Masai Mara Safari Photo Diary

Masai People in the Masai Mara

Christmas is a time for family, but much to the dismay of mine, I’ve spent the past four abroad; two of which being in Africa. This year, I scored some cheap flights to Tanzania with RwandAir (£340 return!) and headed down for my first ever safari in the Masai Mara with Absolute Africa. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! From the tour leaders, the overland busses, the people, the animals, the sights it was incredible. The whole time I was there a quote kept coming to mind:

The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to. – Richard Mullin 

I know a lot of people who have done a number of safari’s over the years but didn’t see half that we did – I couldn’t believe within the first TWO HOURS we spotted all of the Big Five!! It was a Christmas to remember.

What’s In a Name?

The name Masai Mara comes from the local Masai people who called the land ‘Mara’ which means ‘spotted’ in Maa, the language of the Masai. The Masai people refer to the national park as the ‘spotted land’ because it’s spotted with animals, especially during the Great Migration. The Great Migration is on every safari goer’s bucket list and is when over 2million zebra and wildebeest traverse between Kenya’s Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti in search of grass and food and to avoid the rainy season. The Migration typically takes place anywhere between July – early December, so we were at the tail end of it as the animals were passing back into Tanzania. I learned from our guide that all animals in the migration travel clockwise to stay together.

Game Drive

Our first game drive lasted for four hours (it was late afternoon – dusk when the park closed), followed by an early 5am rise for a full day drive to scour the Mara as the animals woke up to find their breakfast. I definitely recommend doing drives at different times of the day because you see animals during different periods of their daily life; from waking up and hunting, to lounging in the mid-day sun, grazing to baby animals playing around. I took soo many photos of all that we saw, and I can honestly say if I didn’t pack a zoom lens I wouldn’t have been able to capture half of what I did.

I’ve only seen the tip of the mountain which is Africa; it’s a beautiful continent and Kenya is a place not to be missed. From the kindness of the locals, to the sights of the savannah, this country will leave you breathless. I hope you get the chance to visit one day, until then, here’s some pictures that will give you some serious wanderlust.

Masai Mara in photos

Mara Mara Christmas Elephant

Masai Mara day 1: first spotting of a herd of elephants!! Christmas has arrived!

Masai Mara Christmas Lion

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa brought me two Big Cats for Christmas! This is an iPhone photo which shows you just how close you actually get to some of the animals.

Masai Mara bird

There were some crazy and beautiful birds in the National Park … this one wasn’t one of them.

Masai Mara Cheetah on the Hunt

How beautiful and poised is this Cheetah? We spotted her in the morning as she was scouting out a kill. Shortly after we left, she went in and snatched up an impala.

Cheetah in a tree in the Masai Mara

Our guide, William, told us that this NEVER happens. Cheetah’s aren’t known for climbing up trees but this one went up for a better view of the plaines.

Rare spotting of a Cheetah in a tree in the Masai Mara

Look at the CLAWS on this bad boy!

Female Elephant in the Masai Mara

Don’t her eyes look sultry? Elephants are such beautiful creatures. You can tell this one is a female because of her breasts between her legs. Her baby calf wasn’t too far off.

Giraffe in the Masai Mara nursing

Baby animals were everywhere! Here’s a Reticulated Giraffe nursing her baby as she eats some thorn trees. Giraffes tongues are over 30cm in length and are so tough because they eat thorns all the time. Their saliva is a natural antiseptic to repair the stab wounds from the thorns. I’d do anything for food, but that seems a bit intense.

Masai Giraffes fighting in the Masai Mara

Two Masai Giraffes are caught fighting. Watching them bash their necks back and forth was so crazy because the way they moved was like watching everything in slo-mo, but you could hear the bang of bone when they made contact. Males will fight over territory and the fighting sometimes will end with one giraffe breaking the others neck :S

Giraffe in the Masai Mara

Hey, hey look at me! Notice the pattern on this ones spots are a bit more squiggly? That’s how you can tell its a Masai Giraffe.

Smiling Hippos in the Masai Mara

He looks so miscevioush! Hippos are my favourite animals, they might seem lazy and carefree but they’re actually the most dangerous animals in the entire park. Would you have thought that? These ones were all longing together in the water farting … the smell was something FIERCE.

Hippo family Masai Mara

A rare spotting of hippos to in the water. Look at this cute little bebe!!!

Impala Bums in the Masai Mara

Impala’s and their cute little white tails!

Leopard in a Tree Masai Mara

Another rare sighting: a leopard lounging in a tree! How beautiful is this. Do you know how to sport the difference between a cheetah and a leopard? Cheetahs have a smaller head and black lines on their face coming down from their eyes to protect from the glare of the sun.

Lioness yawning in the Masai Mara

A lioness yawns as she patiently waits for her husband to finish eating the gazelle kill in the bottom corner. In the animal world, male lions eat first and only once they’re finished can the female and babies chow down. Chivalry is dead, people.

Lions eat a kill as a safari jeep watches in the Masai Mara

How crazy is this? This is how close you can get to animals while on safari. Who needs zoos when you have direct access to animals like this?!

