Africa Travel Articles
Where to safari: Kenya or Tanzania
Author: Sandra Mallinson
Date: January 2013
East Africa is where the concept of a safari was born and no places more so than Kenya and Tanzania. Their imagery still resonates with travellers across the world: elephants set against the backdrop of snow-capped Kilimanjaro; herds of wildebeest plunging across crocodile-infested rivers; red-robed Maasai warriors watching their livestock; and colonial-style tented camps overlooking the rolling, ocean-like savannah.
Both countries are home to iconic safari destinations and can easily be combined on a Kenya & Tanzania safari tour but when it comes to choosing between the two, well, that can be a little trickier. There is much in common between the two but many differences as well. Here's how it works.
Classic East Africa Safari Circuits
Both Kenya and Tanzania’s reserves are famous for their abundant wildlife and each county has a classic 'safari circuit' which more or less guarantees great game viewing.
In Kenya, you'll generally start your safari in Amboseli for postcard-perfect views of Mt Kilimanjaro. Then it’s off to the famous Masai Mara, usually rounded off with a few days at Lake Nakuru where thousands of pink flamingos add a unique twist to game viewing.
Tanzania’s northern safari circuit combines game viewing in the Serengeti with the nearby Ngorongoro Crater - the easiest place in East Africa to see the Big 5. The circuit tends to end with Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara - famous for its tree-climbing lions.
How do I do it?
Our popular 7-day Classic Kenya Adventure Safari takes in Kenya's safari highlights, and we also have several tailor-made Tanzania tours that take in the northern circuit ranging from the Affordable Tanzania Simba Safari to the more luxurious Exclusive Treasures of Tanzania fly-in safari.
Wildebeest Migration: Getting Your Timing Right
Moving around the Masai Mara and Serengeti, the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra forms the centrepiece of many East Africa safaris, so your choice between Kenya and Tanzania may come down to a simple question of timing.
Two of the greatest events in this epic drama are worth planning ahead for: the river crossings which can be seen in Kenya’s Masai Mara & the northern Serengeti around the months of July and August and the birthing of thousands of wildebeest calves with opportunistic predators hot on their hooves, occurring in Tanzania’s southern Serengeti from November to March.
How do I do it?
For a Masai Mara migration safari we’d recommend the Majestic Mara Balloon Safari while in the Serengeti the Superior Tanzania Highlights Safari is a popular choice. Just bear in mind that the movement of the herds are dependent on that year’s rains but even if you don’t catch the migration, you can still look forward to excellent year-round game viewing in both the Masai Mara and Serengeti.