How to get to Masai Mara

How to get to Masai Mara from Nairobi

So you have made all the plans and now it’s time to travel! In this post, I have provided detailed info on how to get to Masai Mara from Nairobi.

To get to Masai Mara, you first have to get to Kenya and the recommended port of entry is flying into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi. Nairobi is a large city with more than 8 million people. Our Kambu Camp in Nairobi is located just outside the city in a county called Kiambu. The camp is about an hour’s drive from the airport.

This airport is the largest hub in East Africa, providing many convenient flight choices. Airlines such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Kenya Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, and Swiss operate flights from major airports worldwide.

After arriving at the airport, tour operators typically offer transportation to your hotel for an overnight stay. The next day, you will continue your journey to the Mara. If you book our Mara Camping safari or other Mara packages we offer, you’ll see our driver-guide as soon as you exit the International Arrivals at Terminal 1. You’ll be assisted with your luggage to get them loaded and can get into the car equipped with refrigerated drinking water and soft drinks.

While it is easy and fast to fly into the Mara, driving is one of the popular option to get to Masai Mara from Nairobi. If you have the means, I highly encourage you to book a fly-in safari that will enable you to spend about 45 mins getting to Mara instead of 4 to 5 hours of driving from Nairobi to Masai Mara.

The flight from Nairobi is from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport (WIL) which mostly handles domestic travel. Some flight operators to Mara may have stop-overs in other destinations such as Lake Naivasha or Laikipia before your final stop in the Mara. Although road conditions have improved in recent years, the road is single-lane and at times, you may be stuck in traffic jam for hours – especially in the winding escarpment road between Nairobi and Mahiu Mahiu. Nonetheless, the drive through the escarpment lets you appreciate the Rift Valley landscape up close. You will even get to stop at the Moran view point and take some good pics overlooking the Great Rift Valley.

If you choose to travel by air, there are multiple airstrips available in and around the Masai Mara for you to land at. Your decision on which one to choose will depend on the location you have chosen to stay for your safari. SafariLink and AirKenya are some of the airlines that offer flights to Mara.

When you book an all-inclusive package with us, we will book you a flight that flies close to your hotel in the Mara. For example, if you are staying at Kambu Camp in the Mara, your flight will get you to Siana Conservancy airstrip which is less than 20 minutes drive from our camp. It’s important to let your tour operator know to book a flight that minimizes long drives after your arrival. Once you land at the nearest airstrip to your lodging, your journey will be much more convenient.

When you land, a safari vehicle will be waiting to take you to your hotel.

Airstrips in Masai Mara;

  • Serena Airstrip, Masai Mara (Code MRE)
  • Musiara Airstrip, Masai Mara (Code MDR)
  • Kichwa Tembo, Masai Mara (Code KTJ)
  • Siana Conservancy, Masai Mara
  • Ol Kiombo Airstrip, Masai Mara (Code OLX)
  • Ngerende Airstrip, Masai Mara (Code MSC)
  • Olare Orok Airstrip, Masai Mara (Code OLG)
  • Mara North Airstrip, Masai Mara (Code HKR)
  • Angama Airstrip, Masai Mara (Code ANA)
  • Ol Seki Airstrip, Masai Mara (Code OSJ)
  • Keekorok

Gates to enter Masai Mara

There are five main gates: Sand River, Talek, Sekenani, Musiara, and Oloololo. Note that the latter two gates are farther away and will take an additional 30 minutes to reach. All gates open at 6:00 AM and close at 6:00 PM.

If you are driving from Nairobi, my preferred gates to the reserve are Sekenani and Talek. Our Kambu Camp is located some 10 minutes’ drive from Sekenani Gate. Read about all Masai Mara gates here and can find out about places to sleep near Sekenani Gate here.

If you are visiting the Masai Mara National Reserve, you need to pay park fees. International visitors aged 12 and above who are not staying within the reserve must pay $80 per person for every 24 hours. Those staying within the reserve pay $70 per person for every 24 hours. Children between 3 and 11 years old will be charged $45 and $40 per child per 24 hours respectively. No park fees are needed for children under the age of 3. Please note that if you book your Masai Mara safari through us, all park fees are already included in your itinerary.

Please note that if you choose to stay at one of the Masai Mara conservancies, there will be additional entry and conservation fees ranging from US$80 to US$120 per person per day. For instance, Olare Motorogi Conservancy currently charges US$100 per person per day. These fees will always be included when you book your stay at one of the conservancies.

FAQs on Getting to Masai Mara

1. What is the best way to get to Masai Mara?

The best way to get to Masai Mara depends on your individual circumstances. Flying into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi and then either taking a direct flight or driving to the reserve is a popular option. Alternatively, you can fly directly into an airstrip near your hotel in Masai Mara.

2. How long does it take to get from Nairobi to Masai Mara?

Driving from Nairobi to Masai Mara typically takes about 4-5 hours, depending on the route taken. Flying is a much faster option and usually only takes around 45 minutes.

3. Do I need to pay park fees when visiting Masai Mara?

Yes, visitors to the Masai Mara National Reserve must pay park fees. International visitors aged 12 and above who are not staying within the reserve must pay $80 per person for every 24 hours. Those staying within the reserve pay $70 per person for every 24 hours. Children between 3 and 11 years old will be charged $45 and $40 per child per 24 hours respectively. No park fees are needed for children under the age of 3. Please note that if you book your Masai Mara safari through us, all park fees are already included in our all-inclusive packages.

4. Are there any other entry or conservation fees I need to pay?

Most conservancies charge around USD 100, about 20 dollars more than the reserve. Their case for higher fee is that part of the funds goes back to the community and some portion supports conservation efforts in the conservancies.

5.How do I get to Lake Nakuru National Park from Masai Mara?

The best way to get to Lake Nakuru National Park from Masai Mara is by road. The estimated time taken for the drive is around 4 hours and 40 minutes via Narok-Mau Narok Road/C78.

6.Can I drive from Masai Mara to Serengeti?

It is currently not possible to travel by road from Masai Mara to Serengeti National Park due to the indefinite closure of the Bologonya border crossing between Kenya and Tanzania that links the two reserves. Therefore, we do not suggest using land transportation, such as road transfer or self-driving, to travel between the Mara and the Serengeti or vice versa, using the Isebania or Namanga border posts.

7.Can i fly from Masai Mara to Serengeti?

There is a flight service available for travelers who want to fly from Masai Mara in Kenya to the Serengeti camps in Tanzania. This service is provided by Safarilink (Kenya) and Coastal Aviation (Tanzania) and the route includes a road transfer between the Migori airstrip (in Kenya) and the Tarime airstrip (in Tanzania), both located near the Isabania border post. This is an easy and convenient way for guests who wish to explore both Masai Mara and Serengeti.

We recommend taking the second option to travel from Mara to Serengeti. This involves going back to Nairobi Wilson (WIL) and taking a flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). This option is less troublesome since flights are dependable, and you don’t need to transfer between airstrips like in the Migori/Tarime option. Also, it gives you the chance to rest overnight in Nairobi after your safari in Mara before continuing your safari in Tanzania. Read more about flying from Mara to Serengeti here.

Also check out our Masai Mara Fly-in safari package here.

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