East Africa or Southern Africa: The Ultimate Safari Question


When planning your dream safari adventure, the choice between East Africa and Southern Africa can be a daunting one. Both regions boast incredible wildlife, stunning landscapes, and unique experiences. Even for seasoned safari travelers, it’s hard to decidedly and unequivocally choose or recommend one of the two. In terms of which one is better, the best choice between the two is the destination aligns best with your safari aspirations.

How do they differ?

Wildlife Diversity and Abundance.

East Africa or Southern Africa: The Ultimate Safari Question with WanderingThru

One of the primary factors to consider (if not THE factor for most of our guests) when choosing your safari destination, is the wildlife you hope to encounter. East Africa, encompassing countries like Kenya and Tanzania, is renowned for its impressive annual wildebeest migration and endless plains with only a few trees dotted in between (the iconic Disney’s “Lion King” landscape). Southern Africa, on the other hand, features destinations like South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe which offer diverse and potentially more “intimate” wildlife viewing opportunities, including the iconic Big Five. Your choice depends on whether you prioritize witnessing specific wildlife events or experiencing a wide array of animals.

Landscape and Scenery.

East Africa or Southern Africa: The Ultimate Safari Question with WanderingThru

East Africa is celebrated for its dramatic landscapes, such as the Great Rift Valley, the Ngorongoro Crater, and Mount Kilimanjaro. In contrast, Southern Africa offers diverse terrains, from the arid Kalahari Desert to the lush Okavango Delta to the riverine forests of the Sabi Sand and floodplains of the Lower Zambezi Valley . If you’re captivated by picturesque vistas and diverse scenery, the choice becomes a matter of personal preference. You will have to choose between the endless plains or the great rivers, the floodplains or the water channels – which in turn will also determine what wildlife you’re more likely to encounter.

Accessibility and Infrastructure.

East Africa or Southern Africa: The Ultimate Safari Question with WanderingThru
Ready for the flight to the Serengeti

Both areas enjoy good infrastructure and connectivity for international arrivals to the main hubs. Nairobi, Kilimanjaro and Johannesburg International Airports are well-established gateways, providing easy arrival to then access to renowned safari destinations. Keep in mind that while international airports allow you to have a clear starting spot, the more remote the area you travel (independently of where in Africa you travel), might translate to charter flights (great for enjoying life from above!), luggage restrictions and potentially longer road transfers the camps – but seeing most of them are through the reserve or national parks, consider this an additional game drive. Consider your travel convenience and time constraints when making your decision as charter time schedule might not allow for same-day connection everywhere.

Accommodation and Safari Style.

East Africa or Southern Africa: The Ultimate Safari Question with WanderingThru
Savanna Game Reserve, Sabi Sand

Both regions offer a range of accommodations, from luxurious lodges to classic tented camps. East Africa often caters to a more traditional, tented-camp and/or glamping experience. Meanwhile, Southern Africa provides a variety of options, including private reserves and more modern lodges. Your preferred safari style and comfort level plays a pivotal role in determining your choice.

Safari Costs.

Safari pricing can vary significantly between East and Southern Africa. Both areas boast budget friendly to ultimate luxury options. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that all safari destinations (except South Africa) charge a different rate per person depending on the season you’d like to travel in. High or Peak Season generally correspond to the best game viewing season and so even the more budget friendly options increase their pricing considerably. If you are a solo traveler, you will also be requested to pay a single supplement in the high season, unlike the “green season”. Your budget will ultimately guide your choice.

Cultural and Non-Safari Experiences.

East Africa or Southern Africa: The Ultimate Safari Question with WanderingThru
Manyatta Village Visit

Beyond wildlife, both regions offer distinctive cultural experiences. East Africa boasts rich tribal traditions and opportunities to interact with local communities. Southern Africa, with its diverse cultural heritage, offers a more modern history, art, and urban exploration. While certain areas like the Kalahari and part of Zimbabwe offer traditional cultural experiences, East Africa tends to be better for this kind of experience. Consider whether you want to incorporate cultural encounters into your safari adventure.

Choosing between East Africa and Southern Africa for your safari adventure is a matter of personal preference. Whether you prioritize specific wildlife sightings, stunning landscapes, or cultural experiences, both regions offer unforgettable safaris. Consider your interests, budget, and travel logistics to make the best choice for your dream safari. If you’re not sure, you can contact our safaris specialists that will be delighted to stir you in the right direction to fulfill your expectations.

Remember, your safari experience will be uniquely yours, no matter which path you choose to explore the wild wonders of Africa

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