Serengeti vs. Masai Mara

Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 09:00 AM
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Serengeti vs. Masai Mara

I know that the migration is at different times of the year in the Serengeti and the Masai Mara, but otherwise is there a lot of difference between them? Or even among the various parts of the Serengeti? I am trying to decide (depending on when we go) if it is preferable to go to both of them or rather to spend our time and money seeing other areas. So many places, such limited resources. Unless I'm convinced otherwise, we definitely plan on going to Tarangire, Ngorongoro, Serengeti and/or Masai Mara, Lake Manyara, and maybe Samburu if it's not too far. And what area/camps would you recommend for a Kili viewing? I could also use some input on fly vs. drive, and any places or things that are must-sees (subject to budgetary sanity) or ought-to-avoids. I have studied some threads about tour operators, but still have to choose among a myriad of good alternatives.
Wow, I sure do seem to need a lot of help, don't I? Thanks a lot, this board is priceless.
We went to Botswana (mostly the Okavango) in March 2004, during the annual flood (fantastic!), and I'm planning our East Africa trip for sometime next year. How would you compare and contrast the typical (if there is such a thing) experience between Botswana and East Africa?
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 09:28 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Either Amboseli on the Kenya side or the West Kilimanjaro area on the Tanzania side would be good for Kili views.

Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, and Serengeti can be easily linked by an all drive safari or one way drive/one way fly. If you want to include both the Masai Mara and Samburu in Kenya, it's best to fly as both are about a 6 hour drive from Nairobi in different directions. There are flights linking Samburu directly with the Masai Mara.
Patty is online now  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 12:00 PM
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Thanks, Patty. Can anyone compare/contrast Serengeti to Masai Mara?
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 12:11 PM
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The Serengeti and Mara are part of the same eco-system. They are both diverse with wide open plains, forest areas, kopjes (boulders); the Serengeti being the larger of the two, though the Mara isn't shabby!

Depending on when you plan to visit should determine where to visit in the Serengeti or at the Mara, though you can visit both on one trip. A lot depends on the length of your stay and the logistics of getting from one to the other and your stops in-between; whether you choose a drive-only safari or a combined drive/fly safari.

Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Comparing and contrasting East and Southern Africa per your request...

There are more visitors to East Africa so getting away from the crowds takes more doing in East Africa. The crowds are usually where the peak wildlife viewing is.

Southern Africa is generally more expensive with smaller tented camps and a more personalized approach as the status quo.

Flying from place to place is more common in Southern Africa and in fact driving is not always possible. As a result, a private tour is easier and more economical in East Africa because you can have the same driver/guide throughout.

The ease of visiting diverse environments and their habitats is greater in East Africa. Samburu and other northern reserves have unique species such as Grevy Zebra, Somali Ostrich, Reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, Oryx. Nakuru has the flamingos and different giraffe and waterbuck from other parks. There are several parks in Kenya and Tanzania with rhino so viewing the big 5 is easier and less expensive than in Southern Africa (there are numerous rhino in South Africa.) But the best wild dog bet is Botswana or South Africa, not East Africa at this time. East Africa also has the migration in the Serengeti or the Masai Mara as well as chimps and gorillas. The primates may require a trip to Uganda or Rwanda, but there is Mahale in Tanzania.

I enjoy both regions and don't have a favorite.

As to Serengeti vs Mara...
My experience in the Mara far outweighs my Serengeti experience. The vastness of the Serengeti was not duplicated for me in the Mara and I encountered fewer people in the Serengeti. The kopjes were amazing in the Serengeti, especially when animals were atop. I didnt see kopjes in the Mara, but enjoyed the more varied terrain I experienced in the there. The Mara has produced some of the best, most exciting, and frequent wildlife encounters Ive had anywhere. I've done both the Mara and Serengeti on one trip and had fun in each, but Id recommend doing one or the other for the best time management.

Have a great trip.
atravelynn is offline  
Old Mar 2nd, 2006, 04:29 PM
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Every bit of info is helpful, thanks so much. From travelynn's comments, it sounds like a couple of different parts of the Serengeti would offer as much or more diversity as the Maasai Mara, so maybe a couple of days in the Seronera and then a couple more in the West or North. Too many great choices. Thanks again.
Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 05:15 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 25
Dear Safariguy,

My husband and I have been to both. We prefer Masai Mara - you can drive off the roads, where as in the Serengeti you can't. Therefore, if the animals are too far away, the spotters may see them, but you can't. In the Mara, you can drive right up to them! It's the same eco-system. You are much more apt to see the animals closer, and more quickly at the Mara. Hope this helps....
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Old Mar 3rd, 2006, 09:31 PM
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Hi there I have had my best sightings in serengeti. It really depends on what time of the year u are going to east africa. In March spend as much as time possible in the serengeti, mara can be skipped but if u still wanna go, 2-3 nights should be sufficient.

