Choosing between Masai Mara or the Serengeti can be a pretty challenging task. Both are incredible destinations for animal sightings and wildlife viewing with beautiful landscapes, offering a fantastic wildlife safari experience—whether it’s to view prides of lions or watch the annual migration of wildebeest.
But which one is actually better? Is it Masai Mara or the Serengeti national park? First off, the Masai Mara national reserve is significantly smaller than Serengeti national park, with 1,510 square kilometres compared to the 30,000 square kilometres of the Serengeti national park.
So, in the size aspect, the Serengeti is much better than the Masai Mara. But does size really matter?
Masai Mara or the Serengeti National Park
The answer to this question could be either. The Masai Mara Game Reserve and the Serengeti National Park both offer game viewing, front row seats to a river crossing from the wildebeest migration, and the option to stay in tented camps.
However, when you compare the vastness of what you can see, the Serengeti is the best when it comes to the spectacular wildebeest migration viewing. On top of that, the endless Serengeti plains offer a fantastic views of an African safari experience.
If that wasn’t enough… You can enjoy spa treatments at safari lodges after a long day of various safari activities.
There’s also the iconic Ngorongoro crater near the Serengeti, where you can also experience excellent game viewing of the big five and the great migration if you want a smaller crowd. The famous Ngorongoro crater is inside the crater highlands of Northern Tanzania.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a portion of the Serengeti-Ngorongoro-Masai Mara ecosystem.
The difference between the Masai Mara and Serengeti habitats and landscapes
When it comes to wildlife viewing, many people don’t realise that the Serengeti ecosystem encloses a vast field of different habitats and landscapes. Yes, the vast rolling plains, pristine wilderness, private game reserves, and various birding destinations await you at the Serengeti.
Furthermore, there are also riverine woodlands, acacia-dotted savannahs, wooded hills, etc. The most expansive grasslands and endless plains are the Serengeti plains in the southern Serengeti, extending up to the north through the central Serengeti to Masai Mara—where it becomes more hilly and grassy.
To view the difference between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti habitats and landscapes, you can see them all below:
Serengeti habitat and landscape
The Serengeti ecosystem is an African geographical region spanning northern Tanzania. The protected area within the territory includes approximately 30,000 km2 of land, comprising the Serengeti National Park and several game reserves with mega herds of animals.
Furthermore, the Serengeti hosts the second-largest great migration globally, securing it as one of the ten natural travel wonders of the world and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. This includes various habitats, including riverine forests, kopjes, swamps, woodlands, and grasslands.
Some of the wildlife you can view in the vast plains of Serengeti are blue wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, and buffalos. The Serengeti also comprises the Serengeti District of Tanzania.
Some of the highlights of safari activities in the Serengeti includes:
- Game drives
- Nature walks
- Bush Meals
- Hot air balloon safaris
- Observing the Great wildebeest migration
- Visit the Olduvai Gorge
- See the Ngorongoro crater
- Visit the Maasai
Moreover, you can also go camping, explore Lobo Valley, Bologonja Springs and many more! So, as you see, there’s no shortage of what you can do at Tanzania’s Serengeti.
Masai Mara habitat and landscape
One of the popular safari destinations you wouldn’t want to miss is the Masai Mara. They offer night game drives that usually start at 7 and last for about two hours.
This place is known for its spotted vistas—where you can see different kinds of acacia trees dotting the landscape amid the golden grass fields. Furthermore, like the Serengeti, Masai Mara also has diverse wildlife, but incomparable to the diversity that you can find at the Serengeti.
Some animals that you can see in Masai Mara in Kenya include zebras, hippos, wildebeest, crocodiles, etc. Both Serengeti and Masai Mara are the most popular safari destinations in Africa and offer various activities such as bird watching, game drives, big cats, and the distant purple hills of the Masai Mara.
But, are there any differences in the activities in Masai Mara and Serengeti? Let’s find out!
Some of the popular activities in Masai Mara are inclusive of:
Although the activity options aren’t as varied as the Serengeti, the Masai Mara is also worth checking out!
Unsure what should be on your safari itinerary? Get in touch with our experts today.
So, which one is much better in terms of landscapes and habitats: Masai Mara or Serengeti?
When you think of Masai Mara vs the Serengeti in terms of landscapes and habitats, it’s evident that there are more things to see in the Serengeti aside from its walking safaris, large resort-style lodges, and game viewing. It’s full of scenic landscapes and habitats loved by many tourists.