King of Africa Lion in the Masai Mara

The amber of his eyes draws me in. Look at all the bugs on his face cleaning off remnants of his breakfast. King of Africa.

Zebra in the Masai Mara

What are you looking at?! Zebras are EVERYWHERE in the Masai Mara!

A rare sighting of a Black Rhino in the Masai Mara

The best Christmas present of all! Spotting a rare Black Rhino! There’s only about 40 left in the entire Masai Mara National Reserve, which is 1,510km squared! I couldn’t believe it, we were within a stones throw of him and he just stood there grazing paying us no attention. Africanamazing.

Masai Village

We were lucky to visit a Masai Village and were greeted and given a tour around the mud hut village by the locals. It was one of my favourite experiences (also where I bought the most things – trinket junkie).

Masai Women greeting in the Masai Mara

The beautiful colours of Kenya. Here the women did a traditional dance and signing greeting for us. Their voices were so beautiful, I wish I could have bought a recording of it! Instead, I’ve got my crap quality iPhone recording below.

One of the village elders wearing the beautiful and iconic red Masai blanket. I bought one of these in blue and it’s so warm!

The men performed a traditional dance as well and invited the boys from our tour to join them. The Masai people are a nomadic tribe and believe that in order to prove the strength of a great warrior they must jump high! The men are meant to stay as straight as possible and to move as elegantly as they can, to not only prove their strength but also to impress women.

You can watch more of the Masai men’s jumping and chanting here.

I love the sound of the Masai’s voices as they sing their greeting. This chant is also known as a warrior cry and is sung when going into battle.

This is one of my favourite photos captured from the Masai Mara. What isn’t pictured is some of the Masai’s who have iPhones, Facebook and emails! The contrast between tradition and new age was a juxtaposition I wasn’t expecting, but one that I also really enjoyed seeing. The digital transformation is everywhere!


Have you been to the Masai Mara or on a safari before? Were you one of the lucky ones to spot a rhino? Tell me in the comments below!


25 Comment

  1. Dawn says: Reply

    Beautiful photos. I hope to go there someday.

    1. Maybe we can go together next time, mom! <3

  2. So many amazing photos!
    Makes me want to book a safari ASAP 😀

    1. Em, you’d LOVE it! Just move back to Europe and we can go together! 😉

  3. Beautiful photos! That photo of cheetah that climbed a tree is intriguing for me. It’s cute and amazing at the same time. Thanks for this post!

    1. It was a sight to see! They never do that, it was amazing! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. This looks like an awesome way to spend Christmas! I love the photos of the locals, I’m always intrigued by local customs and cultures. Though it’s pretty funny to hear that some have iPhones, I have trouble getting reception in big US cities sometimes with mine!

    1. That’s exactly what I thought!! I can hardly get service in my own house!! ha Thanks for reading! 🙂

  5. Louise says: Reply

    I have always wanted to do a safari in Africa – it’s the one continent I have not yet visited! It’s great you got to see so many animals, it sounds really amazing. Your photos are fabulous. How interesting that ‘Mara’ means spotted too….I never knew that 🙂

    1. Africa is calling you then! There’s SO MUCH waiting to be explored there!!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. everywhereforward says: Reply

    I’ve always wanted to go on a Safari trip and this looks like such an great experience! Your videos from the visit the Masai Village are remarkable. It’s amazing to hear and see what other cultures are like, especially those that are so different from our own.

    1. I completely agree! It felt trapped in time, with the added iPhone 😉

  7. Sarah says: Reply

    Oh wow. Your pictures are incredible – it must have been the most wonderful experience. I went on safari in Botswana a while ago and am itching to do another one. Adding this spot to my list!

    1. Thank you! People on my tour were heading down to Botswana after and I can’t wait to see the pictures from it!

  8. Rachel says: Reply

    This lok slike a gorgeous and wonderful experience. If I had to be away from family at Christmas, something like this would be so worth it! (I love the Christmas hat by the way!) The cheetah is absolutely gorgeous, and I love the shots of the Masai people. I can’t wait to reach Africa one day!

    1. You have no idea how long is advance I planned that hat picture hah. I hope you get to visit and see it all for yourself one day! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Omg this is bucketlist stuff for sure! I would love to see the animals up close and meet the Masai people too. Such a treat for you!

    1. It was a great treat! To me, from me Christmas present! 🙂 Hope one day you get to see them, too!

  10. Kristi says: Reply

    This is so cool. My dream is to do an African safari! You saw so many animals and got so close. I am very jealous.

    1. Thanks! It was a really great experience! Highly recommend doing it 🙂

  11. Viola says: Reply

    OMG I am dying to go on a safari in Africa. Wow you saw everything! So jealous haha the hippos farting in the water cracked me up lol Thanks so much for sharing. Made my day!

    1. It was too funny when it was happening, too! You could see the water bubbling up everywhere around it! aha .Thanks for reading!

  12. Andrea says: Reply

    It is a complete dream of mine to visit a place like this! It’s been on my bucket list ever since I knew I could make a travel bucket list. What an experience!

    1. Mine too! I’m so happy I got to tick it off. What else is on your list!?

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