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East or Southern Africa?

Africa is a huge continent with 56 sovereign countries. How does someone determine which region might be the best fit for your safari expectations? How have you pictured your African safari?

In general, most people are trying to decide between visiting one of the Southern African countries or one of the East African countries. What is the difference in what you might experience? East Africa tends to be the destination that most people have dreamed about or seen on television with the vast Serengeti and huge volumes of wildebeest and zebra. But here is an honest explanation of what the differences are between southern and east Africa as well as the difference between Kenya and Tanzania.

  • East Africa is home to the Serengeti and Maasai Mara (the northern tip of the Serengeti eco-System) and the huge wildebeest and zebra herds, which form the famous migration as the herds move in search of food and water all year round.
  • The national parks in Tanzania are not fenced and hence there is a true migration allowing nature to take its course in the balance of wildlife in their habitats. There is no need to “cull” any of the herd animals in Tanzania.
  • Tanzania does not allow any private reserves within the boundaries of their famous national parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The government believes Tanzania has unbelievable natural resources that will remain available to all people who visit these gazetted areas of land.
  • Tanzania has tremendous pride in their protection of natural habitats and there are areas of the parks that you must remain on the system of small tracks. There are areas that you can do more off-road travel, but the key in Tanzania is to select a company that has tremendous expertise in the parks and provides unlimited daily mileage on game drives, to get away from other vehicles and seek your own unique wildlife interactions.
  • In general, you will see a much greater volume of animals in East Africa, with the huge herds spending the majority of their time in Tanzania. Research and census surveys over the last 5-10 years indicate that 65% of the wildebeest and zebra herds remain in the Serengeti all year round. Also, due to the diminishing grazing land in the Maasai Mara the wildebeest and zebra that migrate into Kenya return in shorter and shorter periods of time with a large part of the herd remaining in the northern Serengeti even during the dry season.
  • In Tanzania, it is possible to combine driving and flying in such a way that you can enjoy the same private driver guide throughout your safari, building a warm and educational relationship as you each become “friends” in the bush.
  • Southern Africa has a rich tradition of private reserves and often offers smaller tented properties that you fly into and out of. The staff at these individual lodges conducts the game drives and there are fewer restrictions in terms of where you are allowed to game drive and travel off-road.
  • In general, while you will not see as much quantity of wildlife in southern Africa, you usually will travel less distance to see a greater number of individual species.
  • While the Serengeti is not the only incredible destination in Tanzania, it remains a jewel for a safari experience.