Furthermore, you can also find the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, also called Mountain of God, in the south Lake Natron inside the Arusha region of Tanzania, Africa. It’s an active volcano, spurting out carbonate lavas sporadically.
Meanwhile, there are tons of sweeping plains in the central Masai Mara, and the Mara River is edged by lush river forest. The surrounding conservancies boast a more diverse habitat, including rocky outcrops and acacia woodland.
So, if you’re looking forward to seeing any type of African habitat, you’ll likely find it. However, you need to choose your destination carefully to make that happen and we can help.
The habitats often cover undersized areas, so you can effortlessly move from grassland to hilly outcrops in a sunrise game drive.
The Serengeti vs Masai Mara's wildlife
As anticipated, the vast habitats play home to an equally expansive array of animals in huge concentrations. The Serengeti Ecosystem has an astonishing number of predators, including over 8 000 hyenas, 3,000 lions, and approximately 1 000 leopards.
The predators follow the grazers as they cross each year on the circular route known as The Great Wildebeest Migration. However, some animal populations stay permanently in particular parts of the parks.
The grazers comprise of huge wildebeest populations, giraffes, zebras, warthogs, and various antelopes. Although both Serengeti and Masai Mara offer excellent walking safaris, private conservancies, and a vast range of habitats, the Serengeti is much more mind-blowing when it comes to the vastness of land and wildlife.
So, where do most animals hang out?
This depends on the rainfall and the time of year, particularly in the Serengeti. The vast plains of the Serengeti furnish fertile grazing only after and during the rainy season, which typically occurs from December to May.
During this time, the plains are loaded with predators and grazers on the hunt. However, during the dry season—July to October—the wildlife of the Serengeti plains is scanty, but there are still numbers of resident game viewing on the plains.
Moreover, there’s also the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania which has all the animals all year round that don’t follow the migratory route, crossing the Grumeti River and Mara rivers. You can also opt to go to other parks, such as the Tarangire national park, if you don’t want to go far from Arusha, Tanzania.
The great migration viewing: Serengeti vs Masai Mara
When it comes to the great migration, where millions of wildebeest migrate across the land, both the Serengeti and Masai Mara are great destinations to see the phenomenal event. The herds of wildebeest pursue a set circular path each year, which they have been doing forever, followed by other species and predators. This is a spectacle of animal concentrations.
The migration differs slightly from each other based on the rainfall that year. In general, the wildlife typically spends their time from December to May on the dense plains of southern-eastern Serengeti in Tanzania—grazing, fattening up, and bearing their babies in February.
It’s a fantastic time to visit the Serengeti plains, with plenty of chances to see wildlife, their calves, and their predators during the calving season. However, it’s best to remember that nature is completely unpredictable!
In the southern Serengeti, December to April, moving to central or west from May to July and then to northern Serengeti from July to November. During late May or early June, the rainfall on the plains halt, the babies are large enough to move, and the animals start to head northwest to the area near the Grumeti River and the Masai Mara in Kenya from July or August.
It’s the part of the migration route that gives dramatic photograph results. It’s where the animals cross both the Grumeti and Mara Rivers, where many crocodiles await.
At least ten crossing sites can be found on the Mara River alone, where you’ll be lucky enough to witness this breath-taking phenomenon. These animals will then stay in the Masai Mara until the short rains come in November and make their way back down south.
Masai Mara or Serengeti—the final answer
Both Serengeti and Masai Mara offer exclusive safari experiences. The Masai Mara has a slightly higher concentration of wildlife all year round, but even still, Serengeti possesses mind-blowing immensity that no parks in Tanzania could ever match in land and wildlife, with 1.5 million blue wildebeest, 250,000 zebra, and the largest lion population in Africa.
Not to mention the abundance of big cats you can witness throughout your trip. Still unsure? Contact us today so a member of our team can help plan your ultimate Safari.
Getting you there
The Serengeti is a 7 hour drive from the Kilimanjaro International Airport, while it’ll take approximately 12 hours from the Kilimanjaro International Airport to the Masai Mara.
So, if you want to explore millions of animals in Serengeti and discover Africa, just talk with our Wildebeest Migration experts today and start your journey towards witnessing the calving season and have a great migration safari experience in East Africa. For more information about our affordable Safari tours, contact us today!