The Masai Mara National Reserve is perhaps the most exciting game park in the world with its incredible density and numbers of wildlife. But suppose you could explore a nearby conservancy that featured as many animals but far fewer tourists? A protected area that had none of the limitations of a national park but offered even more activities and wildlife experiences? That is the promise of Mara Naboisho.
This private conservancy limits the number of tourists who can explore its 53,000 acres so you may find yourself coming upon lions and other wildlife with no one else around. This makes for a very personal safari experience with the flexibility to engage in activities not possible in the nearby national reserve.
Naboisho is home to lots of big cats – over 100, so the density of lions and their large prides is one of the highest on the continent. Traversing the land with your private guide you’ll also find great herds of elephants, giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, and Kenya’s rare wild dog. Of special note: the conservancy is a corridor for the Great Migration when several hundred thousand animals pass through on their yearly trek through the Mara region.
But what really distinguishes the Naboisho Conservancy from a national park is the nature of the game viewing itself. There is a quality to the experience here that feels like your own private tour with few others sharing the land and viewing the wildlife.
The Conservancy is also unique as it is a refuge that shares its conservation of land and wildlife with the cultural heritage of its Maasai inhabitants. The tourism here provides support to the local Maasai landowners and the local communities.
Even the word Naboisho means “coming together” in the Maasai’s Maa language, a perfect illustration of how the conservancy found its beginnings.
The coming together was a response to the changing world outside and within – many of the ranches in the area were privatized threatening the land and wildlife because of severe animal herding activities. Inspired by other conservancies in the area, about 500 landowners began the idea of a community-based enterprise to protect the wildlife. In 2010 the Naboisho Conservancy was formally begun.
The land was given a chance to recover, the wildlife protected… and the local inhabitants benefitted. The conservancy is now the second largest in the region.
When you visit Naboisho, a part of your conservancy fee goes back to the community to enhance their livelihood and for communal projects such as supporting schools, better healthcare, empowering women and training locals as guides.
As any safari-goer knows, your guide is the key to a great wildlife experience. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy trains its guides to a high standard of excellence and responsible tourism. They follow a stringent Code of Conduct that lays out values to protect the environment, the wildlife and to make sure guests get the most of their safari experience.
This also means that game drives will have the least impact on the land as vehicles are limited, and a protected zone of 20m (65ft) must be maintained from the wildlife. Fewer vehicles and tourists mean the animals will not feel threatened which ensures a more natural experience… for everyone.
There’s nothing like feeling the savannah beneath your feet as you get closer to the natural world about you. The immersive nature of a walking safari is keenly felt as you spot smaller wildlife closeup and enjoy the birdsong all around. The guides are well-trained, and you’ll enjoy the vast information they share about the land, the tracks of a nearby animal or a particular bird.
An important point to keep in mind – walking safaris are not allowed in the Masai Mara National Reserve.
A night safari has a completely different feel to it – seeing the white reflection of a lion or leopard’s eyes is unforgettable. You never know who or what will suddenly appear in the dark. And the night sounds of the bush can be eerie and spellbinding – the sudden rustle of nearby hooves or an animal’s call. This experience can only happen in the conservancy, unlike the national park.
Want to really get away from it all? Try a bush camping excursion – just you and your guide off on your own. You can’t get much closer to the natural world than enjoying your dinner as a brilliant sunset casts its last fiery rays. Settle in by your campfire – just the crackle of the logs and whatever night sounds echo through your camp.
As you lay in your tent you can hear the tromping of elephants or some curious animal may wander up to your camp. A pure Africa moment.
For a truly authentic experience to learn about the real Maasai, visit a local village. This isn’t the kind of place tourists routinely visit. In fact, this just might be the village your guide grew up in. This is not a site dressed up for regular visitors, it’s a true Maasai village with a primal feel and realism that is unmistakable. You’ll witness customs and a lifestyle that stand apart from the fast-changing world outside.
Here in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy what is central to the philosophy is always conservation – the land, the wildlife, ancient cultures and how to sustain them all. By visiting the conservancy, you help protect this way of life while creating wonderful memories of the finest African safari.
Let Natural World Kenya Safaris make this safari a reality. We offer many tours of the region departing from Nairobi and the Kenya coast.
Natural World Kenya safaris is Member No.FA/440 - Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) bonding scheme. The scheme is insured to guarantee your holiday safari in the unlikely event that a bonded KATO member ceases operating.