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2024 Tanzania vs South Africa as a Safari Destination

Materializing a dream-come-true Africa vacation is a rare experience. For many travelers, the ultimate question usually is: Which country should I go? Tanzania or South Africa? With so many fantastic safari locations in the continent, choosing between Tanzania vs South Africa as a safari destination makes it quite a challenge. In this article, we’ll help you choose your most ideal destination.
In a nutshell, travelers who are looking into focusing on an authentic safari and a classic African scenery, Tanzania is the perfect destination. It is also an excellent choice for those who are planning to go to only one safari in their life. South Africa, on the other hand, is the go-to destination for travelers whose travel goal is not focused on wildlife safari but would like “to do it all.” That means safari plus whale watching or perhaps cage shark diving plus wine tasting and other activities.

MAJOR FACTORS

Planning a trip to Africa entails a lot of careful thought – unless you have all the luxury to visit all its beautiful countries. If you’re torn between Tanzania and South Africa, well, we can’t blame you. Here are the factors to consider when mulling over which country to visit:

SCENERY

South Africa and Tanzania are both gorgeous in their own ways. Both offer picturesque sceneries, incredible diversity and interesting game parks. But there’s just something radically different between them.



In South Africa, you will see sandy coves, flat and rocky desert plains, jagged mountains, green foothills, valleys and plateaus covered with rolling grasslands and tree-dotted plains. You will also have a grand backdrop of a beautiful coastline with vineyards and pine plantations leading to it. Not to mention the wonderful underwater wilderness. Hello, sharks and whales!



Tanzania, on the other hand, has a more barren and arid landscape that makes a picture-perfect classic African scenery anyone can think of – hot, dry grasslands with lone acacia and baobab trees framed in a natural backdrop of Africa’s highest snow-capped mountain. You will also see soda lakes, volcanic calderas, rolling hills, volcano and mountain ranges as well as pristine white sand beaches and diving spots in the island of Zanzibar.

CLIMATE

Climate-wise, South Africa is more temperamental than Tanzania. Since Tanzania lies near the equator, there are very little seasonal variations, making temperatures fairly consistent all year-round. April and May are “long rains” season and November has “short rains.” You have to watch for the “long rains” season because some lodges and parks shut down during this time. Other than that, the climate remains to be pleasant and wildlife remains in full force, making it a year-round safari destination.
South Africa has a much more seasonal climate, with warm sunny days from November to March, the cooler weather around April and May as well as September and October, and then “winter” in June through August. December to February also is rainy season characterized by torrential downpours in the afternoon and high humidity.



The best time to visit Tanzania is between July and October which is the “dry season” and the peak of the Great Wildebeest Migration. But, bear in mind that Tanzania has a relatively consistent weather all year-round so going anytime of the year is still a good idea. For South Africa, May to August is the best time to see wildlife, although this is wintertime and can be very cold. If you wish to visit the Cape, the hot, drier months of November through February is best; and for whale watching, go between July and November.

WILDLIFE



The famous “Big 5” animals (lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo, leopard) represent the safari royalty. All these big game animals can be found in both countries, with leading parks such as The Serengeti and Kruger National Park for Tanzania and South Africa respectively. Both countries are also stellar birding destinations and wildlife encounters, featuring baboons, spotted hyenas, jackals, antelopes, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, hippos, crocodiles and many other safari staples. However, when it comes to sheer volume of wildlife, Tanzania is world-renowned for having the highest concentration of wildlife in Africa. This is not surprising given that almost a third of the land area of Tanzania is made up of protected nature parks and conservatories. while only 6% of South Africa is protected. Moreover, Tanzania has nearly 1,000 more lions compared to South Africa.

