Fly versus drive – those are your options to Maasai Mara. If you can rationalize at least a $200 flight one way, I suggest flying. A more reasonable option is to drive there and fly back. The drive starts off nice from Nairobi with a coffee stop at the lookout point of the Great Rift Valley. From there, it gets dramatically worse. Nice paved roads soon turn into gravel. Gravel soon turns into off-roading at a snail’s pace. All of it takes at least five hours.
Great Rift Valley
Driving gives you the opportunity to see more of Kenya. What stood out to me was seeing many construction projects sponsored by the Chinese. At least two bridges on the way to Mara are being built by the Chinese along with smaller projects. While the US does provide aid to Kenya, it should also be providing infrastructure support. China continues to increase its presence in Africa while the US is nowhere to be found. The second observation is how rural and undeveloped Kenya is. There were many delays due to cows and goats crossing the streets with young kids herding them with a stick.
Overall, apart from seeing the Great Rift, it’s not worth the bumpy drive if you can fly.