Choosing between Tanzania or Kenya for your safari is not as straightforward as you might think. One thing is certain, however. It’s surprisingly difficult to combine both countries in one trip. On the map it looks like you can just jump over the border from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara. In reality, however, it is not possible to do so on the road just by taking a private fly-in safari. If you have enough time (at least 2 weeks) you can visit some Kenyan highlights, return to Nairobi to fly to Arusha, and then spend a few days in Tanzania which can add up to a lot of travel.
Therefore, most people have to choose between Tanzania or Kenya …
Even before you decide to go to Tanzania or Kenya, you may be wondering whether you want to travel to Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, etc.) or East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya). To help you do this, you could read our article detailing the differences between safaris in East Africa and Southern Africa.
There are both similarities and differences in choosing a safari between Tanzania or Kenya. Let’s take a quick look at their similarities:
- They share the Serengeti biosphere with their world-class game viewing
- You will witness the wildebeest migration in both countries (but at different times, see below).
- The Maasai culture is shared in both countries
- Swahili is spoken
- You can combine “bush and beach” with a safari followed by some R&R on a stunning tropical beach
- Road safaris are easily possible in both countries
- Both have remote areas to explore (to escape the inevitable crowds)
- They have the same broad climate
- Safaris are similar in price
- The Great Migration is a continuous round trip between the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara:
- In Kenya, the majority of migratory herds will be in the Masai Mara from August to October. But the mega-herds cross the Mara River sometime in July
- In Tanzania, migration returns to the Serengeti around November, with herds spreading between Tanzania and Kenya between September and October. From January to March the herds are to be calved in the south of the Serengeti. Then they gradually make their way north to the infamous river crossings in July and August
- One third of Tanzania practices the Muslim religion
- Kenya used to be a British colony so there is still a feeling of colonialism
- Tanzanian food is a bit spicier than Kenyan dishes
Now we come to the brass nails …
If you are looking for different Tanzania or Kenya professionals to help you decide, here are some things to keep in mind:
Pluses for Kenya
- Kenya is generally a bit cheaper in Tanzania due to higher parking fees and government taxes
- There are a number of affordable accommodation options across the country
- Kenya also has better flight connections to the rest of the world. Most people still have to fly to Nairobi and then transfer to Kilimanjaro or Arusha to Tanzania. So if you are short on time, you will have to travel less at the beginning and end of your safari
- Also, flights to Nairobi are cheaper as there is more competition
- Nairobi has a lot more to offer than Arusha, which acts as the gateway to northern Tanzania
- Laikipia ranches are a unique Kenyan specialty – these colonial homesteads offer a very personal experience combined with a range of activities from game drives to bush walks, horseback riding to starry nights. These are often perfect for family safaris. Only Chem Chem offers a similar concept in Tanzania
- You can see the critically endangered black rhinos in Kenya
Plus points for Tanzania
- The great migration is much longer in Tanzania than Kenya, so you have a greater chance of spotting it outside of the high season
- In the high season (July to September) there is a little less going on.
- There is a greater variety of landscapes (not just open savanna plains – you have Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, etc.)
- Zanzibar offers island beach excursions
- You can also track chimpanzees in Tanzania
- It is easier to do a street course as the trips between safari destinations are shorter
- Tanzania is great for hiking with the highlands of Ngorongoro and the escarpment of the Rift Valley
- Tanzania is the home of mighty Kilimanjaro, so some people like to combine a guided multi-day hike with a subsequent safari
Generally, the similarities outweigh the differences. Therefore, when choosing Tanzania or Kenya, it is often a question of personal preference. However, the time of year will play a big role, especially if you want to see the migration.
- If you want to get out and walk during your safari, Tanzania is one step ahead.
- If you like the idea of staying on a ranch in the bush (a la Royal Family) and enjoying various activities in stunning surroundings, then Kenya is for you.
- Likewise, you might want to go to a remote corner of Africa to track down chimpanzees – this is where Tanzania wins.
Probably the easiest option is to schedule a no-obligation chat with us so you can think about the options with someone who knows.
You might also be interested in some of our other blogs about these two countries:
What does a Tanzania safari cost? 5 tops for cutting safari costs plus a secret
Best time to see the wildebeest migration
What does a safari in Kenya cost?
This article was written by Cedarberg Africa
Cedarberg Africa is a specialized tour operator and safari designer for South and East Africa. We offer 16 different countries in Africa. And we are a family-run company with over 25 years of experience. We earn our money through specially negotiated prices with the safari camps. This is how you benefit from a safari first hand at no additional cost …
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