A Kenya Tanzania Safari gives you the opportunity to visit some of Africa’s most legendary parks and get up close to the big 5 as well as hundreds of other animals and bird species.
Tanzania and Kenya are neighbours and thousands of wildebeest, elephants, zebras and various antelope species cross freely between the Serengeti and Masai Mara. As a visitor, there are slightly more logistics involved but you too can cross borders and explore all the historic sites, natural wonders and array of cultures that Tanzania and Kenya have to offer in one unforgettable trip.
In this article:
- Main Safari Routes and Destinations in Tanzania and Kenya
- Off the Beaten Track Safaris in Tanzania and Kenya
- Local Village Visits and Cultural Highlights
- Famous Attractions: Nairobi Attractions, Elsamere Conservation Centre
- More Things to Do
- When to Go on your Kenya Tanzania Safari: Peak season, Low season
- Best Time for Wildebeest Migration (with a calendar breakdown)
- How long to stay in East Africa
- Travelling in East Africa: Arrival and Departure Points, Travelling Between Nature Reserves
- What Is Included in a Safari Package
- What Is Not Included in a Safari Package
- Add-ons to your Tanzania and Kenya Safari: Island beach holidays, gorilla trekking
- Budgeting for a combined safari
Safari Routes and Destinations
Kenya and Tanzania as a Joint Safari Destination
Both countries have major attractions and offer top sightings of wildlife. Kenya and Tanzania also share a common border and a coastline on the Indian Ocean so the choice is tough.
Kenya has been in the tourism game for longer and has more options of accommodation and flights, this makes it slightly cheaper. Kenya also has more family-friendly lodges on offer.
Tanzania has the iconic Serengeti plains where the great wildebeest migration can be seen year-round. Tanzania is also a larger, less crowded country. Your choice is going to depend on your bucket-list items or, you can do both.
Popular Safari Routes
Tanzanian Main Safari Destinations
Most Safari tours will visit the Northern Parks of Tanzania. Your Itinerary will likely include some of the following:
- A quest to find the big 5 in Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area.
- Following the Great Migration and searching for lions and hyenas in the iconic Serengeti National Park.
- A half day visit to watch birds and drive through the groundwater forests of Lake Manyara National Park.
- Tarangire National Park to see herds of over 300 elephants.
Kenya’s Main Safari Destinations
Kenya’s most popular parks on the safari circuit are:
- The open savannahs of the Masai Mara, home of the Masai warriors and end-point of the wildebeest migration
- Amboseli National Park, best known for its Elephant herds
- The National Parks on the great lakes: Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Lake Victoria
Less Visited Safari Destinations for a More Exclusive Trip
These destinations are more difficult to get to and have more limited accommodation offers. As a result, they offer a much more exclusive safari experience well away from the crowds.
Off the Beaten Track Tanzania
- Nyerere National Park is part of the Selous Game Reserve and the largest wilderness area in Africa.
- Ruaha National Park where baobab scattered savannahs are home to 10% of the world’s lions.
- Katavi National Park best known for exciting buffalo-lion interactions
- Mahale Mountains and Gombe Stream National Park offer trekking to see habituated troops of chimpanzees.
Off the Beaten Track Kenya
- Tsavo, so huge it is divided into Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks
- Meru National Park – Made famous by Joy Adamson and her lions
- Aberdare National Park which has a good number of black rhinoceros
- The drier and rockier Samburu National Park
Highlights: Kenya and Tanzania Safari
Tanzania and Kenya are likely to surpass your wildest expectations in terms of wildlife sightings. With landscapes straight out of The Lion King, both countries are home to the Big 5 (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos) as well as a huge diversity of other antelope, giraffe, zebra, primates, hyenas, cheetahs, hippopotamus and many other predators and prey. Birdlife is rich in these areas and bird watchers will encounter hundreds of different species of avifauna including migratory and endemic species.
Each Animal has a different habitat preference. These are wild animals in huge areas and there are no guaranteed sightings. Rest assured that you will get the best opportunity to see as much as possible by taking multiple game drives with experienced guides in the different parks.
