Africa Travel Articles
Eastern Vs Southern Africa Safari - Which Is Best?
Author: Leigh Kemp
'Go west young man' was the call for American pioneers to move into the interior. The question when you're considering a safari in Africa is: east or south. East Africa encompasses Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda and the aficionados will point to the game-filled plains and the annual wildebeest migration as East Africa's major drawcards.
Southern Africa consists of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa and argues varied landscapes and wildlife as the main attractions...while also being prime luxury safari territory. As a child my ideals of Africa were based on East Africa with its postcard landscapes, and it was these images that shaped my 20-year career in the safari industry.
I have been privileged to experience much of what Africa has to offer as a safari travel destination, not only in the capacity as guide but also as a visitor. It's through my own observations and taking notice of the effect Africa has on visitors that I'll try answer the question of an East versus Southern African safari.
The Original Safari
It is of course in East Africa where the concept of safari was born and with iconic names such as the Masai Mara, Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, East Africa was long considered the classic safari destination by non-African visitors. These safaris, glamorised by legendary authors such as Hemingway and Ruark as well as in movies, revolved around decadent hunting trips where porters carried all equipment and your creature comforts into the bush.
Some of the first non-hunting visitors however travelled through what is now the Kruger National Park in South Africa as early as the 1920's, and it is in the Kruger region that the present day concept of luxury safari travel was born in the 1980's.
The Luxury Safari Experience
Safari travel today, perhaps controversially, is far removed from the Hollywood-style safaris of the past with the emphasis moving toward brand of the lodge rather than the destination and wildlife. It is the level of luxury which claims visitors, the superiority of the guiding and the mouth-watering flavours on a dinner plate that keeps them coming back - not to say incredible Big 5 sightings don't!
Southern Africa leads the way in this luxury safari travel with brands such as Singita and Londolozi, although East Africa is not far behind with many of the well known safari brand names moving into the region. The future of safari now involves luxury and wellness spas with, in my opinion, wildlife in many ways becoming a side show.
East Africa safaris have begun to encapsulate the romance of the original tented experience. And by drawing on the luxurious safari elements of its southern neighbours, authentic tented safaris in the Masai Mara Serengeti now compete with the premier luxury lodges in the Kruger.