Tourists to jet directly to Maasai Mara once airstrip is expanded

Tourists waiting to board the fixed-wing aircraft at Angama airstrip in Maasai Mara. [Robert Kiplagat, Standard]

International tourists visiting the world-famous Massai Mara Game Reserve will soon be jetting directly to the park if plans to have the first-ever airport are realised.

The multi-million project expected to be complete in the next two years kicked off with the rehabilitation of Angama airstrip, which is set to be expanded to international standards giving rise to the “Masai Mara International Airport”.

Speaking during the launch of the project near Angama Mara Camp, Transport Principal Secretary Solomon Kitungu termed the project a milestone partnership between aviation and tourism industries.

“As government, we remain committed to promote the growth of the aviation industry and its related activities and thus facilitate the development of our national economy, particularly in the areas of tourism, trade and business,” said Mr Kitungu.

He added, “Masai Mara is a world-famous safari destination in Africa. The great wildebeest migration is recognised as one of the wonders of Africa.”

While acknowledging the importance of air connectivity, Kitungu noted that more than 80 per cent of tourists to Kenya travel by air through Jomo Kenyatta and Moi International airports as well as Wilson and connect to other domestic airports.

Moi International Airport Mombasa was recently upgraded at a cost of Sh7 billion. According to the PS, other rehabilitated airstrips include Migori, Manda-Lamu, Nanyuki, Kitale, Diani (Ukunda) and Malindi.

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai termed the move by Kenya Airports Authority as long overdue and which will match the global recognition of the Masai Mara as a premium holiday destination.

“It is important to make the Mara more accessible for local and international tourists,” said Tunai.

Tourism PS Safina Kwewe echoed the governor’s sentiments, describing the Masai Mara reserve as one of the anchor parks in the country and home to the 8th wonder of the world due to the annual wildebeest migration.

KAA Managing Director Alex Gitari said the government was spending Sh10 billion to upgrade infrastructure in major airstrips to ease air transport.