Regarding the different areas of serengeti, depending on the time of the year u are going u can plan to visit the south, west and north areas,but any time of the year a stop for atleast 2 nights is a must in central serengeti as the sightings in the central parts are magnificent any time of the year for both predator cats,hyenas and herbivorous animals.Sonali
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Old Mar 5th, 2006, 04:57 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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I have read everybody's comments and they are all right. However, there is sever draught in Kenya at the moment and as I am currently in Tanzania, I read that in Kenya many wild animals in the parks, and domestic animals are dying throughout the country. Tanzania aslo had the same problems until recently but since last week it has rained heavily in all parts of the country so I guess your best bet would be to visit Serengeti. Hope this helps.
Enjoy your trip.
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Old Mar 5th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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Hello All

I just returned from the Serengeti last week and all of the text-book predictions went out of the window. The draught has caused a lot of confusion for the migrating herds and the migration is splintered all over the place. A lot of wildebeest have even travelled north and back to the Mara again, 6 to 7 months earlier than they are meant to.

Regarding Mara vs Serengeti.......I spend a lot of time following the predators and the same animals. So for me, the Mara is my favourite. I find it is easier to follow and track the cats in the Mara and this helps you learn their characters. Although, I am sure many people probably do not follow the same animals.
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Old Mar 6th, 2006, 05:51 AM
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I am currently living and working in Tanzania, but love Kenya!! I am in the process of planning a group safari for the end of July to Kenya for the migration, hoping to catch them crossing the Mara River. I just returned from the Serengeti where they are starting their trek with all of the newborns. Kenya is much cheaper than Tanzania. If you might be interested in joining us, email me at [email protected]. I have lived in Africa a number of years, and have been to Kenya on safari many times. I have never been disappointed.
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Old Mar 6th, 2006, 10:24 AM
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My experience in both Serengeti and the Mara were incredible. I was there in October and ironically I didn't see huge migration in either. I think they were right in between the two spots that I went to. As mentioned already, they share an ecosystem, so it is hard to differentiate them.

There is one interesting difference between Mara and Serengeti. In the Mara we could go off road virtually anywhere we wanted. So when we saw a cheetah sitting in some high grass, our driver could go off the road and bring us right up to it. This was not allowed in the Serengeti.

In the Mara, we pulled off road and right up to a bunch of sleeping male lions:

This would happen in the Serengeti, but as my guide in Tanzania would be quick to boast, "this is why everything is so much better in Tanzania, we take better care of our parks!"
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Old Mar 7th, 2006, 07:59 AM
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We were in the Serengeti this Feb.18 -22 and saw some pretty amazing upclose and personal sightings without having to trash the landscape. Alot has to do with luck, getting out early in the am and having a guide thoughtful enough to predict the path of the intended animal. If anticipated correctly you can end up being pretty close to your sightings.

Our camp mates had just come from the Mara and said they had some amazing and quite unpredictable sighting due to the drought. They said they saw many more killings in Kenya. We on the other hand saw much more calfing.

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Old Mar 7th, 2006, 09:38 AM
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I believe that off road driving isn't actually allowed inside the Mara reserve but perhaps there's just not any/enough enforcement. We stuck to roads and tracks within the reserve and it was only outside of the reserve that we did any off road driving.
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 01:35 AM
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Patty with regards driving off road in the mara, you may drive anywhere offroad in the koiyaki lemek conservancy. Once in the Narok Reserve (east bank) there is no off road driving but there are loads of tracks and the wardens are lax. In the Mara Triangle you are allowed to leave the road to see something and approach to 25 yardes then return once again to the track. The triangle is well managed and all the driver guides rerspect the rules on the aaNarok side it can get out of control but if you are with a good guide then you can find game in the quieter areas and enjoy it in privacy! Serian, Richards, Rekero and Kicheche all have guides with this ability.
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Old Mar 17th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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Thanks for the detailed explanation. The Lemek/Koiyaki area was where we did our off road driving. Our guide did mention that the Mara triangle side was better managed than the Narok side.
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