SAFARI EXPERIENCE

If you’re looking for a more profound safari adventure, Tanzania is your best bet. Usually, you will start your day early and go on a game drive for an entire day. Since parks are usually far from each other, you will spend a lot of time on the road, with sweeping views of the breathtaking Tanzanian landscape teeming with wildlife. Of course, this gives you a more authentic feeling of the “African experience.” South Africa, in comparison, offers safaris that usually last for about 3 hours only or half the day. Most of the time, you go on a game drive for 3 hours in the morning and then another one in the afternoon, spending most of your time at the lodge. Other times, you go on a safari for half a day and then spend the rest of the day at your lodge. Parks also fenced in this country whereas Tanzania has unfenced parks, allowing freer animal movement and migration. The beauty of South African safaris is the extra luxurious amenities they offer such as spa services.



For vehicles, Tanzania and South Africa offer very different ones. Since game drives last for hours in Tanzania and roads can be rough and rugged in most areas, you will be riding enclosed safari vehicles featuring pop-up roofs and enormous windows for optimum game-viewing. In South Africa, open-sided Land Cruisers are usually used since game drives are short and usually very near the lodge. This is ideal for close and intimate encounters with the animals in the wild.

SELF-DRIVING

If you are aiming to do a self-drive, your best bet for this is to do it in South Africa. In Tanzania, you are welcome to go on a self-drive, too, however you must know that roads in Tanzania are not well-marked if marked at all. Many roads are also unpaved and some, especially during the wet season, are impassable. Some parks like Ngorongoro Conservation Area also do not allow self-driving. They require each vehicle to have a tour guide. Not to mention the fuel costs and safari vehicle rental costs in Tanzania.

AVAILABLE ACTIVITIES

Tanzania offers a plethora of safari activities including chimpanzee safaris in Gombe and Mahale, off-the-beaten-track experiences in Katavi, Selous and Ruaha, game driving in world-famous parks like Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara, bird watching and even hot air ballooning across the vast plains of the Serengeti. You may also go beach hopping, snorkeling, diving, mountain climbing, white water rafting and go on a cultural tour in Zanzibar.



South Africa, albeit a little short on the ultimate safari adventure, offers a myriad of other exciting activities including whale watching, shark diving, mountain climbing, white water rafting, wine tasting, garden route tours, paragliding, and first class city tours that guarantee awesome gastronomic, fashion and shopping experiences.
Simply put, Tanzania is a well-rounded safari destination while South Africa is a well-rounded tour destination with a high-caliber of customer service.

WHY TANZANIA? WHY SOUTH AFRICA?

We have already tackled the major factors for comparison of the two gorgeous countries. Here, you will explore more about each country and learn why you should visit one or the other.

TANZANIA…

…is Home of the Great Wildebeest Migration.

Lion attacks a zebra



Every year, millions of wildebeest thunder across the plains of the Serengeti along with thousands of zebras, elands, impalas and gazelles as they search for better grazing and water. This annual event has been named “the greatest show on earth” and is known to be one of the World’s Natural Wonders. Certainly, there is nowhere in the entire planet where you can witness such sensational wildlife drama.

…has world-famous safari attractions.

Mount Kilimanjaro



Tanzania has always been famous for its wealth of picturesque and wildlife-ridden safari parks. It is where you can visit Africa’s Garden of Eden, a world UNESCO site and the world’s largest caldera, Ngorongoro Crater; Africa’s highest peak and the world’s highest free-standing mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro; the famous Lake Manyara where you can see hundreds and thousands of vibrant flamingoes and rhinos in one place; and of course the iconic Serengeti National Park, home to the Great Migration and the highest concentration of wildlife in the world.

…offers an ideal beach holiday.

zanzibar beach



While South Africa has Durban beaches, Tanzania offers an amazing string of shorelines in Zanzibar. In fact, some travelers in South Africa still fly to Zanzibar for the most glorious and ideal beach experience – not to mention the coral wilderness it offers which makes it perfect for snorkeling and diving.

…can give you an ultimate camping experience.

Camping safari in Tanzania



With a wide-range accommodation option, Tanzania is where you can have an authentic African camping experience. South Africa is popular for being a well-developed country with a string of luxury lodges. And while it offers both budget and luxury accommodations, staying in a tent (aka roughing it out) is not an option in South Africa.

…is where you can meet many cultural tribes.

