Masai Mara or Serengeti National Park : Masai Mara national reserve and Serengeti national park are one of the most exceptional and classic wildlife safari destinations in Africa, these two areas are one of the greatest wildlife conservational areas in world. These two wildlife destinations are similar and they are both situated in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.
The parks are not just home to abundance of flora and fauna, but also a host for the largest wildlife migratory movements on earth . These two national parks are joint together and similar in most ways brings up an inevitable question of which park should be visited or which one is better than the other for an African wildlife safari.
This article highlights the similarities and their differences
Note: Masai Mara national reserve and Serengeti national park are essentially one of large wildlife and geographical eco system in East Africa.
The Main similarities are as follows
Both Masai Mara national reserve and Serengeti national park host similar wildlife in terms of diversity, both areas offer fairly, equal chances of spotting the BIG FIVE of the BIG NINE list of animals including lions, leopards, cheetah, elephants, rhinos, African buffaloes, Giraffe, Hippo and Zebras.
An actual number of each animal species varies for example number of lions in Masai Mara national reserve are fewer than in Serengeti national park, but the density is higher in Masai Mara.
Shared Eco System
Though they are two distinct conservation areas, both of them are considered one large eco-system stretching from South West Kenya into Northern Tanzania.
Geographically, these are located stride the Great Rift Valley which itself strides beyond both Kenya and Tanzania, since there are no physical barriers between the two conservation areas. The wildlife is free to roam across from Serengeti to Masai Mara and vice versa, this why these are taken as a single wildlife ecosystem.
Both Serengeti and Masai Mara experience similar overall climatic conditions, regardless of that Serengeti is vast in area which allow for weather pattern variations within its boundaries. The similar climate is due to sharing the expansively, gently rolling grassy savannah plains dominating the landscape from Southern Kenya to Northern Tanzania.
In these two conservation areas, there are no major changes in altitude in between to cause a significant change in the weather patterns, more especially in terms of Temperatures.
Mean temperatures experienced in Serengeti national park range from approximately 15 to 25 °C (59 to 77 °F) and Temperatures in Masai Mara national reserve range from approximately 12 to 30 °C (54–86 °F).
Though most people can say are differences in landscapes, a casual observer can notice the similarities between the landscape and scenery. The landscape is these two parks is dominated by open grassland with occasional rocky outcrop hills and season riverlets.
In Masai Mara national reserve, altitude ranges from approximately 1500 to 2200 meters (4,950–7,200 ft), while in Serengeti national park the altitude range is approximately 290 to 1850 meters (3,036 to 6,060 ft).
A shared wildebeest migration
The Great annual wildebeest migration is the largest migration of wildlife in the world and it happens in both parks, before the 1.5 to 2 million herds of wildebeests and other animals such as Zebras and gazelles migrate on annual movement between the Mara-Serengeti ecosystems which is made up of Masai Mara and Serengeti.
The long rotational trek across are dictated by animal instinct, the mating season, current rainfall patterns and pasture quality.
The Great migration takes place over the course of the year in both Serengeti national park and Masai Mara national reserve, however in Serengeti the large herds are dispersed and it is only in June when their gradual movement brings them to the western or Grumeti region of Serengeti national park that animals form into larger herds again. This can be seen crossing the river at various points in North Western Serengeti in mid to late June. The herds then cross into Masai Mara staring July. Both Serengeti and Masai Mara offer amazing opportunity to see the migration.
Differences between Masai Mara national reserve and Serengeti national park
Size and animal density
Serengeti national park at approximately 30,000 square kilometers is larger than Masai Mara national Reserve which is approximately 1510 square kilometers, though this may mean there are many animals in Serengeti. This is correct in terms of absolute numbers which spread out in over a much larger vast Serengeti, however the animal densities are thought to be better in Masai Mara.
Safari game drives on an African safari normally take place within a certain radius of your accommodations, larger distances of game drives are usually 50-70 kilometers radius of your lodge or camp. Because of the size of Masai Mara national reserve, it is possible to drive further out from your camp which is impossible in Serengeti (it is practically not possible to do a game drive on the edge of the park).
Prices & Costs of a Safari
In terms of park entrance fees and cost of the safari, Serengeti is more costly than Masai Mara. In Serengeti national park tourists stay inside the park and they have to pay concession fees per night which is an addition to the park fees.
Concession fee in Serengeti is 71 USD per person per night and Park entry fees is 83 per person per 24 hours. The concession fee is levied by the Government of Tanzania
In Masai Mara national reserve, visitors pay USD 70 for those staying inside the reserve and USD 80 for those staying outside the reserve.
Also accommodations in Serengeti national park tend to be more costly when compared accommodations in Masai Mara, the variations in prices in accommodation is brought up by the fact that there are more camps and lodges in Masai Mara national reserve and Serengeti national park.
Both parks are best accessed via their respective country’s safari Hubs, Masai Mara national reserve is accessed via Nairobi city taking approximately 5 hours by road and Serengeti national park is accessed via Arusha City taking approximately 6 – 7 hours.
From Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) is can also be used to access Serengeti national park which is situated 45 minutes from Arusha city.
In conclusion, Masai Mara national reserve and Serengeti national park offers extra ordinary wildlife safari experiences with spectacular views of the Great migration and abundance of wildlife.