Narok County


Discover Narok County

Spatial Location of Narok County in Kenya
Spatial Location of Narok County in Kenya

Brief Overview of Narok County

It could be said, on account of how broadly documented and well perceived they are, that the Maasai or Maa community, native to southwestern Kenya in Narok and Kajiado Counties, is the most special tribe Kenya has yet been blessed with. Around the world, the portrayal of the Maasai community is juxtaposed among the outstanding cultures, lending a bonzer patronage to the cultural diversity of Kenya, and tourism. Even more than their rise to global recognition, it was their sheer dominance of the savanna plains in Kenya that carried forth their high-standing; many historians looking at their record have been taken aback by the swiftness of change. Scholars in amazement of how expeditious the turn of the tide was for the Maasai, aptly talk about how they have managed to keep their spritely centuries-old traditions still and all. Although not where they used to be, once a fierce, war-faring society that swayed much of the savanna plains in Kenya and Tanzania, their stature among the tribes of Kenya in still prestigious. And, the chronicles of the Maasai Tribe are as numerous as they are fascinating.

It is no coincidence then, that one of the greatest wildlife reserves in Kenya, and agreeably one of the outstanding game areas in all of Africa, is named after the Maasai Tribe – whose customs, dress and traditions have remained, in spite of the odds, decidedly anachronistic. In any case, their unspoken warranty deeds to protect wildlife, as a future covenant for all mankind, has been remarkable. The Maasai, who have incessantly patrolled these plains, maintain a symbiotic relationship with the wildlife, never hunting and rarely killing animals. For the indigenous nomadic Maasai herdsmen contentedly grazing their cattle over the savannas, these plains are the center of their universe. They have lived here so long that their stories of existence connect them to the savanna itself. The cattle tracks that cut deep in the solid rock are evidence enough that the Maasai have been roaming here for a long time. The earliest explorers of British East Africa described them as a powerful tribe who held undisputed sway on these plains, raided all their surrounding tribes, and demanded tributes from all who passed.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is the centerpiece of these shriveling golden plains hosting the greatest concentration of game in Kenya’s 47 protected areas – collectively covering 12% of the land mass. It is a landscape of unimaginable horizons and grandness of epochal grasslands, at 5000 to 5500 ft., interspersed by strips of riverine vegetation with patches of acacia woodlands, and thickets raised mainly on the hillsides. The wildlife move with the seasonality variation in grazing, and this does introduce an element of luck. The famed Mara, set less than 250 kms from Nairobi, was little-known to travellers other than hunters in the early 1960’s. The first lodge, with 25 beds, was opened in 1965. It now has more than 35 of the most unashamedly beautiful safari resorts in Kenya. Most situated outside of the Mara within a radius of 11 kms covered by conservancies.

Kayaking at Shompole Conservancy, in the south tip of Narok.  Photo Courtesy of EA Retreats
Kayaking at Shompole Conservancy. Image Courtesy of EA Retreats

Salient Features of Narok County

  • County Number 33
  • Area – 17921 km2
  • Altitude – 5000 ft
  • Major Towns – Narok, Kilgoris, Melili
  • Borders – Bomet, Nyamira, Kisii, Migori, Nakuru, Kajiado
Narok County Map

Brief History of Narok County

The acclaimed Masai Mara National Reserve, a safariland fantasy, quickly rose to fame during the British occupation of Kenya. Before 1950, the much-vaunted Mara was no more than a grazing area for the Maasai who inhabit the area. It is under British colonial control that the wildlife locus covering the Mara Triangle was established, and much later this sanctuary became a ‘game reserve’. Today, Maasai Mara National Reserve, covering 1,510 km2, is under the management of the K.W.S, and the surrounding 4,566 km2 belong to the Maasai Community. Narok County, bounded in the north by ‘Kikuyuland’, in the west by the Kipsigis and Gusii countries, and in the extreme southwest close to the shores of Lake Victoria by the ‘Luoland’, was part of the substantial Maasailand that stretched across the mid-southern region of Kenya. More than 50,000 km2 of the most extraordinary landscape in Kenya. Its terrain has always enticed and enthralled. It is a land graced by Africa’s highest cathedrals, Mount Kilimanjaro (east) and Mount Kenya (the mountain of God) west. A land of the most resilient rivers: Ewayo Nyiro, Siyabei, and the Mara; or the river of no return. It is a land of the most magnificent displays of wildlife seen in Kenya. It is also a land of the most romanticized culture in Kenya, the Maasai, guardians of these golden savannas.

View at the Singita Mara River Tented Camp.  Photo Courtesy of Singita Mara River Camp
The Singita Mara River Tented Camp. Image Courtesy of Singita Mara