Is Kenya or Tanzania safari better?
With similarities between both countries, this is a question we get asked more and more.
Tanzania has a variety of exceptional safari destinations to choose from, is home to the wildebeest migration herds, and has a coastline of white-sand beaches. But, so does Kenya. So, what are the real differences and which should you choose?
One of the main differences is the logistics of getting to the country initially. Kenya’s capital,
Nairobi, is a much larger hub for international flights and for UK clients, this is particularly useful as there are daily direct flights from London to Nairobi (with Kenya Airways and British Airways). For US clients, there is also convenient flights and direct options from New York to Nairobi. On the other hand, getting into Dar es Salaam is a little trickier as you have to route via Europe (e.g. Amsterdam or Paris), the middle east (e.g. Dubai or Doha), or Africa (e.g. Nairobi or Addis Ababa). For some, a direct option is more attractive.
In terms of the actual safari experience, both countries offer exceptional and authentic ones. Kenya has the famous Masai Mara, and Tanzania has the Serengeti National Park. These are the most ‘famous’ parks for safaris in both countries and are where most people have their eyes set on. Although they share the same ecosystem, the Masai Mara is much smaller (five times smaller than the Serengeti) and therefore feels a lot busier. In general, you will see a lot more vehicles in the Masai Mara (particularly the Mara Triangle) than you will in the Serengeti.
Both the Masai Mara and the Serengeti home the wildebeest migration herds which is a must-see in East Africa. However, the herds are only visible in Kenya between the months of August to November (this varies year on year depending on the rainfall patterns). In the Serengeti however, the herds are visible year-round as they rotate in a fairly predictable clockwise direction around the Serengeti National Park and Ndutu plains. So, if you are set on seeing the wildebeest migration herds then you have a longer opportunity in Tanzania and depending on which time of year you go, we will recommend a different area of the Serengeti to stay in.
Other national parks in both Kenya and Tanzania offer a slightly different experience but if you are looking for a very active and adrenaline-fueled safari, then I would say Kenya is the better choice. A destination in Kenya called the Laikipia Plateau is where you can do a variety of active safari activities, such as horse riding, camel riding, hiking, tubing, fly camping, mountain biking, quad biking and many more. In Tanzania, there are options to do a couple of these things but if you want them altogether in one place, Kenya is a good option.
Located on the coast of East Africa, both countries offer wonderful beach destinations. For Kenya, you can fly to the southern coast of Kenya (Diani/ Mombasa beach) and enjoy white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters with a range of comfortable accommodation. For Tanzania, you can fly from the bush to Zanzibar island (which is part of Tanzania) for your beach experience. We find that most people have Zanzibar in mind for their beach trip and this is a good option if you want a mix of things to do. Zanzibar has its capital, Stone Town, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and has a wealth of culture and history to it. It also has much larger choice of accommodation so if you want something specific, or if you are booking something last minute, then Zanzibar is a great choice.
In terms of price, I would say that both Kenya and Tanzania are very similar in what they offer. There are, of course, plenty of factors that need to be considered when you book a safari – how long you are on safari for, what time of year you go, how many people you go with, where you stay, how many parks you visit etc. This will all factor in the price of your overall trip.
Similar safari portfolios operate in both Kenya and Tanzania so the standard of accommodation and guiding is on par between the two countries. If you are looking for specialist species and safari experiences, then somewhere like Samburu, Lewa and the Laikipia Plateau in Kenya would be good, and the southern parks of Selous and Ruaha in Tanzania. These are lesser visited and the accommodation in each of these parks is similar in experience and quality.
In short, it really depends on preference of which parks you’d like to go to, when you’d like to go, how you’d like to get to the country and where you’d like to end up for your safari. There is no definitive answer for whether Kenya or Tanzania is better for safari, but we are a fan of both countries and the safari experience so if you can’t decide then give us a call and we can discuss it further!