Local Village Visits and Cultural Highlights
From a few hours to a full day, local village tours are guided visits to communities close to parks like the Masai warrior communities of Kenya or the tribally diverse town of Mto Wa Mbu near Tarangire National Park. These cultural tours can include the following:
- Traditional dance demonstrations
- Weaving, beading, pottery or other craftwork demonstrations or interactive lessons
- Sampling local food and drink
- Curio shopping
- Local cooking experience and shopping for local ingredients.
- Discussions with community members on interesting and sometimes controversial topics
Meet Our Ancient Ancestors
Retrace the steps of ancient man when you visit the Olduvai Gorge Museum near Ngorongoro Crater. Learn about evolution in Africa through Louis Leakey’s discovery of ancient fossils and footprints. Most itineraries include this as a stop on the way from Ngorongoro Crater to Serengeti NP.
Feed treats to the tame giraffe’s of Giraffe Manor or, learn about the rehabilitation work of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust while you watch elephant calves play in the mud. You can also visit the Karen Blixen Museum, the famous Out of Africa author’s former home. All of these attractions are close to Nairobi city centre.
Elsamere Conservation Centre
on the shores of Lake Naivasha, this was the home of Born Free Author Joy Adamson. The Elsamere Conservation Centre continues the Adamsons legacy through environmental education programmes and a museum.
Learn about Kenya and Tanzania Wildlife Conservation
Many safari trips include visits to wildlife research centres such as the Serengeti Wildlife Research Centre. Presentations and discussions with conservationists and researchers add to the safari experience by giving you a more in-depth understanding of animal behaviour and conservation issues like poaching.
More Things to Do
Some days on your safari itinerary you may have a choice of activities or the opposite to do something special at an additional cost.
Some of the extra activities in Tanzania and Kenya are;
- Guided walks
- Boat trips
- Balloon safaris
- Fishing trips
- Night drives
- Camel riding
- Fly camping
Planning your Kenya and Tanzania Safari
When to Go on your Kenya Tanzania Safari
The dry season (June-October) is best for animal sightings as vegetation is thin and animals gather at water sources. Safari destinations are more crowded and prices are highest at this time.
Out of Season
East Africa has two distinct rainy seasons; November-December (short rains) and April to May (long rains).
During the short rains, camps stay open and viewing is still good but many close over the long rainy season when wildlife is more scattered and roads can become flooded. Operating accommodation and tours are often cheaper out of season.
Best Time for Wildebeest Migration
January-March is calving season in the southern Serengeti of Tanzania.
May-September visitors flock to watch Mara River crossings in Northern Serengeti.
October-December some of the herds are in Kenya’s Masai Mara.
Please Note: If you are planning a safari to watch the Great Migration, be sure to book at least a year in advance.
How Long to Spend in Tanzania and Kenya
Ideally, you are going to want to spend at least 12 days on Kenya and Tanzania safari which will allow for about two full days each in some of the major destinations of both countries.
What to Expect on a Kenya Tanzania Safari
Arrival and Departure Points
Most Tanzania and Kenya safari tours have start and endpoints at the international airports of Nairobi or Arusha.
Travelling Between Nature Reserves
Overland safari options drive between safari destinations while fly-in safaris save time by transferring guests between landing strips in parks and reserves. Transfer flights are more expensive but save time on travelling.
What Is Included in a Safari Package
The following is usually included by safari tour operators;
- Accommodation as specified
- Meals which are sometimes pic-nics or outdoor dining
- Transfers by road or air
- All drives in parks and reserves with an expert guide
- park fees and included activity fees
- Use of binoculars
- Unlimited drinking water
What’s Often Not Included in a Safari Package
Depending on specified itineraries, the following is generally not included in a safari price;
- International flights
- Alcoholic beverages and sometimes cooldrinks
- Laundry fees
- Extra activities
- Personal Travel insurance
- Gratuities (very important, see our article on tips for Kilimanjaro, and don’t forget your safari staff)
Add-ons to your Tanzania and Kenya Safari
Take a few extra days to visit the neighbouring country of Uganda to see the magnificent gorillas in their jungle home.
What to budget for a combined Kenya Tanzania Safari
A Tanzania and Kenya safari is one of the more expensive holidays you will plan. However, different types of tours and accommodation help you plan according to your budget.
The time of year also impacts safari prices. June-October and Christmas Holidays are when prices are highest.
The average cost of an East African safari per person, per day excluding international flights
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