Africa is largely synonymous with safaris. Many will agree that a safari experience is the ultimate way to feel the true spirit of Africa. However, the continent of Africa is made up of over 50 countries, with plenty of opportunities to witness wildlife in many different places, the two main ones being South Africa and Tanzania. So before you book your luxury African safari experience, here’s a breakdown of the differences between South Africa and Tanzania regarding those sought-after game viewing adventures.
South Africa has a lot more to offer in terms of budget safaris, and at much better competitive prices compared to Tanzania. The Kruger National Park in South Africa is one the leading safari destinations in the world, and provides all kinds of accommodation and safari experiences, ranging from the luxury tent, to a classic and comfortable lodge, to a camping ground where you bring your own tent. You are also allowed to self-drive in the Kruger, which is not allowed in any national park in Tanzania.
Although both countries have abundant wildlife including the Big 5 (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos), Tanzania has a larger density of game animals. Additionally, the Serengeti is famous for its wildebeest migration, as these animals, along with zebras, elands, and gazelles, migrate in search of greener grass. Calving season occurs between December and March in the Serengeti, and the incredible migration through the river crossing occurs at different times in the year. Crocodiles and other predators await patiently for their next prey during those months, as well as during calving season.
Both South Africa and Tanzania are rich in their cultural history and diversity. In relation to safaris however, Tanzania tends to stand out as they provide cultural safari experiences where visitors can take trips to local villages and interact with tribal communities such as the Maasai people. There are plenty of opportunities to learn about the local culture, traditions, and cuisine. In many lodges, the safaris and guided bush walks are even conducted by the local native people.
Weather and climate
In terms of weather, both countries have their pros and cons that need to be considered. Situated along the equator, the seasonal temperatures in Tanzania are minimal compared to South Africa, where the temperatures sometimes dip below freezing during the winter months. Tanzania’s average temperature stays relatively similar throughout the year, although it does rain more heavily than in South Africa, especially during the wet seasons.
South Africa is the safer option regarding health risks. There is no risk of yellow fever in South Africa, whereas a yellow fever certificate of no less than 10 days old is required to enter Tanzania. Additionally, a lot of the national parks and nature reserves in South Africa are malaria-free, whereas there is a high risk of getting malaria in Tanzania.
The best combo package
While many visitors toy with the idea of combining a wildlife safari in Tanzania with an exotic beach holiday in Zanzibar, South Africa offers more in terms of combo packages and well-rounded trips. In South Africa, you not only get the beach option, but you also get to decide if you want to explore the mountains and scenic drives along the Panorama Route in the Mpumalanga province or the famous Garden Route in the Western Cape. For warm beaches head down to Durban, whereas surfing is best around the Cape region, where you can also explore Cape Town and all that the Mother City has to offer. This includes delectable international gastronomy, award-winning wines, and beautiful wine farms and vineyards. Season permitting (July to November), you even get the chance to go whale watching in South Africa.