The East African countries of Kenya and Tanzania each hold an abundance of attractions for visitors seeking out an authentic safari experience.
Both countries are primarily big game destinations and home to many of Africa’s legendary and inimitable wildlife safari reserves, each offers delightful holiday options for families and honeymooners, adventure-seekers, and everybody in-between.
Highlights of Kenya
The famed plains of the Masai Mara, where large numbers of cheetah, lion, leopard, and elephant roam the grassy savannahs, as well as Amboseli, celebrated for it’s impressive herds of elephant, along with exceptional views of majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, are simply put, quite spectacular.
Both Meru National Park and Samburu National Park also merit a very laudable mention; the former known for its elephant herds, idyllic ambience, and jaw-dropping views of Mount Kenya, but most notorious as the spot where George and Joy Adamson re-introduced the orphaned lioness Elsa, forever immortalised in the poignant movie Born Free.
The latter park is the site of George and Joy Adamson’s lion orphanage, which inspired the actual story behind the movie; quietly serene, Samburu National Park is strikingly beautiful, hot and arid, and well worth visiting.
Highlights of Tanzania
Just across the border of Kenya, Tanzania plays host to no less than seven of the world’s heritage sites; Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, the Selous, Mount Kilimanjaro, Stone Town, Kiwa Ruins, Kondoa, are all to be found here … amongst other stunning natural sights.
The Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera will astound you with it’s teeming wildlife, a veritable amphitheatre of animal drama; and similarly, the Serengeti National Park, delivers a breathtaking backdrop to the annual wildebeest (and zebra) migration, punted by many as ‘the Greatest Show on Earth’.
The mighty Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest faunal reserves of the world, is unique for the number and sheer diversity of animals that can be sighted, with elephants, hippopotami, African wild dogs, Cape buffalos, as well as crocodiles, all relatively easy to find and to capture on film.
And then, although not chiefly a wildlife area, but more than a little difficult to overlook, Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, is truly appealing, whether to climb, or to simply gaze in reverence at it’s mighty peaks.
In addition to it’s central heritage sites, Tanzania proffers many further gems, including chimpanzees, and Lakes Tanganyika and Manyara respectively.
Lake Tanganyika, one of the Great Rift Valley lakes, is surely one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, whilst Lake Manyara within Lake Manyara National Park, is renowned for it’s hallmark flocks of an estimated three million pink flamingos.
Off the beaten track, the undiscovered Tarangire National Park will enchant with it’s abundance of elephants and Baobab trees, as well as wonderful game viewing without the crowds.
Both of these East African countries are home to the rich and colourful Masai tribe, along with their fascinating cultural beliefs and traditions.
The main event – The Great Wildebeest Migration
But whilst there are very many sound incentives to visit Kenya and Tanzania as separate entities, there is also good reason to visit the two East African countries together.
The biggest draw-card for a cross-border Kenya Tanzania safari adventure has got to be ‘The Migration’.
The wildebeest know no boundaries, and follow age-old migratory paths, blurring the border of these two neighboring countries.
The migration starts in the southern Serengeti of Tanzania, passages through the central and western Serengeti, and into Kenya’s Masai Mara, in an uninterrupted cycle of life and birth.
Determined by annual rainfall patterns, the precise timing of the Great Wildebeest Migration is a slightly thorny guestimation, but largely speaking, the biggest visual exhibition of the wildebeest is expected from May until August each year.
Having said this though, the wildebeest movement is ongoing, if you plan well, the continuous crusade may be intercepted at any number of junctures in either Kenya or Tanzania along their migratory way.
Combine a Safari to Kenya & Tanzania
For viewing the Migration no less than a ten-day safari is recommended, to which you could (or should) add, at least another four days (longer if you can), for other sights and attractions in either Kenya or Tanzania.
The Kenya and Tanzania safari industry is backed by an efficient tourist infrastructure with a dazzling choice of camps and lodges to suit all tastes and all budgets.
There are opportunities for mobile camping, walking safaris, beach-and-bush safaris, bush-and-chimpanzee safaris, organised, and tailor-made tours.
Fly into either Nairobi in Kenya, or Dar es Salaam or Kilimanjaro (close to Arusha), in Tanzania, and from there, either fly or drive to your destinations, or to get a real feel for the countries, opt for a combination of the two.
To make the very best of a Kenya Tanzania safari, and to save considerable time, a fly-in option makes short work of the many miles and also allows guests a birds-eye view of the Tanzania and Kenya landscapes; each relatively short flight between camps in a small aircraft is a viewing opportunity in itself for game spotting from the skies.
Combine a Safari with time on the Beach (Bush & Beach)
After a somewhat dusty and always exciting wildlife encounter what could possibly be better than a few days rehydrating on languorous white beaches next to the ocean, and fortunately Tanzania and Kenya have both sea and sand by the bucket-load.
For a few days of rest and relaxation, visitors can choose from the sandy white shores of Kenya, or from the islands off the coast of Tanzania.
Kenya’s Mombasa island boasts Diani Beach, and Tanzania boasts Zanzibar and it’s smaller sister islands.
Zanzibar, a firm favourite for unwinding and soaking up the sun, offers the best of all worlds … larger resorts, secreted hideaways, as well as the sheer magic of exotic Stone Town … all embraced by the lapping waters of the warm Indian Ocean.
Plan & Book in Advance
With many guests vying for the best vantage point from which to view the perpetual phenomenon of the Migration, it is best to plan carefully and to book ahead.
Whilst either Kenya or Tanzania is worthy of a standalone holiday, be smart, combine the best of both countries, and enjoy a Kenya Tanzania safari rolled into one.
Test the team – get in touch with an East Africa Expert and she’ll put together an itinerary especially for you.