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Parks & reserves: Masai Mara National Reserve


Besides the overwhelming list of lodges and camps, Masai Mara offers a large number of campsites, but with the flaw that all of them are just off-limits or well outside the reserve. This peculiarity, disturbing for camping fans and low-budget travellers, may be originated by the atmosphere of exclusivity which is progressively growing around the Mara. The abundance of luxury lodges and tented camps including game drives in their full board rates, as well as the remote location of the reserve, seem to invite an increasing number of visitors to fly to the reserve instead of using ground transportation, therefore campers may be a bit mistreated. Anyway it is not actually a big deal, since wildlife abounds outside to a similar extent than inside the reserve.

The total number of campsites is around 25, but as in all other parks and specially in the larger ones, the number varies depending on the source and most maps don't record every site. Public campsites used to be payed for right at the reserve gates, but with the new Masai Mara Smartcard system, everything should be payed in advance when obtaining your card.

There are campsites close to every gate. The one near Oloololo displays a nice view of the mountains. The Musiara campsite is very popular for being a safe area, shaded and with plentiful wildlife, lions included. Near Talek there are 10 campsites located east of the gate, bordering the river at the north bank, which at the same time is the reserve's limit. Several of them are nearly always booked up by safari companies. West of Talek Gate there is another campsite called Riverside Campsite.

Still near the gates, in Sekenani there are 4 campsites, placed half a kilometer from the gate, outside the reserve. Finally, the Sand River Campsite, next to the gate of the same name, is located by a waterhole usually visited by animals at night.

The Sand River Campsite is equipped with toilets and running water. All campsites close to the gates allow for using the toilet and water facilities at the gates.

In addition to those located by the gates, there are (or used to be) other campsites such as the Crocodile Campsite, a private site close to the outer limits; Naunerri Campsite, 3 km off Sand River Gate; and the Mara River Campsites, 4 of them, by the east riverbank outside the reserve. One of them is located right south of Mara Camp. Finally, near the (now closed) Olkurruk Mara Lodge there is another site, overlooking the plains from the mountains.

In any case, it is important for you to check the available sites with local authorities, since campsites may and actually do change over time and it is difficult to keep accurate track of it.


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