Maasai tribe in Tanzania



A visit and meet-and-greet with the tribes is an essential way to complete that authentic African experience. In here, you can meet the Maasai, Hadza, Sukuma and many others. You get a chance to immerse to their culture and even learn stuff like cultural dancing and even cooking their meals!

SOUTH AFRICA…

…has the World’s Best City.

Wine tour in Cape Town



For the fifth consecutive time, South Africa’s Cape Town has been heralded as the World’s Best City. First of all, the Cape is absolutely stunning. It’s where you can see Table Mountain, ride cable cars, go cage diving with great white sharks and most popularly, visit gorgeous vineyards as well as experience world-class wining and dining.

…features the epitome of luxury lodging.

Luxury lodge in South Africa



South Africa has long established itself as the premier safari luxury destination. Luxury lodges are the most common type of safari accommodation with topnotch amenities and impeccable customer service.

…displays the extraordinary Sardine Run.

Shark attacking during the Sardine Run



If Tanzania has the Great Migration, South Africa has the Sardine Run. It occurs between May and July where billions of sardines move northward along the east coast of South Africa while a feeding frenzy from anything with teeth or beaks begins. This remains to be one of the greatest global events of the marine calendar since 1853.

…is home to fascinating sceneries.

Bourke's Potholes in South Africa



Yes, Tanzania has the quintessential African scenery and it’s just as awe-inspiring. However, South Africa displays a plethora of fascinating and “unique-to-Africa” sites including Valley of Desolation and Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve.

…offers a myriad of unique adventures.

tobogganing in South Africa



Other than safari drives, South Africa also offers many different exciting activities for any age. It also allows self-driving which is not available in Tanzania.

RECOMMENDED TOURS

We’ve rounded up some of the best itineraries for you!

EAST AFRICA

  • 10 Days Serengeti Wildebeest Migration Safari: Take the front-row seats to the world-famous Natural Wonder in Africa – the Great Migration.
  • 5 Days Tanzania Mid-Range Safari: An affordable way to enjoy unparalleled wildlife concentration at its finest.
  • 9 Days Wildlife Safari & Zanzibar Beach Holiday (Bush to Beach): The perfect balance of wildlife adventure and a relaxing escape to the beach.
  • 6 Days The Best of Tanzania Safari: Explore the most famous parks in Tanzania – the perfect itinerary at any time of the year!
  • 8 Days Mt. Kilimanjaro Climbing Summit – Machame Route: Tick this off your adventure bucket list and trek the world’s tallest free-standing mountain via this highly recommended route and relish in the beauty of Tanzania from up high.

SOUTH AFRICA

  • 7 Day Kruger National Park and Zululand Safari: Embark on an adventure to South Africa’s top safari park, Kruger National Park, and explore the Natal wetlands as well.
  • Budget Kruger Explorer (Self-Drive): Because what’s more adventurous than going on a safari yourself, right?
  • 4 Days Kruger Park & Escarpment Safari: Take the scenic route to Kruger National Park and visit other attractions on your way!
  • 5 Days Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Game Reserve Safari: Go on exciting game drives and walking safaris in Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
  • 2 Day Budget Kruger National Park Safari: Explore the world-famous Kruger National Park without burning a hole in your pocket!

THE FINAL VERDICT

The final verdict, of course, depends on you. What do you prefer to do and see and how much are you willing to shell out for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday? If you’re looking into having a more authentic safari experience and if you want to see the raw beauty of Africa the way most people imagine it to be, Tanzania is the best place to go. If you want to add other experiences like wine tasting and whale watching on your itinerary, or if you’re more keen on having a gastronomic treat during your vacation, South Africa is your best bet. Needless to say, your season of travel should also coincide with what you’re going to do, what you’re planning to see and ultimately, which country you’ll go.

