One of the most pristine nature reserves in the world, The Masai Mara is a fascinating place for any school tour to visit. Only a four-hour transfer from the bustling city of Nairobi, The Masai Mara offers peace, tranquillity and a chance to escape with some of the most magnificent animals that roam our planet.
Staying in authentic campsites or lodges in the reserve makes the experience extra special and allows students to absorb themselves in every part of the wildlife here, viewing the animals in the day and listening to them at night. Every day two game drives into the reserve are organised with the first in the early morning and the second in the afternoon.
The rolling grasslands and gentle savannah landscape make it easy to spot the wildlife and no student on a school tour could be disappointed with the variety of animal and birdlife to see here. It is common to see the wildlife in action too – whether a stalking lion, a courting ostrich or a scavenging vulture.
The Great Migration
For any school tour travelling to Kenya between July and October there is the chance to witness one of the world’s most breath taking sights: The Wildebeest Migration. Two million animals begin their move from the southern part of the Serengeti into the Masai Mara. Following the food and water, they instinctively keep the cogs of life’s great circle turning and they are not alone in their quest for survival. The zebra and gazelle are also seen making their way in long lines across the landscape and the larger carnivores that rely on these animals for food must also follow their lifeline.
One of the most famous scenes of the great migration occurs at The Mara River where crocodiles lay in wait for the wildebeest to cross. There is a feeding frenzy like none other as they prey on the weak and the young. In turn, the hyenas and vulture prowl close by to scavenge the leftovers. Every animal plays a part in the delicate ecosystem that makes this incredible reserve what it is.
The Masai People
These elegant and colourful people are the traditional tribes people of The Great Rift Valley, which stretches six thousand kilometres from Syria to Mozambique. Although no longer allowed to live in the reserves the Masai live in their nomadic villages in the huge dispersal area surrounding it. For centuries the Masai have lived in harmony with nature and many of their traditional ways of life are held strong today. Traditional dress is always worn with the ornate headdresses of the women complimenting the colourful cloth of the men.
The Masai are a huge presence in this area but have had to surrender to a more settled way of life. Originally surviving on meat, blood and milk the tribes must now embrace agriculture in order to keep up with the changes to their environment brought about by the modern world. Today The Masai are often seen trading cloth and beads in the towns and many work in the tourist trade.
Some villages are now open to visitors and can be an interesting place to include on a school tour. Students get the opportunity to share some time with these proud people and learn about their way of life, so different to their own. Students can also consider the difficult future these people face and how they could make the transition into a modern world in order to survive.
The Masai Mara is a wonderful array of rich fauna, prolific birdlife and untouched landscapes. A school tour to this reserve makes an educational and memorable holiday for any age group of students.