked in lilac pink and gold. It is a sight never to be forgotten and an event not to be missed.

Cost: $40 per person inclusive of alcoholic drinks.

Cost: $20 per person exclusive of alcoholic drinks.

Dine in the wild

Typically wilderness, essentially safari

There are few experiences so typically wilderness and so essentially ‘safari’ as the traditional bush dinner. Leaving the lodge as the sun goes down you will enjoy a gentle game drive to your chosen wilderness dining site where lanterns will already be lit, the table laid and the campfire burning. Greeted by your team of Masai warriors, you will be served cocktails around the campfire while your team of chefs prepares dinner to your specific order. After starters from the buffet, entrée, pudding and tea or coffee, accompanied by your choice of wines or soft drinks, you can then relax around the campfire. Later, experience the thrill of a late evening game drive back to the lodge.

Note: all our wilderness dining sites are provided with full security and bathroom facilities

Cost: $55 per person inclusive of alcoholic drinks.

Cost: $40 per person inclusive of alcoholic drinks.

Moonlit dinner by the pool

The location of the Mara Serena Safari Lodge is unique – it stands high on the saddle of a hill with stunning views down to the famous Mara River. As for our pool, it lies just below the dining terrace, surrounded by stone-flagged terraces and gardens – it also enjoys a stunning view out over the plains of the Mara. For a truly memorable experience, why not let us arrange an exclusive dining experience by the pool where you can dine beneath the stars and by the soft light of safari lanterns. After dinner, enjoy coffee by the blazing fire of our firepit.

Cost: $40 per person inclusive of alcoholic drinks.

Cost: $30 per person inclusive of alcoholic drinks.

 

About the Masai Mara National Reserve

Masai Mara National Reserve

World renowned for the breathtaking spectacle of ‘the greatest wildlife show on earth', the awe inspiring annual migration of the wildebeest, the Mara is Kenya's most visited protected area. Technically an extension of Tanzania's renowned Serengeti National Park, the Mara constitutes only 4% of the entire Serengeti ecosystem but its rolling grasslands, meandering rivers and towering escarpments offer one of the world's most rewarding and evocative wildlife arenas.

Fact File

Altitude: 1,500-2,170 meters above sea level.

Area: 1, 672 sq km.

Location: Rift Valley Province, Narok and Transmara Districts.

Distance from Nairobi: 270 km.

Gazetted: 1961.

Climate: the Reserve receives the highest rainfall (average 1000 mm pa) in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Rain falls throughout the year but peaks in December, January and April.

Vegetation: rolling grassland, riverine forest, acacia woodland, swamps, non-deciduous thickets, and Acacia, Croton and Tarchonanthus scrub.

Wildlife: the Mara ecosystem hosts over 95 species of mammals. Highlights include: elephant, buffalo, hippo, Masai giraffe, topi, Coke's hartebeest, Grant's and Thomson's gazelle, zebra, impala, Kirk's dik-dik, bushbuck, waterbuck, red duiker, baboon, vervet monkey, blue monkey, red-tailed monkey, nocturnal bush baby, and tree hyrax.

Birds: more than 550 recorded species (5 globally threatened).

 

The Masai Mara is a National Reserve, an area where wildlife is protected and takes precedence over human activities, but where human habitation and domestic livestock is also permitted. Correctly referred to as the Masai Mara, the area is also known as the Maasai Mara: both spellings are technically correct but ‘Maasai' is more correctly used when referring to the Maasai people.

The geography of the Reserve

The Mara is divided into four topographical units: the Ngama Hills to the east of Keekorok and the Sekanani Gate; the Siria Escarpment, which forms the western boundary; the Mara Triangle, which lies between the Mara River and the Siria Escarpment; and the Central Plains, which lie between the Mara River and the Ngama Hills. The permanent Mara and Talek Rivers and their tributaries flow through the Reserve.

