While the Masai Mara National Reserve is the focal point of the Greater Mara Ecosystem, in the last decade there have been a number of conservancies that have been established which border the unfenced national reserve. These conservancies are on private land owned by Maasai families that have been set aside for wildlife conservation and tourism. The landowners lease their land to safari companies and lodges, who then pay monthly fees which go back into the community, funding education and other development initiatives. In return the Maasai are still allowed to graze their cattle on the land, but only under strictly controlled conditions. As a result of the establishment of conservancies, Maasai communities have benefited from economic upliftment, while wildlife numbers have increased as land that was once over grazed by cattle is now being rehabilitated as wilderness. Mara conservancies are the best option for people wanting a low tourist density Masai Mara safari experience, as most of the concessions only have a few camps – and restrict the number of beds on the land – and don’t allow self-driving, so there’s a limit to how many vehicles will be at sightings. The other bonus of staying on a conservancy is being able to do the activities that are not permitted in the national reserve, including bush dinners, night drives, off-road driving and walking safaris, which are an amazing way to experience the wilderness and animals.

Mara North Conservancy

The 74 000-acre Mara North Conservancy is one of the best of the concessions for its abundant wildlife, quintessential savanna landscapes and commitment to community conservation, working to rehabilitated overgrazed land and natural habitats and managing grazing areas. Game viewing is excellent, and particular highlights are big cat sightings and the dramatic herds of the Great Migration. Out of all the conservancies, it has the greatest number of camps ' 10 in total ' but there's still a lot of space and privacy, as that means there's nearly 700 acres per tent.

Naboisho Conservancy

It's easy to see why this 50,000-acre conservancy is hailed by many as the top concession in the Maasai Mara. To the north of the national reserve, the Mara Naboisho Conservancy has only seven camps (which means 877 acres per tent), so there's plenty of wilderness without other cars ' and the impact on the environment is limited. The concentration of wildlife is high, with abundant big cats and herds of wildebeest, elephant and giraffe. It also ticks all the boxes for successful community conservation: the conservancy was established when more than 500 Maasai land-owning families decided to join up their land ("naboisho" means come together in the local Maa language) in order to allow for wildlife movement ' there are no fences between the conservancy and the Maasai Mara ' tourism and grazing. In order to allow the land to recover from intensive herding, the Maasai now practice controlled grazing.

Olare Motorogi Conservancy

One of the oldest and most successful conservancies, Olare Motorogi (made up of the former Motorogi and Olare-Orok Conservancies) has been a blueprint for other concessions and community conservation in the Masai Mara. It also offers exceptional wildlife viewing (with large numbers of lion and elephant), with one of the highest concentrations of animals and lowest tourist densities in the Mara: there's a 94-bed limit on the conservancy with just one room per 700 acres on its 33 000 acres of riverine forest, valleys, and acacia woodland.

Mara Siana Conservancy

Recently established in 2015 by 1200 landowners, the 7898-acre Mara Siana Conservancy lies some distance away from the Masai Mara National Reserve to the east. If you really want to get off the beaten track, this is a good option, as it's more remote than some of the other conservancies and only has two lodging options. In this secluded valley there's plenty of wildlife to be spotted, from prides of lions, herds of elephants, cheetah, leopard, buffalo and the occasional black rhino and wild dogs.

Olarro Conservancy

Olarro is located in Southwestern Kenya in the Loita Hills Massif. Olarro is 6000 feet above sea level, nestled in the Enkijape hills around 200 Kilometers from Nairobi. This is an exclusive conservancy with the Olarro lodge, intimate and stylish with private spaces of extreme luxury complementing the beautiful landscapes. Established in 2012, our conservancy seeks to preserve and conserve the environment and wildlife, create value for the community and strengthen the traditional heritage of the Maasai. The Conservancy sits along the corridor of the annual wildebeest migration and plays a significant role in the Greater Nguruman, Loita, Mara, and Serengeti ecosystems.

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