The Masai Mara is nature’s stage for what must be the most spectacular wildlife pageant on earth. Each year when the rainy season ends in May, hundreds of thousands of wildebeests mass together, moving in search of greener pastures and vital sustenance from the Serengeti (Masai for “endless plains”) in Tanzania north to the wide-open grasslands of Kenya’s Masai Mara, where they arrive in July and August. Along with migrating herds of zebra, antelope, and gazelle, there are at times more than a million animals on the move, and a horseback safari affords you a remarkable vantage point to view an animal kingdom unrivaled anywhere in Africa. (The core of the Masai Mara Game Reserve is closed to those on horseback, but you can reach it in a four-wheel-drive for a glimpse of lions, cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, and elephants.)
Riding through the unspoiled Loita Hills and the great rolling plains of the Mara, you’ll pass through manyattas (villages) of the nomadic Masai people, who protect the game they believe to be “God’s cattle.” Some ascents will reach 8,600 feet, providing spectacular views and open vistas. And while you marvel at the views, the staff proceeds ahead to set up camp in a lovely setting and has dinner and a hot shower ready for your arrival. They also keep watch throughout the sound-filled night to keep the wildlife at bay.
You can also view the endless expanse of the Masai Mara from God’s perspective—in a hot-air balloon safari. Nothing can compare with sailing above the rolling plains of Africa in a hot-air balloon. At dawn, you ascend into a sky all shades of rose and orange. Masai villagers stand rooted as they watch you drift across the still sky. Skim over an enormous herd of skittish wildebeest that dodge the shadow of your balloon; a toy-size chase vehicle fast upon their trail leaves a flurry of dust. The awesome, magical stillness, punctuated by the erratic blasts of the hot-air burner, envelops you. Only the promise of a delicious Champagne breakfast in the bush can take the edge off the disappointment of your return to earth.