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Comparing the safari experiences of Masai Mara National Reserve and Amboseli National Park may sound like a far-fetched thought, but it isn’t, at least not for someone who has visited both parks several times over various seasons.
Nevertheless, if you ask most safari visitors who have recently returned from a safari trip to Kenya, which is the finest area to visit for a safari tour in Kenya? Most, if not all, would tell you it’s just the Masai Mara and nowhere else, but chances are they went to that one park or visited Kenya during the great migration season (June – October) and were absolutely blown away by this natural occurrence in the Mara.
So, in this piece, I will attempt to compare these two seemingly dissimilar parks. However, this is not to establish prejudice in you for one of the two parks, but rather to help you enjoy both.
So, how do Masai Mara and Amboseli compare in terms of game viewing and animal encounters? Which safari location in Kenya would you recommend?
Game drives and other animal-viewing activities
The major activity for visiting the African wilderness to observe animals and other species in the parks is the game drive or safari drive. All wildlife drives are done in safari cars, which can be a 4wd or a van a pop-up roof that allows you to stand in the car and get a 360-degree view of the bush so you don’t miss anything.
Now, how do the Masai Mara and Amboseli games compare?
The Mara is substantially larger than Amboseli and is made up of huge grasslands that are easy to explore. The Mara’s driving tracks are longer and span practically every area of the park. So you may go on numerous game drives in the Mara without becoming fatigued, and each day brings a fresh experience with new sightings. If you want to spend more time in the African bush without becoming bored, this is the greatest park in Kenya.
Amboseli National Park, on the other hand, is a tiny park where most species congregate near marshes and wetlands, especially during the dry season. Most species are so lot simpler to discover and watch in Amboseli since the drive trails go along the marshes, where the animals are only a few meters away. Because Amboseli is smaller than Masai Mara, it is easy to explore and may be completed in one day. If you want to view as many animals as possible in a short amount of time, Amboseli is a better alternative than the Mara.
Additional things to do
Aside from game drives, additional activities in Masai Mara to enhance your game experience include balloon safaris available across the reserve and in conservancies, walking safaris available in private conservancies around the Mara, and horseback riding available in select conservancies.
Meanwhile, balloon safaris are among the other activities available in Amboseli.
The number of animals you can see on your trip
The Mara boasts more wildlife than the Serengeti, but due to the immensity of the plains and migration, which displaces certain animals, you may miss viewing some wildlife unless you spend longer in the reserve.
Animals in Amboseli, on the other hand, congregate near the wetlands, allowing visitors to see more species in the shortest amount of time.
Which Park has the most lion sightings?
The Mara is perhaps the finest site to watch lions in Kenya. In Masai Mara, there is no such thing as missing lions; in fact, the Mara is all about how many prides you can locate before the end of the day. On a single safari drive, you can witness up to five pride. You will observe lions sheltering from the sun in a thicket, scouting for prey on the plains, ripping up a kill in a tree or bush, or drinking from a river after dining on a tasty antelope.
Meanwhile, Amboseli has a great likelihood of seeing lions, but there is also a danger of missing them because they hide in the vegetation around the marshes. Alternatively, the views may be a little far. On a good day, you may also get the greatest up-close views of the lions if you are lucky enough to encounter them on the edge of a marsh or lake.
The hotspot sightings of other big cats.
Leopards are tough to discover because of their solitary lifestyle. The Mara gives the highest possibility of sighting them. Unlikely to see on in Amboseli
Amboseli Hyena – Amboseli is Hyena country! You can’t miss them. Due to the expanse of the Mara plains, encountering a hyena pride will need a little luck.
Cheetah – There is a considerable probability of spotting cheetahs in the Mara. It is actually easier to observe cheetahs than leopards in the Mara. Meanwhile, I am not even convinced there are cheetahs in the Amboseli.
Birds and birdwatching
The Mara and Amboseli are good birding destinations with a diverse range of species. Depending on the species you are interested in, any park may be a favorite of yours. The Mara is ideal for grassland birds, particularly birds of prey. Meanwhile, Amboseli’s marshes and wetlands, in addition to other habitats, provide excellent water birding.
On a birding trip when you want to see as many species as possible, Amboseli is a birder’s paradise! From a few meters away, the marshes and swamps offer up-close views of various wetland birds. Aside from the wetlands, Amboseli’s savannah and woods are home to a variety of semi-arid birds. The Taveta Golden Weaver, an East African endemic, is most likely to be seen in Amboseli.