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LoveTravel259094
LoveTravel259094
August 8, 2023
Asante Gosheni and espacially Hassan Nous tenons à recommander Hassan car nous venons de passer un séjour mémorable avec lui. Grâce à son expérience, sa connaissance parfaite du monde animal et des parcs, Hassan nous a permis de voir de nombreux animaux en étant extrêmement bien placé.
Bien évidemment les big five (même le rhinocéros!), la traversée de la rivière par les gnous et bien d'autres animaux.
En faisant un safari avec Hassan vous trouverez tout ce que vous êtes venus chercher.
A l'avenir si nous décidons de refaire un safari, nous voudrions repartir avec Hassan.
Myriam D
Myriam D
August 8, 2023
Hassan is the best guide !!!! Nous avons eu la chance de faire un safari de 8 jours dans les parcs nationaux du nord de la Tanzanie avec Hassan comme guide. Hassan est un guide très expérimenté.
Grâce à lui et sa grande expérience nous avons découvert et appris énormément de choses sur la Tanzanie, les animaux, les végétaux etc. Hassan est un véritable passionné qui aime transmettre son savoir.
En plus de ses connaissances, Hassan a un véritable œil de lynx et sais débusquer le moindre animal caché.
Grâce à Hassan nous avons eu la chance de voir beaucoup d’animaux et tous ceux du « Big Five ».
Parmi tous les véhicules présents lors des safaris, Hassan sait se frayer un chemin pour nous permettre d’avoir toujours le meilleur point de vue.
Hassan sait où se placer pour nous permettre d’avoir une vue sans égal sur les animaux, en les observant de très près.
Hassan est également un excellent conducteur. La route n’a aucun secret pour lui.
C’est également un guide très attentionné, toujours aux petits soins pour nous et d’une extrême gentillesse.
Nous recommandons Hassan les yeux fermés et si nous devions refaire un safari, nous demanderons d’être guidés par Hassan sans hésitation.
Merci encore à Hassan pour ces merveilleux moments qui resterons gravés dans notre mémoire !!
bonny l
bonny l
August 6, 2023
amazing Safari experience wiz gosheni nice trip wiz our amazing guide Samir We saw all the wild animals during Safari
thx a lot for the thoughtful and excellent service
highly recommend
FENG Y
FENG Y
August 6, 2023
愉快的非洲之旅 幸运的选择了gosheni Safari,我们的向导samir服务非常好,小朋友们都很喜欢他,非洲五霸除了犀牛没有看到外,其他都替我们找到了,寻找动物经验丰富,在超远的地方就能看到目标。可以在众多的车子中抢到一个很好的观赏位,办事灵活。
Vladimir T
Vladimir T
August 6, 2023
Great experience! Great experience! Starting from the trip planning the communications were very clear and smooth to organize the tour and select itinerary. In the end we opted for 5 days/4 nights route including the Tarangire, Serengeti and Lake Manyara nations parks as well as a visit to the Ngorongoro crater. The tour itself was excellent and very punctual, here kudos to our guide Wilson who is very experienced and knowledgeable about his job and also went well beyond his duty and gave us a nice summary of country’s history. It was really a pleasure to spend time with him and we managed to see the big 5:) Accommodations were superb: great camps, an amazing farmhouse close to Ngorongoro, meals were also good and picnic lunches well organized.
In summary the experience was highly satisfying, I sincerely recommend Gosheni Safaris and to ask for Wilson as a guide.
Allison B
Allison B
August 5, 2023
Great Taste of Tanzania Had a great 5-day tour. Our guide James was very dedicated to making sure we saw amazing sights. He asked us our favorite animals to see and made it his mission to help us spot them. The food was good, the lodging was very pleasant, and enjoying a glass of wine on lunches was a nice touch. Favorite lodging was definitely the Farmhouse by Ngorongoro. Beautiful landscapes along the entire tour, covered a lot of ground and got a great introduction to Tanzania.
Sukhraj S
Sukhraj S
August 5, 2023
Gosheni number 1 What an unforgettable 6 days, courtesy of Gosheni Safari and our guide/driver Zadock!!!
I booked this holiday back in 2020 but then had to cancel due to Covid. That was after a lot of research of tour companies and finally picking Ghosheni. The time was right to get this once in a lifetime trip set up again, so working via email with William at Gosheni we compiled the agenda…he was so helpful and we settled on one day in Tarangire, one day in Lake Manyara, three days in Serengeti and one day in Ngorongoro Crater…I’m now on the way to Zanzibar after an amazing experience, Gosheni took care of the whole package for my wife, three teenage sons and I.

