East Vs Southern Africa Safari: Which Is Best? Which region of Africa should I visit: South Africa or East Africa? Which is better safari destination, South or East Africa? These are probably some of the issues that people who are debating between an East African and a Southern African safari ask us the most. And it’s hardly a shock. Although the latter two are officially in Central Africa, we refer to East Africa as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda, while Southern Africa includes South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

While the idea of a safari originated in East Africa (particularly Kenya and Tanzania), discriminating travelers will discover some of the most opulent luxury hotels and camps in Southern Africa, where they may have a real African safari experience. Both regions provide excellent chances to see the Big 5” (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and buffalo), and, to be honest, you can’t go wrong with either. Just different, that’s all. Whether you want to do more than just watch games is one of the crucial qualifying issues. By embracing Cape Town, the Garden Route, and Victoria Falls, for example, Southern Africa offers a wider variety of activities and more conventional sightseeing. Your stay in East Africa will be entirely dedicated to going on safari, with the possible add on of a beach vacation in Zanzibar or along the Kenyan coast.

So, which one is better for safari, East or Southern African? The truth is that there isn’t a clear-cut solution. Everything depends on the type of adventure you want to have in Africa. Most locations in East and Southern Africa are suited for solitary travelers, honeymooners, lovers of five-star lodges, families with kids, traditional over landers, daring self-drivers, or groups of friends planning a safari together, East Vs Southern Africa Safari: Which Is Best?

Even though both locations (east and South Africa) are wonderful to visit, if you only had time to visit and explore one, which one would you choose? To help you better grasp the offerings of these two regions and choose where to travel in Africa, we’ve put up some major distinctions.


The southernmost region of Africa is known as Southern Africa. South Africa’s most popular safari destinations include Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda are the top safari destinations in East Africa. It is situated on the continent of Africa’s east.

Top Safari Parks or Reserves in Southern Africa includes:

ü  Okavango Delta, Botswana

ü  Chobe National Park, Botswana

ü  Kruger National Park, South Africa

ü  Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

ü  Etosha National Park, Namibia

ü  Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

ü  Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

ü  South Luangwa, Zambia

ü  Kafue, Zambia

Top Safari Parks or Reserves in East Africa includes:

ü  Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

ü  Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

ü  Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

ü  Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

ü  Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

ü  Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

ü  Queen Elizabeth national park, Uganda

ü  Amboseli National Park, Kenya

ü  Ngorongoro conservation area, Tanzania



Southern Africa

Due to its geographic location and distinct climatic circumstances, Southern Africa is a region with an incredibly diverse range of terrain and landscapes. While the majority of the region experiences excellent weather all year long, the climate can vary from the Mediterranean in the continent’s southwest to temperate, subtropical, and even desert-like conditions further north. At this time, when there is little foliage, animals are most likely to congregate around water sources.

The optimum time to travel to southern Africa for a safari would be between May and October, when it is the dry season. When foliage is scarce and animals are most likely to congregate around water sources, this is the time.


East Africa

Awe-inspiring landscapes and remarkable geographical features may be found throughout East Africa, which was sculpted by tectonic processes. Massive concentrations of wild animals are drawn to mountains, craters, rifts, and lakes. Despite being out of the ordinary for equatorial regions, the climate is remarkably chilly and dry given the latitude. Massive concentrations of wild animals are drawn to mountains, craters, rifts, and lakes.

While East Africa is recognized as a fantastic safari destination all year round, most visitors choose to go on safari between the dry months of January to March and June to October.


Southern Africa

Due to its geographic location and distinct climatic circumstances, Southern Africa is a region with an incredibly diverse range of terrain and landscapes. While the majority of the region experiences excellent weather all year long, the climate can vary from the Mediterranean in the continent’s southwest to temperate, subtropical, and even desert-like conditions further north, East Vs Southern Africa Safari: Which Is Best?

Since there are so many different sorts of terrain in Southern Africa, there aren’t any two national parks or game reserves that are same. There is a wide range of wildlife and smaller herds are frequently sighted. Big Five game viewing is quite popular in the area, and everyday sightings are nearly a given, particularly in the nearby private reserves of the Kruger National Park.

East Vs Southern Africa Safari: Which Is Best?
Big 5 in Ngorongoro Crater

In Southern Africa, safaris are typically conducted in open-sided 4x4s with tier-style seating. Boat and mokoro (dug-out canoe) safaris are popular in places like Botswana, and walking safaris are thought to have originated in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park.

ü  Highlights of safaris include the Big 5, mokoro and boat safaris, and walking safaris.

East Africa

East Africa is well known for the abundance of wildlife that may be seen on the wide-open plains. Although the Great Wildebeest Migration is the region’s most well-known attraction, large herds and animal concentrations can be viewed all year long. The endangered and endemic mountain gorillas are found in the jungles of Rwanda and Uganda; they are a major tourist attraction and a really unique experience.

A closed 4×4 with three rows of chairs and a pop-top roof hatch is used on safaris in East Africa. Due to the expansive landscapes and breathtaking beauty of this area, hot air balloon safaris are highly well-liked here, East Vs Southern Africa Safari: Which Is Best?

ü  The Great Wildebeest Migration, gorilla trekking, year-round game viewing, and hot air balloon safaris are among the attractions and activities of a safari.


