A safari adventure in Africa is one of the most exciting getaways you could ever experience. The vast continent is world famous for its wildlife safaris, incredible landscapes, and options for adventure, from classic jeep safaris, to visiting local tribes.
However, trying to decide on the best destination in Africa can be tricky. Each country that makes up the unique and culture-rich continent provides its own unique experience, though it’s important to decide on a destination that suits your individual requirements.
Both Kenya and Tanzania are the classic options for an African Safari; they both offer breathtaking scenery, amazing wildlife, and a long list of exciting activities from walking safaris to hot air balloon rides.
But, with both destinations sharing a border, they’re both incredibly similar. So, the inevitable question is, how do you decide?
Kenya vs. Tanzania: Which Destination Is Best For An African Safari?
Accommodation in Kenya vs Tanzania
Both Kenya and Tanzania provide an array of hotels, resorts, and safari lodges, though with Kenya being a wealthier nation than Tanzania, you tend to have more choice when it comes to accommodation.
That’s not to say that Tanzania doesn’t have plenty of options available, though it’s a lot more limited in certain National Parks. This does mean that you’re able to enjoy the experience with lesser crowds, even during peak season, though Kenya is often far cheaper because there’s more competition.
Pro tip: If you’re planning your trip mid-year it’s best to book as far in advance as possible. These are popular destinations, and the closer you get, the more likely it is that accommodation will be sold out.
Accommodation options in the cities range from backpacker hostels, mid range hostels, right up to luxury resorts. Once you’re out in the parks, you have the choice between camping, or setting up at a game lodge.
Angama Mara, recommended as one of the best sky high luxury resorts by Forbes is located in Kenya and it is a fantastic option for travelers who are hoping to stay at a game lodge. This type of experience includes mouth-watering African cuisine and a ton of exciting activities, like hot air balloon rides and safari drives.
Getting There & Around
Both countries are well connected to the rest of the world, and their airports see regular flights from most countries. That said, flights to Kenya tend to be cheaper because they have more flights available.
If you’re still keen on Tanzania despite the more expensive flight, consider flying into Nairobi in Kenya, and then catching a connecting to Tanzania – you might find that this is a much cheaper option.
You can do as I did and catch a bus from Kenya to Tanzania, as this is by far the cheapest option. That said, it’s a long and arduous journey via bus, and if you have the money I highly recommend saving yourself the inevitable pain, and opting for the flight.
In terms of flight times, the duration is pretty similar regardless of whether you’re visiting Kenya or Tanzania, though as with anything, your stopovers and route will greatly affect the overall duration.
Kenyan infrastructure is a lot more reliable than in Tanzania in terms of taxis, public transport, and domestic flights. But the country has just as many unmarked roads as Tanzania does, so there’s still plenty of options for off the beaten path adventure.
Wildlife is the biggest reason people travel to Africa, and there’s great wildlife viewing in both Kenya and Tanzania. However your choice of destination will depend on what kind of wildlife you want to see.
The Big 5, which refers to rhinos, leopards, buffaloes, lions, and elephants, can be found in both countries, however there are subtle difference between the two experiences when it comes to wildlife viewing.
Tanzania wins for density and diversity of wildlife overall; it has the largest concentration of animals per square kilometer in the world. It is specifically known as cheetah country, and there are chimpanzee strongholds in various game reserves around Tanzania.
That said, Kenya is known as an excellent place to see big cats, and one of the best places to travel if you’re hoping to spot an endangered Rhino (this was the only member of the Big 5 that we didn’t see on our safari in Tanzania).
In Kenya, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is home to several rhinos that you may not be able to view elsewhere due to their status on the endangered species list. The species is still poached for its horn, though thrive in protected sanctuaries around the country.
The Great Migration
The Great Migration is one of the biggest draws to both Kenya and Tanzania; this is the largest migration of wildlife in the world, and every year more than two million wildebeests, zebras and gazelles move between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
If you’re hoping to see the Great Migration, the time of year will dictate your answer to Kenya vs Tanzania. The herds are in Tanzania from December through June, but start crossing into Kenya come July and August.
The actual river crossing occurs twice a year, once in July, and then again in late November, at which point, visitors to both parks can witness the spectacle. The migration happens quite predictably every year, though the actual timing is dependent on rainfall patterns (they migrate in search of better water and grazing).
So, travel to Tanzania if your travel falls between December and June. Travel to Kenya if your travel falls between September and November. If you’re traveling in July or August, you’ll catch the migration in either country and can witness the Mara River crossing.
Seasons in Tanzania and Kenya
Both Kenya and Tanzania are incredibly similar, and in terms of temperature and climate, they are very much the same. Both country’s have two distinct seasons: the wet and dry seasons.
The best wildlife viewing months are considered to be between late June to October, during the dry season. There’s then a short wet season in November and December, followed by a short dry season in January and February, before the real wet season kicks in, in March through late May.
Kenya vs Tanzania
Kenya and Tanzania are very similar destinations, and to be honest, you can’t really go wrong with either. That said, you might end up with a more enriching experience depending on which country is more suited to your interests.
If you’re after a more accessible country, with better infrastructure for tourism, a good balance between modern cities and natural attractions, and a more affordable vacation, choose Kenya.
If you’re after a more adventurous experience, in a country more traditional than modern, more remote, and don’t mind the cost difference for a higher concentration of wildlife, and more iconic natural sights, choose Tanzania.
Kenya is usually a more suitable option for family vacations because it offers several age-appropriate activities for children, family-friendly options such as private vehicles, and most accommodations provide family suites.
If you’re still undecided you can of course combine both countries quite easily, and if you’re feeling super adventurous, maybe even climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania!
ESSENTIAL ITEMS YOU NEED FOR SAFARI: CLICK PHOTO ↓