Our guide and driver was Zadock, a humble, honest, genuine, proud and generous man. He did absolutely everything for us, answered every question and took us to all the places to see the big five up close, hunts and more.

The food was served every lunch time as a picnic, with plates, blanket, wtc whilst others had lunch boxes. The Jeep was cleaned daily, and was extremely comfortable along the difficult rough terrain…a credit to Zadock.

Zadock had so much knowledge not only of the animal kingdom’s hundreds of species but also the history of Tanzania, Africa, politics, and social customs, we felt as though he was part of our family.

Thankyou Zadock and Gosheni, I very rarely write reviews after holidays and I have travelled extensively around the world, but these guys are special and have made this so memorable for my family and I….I recommend to everyone if you are unsure about who, how, what, these guys will sort out the whole trip and at a very reasonable price.

Well done William, Gosheni and Zadock, and I really hope you get to be recognised as the number one tour company in Tanzania!
Eric W
Eric W
August 4, 2023
Extraordinary Safari with Gosheni I am so glad to have Gosheni as our tour operator. They provide excellent service starting from arranging the tour till the end of our safari.
As our city had quarantine arrangement due to COVID-19, we were so worry about our trip. Luckily, Gosheni is so considerate and try their best endeavors to rearrange our scedule. With their assistance, everything is set and we feel comfortable for all of their kind arrangements.

During the safari, we have a terrific tour guide, Edward! He takes care of all the stuff and administration including liaison with hotels, lunch packing, other add-on safaris so that we can fully enjoy the trip.

Not only Edward spots a lot a lot of animals and birds for us, including the top 5 in the trip, he also introduces us the habitat and features of the animals and birds. We are very impressed by his rich knowledge and do enjoy listening the "stories" of the animals.

Edwward is definitely experienced and propose the best programme during the safari, e.g. he tries to maximise our time for the game drive in different locations and tribe visit. We fully trust his expertise and professionalism.

We are very happy with Edward and Gosheni. We will absolutely consider them in our next Africam safari.
Priyank S
Priyank S
August 4, 2023
Amazing Safari with Gosheni and Ombeni Our guide, Ombeni, was the best part of our trip. He is really knowledgeable, friendly, and we trusted his expertise for the whole 9 days across Tarangire, Serengeti, and Ngorongoro. We were lucky to see some amazing things on our game drives. Having grown up in Kenya, I have been lucky to go on many safaris, and this is one of the best I've been on.
The food was excellent, and even on the all-day game drives we had a cooked, sit-down meal for lunch which was a big plus point. All the accommodation was excellent as well.

We had a bespoke itinerary which we planned in advance with William from Gosheni, and he was extremely helpful in answering our questions and accommodating our requests.

I would highly recommend Gosheni and especially Ombeni for future travels.
Banu
Banu
August 4, 2023
Dreams come true!!! Thanks to best guide Hassani I have been dreaming Serengeti Safari tour for a long time and Gosheni Safaris made my dreams come true. We completed our 5 days safari at the end of July and it was wonderful. We visited Central Serengeti, North Serengeti and Ngorongoro.
The company is very professional from beginning to end. Peter the owner of Gosheni Safaris helped us a lot about planning our itinary. I asked too many questions and he replied all of them everytime. Sometimes he can be in the bush and has no internet connection but be sure he always will reply your questions. Just be sure that you are in safe hands and Hakuna Matata☺️

Our guide was Hassani who is a perfect guide, safari driver, friend and everything. He always did his best to show us as much as possible. We always felt safe and witnessed lots of amazing moments by help of Hassani. Beside being a perfect safari guide, he prepared very nice lunch tables every afternoon. He is very funny person and makes lots of jokes during the safari. I higly recommend Gosheni Safaris which is best one and Hassani who is a very good guide. I want to thank Hassani in person for making our safari perfect and looking forward to meet again🙏🏻

Tips: I recommend ‘Morning Hot air Balloon safari’.

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