Kenya or Tanzania for Safari

By Claudia Smargiasso | 06 September 2023

Tanzania vs. Kenya for a safari

When it comes to planning an unforgettable safari adventure, two East African countries stand out as top contenders: Kenya and Tanzania. These neighbouring countries boast some of the most incredible wildlife and landscapes on earth, making them dream destinations for wildlife enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. But when it comes to choosing the best safari experience to suit you, which is better between Kenya and Tanzania?

The Great Migration

The Great Migration is arguably one of the most iconic wildlife spectacles on the planet. Millions of wildebeest, zebra, and other herbivores move en mass across the plains of the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, following the rains and the promise of fresh grazing.

This awe-inspiring annual occurrence takes place across Kenya's Masai Mara and Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. Whether you choose a safari in Kenya vs. Tanzania will depend largely on the migration experience you wish to have.

The river crossing offers high drama as the wildebeest must take their chances crossing crocodile-infested waters to reach the fresh grass on the other side. If you're hoping to see this extremely popular, high-adrenalin event, head to the northern Serengeti in Tanzania between July and October, or Kenya from late July to September (timings vary somewhat depending on rainfall).

A large portion of the migratory circuit lies within Tanzania's borders, with the period between December and February offering the miraculous sight of thousands of wildebeest giving birth within a matter of days of each other. Here, you'll see adorable, shaky-legged newborns and grazing momma wildebeest replenishing on the fresh grass of the eastern and southern Serengeti (and even so far south as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, but not in the Crater itself). But it's not all peaceful grazing and playful calves. The predators lurk nearby, hoping to prey on the very young, the very old and the weak.

 (Left: The dramatic river crossings. Right: The calving season.)

Wildlife diversity

Tanzania and Kenya are both premier safari destinations, offering a remarkable diversity of wildlife. With rhino being one of the most endangered species on the planet, ticking off the Big 5 is becoming trickier. One of the most reliable places to see the Big 5 is in Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater. The Serengeti and Masai Mara both offer the chance to see the Big 5, but with a little more effort. However, if it’s specifically rhino you want to see, few places compare to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, home to white, black, and the world’s last two northern white rhino.

Tanzania and Kenya offer a variety of excellent parks and reserves to visit, where you can enjoy a well-rounded wildlife experience. In contrast, Tanzania offers the addition of chimpanzee encounters in areas such as Rubondo Island.

Chimp trekking on Tanzania's Rubondo Island 

Scenic Landscapes

While these two safari powerhouses share the magnificent Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, they offer their own distinct charm. Kenya boasts the dramatic landscapes of its northern desert regions, stunning vistas, and the flamingo-fringed Lake Nakuru. And, of course, we'd be remiss to overlook the soaring peak of Mount Kenya, Africa's second-highest peak, which offers adventurous trekking and technical climbing opportunities.

Beyond the Serengeti's plains, Tanzania is home to the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa's tallest peak), the wild and expansive Nyerere National Park, and the spice island of Zanzibar, where you can enjoy a tropical island escape before or after your safari.

The flamingoes of Lake Nakuru, Kenya


The costs of an East African safari can vary depending on various factors and seasonality. Travelling to see the Migration at popular times will come at a premium, but there are ways to experience the magic of a safari, using your budget wisely. Our team of safari experts is on hand to help you make wise decisions and craft a dream safari within your budget.

By and large, the more remote you wish to be, the more travel costs are incurred in the form of light aircraft transfers. More popular destinations tend to be more accessible by road and more affordable transfers, but this can translate into a higher premium on accommodation costs due to demand.

Seasonality is also a big determinant of costs. If you're seeking a more budget-friendly option, there are times of the year that can be significantly more affordable than others. Of course, peak travel times will incur higher costs, while the Green Season will offer better deals.

Whether you wish to splurge or save, our team is on hand to advise you and help you make your safari dreams come true within your budget.

Best time to go

Travelling to Kenya and Tanzania will depend greatly on where you wish to go and what you wish to see.

The seasons are fairly similar for Kenya vs. Tanzania, with the rainy seasons falling at similar times: November to December and April to May. April and May is called Green Season, when visitor numbers are fewer due to the regular rainfall. Wildlife viewing at this time can still be extremely rewarding, but the animals are harder to spot amongst the lush foliage.

Green season wildlife viewing

The dry season runs between June and October and offers the best game viewing as wildlife congregates around any remaining water sources and is thus easier to find and observe.

The major difference between the travel seasons in Kenya and Tanzania is when to see the Migration. Between August and October, the herds are predominantly in Kenya, although many either remain in Tanzania or continually cross back and forth. January to March is the calving season in the Southern Serengeti, followed by the river crossings in the Serengeti between July and October.

Kenya vs. Tanzania: Which suits me best?

Kenya is generally considered the more family-friendly option, particularly for families with younger children. This is purely based on the number of lodges offering extras like private vehicles, family suites and activities for the little ones. There is certainly a growing number of family-friendly options in Tanzania.

Large groups or multi-generational families travelling together can head to either Tanzania or Kenya, with a growing number of exclusive-use options, like our Retreats, to choose from.

Honeymooners and couples seeking romance can have their pick of decadent experiences across Kenya and Tanzania, with many honeymoon suite options available and memorable experiences to be enjoyed in both countries.

Can you do Kenya and Tanzania together?

Combining a Kenya and Tanzania safari into one itinerary is possible if you have the time available. Careful planning can ensure you make the most of your time while keeping travelling time to a minimum.

Here are some ideas for safari itineraries in Kenya and Tanzania:

Best bush and beach for families

Explore East Africa



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