Arena for ‘the greatest wildlife show on earth'

Between the end of July and November, over one and a half million wildebeest accompanied by half again as many zebras and gazelles, migrate from the short-grass plains of the Serengeti to fresh pasture in the grasslands of the Mara; thus creating one of nature's grandest spectacles. Moving in groups of up to 20,000 at a time they thunder across the plateau hesitating only briefly to cross the Mara River, where many fall prey to the waiting crocodiles. Towards the end of October they begin crossing back into Tanzania. The actual timing of the migration, however, is dictated by the weather and does not always run to schedule. The migration is a comparatively recent phenomenon, prior to 1969 only a few wildebeest spilled over from the Serengeti in exceptionally dry years.

Predator paradise

Offering an abundance of herbivores, the Mara makes the ideal hunting ground for Kenya's famous ‘big cats' and hosts her largest population of lions. It also offers the best chance of spotting a leopard in the wild. Other predators include cheetah and spotted hyena.

The rest of the wildlife cast

Historically teaming with wildlife, the Mara is famous for the large herds of elephant and buffalo that meander its plains; also for the fat pods of hippo that wallow in its mud-brown rivers. Other stars include the distinctive Masai giraffe, topi, Coke's hartebeest, Grant's and Thomson's gazelle, zebra, impala, Kirk's dik-dik, bushbuck, waterbuck and red duiker. The Reserve also boasts plentiful Nile crocodile, monitor lizard, baboon, vervet, blue and red-tailed monkeys, nocturnal bush babies, and tree hyrax.

One of Kenya's most important bird areas

Boasting over 550 resident and migratory species, the Mara shelters an incredible array of both regionally and globally threatened birds. Easily spotted on the plains are the common ostrich, secretary bird, ground hornbill and bustard (Kori, black-bellied and white-bellied). Also plentiful are crowned plover, red-necked spur fowl and helmeted guinea fowl, while along the rivers African fish eagle, Egyptian geese, yellow-billed stork, sacred ibis and blacksmith plover abound. The Reserve also boasts 53 species of raptors, to include augur buzzard, black-shouldered kite, bateleur eagle and 6 species of vulture. The Reserve is the only place in Kenya where you can see the rare Schalow's turaco.

The golden plains of the Mara

The Mara's plains are dominated by Themeda triandra (red oat grass) and following the rains the lush grasslands burst briefly into brilliance with a glorious array of small flowering plants, such as the charming pink, orange or mango-coloured Crossandra subacaulis, the so-called ‘tissue paper flower' (Cycnium tubulosum), the stunning fire ball lily (Scadoxus multiflorus) and the glorious pink and white striped pyjama lily (Crinum macowanii).

The Maasai

Perhaps the best known of Kenya's tribes, the Nilo-Hamitic Maasai are a nomadic people whose style of life has remained essentially unchanged for centuries. The daily rhythm of life revolves around the constant quest for water and grazing for their cattle. Thought to have migrated to Kenya from the lower valleys of the Nile, the Maasai are distinguished by their complex character, impeccable manners, impressive presence and almost mystical love of their cattle. The latter is based on the Maasai belief that the sky god, ‘Enkai ‘, was once at one with the earth. When the earth and the sky were separated, however, Enkai was forced to send all the world's cattle into the safekeeping of the Maasai where, as far as the Maasai are concerned, they have remained. Brave and ruthless warriors, the Maasai instilled terror in all who came up against them, most especially the early explorers. ‘Take a thousand men' advised the famous explorer Henry Stanley when speaking of the Maasai, ‘or write your will'.

Today, cattle are still the central pivots of Maasai life and ‘I hope your cattle are well' is the most common form of Maasai greeting. The milk and blood of their cattle also continue to be the preferred diet of the Maasai people, while the hides serve as mattresses, sandals, mats and clothing. Cattle also act as marriage bonds, while a complex system of cattle-fines maintains the social harmony of the group. Visually stunning, the Maasai warrior with his swathe of scarlet ‘Shuka' (blanket), beaded belt, dagger, intricately plaited hair and one-legged stance remains the most enduring icon of Kenyan tourism. That said, many a modern Maasai dons a suit for work, but come the weekend, and he'll be back in his beloved traditional dress. 

Mara Serena Safari Lodge

Mara Serena Safari Lodge

Book Online

ROOM RATEFromBest Rate Guaranteed $210

View gallery >> view

Location

Masai Mara Game Reserve

Tel: (+254) 202842000 or 5022253

Fax: (+254) 202718103 or 5022382

Call: +254 732 123 333