Activity: Locating Elephants, Rhino’s and Giraffes in the Maasai Mara, Kenya


After settling into the Fairmont Mara Safari Club, we set out on several game drives throughout the Maasai Mara National Park. It was my first time visiting this particular game park and it was a sight to be beholden. The thrill of spotting game animals in their natural habitat isn’t something that you quickly forget.

This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, a Safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Mauritius. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Locating elephants, giraffes and rhino’s in the Maasai Mara, Kenya

“The Maasai Mari National Park allows for the opportunity to get exceptionally close to many of your favourite African game animals. While the distances and effort to get here are greater than fellow wonder Kruger National Park, a visit here is not to be missed if you’re visiting Kenya or Tanzania”

This post outlines our game drives with the Fairmont Mara Safari Club. For information related to our stay, please see the Review: Fairmont Mara Safari Club – Deluxe Tent for further information. For our visit to a Maasai village in the Maasai Mara, please see this activity.

The Logistics of Game Drives with the Fairmont Mara Safari Club:

During our visit, the Fairmont Mara Safari Club game drives took place twice a day at 6:30 AM and 3:30 PM. Two game drives per day were included in our room rate, with the exception of a $70 USD per person per day Park Fee. We had the same driver doubling as a guide Mr. Tetuchi Evans for all our drives. We were joined in our safari vehicle by another couple from Mexico City on an extended honeymoon. Our guide went out of his way to make sure that we saw the right animals to make up “The Big Five”.

The vehicle that we used was an open aired Toyota Landcruiser. The truck was mostly comfortable with the caveat that no one goes off road on a came drive expecting to be as smooth as a Rolls Royce.

Fairmont Toyota Land Cruiser Game Drive Vehicle

The game drives take place in the outer Maasai Mara Conversation area and not in the inner conservation park. This does not appear to be an issue with seeing any less animals outside of the actual inner park as the animals are free to cross between the inner and outer parks without any fences. Spotting of all sorts of animals can occur within sight of the resort front gate.

About the Maasai Mara:

The Maasai Mara is a large national game reserve in Narok, Kenya. It is immediately adjacent tp the Serengeti National Park in neighboringTanzania. It is named in honor of the Maasai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the area, who migrated to the area from the Nile Basin.

Kenya’s Maasai Mara wildlife area is a large and spread out area. There are high densities of lions here – many more sightings of lion than on my last safari trip in Kruger National Park, South Africa. We also had to travel further distances to find animals. One drive took us 45 kilometers and 2 hours over very rough terrain before seeing any elephants. We did finally spot some. It was our only elephant sighting out of 6 game drives. 

During our visit, it was generally more difficult to find animals in Maasai Mara versus my last safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa. But, when you find animals, you don’t have to share them with anybody. The most we ever had at a sighting were 6 other trucks. Usually, only 1-2 other game drive trucks would be present at an animal. My past experience in Kruger Park, South Africa often involved full motor coaches pulling up and antagonizing animals, which led to a busier experience. This might not be the case if you were using one of the Private Reserves on offer these days near the Kruger area. 

Other Details of our Game Drives in The Maasai Mara:

I took almost 1,000 photos using a Nikkor 18-200 mm lens. I was initially worried about not having a 300 mm lens but as you can see, you can put away your zoom lens if you visit here. I did make sure I was fully charged on the battery packs and memory cards since there would be zero opportunity out on the Maasai to recharge or purchase new digital storage.

The General Landscape of the Maasai Mara:

The Maasai Mara is an exceptionally picturesque flat plain surrounded by light mountains. The remoteness and sereneness made it a vast safari experience filled with big skies, vast plains and a wide range of territories to cover.

The Tracks of the Maasai Mara
The Tracks of the Maasai Mara with Desert Date Trees
Endless Savannah Tracks
You never know where you’ll spot a small lion

See if you can spot the beautiful animal in the third photograph:

Locating your Favourite Game Animals:

As we started exploring, we started coming across animals in our track. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing this animals in their natural habitat. It’s not something that can always be captured by amateur photographers like myself but we certainly attempted to try.

Before we knew it, we were coming cross animals worthy of our game drive time.

Africa’s most dangerous animal: a Lone Hippopotamus giving us the stare down

Experiencing the Height of Tall Giraffes:

Giraffes searching for food
A giraffe enjoying a leafy snack
Tall Giraffes
Watching Giraffes Cross your Path

Zebras Grazing on the Savannah:

We eventually got close to some Zebras. The Zebras are entertaining and smaller than I’d imagine them.

Zebra’s Grazing on the plains
Zebra’s giving us a strong glance
Zebra’s on the Savannah

Bodacious Baboons:

We eventually located some baboons, although there were tired at looking at us. I was able to capture them on a yawn which was a delight to see.

Docile Baboons
Yawning Baboons

We also came across a mighty water buffalo.

Water Buffalo

Catching up with Kenyan Elephants:

In keeping with the Maasai Mara wildlife being a large and spread out area. It took us forty five kilometress and two hours over very rough terrain before seeing any elephants. This happened to be our only elephant sighting out of 6 game drives. 

A Herd of Elephants
An elephant and her baby calf

Some random extras making up our cast of characters:

There were also a few extra cast of characters that we happened to see on our trip.

Cok’es Hartebeest
A Ruffled Grouse

My thoughts on our first drives within the Maasai Mara:

Wow – what a spectacular place. While the whole event is more spread out than the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the sightings are usually quite a bit more intense in that you have all the animals to yourself. If you’re prepared to invest the time and energy into seeing these animals, you’re usually a bit more rewarded.

5 Comments on “Activity: Locating Elephants, Rhino’s and Giraffes in the Maasai Mara, Kenya

  1. Stunning photos and thank you for sharing your trip.
    If you’re interested in more African travel at all, check out my site where I’ll be sharing adventures and photos from across Africa and my time as a safari guide.

    Liked by 1 person

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