Where to go, Maasai Mara or Amboseli? For someone who has visited these two incredible parks numerous times over various seasons, comparing the safari experiences of Maasai Mara National Reserve and Amboseli National Park may not seem plausible. However, most safari tourists who have recently returned from a safari tour in Kenya would tell you which location is ideal for a safari tour. The majority, if not all, will tell you right away that the Maasai Mara is the only place like it; nevertheless, it’s likely that they visited only that one park or Kenya at the peak migration season (June to October) and were astonished by this unique natural occurrence in the Mara.
Therefore, I try to compare these two seemingly incomparable parks in this article. But it’s not because I want to instill a prejudice in you favor of one of the two parks; rather, I’m just trying to help you appreciate them both. Thus, the question once more arises: how do the experiences with game and wildlife in Maasai Mara and Amboseli compare? Where in Kenya would you go for the best safari experience?
Game drives and other activities for seeing animals.
The primary way to explore the African bush and see animals and other species in the parks is to go on a game drive, also known as a safari drive. All wildlife drives take place in safari vehicles, which can be either a van or a jeep/truck with a pop-up roof that allows you to stand inside and enjoy a 360-degree view of the bush to ensure you don’t miss anything.
So, how do the games in Maasai Mara and Amboseli compare?
The Mara is composed of large grasslands that are easy to explore; it is considerably larger than Amboseli. Nearly every area of the park is covered by the longer drive tracks in the Mara. As a result, you can go on numerous game drives in the Mara without growing weary, and every day will be interesting and full of new sightings. It is, thus, the ideal park in Kenya if you wish to spend more time in the African bush without getting bored.
However, Amboseli National Park is a small park where most animals congregate near wetlands and marshes, particularly in the dry season. Because the driving routes follow the marshes, where the animals are only a few metres away from you, it is therefore much easier to locate and see the majority of creatures in Amboseli. Because Amboseli is smaller than Maasai Mara, it may be explored in a single day and has more exploration potential. Over a short safari in Kenya, Amboseli is a better alternative than the Mara to view as much wildlife as you can.
Additional activities to do.
The walking and balloon safaris that are available in the private conservancies surrounding the Mara, horseback riding in certain conservancies, and game drives are some other activities you can engage in at Maasai Mara to enhance your game viewing safari experience.
Although there is more wildlife in the Mara, you may not see everything unless you remain longer in the reserve due to the size of the plains and migration, which displaces some species.
However, in Amboseli, animals congregate near marshes, making it easier to view more species in a shorter amount of time.
Which park gives the best sightings of lions?
The Mara is by far the greatest location in Kenya to view lions. In fact, the focus of the Maasai Mara is counting the number of prides you have seen at the end of the day, so there is no way to miss any lions there. On a single day’s safari trip, you may witness up to five prides. You will watch lions hiding from the scorching sun behind a thicket, searching for prey in the plains, dismembering a carcass beneath a tree or shrub, or sipping from a riverbank after devouring a succulent antelope.
Lions tend to lurk in the bushes around the marshes, so while Amboseli also has a good probability of seeing them, there’s a chance you might miss them. Or the vistas could be a little far away. However, if you are fortunate enough to spot the lions right on the edge of a swamp or lake, you can also get the best up-close views of them on a nice day.
Best sightings of other big cats – leopard, hyena, cheetah.
Leopard: Due to their solitary lifestyle, leopards are hard to locate everywhere. Your best chance of spotting them is in the Mara. Not expected to be seen in Amboseli
Amboseli is the homeland of the Hyena! They are unmissable. Owing to the Mara plains’ immense size, it will take some luck to come across a hyena pride.
Cheetah: There’s a considerable probability of sighting cheetahs in the Mara. In fact, cheetahs are simpler to spot in the Mara than leopards. As for the Amboseli, I’m not even positive whether there are cheetahs there.
Birds and birding.
Numerous species can be found in the spectacular birding destinations in Amboseli and Mara. Depending on the species you are interested in, you might prefer one of the parks. The Mara is excellent for grassland birds, particularly raptors. Along with other ecosystems, Amboseli’s marshes and wetlands offer excellent water birding.
Amboseli is just a birding haven if you’re on a birding expedition you want to mark off as many birds as possible! From a few metres away, the marshes and swamps offer incredibly close-up views of a vast variety of wetland species. Along with the wetlands, the Amboseli savannah and forests are home to a variety of unique semi-arid birds. The greatest place to see the East African endemic Taveta Golden Weaver is Amboseli.
It is breathtaking to see the vast herds of elephants walking over the arid, dusty plain of the Amboseli, heading towards a water source in one of the several wetlands that are nourished by underground rivers that emerge from the snow-capped, towering Kilimanjaro Mountains in the distance! There is nothing place like Amboseli to experience such bizarre beauty.