Southern Africa

While not quite as rich in cultural experiences as its Eastern cousin, Southern Africa offers some unique tribal traditions that you can see while on a safari. The San or Khoisan are Southern Africa’s original inhabitants. You might have the chance to learn about their nomadic way of life, profound connection to nature, clicking sound language, and stunning rock art while on a safari in Southern Africa.

East Africa

There are many different cultural experiences available in East Africa. Meeting the famed warriors and pastoralists known as Maasai from Kenya and Tanzania is the most well-liked of all of them. Similar to Southern Africa, many lodges and camps encourage guests on safari to visit nearby villages and communities to get a true sense of the local culture.


East Africa

The wide plains of Kenya or Tanzania typically come to mind when most people think of a safari, as immortalized by authors like Ernest Hemingway and in films like Out of Africa. The annual wildebeest migration in the Serengeti and Masai Mara, which has been called one of the world’s greatest animal exhibitions, is a prominent attraction of East Africa. The Ngorongoro Crater, the largest volcanic crater in the world and home to a distinctive concentration of species, is Tanzania’s other well-known tourist destination. However, that’s not all; during the past few years, gorilla or chimpanzee tracking in the rain forests of Rwanda or Uganda has grown to be an incredibly popular activity.

Don’t also forget that Mount Kilimanjaro, the largest mountain in Africa; Mount Kenya, The second largest mountain in Africa; Mount Meru, the fifth largest mountain in Africa and Rwenzori mountains are both located in East Africa.

South Africa

The variety of landscapes in Southern Africa is greater. The semi-arid Kalahari Desert, which stretches from Botswana into Namibia and South Africa, offers stunning landscapes and wildlife. While Kruger National Park in South Africa offers classic bushveld scenery, there are also the wetlands of St. Lucia, where you’ll find hippos, crocodiles, and flamingos. Namibia is home to the Namib Desert and the barren yet stunning Skeleton Coast. Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and the Zambezi Valley, through which the powerful Zambezi River flows, form a border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.


Yes, they do, and the reason why is simple: each safari region’s park authorities have a separate set of guidelines. The likelihood is that you will travel on safari in one of the vehicles set up at your lodge or camp in Southern Africa.

You are assigned to a group by the lodge, and you stay with that group the entire time. These safari vehicles in Southern Africa are typically modified, open-sided, long-based Land Rovers or Land Cruisers with deep seating, a canvas roof, and blankets for cooler temperatures. There are often two game drives every day, one in the early morning and one in the late afternoon. During the hottest portion of the day, guests can unwind at the lodge and observe the wildlife.

The wide terrain of East Africa make it common to travel farther between safari spots from your starting point, if not by small plane to the local airstrips. For instance, traveling between the parks in Tanzania’s Northern Safari Circuit, which includes the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire, can take several hours, requires constant movement. As a result, the minivan with a pop-up top is the most popular safari vehicle in East Africa. Passengers alternately stand up to take pictures while peeking out the roof opening. Game drives can continue all day, with your downtime being the lengthy travel between parks.

Joining an overland trip is another option in both African safari regions since these use considerably larger, taller vehicles that are typically customized trucks with enormous windows that can be opened for the best visibility on safari, East Vs Southern Africa Safari: Which Is Best?

All vehicles must travel on designated roads, which must be gravel or tarred in Southern Africa and gravel in East Africa’s official national parks. However, lodge vehicles are allowed to travel off-road and at night in private game reserves and concession areas on the outskirts of the larger parks. This is extremely advantageous for photography and when searching for nocturnal animals (such as anteaters, aardvarks, and leopards, to name a few), and your guide will use a strong spotlight to highlight their glittering eyes.

It’s possible that over a dozen automobiles may congregate around, say, a pride of hunting lions or family of cheetahs during peak seasons due to the possibility of some vehicle congestion during intriguing animal action. But generally speaking, the guides in both safari districts strictly regulate the number of vehicles at each sighting and frequently communicate via two-way radio to make sure that these regulations are followed.

7.      ADD-ONS

Southern Africa

There is nothing better than kicking back and fleeing to a white-sand beach to enjoy the warm waters of the Indian Ocean after a fast-paced Big Five safari in Southern Africa. The combination of Mozambique’s palm-lined beaches, uninhabited islands, and national parks makes it the ideal addition to a Southern African safari.

Days can be spent scuba diving with whale sharks and humpback whales or on a private dhow safari in the secluded archipelagos. With direct flights from most major airports, Mauritius is also a highly popular addition destination for tourists visiting Southern Africa.

East Africa

A tropical island vacation on Zanzibar’s pristine beaches, lively spice markets, and cobblestone streets is the ideal way to round off an East African safari. It is easily accessible and breathtakingly gorgeous, situated around 25 kilometers off Tanzania’s east coast. Zanzibar is a little island about 25 miles off Tanzania’s east coast that is both easily reached and breathtakingly picturesque, East Vs Southern Africa Safari: Which Is Best?

Another well-liked addition is The Seychelles, which provides an abundance of gorgeous beaches, granite boulder shorelines, thick island jungles, and vivid coral reefs.

Now talk to us at Focus East Africa Tours…

There is a ton lot see and do on safaris in both Southern and East Africa, so it makes sense that people commonly ask, “Where should I go in Africa?” Making a decision is difficult! However, it is why we are here. We advise travelers to speak with one of our travel specialists who can tailor their African vacation to include locations that fit their time constraints and interests, and to select a safari that suits their needs and appeals to them. Do both of them if you’re still torn between the two, which is actually a great problem to have!

book a safari