Three hours west of Nairobi, this ramshackle provincial town – the capital of the Mara region – is the last proper centre before the vast savannahs of the Masai Mara. It’s a friendly and surprisingly hassle-free place, but few travellers have reason to stop. Most people roll on in, browse the curio shops while their driver refuels, then roll on out again.
In the far southeast of the Mara region, on the border of Tanzania and the famous Serengeti, the Olderikesi Conservancy covers around 8000 hectares. Though it's been in existence for many years, the conservancy's managers will openly say that it's only since 2011 that everything has clicked into place and the conservancy has started functioning as they hoped it would.
Established in 2006 (as Olare Motorogi), this is now one of the longest established and most successful of the conservancies. It also has one of the highest concentrations of animals, including loads of predators, and the lowest densities of tourists – just one tent for every 280 hectares.
Mara North Conservancy
Established in 2009, the 30,000-hectare Mara North Conservancy, which abuts the northwestern edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve, is one of the better known, more popular and more successful (in terms of benefits to both the local community and the local wildlife) of the Mara-area conservancies.
Siana Group Ranch and Conservancy
This vast conservancy contains a huge array of habitats, including heavily forested mountain slopes, gunky swamps and open grasslands, which means there's plenty of wildlife to be found. The conservancy managers are still going through the fine print with the local Maasai so the way the conservancy functions may change.