The zone, located West of the Masai Mara National Reserve, is composed of two areas: the Mara Triangle and the Trans Mara Conservation Area; the latter is further West than the Mara Triangle and mainly includes an external area to the reserves extending beyond the Oloololo escarpment of the Great Rift Valley; inside accommodations for tourists are available; from here you can make game drives in the Mara Triangle.
The Mara Triangle is also known as the Mara Conservancy, and it is located West of the Mara River and bordered to the West by the Oloololo escarpment, also known as Syria, of the Great Rift Valley, while South it borders the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
This Masai Mara portion has an area of 510 square kilometers, about one-third of its entire surface, and has a shape similar to a triangle; the Mara Triangle is not a private reserve but part of the National Reserve even if it is not managed by the Narok County but from a non-profit association, the TransMara County Council, an organization set up by the local Maasai.
In 1994, the Masai Mara National Reserve was divided into two sections: the West and the North-West, and it was thus created the Mara Conservancy; this Conservancy had a difficult start due to a management unable to perform their duties.
In 1999 the situation was desperate and poaching was rampant, infrastructure, roads and facilities for tourism were in poor condition.
The buildings located at the Iseiya headquarter and at the Oloololo gate, as well as the Purungat Bridge and the Ngiro outposts, were dilapidated and were without running water and sanitary facilities; most of the roads were built in the 80's and were very damaged and impassable; there was also an increase of unregulated off-road routes, especially in the central part of the reserve.
At that time, only a third of the reserve was considered safe and could be visited, the remainder was abandoned to its fate; here, without anyone controlling, poaching dramatically proliferated with thousands of animals killed each year, also many thieves stole cattle from the Maasai.
So, in 2000, some local leaders took the situation in their hands and in 2001 the Trans-Mara County Council was established, a public-private partnership controlling and managing the Mara Triangle; the goal was to earn the money necessary to the development and management of the reserve, mainly from tourism.
The Board of Directors is composed by central and local authorities, the Masai community and other members with expertise in different fields such as tourism, conservation, ecology, finance and business administration.
In the first ten years of activity, important goals have been achieved in terms of security, development and management of tourism, development and maintenance of infrastructure and growth, and fair distribution of profits; poaching has decreased significantly and the ranger stations have been restored and renewable energy solutions have been implemented, the streets have been restored as well, eco-tourism policies have been promoted and the collaboration between the reserve and the surrounding areas has been encouraged through the implementation of projects for the community.
At the border with Tanzania anti-poaching units have been placed to counter the entry of poachers, bandits and thieves and, thanks to the collaboration with TANAPA, many poachers have been arrested and thousands of traps built to capture the animals, have been removed.
In 2009, an anti-poaching canine unit has been introduced in the outpost of Ngiro, that lies near the border with Tanzania; today the unit is composed of six Beagles and two Labradors, the latter are specialized in identifying ivory, also some trainers are part of the unit.
Many positive results were achieved, but the area near the border with Tanzania remains a sensitive area to poaching and theft, and needs to be monitored very carefully.
Here the animals can move freely to the neighboring private reserves, while the Mara River forms a natural border of the Masai Mara National Reserve, this meaning many animals remain inside the Mara Triangle, also, during the months when the Great Migration is present in these lands, ie from July to October, the river is the scenery of spectacular and dangerous crossings of the herds of wildebeests and zebras moving, from the Mara Triangle to the Masai Mara National Reserve and back again, in search of new pastures.
The Mara Triangle is the point from which the herds of wildebeests and zebras of the Great Migration enter Kenya every year between the end of June and the month of July, from here either they move East across the Mara River, heading to the Masai Mara National Reserve, or head up North to the private reserves; many herds remain in the Mara Triangle throughout their stay here, before descending again into the Serengeti National Park.
The Mara Triangle landscape is varied: rivers, swamps, grasslands, river forests and formations, and volcanic hills are the backdrop to one of the best areas of the Great Masai Mara Ecosystem where to witness the Great Migration.
Here, unlike at the Masai Mara National Reserve, there are far fewer tourists because there is only a structure inside the Mara Triangle, besides few visitors are allowed to make game drives within this area; there are also areas where to camp; from here you have a privileged place to watch the thrilling spectacle of the Great Migration and the crossing of the Mara River.
In addition to herds of wildebeests and zebras, there are also elephants, giraffes, impalas, various species of antelopes including the rare roan antelope, Thomson gazelles, Grant gazelles, warthogs, buffalos, Coke hartebeests, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, dik-diks, black rhinos, lions, leopards, hyenas, jackals, wild dogs, hippos, Nile crocodiles.
There are only two entry points to the Mara Triangle: the Oloololo entrance in the North and the Purungat bridge in the South.

The areas of the Great Masai Mara Ecosystem

  • The North Zone of the Great Masai Mara Ecosystem
  • The East Zone of the Great Masai Mara Ecosystem
  • The South Zone of the Great Masai Mara Ecosystem
  • The West Zone of the Great Masai Mara Ecosystem
  • The Central Zone of the Great Masai Mara Ecosystem

Masai Mara National Reserve Map Conservancies Kenya

Maasai Mara National Reserve and neighbouring Conservancies - Illustration Credits: Marco Dal Molin -