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Top Most Private Conservancies in the Masai-Kenya

Named from Maa language “Mara” meaning spotted, Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most popular African safari destinations known for offering some of the most authentic safari experiences on the continent.

A Masai Mara Safari guarantee a memorable African safari experience with spectacular game drives, hot air balloon safaris and the stunning landscapes. This reserve forms part of the oldest ecosystems in the world – the Serengeti – Mara Ecosystem which is famous for the Great Migration which is an annual and constant movement of large numbers of wildebeests, zebras and gazelles searching for water and green pastures.

Masai Mara National Reserve located in south-western Kenya covering about 370,000 acres and shares unfenced borders with a number of private conservancies which are administered by the Maasai.

What are now the Masai Mara Private Conservancy areas were originally used for cattle grazing and farming by the local Maasai communities, agreements with safari operators have subsequently turned them into protected wildlife areas. This arrangement has benefits for the local communities providing them with a reliable source of income as well as employment.

There are no fences between the private conservancies and the Masai Mara National Reserve, so the wildlife is free to roam over the whole area.

What is a Conservancy?

By definition, a conservancy means a specific form of land and wildlife conservation whereby landowners enter into lease agreements with safari operators.

In Masai Mara, thousands of residents who own small pieces of land came together, put their land in a collective as well as properties and enter into contracts with safari operators in return for monetary compensation and other assistance, ranging from educational and healthcare programmes to livestock management and grazing management.

Because this land  (conservancy) have had people living on them  and some still have significant villages and have supported agriculture, conservancies are not pristine pieces of land.

Conservancies in Masai Mara “Mara Conservancies” are famous destinations and must visit during your Masai Mara Safari, they consistently offer some of the most reliable and exciting predator sightings in Kenya.

What Conservancies Do for The Local Communities

The local communities voluntarily enter into conservancy agreements with safari operators and all decisions are taken collectively, this means regular meetings are held. No one is forced to rent their land or move away, also different conservancies have different agreements with landholders.

Conservancies are conservation success stories because of the following reasons

  • They offer habitat protection against some activities which are against nature including logging, mining, charcoal production and other developments
  • They have considerable anti-poaching activities
  • They help with criminal prosecution where necessary
  • They help save livestock via predator – proof bomas or enclosures and by ensuring sustainable grazing rights.

Conservancies in Masai Mara offer a more extensive range of activities that are not allowed in the main reserve such as night game drives, guided safari walks and off-road game drives among others.

Note: The conservancies restrict the maximum number of guests and rooms, so seeing many safari vehicles during game drives is less compared to the main reserves.

Conservancies have safari lodges and camps, in-camp guests in these accommodation options are limited, so the room ratio per acreage ranges from one bed to hundreds of acres. The lower tourism activity levels in the private conservancies mean that the animals are more likely to engage in normal behaviors rather than behaviors that result from human presence.

As you are planning on visiting conservancies in Masai Mara during your Kenya Safari, here are the top most private conservancies in the Masai

Mara North Conservancy

The Mara North Conservancy is the largest private conservancy in the Masai Mara with 320 km² (74,000 acres) of land, the conservancy offers the same rolling grass plains and superb game viewing that you find in the main Masai Mara National Reserve.

Mara North Conservancy was founded in 2009 with 788 lease agreement of between 5 to 15 years each.

The exclusive and private Mara North Conservancy only allows a limited number of visitors into the area at any one time, the conservancy features varied landscape, from secret patches of woodlands to vast wide open plains.

The conservancy is location for BBC’s Big Cat Diary series that followed the Acacia and Gorge Pride, the Lemek Hills which are refuge for wild dogs and the Loita Hills see part of the December to May Great Migration are some of the unique features in the conservancy.

Where to stay in Mara North Conservancy

The Mara North Conservancy has some of the most spectacular and luxury accommodation facilities in the whole Masai Mara region with density of 1 tent per 700 acres or 1 guest per 350 acres.

These lodges or tented camps include Elephant Pepper Camp, Kicheche Mara, Kichwa Tembo and Saruni Mara Camp.

Naboisho Conservancy

Founded in 2010 with ownership of 500 Maasai landowners, the Naboisho Conservancy is among the largest private conservancies in Masai Mara with over 200 km² (50,000 acres) of pristine savannah and wild bush. The terrain in Naboisho Conservancy is diverse and quite different to the Masai Mara National Reserve, it features a mixture of rocky outcries, small hills, dry riverbeds, bush and small grassland areas.

Note: the conservancy lacks the vast open grass plains that Masai Mara is famous for.

Naboisho Conservancy offers excellent game viewing experiences with some of the highest densities of lion in the Mara Region, cheetahs and leopards are regularly spotted here as well as other plains game.

The Naboisho Conservancy offers a truly wild and exclusive Masai Mara safari experience, some of the unique features in the conservancy include controlled grazing for cattle, the private Naboisho/Ol Seki airstrip, Enesikiria or KGS pride of 70 to 100 lions.

The Naboisho Conservancy also known as Mara Naboisho Conservancy is an important migration corridor for elephants, giraffes, and zebras, big cats such as lions, cheetahs and leopards and also provides habitat for a number of rare species such as caracals, several cats and honey badgers.

Where to stay in Naboisho Conservancy

The Naboisho Conservancy has a density of 1 tent per 700 acres or 1 guest per 3500 acres, accommodation properties in the conservancy include Encounter Mara and Naboisho Camp.

Ol Kinyei Conservancy

Founded in 2005 by a group of 171 Maasai landowners and Porini Safari Camps, Ol Kineyi Conservancy has a size 18,700 acres encompassing of rolling hills, deep ravines and vast savannahs supporting a diversity of big game species.

The Ol Kinyei Conservancy supports diversity of wildlife, several species native flora species and more than 330 bird species recorded within the conservancy’s bounds, the conservancy is a great place for spotting elephants, cheetahs and giraffes as well the Great Migration herds – wildebeest, gazelles and zebras.

Some of the unique features of Ol Kinyei Conservancy include the livestock exclusion zone, host some of the highest lion density in the country and 90% of lodge staff are from the community.

Where to stay in Ol Kinyei Conservancy

 Ol Kinyei Conservancy has a density of 1 tent per 1,000 acres or 1 guest per 500 acres, lodges/camps found in the conservancy include Porini Mara Camp and Porini Cheetah.

Olare Motorogi Conservancy

The Olare Motorogi Conservancy boasts the highest concentration of lion per square kilometer and is one of the most private conservancies in Masai Mara, the conservancy was founded in 2006 with ownership of 277 Maasai land owners and land size of 35,000 acres of land.

The conservancy encompasses of several riverine valleys and their associated forests, as well as the 12- kilometer-long escarpment of Ntiakitiak Gorge. With its vast open grass plains and superb game viewing, the Olare Motorogi Conservancy offers exclusive safari experience.

Over 50 different species of raptors and predators and prey in the acacia woodland and Olare Orok and Ntiakitak River can be seen in the conservancy. Olare Motorogi Conservancy is home of the Enkoyani lion pride.

Where to stay in Olare Motorogi Conservancy

Olare Motorogi Conservancy has a density of 1 tent per 700 acres or 1 guest per 350 acres, accommodation options in the conservancy include Kicheche Bush Camp, Mahali Mzuri and Porini Lion Camp. Get to visit one of these conservancies with Mantis Africa safaris.

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